Friday, September 29, 2006

Virtual noticeboard

I haven't managed to do much sketching in the last few days as I've spent most of my time dealing with all the paperwork and finances and everything else that needs dealing with when you start going to university. Yesterday though we had our "induction" where we got to find out about the structure of the course, our timetable for the next term, be allocated lockers, meet the tutors, and more importantly, meet my fellow students. It looks like I'm going to be surrounded by some really interesting and talented people!

Another thing I found out was that I needed to start on a sketchbook - my instructions were :

"Complete an A4 hardback notebook as a visual diary of your thoughts and ideas about your work and life. Let it reflect your interests in subject, style and materials. Allow themes to develop. Make it personal, significant and complete."

Fortunately I HAD a spare A4 sketchbook lying round the house, and I decided I needed to personalise it so that if it go lost, it would find its way back to me. I've done a kind of virtual-noticeboard in the front cover with all the relevant info, and enough space around the edges that I can always add more stuff if I need to. I'm looking forward to filling up the whole sketchbook !

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Celebratory sketch

As promised, a celebratory sketch - my first proper self portrait based on a picture Sunshine took of me sketching at Somerset House yesterday.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Whoopee! Big plans afoot!!!

Yay! I've just been offered a part-time place on the art foundation course at London Met!!!! The BIG PLANS as mentioned in my first post earlier this month. I'm so HAPPY!!!! Yes - I'm taking a HUGE career change from Biochemistry but I'm just so HAPPY!!!!!!!

I went for the interview last Wednesday, having spent the week before frantically putting my portfolio together. When I got there, there were LOADS of people - lots of mature students infact. When I went in they seemed to be genuinely interested in my work and liked it (and ME I hope!). Anyways, I'd applied for the full-time course but considering how last minute this was (the course starts next week!), they admitted that they didn't have many places on the full-time course, and had more on the part-time one (it's still one-year long, we just do a few less projects and have to do more "homework"). So I said I didn't really mind which one it was as long as I could get on. Infact being on the part-time course would mean that I'd have more chance of getting some decent part-time work to fund it all. Then I've spent the last few days waiting for a response from them ... EEEEP!

I spent all of Friday walking round Bricklane visiting lots of London Design Festival exhibitions, and then spent yesterday drawing at Somerset House and both of these really convinced me that I was making the right decision. I don't quite have a full idea of what path I want to go down (have some inclinations towards illustration and communication design), but am hoping the year's foundation will help me figure that out ...

Anyways, EEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPP!!!! I'm so HAPPY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Somerset House

Sunshine and I spent all afternoon at Somerset House today - it was the launch of "The Big Draw", run by The Campaign for Drawing. What a gorgeous event run at such a fabulous venue! The Big Draw is this month-long celebration of drawing with all sorts of people and places in the UK running drawing-related workshops and events throughout October. Today saw the launch at Somerset House - and the place was just TEEMING with people drawing things. The courtyard still had lots of kids running about in the fountains, but today lots of the kids were also drawing (as were the adults there!). There were lots of art workshops in all corners of the courtyard, and in many of the rooms inside Somerset House, and King's College London next door. Sunshine and I each drew a little square for the "The People's Panorama"*, and then I sat round doing sketches of the building itself while Sunshine went off to take pictures of people.

Having been inspired by all the grid-drawings that have coming up on the EDM members' websites, I did a grid too - and it was great fun! It also meant I could fill the whole page up easily, and not have to stay in one position for too long a length of time. Here's the result (it was done in fine pencil so I've had to up the contrast in photoshop to make the lines clearer):

Here's a picture Sunshine took to give you an idea of what kinds of stuff was going on there.

* Press release for "The People's Panorama" :
Internationally acclaimed artist Ben Johnson, famous for his city panoramas that take him and a team of assistants many years to complete, will launch "The People's Panorama" at Amazing Space. 3,000 people will contribute a personal 10cm2 interpretation of a tiny part of London's cityscape (from a photograph taken from atop a buiding in Canary Wharf) to form the massive panorama. The finished work will go on show at the Museum of London.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Art of the Brain

That's the title of a wonderful set of workshops that I went to today at the DANA Center (more info here). They were run by a lady called Lizzie Burns - a biochemist turned artist (story about her on The Guardian here). Someone truly after my own heart, doing exactly the kind of thing I'd like to be doing.

Lizzie first started with showing us a selection of her own art work and then introducing us to a neuroscientist who explained to us about neurons and their function.

Workshop one: Draw a picture based on neurons, and your understanding of what they do and how your brain functions. I drew the picture on the right as a representation of how our brain cells sense touch and the response they might generate if you touched something sharp, or hot, or soft, or smooth, or cold, or functional (like a paintbrush!). People did all kinds of wonderful abstract pieces and it was a really joy to see them all (some fellow scientists and some not).

Then we all decamped to the studio where we were given this soft marshmallow-y play-doh like stuff to work with called "air-dough", and were introduced to ANOTHER neuroscientist.

