Alfred the Great

No burnt cakes here. I started drawing kings and queens about a year ago, from a reference book. My motive was not any love for royalty or the institution, but simply to try to learn the names and dates, which I never bothered to do before, although I did ‘A’ level history long ago. Inability to answer quiz questions was a much stronger motivation than exams.

I’d done all the ones from William the Conqueror onwards, but none of the earlier ones.

This was a fairly quick copy of a photograph of his statue in Wantage.




Pablo Neruda

When we were in Chile last August-September we visited Neruda’s house in Santiago, la Chascona. A fascinating place, with stairways and gardens and collections of objects that appealed to him.

He was also a diplomat and politician.  The name was originally a pen name, derived from Jan Neruda, the Czech poet.  He was an advisor to Salvador Allende, and won the Nobel prize for Literature in 1971.

We saw another of his houses in Valparaíso, la Sebastiana – he certainly knew how to live!

I haven’t read much of his work. It’s on the to-do list, with a lot of other things.

Cosy Club café

img_2191A meeting of Leicester Sketch Club – on a cold damp Sunday morning, there were more than twenty people, and the ages ranged from twenty-somethings to over seventies.

The cafe is in an old knitwear factory, with some fittings still in place, and huge windows down one side. It’s a huge space but feels welcoming and informal.  Lovely atmosphere, of people chatting and drawing, some quietly pleasant jazzy music, good coffee and cakes available.


Charcoal nude

A day at Stamford – my first attempt at life drawing,  in charcoal. A lot harder than drawing from photographs . . .

The first two were short poses, lasting about 30 minutes each.


I found it hard to judge the space on the paper – this is a sheet about twice the size I have been working on. A2 cartridge paper.


I quite like the general shape.  I’m still pretty tentative, and I made her stockier than in reality.


This drawing was on A2 grey sugar paper. The poor woman still looks dumpier than she is, and I had difficulty with the proportions. The head is too big, the body too short and wide.


A2 grey sugar paper again. I ran out of space for the head, and found the arm and hand tricky. I was quite pleased with the bent right leg, but the left leg and foot are odd!


Done at an all-day portrait workshop in Stamford, led by Joanna Crawford.

There were four sessions of one hour each.


Some of the proportions are not quite right, and the areas around the chin and mouth have been scrubbed out and redone more than once, but on the whole I’m reasonably pleased with my efforts.