'Aller au fil de l'eau' means to go with the flow. It is also, appropriately, the name of the café in the small French village where I live. On the terrace, the atmosphere is relaxed, life seems to mosey along no faster than the river that slips lazily by. In spring and early summer, conversations are often accompanied by a chorus of croaking frogs. Creating this blog is some kind of commitment to take brush or pen or pencil in hand every day and make art. As Julia Cameron says: "...creativity is not a marathon event that we must gird ourselves for, whacking off great swaths of life as we know it to make room for it. Creativity is not aberrant, not dramatic, not dangerous. If anything, it is the pent-up energy of not using our creativity that feels that way". Not making art is like trying to stop the flow of the river. I surrender to the flow and watch where it takes me.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Putting it in perspective

Two years ago almost to the day I did my first proper 'urban sketch' - of an old butcher's shop on a street corner in Quillan.

Though a bit wooden, it was at least a start. Yesterday, quite by chance, I found myself in the same spot and thought to myself: "Wow, wouldn't it be interesting to sketch the same scene and compare the results...?". So that's what I did.

This time I decided to include more in the sketch, a) because I had more time to spend and b) because experience has taught me not to feel daunted by complicated views. But, as I started to draw, all the problems I came up against last time came flooding back. The perspective is really tricky in this one. Feeling bold, I had opted to go straight to ink... bad decision. With hindsight, I realise I should have at least sketched in the perspective lines in pencil to give me the basic structure. Anyway, I got down the basic drawing on site, took a photo for reference and left to pick up my daughter from dance class.

Back in the studio, I compared my sketch with the photo and immediately saw how bad the perspective was. It's odd because I usually have quite a good eye for perspective and have never felt the need to use a frame or other device. Not wanting to give up on this sketch, I decided to use it as an exercise. So I printed out the photo and drew in the perspective lines, establishing that there was indeed a single vanishing point.

Then I used a ruler to check the lines on my drawing... Multiple vanishing points. Oh dear. Was it salvageable?

With the help of a tube of white gouache, I was able to improve the perspective, though the final drawing still has multiple vanishing points. Oh well, you can't win 'em all. Enough fiddling, on with the fun part, putting in the colour.

Despite the dodgy perspective, the finished sketch, while by no means one of my best, does perhaps have more atmosphere than the 2011 version. Probably because there is more in the picture and the colours are more resolved. What do you think?



  1. You did well to sort it out, and the resultant sketch is lovely. You've come a long way since 2011 :)

    1. Thanks, Sue. It was quite an enlightening experience in the end.

  2. I love the spontaneity of the first sketch, although I appreciate your involvement and focus in the second one was probably enjoyable and you must have finished with a satisfying sense of achievement.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Barbara!