Workshop two: Make a model of your brain! Basically the guy talked us through the 9 main sections of the brain, their function and what kinds of symptoms you get if those sections are damaged. We went through each section (with pictures!) in turn and modeled each section as we went along, building up to a model of the brain. (there was an option to do a 2-D or 3-D brain - I did both! Here are the (rather colourful) results.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Park people

I find it quite uncomfortable to draw people. I guess I just lack confidence at drawing such complex, moving, organic objects. I asked around on the EDM yahoo group for tips on how get better at drawing people - and the resounding answer was "practice practice practice". So I have.

I arrived early for my appointment today so spent half an hour sat at the park nearby. There were several people on the benches and I decided to have a go at drawing them. As you can see, I picked someone reading the papers, and someone asleep to try and minimize the amount of movement :) . Faces are another difficulty and I didn't even manage to get bench-guy-1's, so I forced myself to draw bench-guy-2's as best I could. I'm quite pleased with my attempt actually.

So, practice practice practice!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Toy Rocket

Sunshine's been trying to get rid of this lovely metal toy rocket for a while now. I guess he has no need for it. I'm not sure where he got it from, or if it's very old, but I just love it's vintage-toy-ness. One day I'm going to buy one of those retro metal robot toys and display the two of them together on a sunny shelf ...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Errol and Ernie

Coming on from the last post, here's a couple of the lovely things that Sunshine's sister makes. She gave us one each - on the right is her original creation "Little Errol" (who likes peas, by the way) and on the left is "Dancing Ernie" (I do a lot of dancing as well, so she thought it appropriate). They sit cuddled up together on our bedroom window ledge ... aawww... aren't they sweet....?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Sunshine's sister came over today to get some photos taken of all the stuff she designs and makes. She needed to update her website and she also wants to make up a catalogue - but WE'VE got the lovely camera, and a place with decent light. So we borrowed the flatmate's chunky tripod and set up a mini studio on the floor with the camera propped to take shots from the top.

Here's my impression of Sunshine taking photos - unfortunately his sister who was crouched near the floor rearranging the shot didn't quite fit into the paper (phew! I can only handle drawing ONE human figure at a time!).

By the way, Sunshine is WAY better looking than what I've managed to portray here ...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Twee Gebroeders

Sunshine and I went cycling along the canal this afternoon. Just by where we come out of the park and head up the canalside, there are several beautiful canal boats parked up. There seems to be quite a community of them along this stretch of the canal. One of them is called "Twee Gebroeders" - I have NO idea what it means, but it IS on sale (well it's been on sale for the last couple of months and I keep expecting to one day walk down the canal and it not be there anymore).

£75000 - Sunshine and I keep joking that maybe we should buy it and do it up - and maybe elope and sail it away into the sunset...

EDIT 18 Sept 06 : I DO know what it means now - Twee Gebroeders is Dutch for Two Brothers - thank you Loes for that piece of information!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The birds and the bunnies

I've spent most of last week in Norwich, at the University of East Anglia, doing a work placement at the BA Festival of Science. It was a great experience (even met some people doing sci-art) but we were kept very busy and I wasn't left with much time to do any drawing. I did though manage to take some photos, and use them as reference to do today's sketches.

The campus was completely overrun with bunnies. And they were really docile too. You could get almost close enough to pick them up - although no one did as the rumour was that they all had myxomatosis (viral disease that causes blindness and eventual death). Also on campus as part of the Festival were a bird-of-prey show. They had the most GORGEOUS American bald eagle that everyone was swooning over, and also a falcon, snowy owl, kestrel and vulture. I was told though that they had a bunny casualty on the first day they had the birds round - and the bunnies were much harder to spot the rest of the week!

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Last night I drew the deskfan by the bed that's been keeping us cool this summer. Dreadfull proportions though - that's what you get for sketching last thing at night.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The beginning ...

So this is it.

It's the 1st of September 2006 and I'm starting this blog to commemorate me starting on a journey which I hope will bring me a lot of satisfaction and joy. Fingers crossed.

In a way I started this journey when I decided to take time off from the career ladder I was on, back in April 2005, when my contract as a research scientist at Cancer Research UK ended. After a lot of umming and amming (and other interesting sound effects) I decided that I wanted to reconnect with my creative side - which I had been very connected to as a child. I've done bits and bobs in the last year like start on the great book by Betty Edwards, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain ; signing up for art, screenprinting and jewellery making classes, and generally trying to do a bit more sketching.

A couple of days ago I bought a lovely book by Danny Gregory called The Creative License which has inspired me to try and document the process: hence this journal. There are also other BIG PLANS in the pipeline, but I'll write about those if and when they come to fruition.

In the meantime, here's a couple of sketches I've done recently...

Sunshine was sitting on the bed with me also sketching and so I decided to have a go at his shirt:

(I still have a fear of drawing faces - something I'm going to have to attack soon)

And yesterday I had a mosey around The British Museum. Their "The Enlightenment" room has a lot of interesting bits of paraphanelia about how people started discovering more about their world. I spotted a lovely brass sextant-thing, and made a wobbly sketch of it:

Here we go .......