Anatomy insights over supper

24 months since my hands began to feel numb and tingling. Not just an irritant, but something definitely amiss. Following GP’s appointments: hand specialist reviews: carpal tunnel elimination; Neurology assessment: traumatic MRI head and neck scans; posterior decompression (growth on the spine) diagnosis (Thank you QE, Dr Littleton and Seddigh): spinal surgery (thank you Mr Metcalfe), physiotherapy (Thank you Gina) and regular exercise, the symptoms are reducing. Shoulder pain is much less frequent, neck pains less painful, hands and fingers cold, but less numb and fewer pins and needles.

frontal scan self portrait #1. A1 Silk screen.

After the operation to remove growth at C3 & 4, I accessed my pre-operation scan images. ‘Seeing inside myself’ for the first time inspired the making of a self portrait. Something I had never embarked upon before. Selecting ‘meaningful’ scans of neck, growth, head and brain I enlarged the small electronic images and applied a bitmap (black and white) matrix to give a texture and the ability to be silk screen printed at scale. The resultant three large scale printed images created an interior self portrait.

vertebrae C3/4.self portrait #2. A1 Silk screen duotone

I had not shared the self portraits until, over an informal supper, I was introduced to an anatomy education expert. I could not resist enquiring about the diagnostic process and my anatomical make up. On showing my self portraits an enthusiastic informed discussion took off, where many of the questions I had been asking about the connectivity of my nervous system were clarified. Her enthusiasm for anatomy and ‘seeing into’ the neurorogical make up I had reflected, brought forth her knowledge of how brain and pain connect. Her ability to access online medical information through applying professional, rather than lay, language along with her engaging sharing of information made clear to me what vertebrae connected to which nerves. Which parts of the brain are responsible for which bodily function, and the relevant size of brain tissue for amount of sensory information.

horizontal brain scan. self portrait #3. A1 Silk screen print

To explain how different parts of the brain process and control she brought up the ‘Cortical_homunculus’. This is a distorted representation of the human body, based on a neurological “map” of the areas and proportions of the human brain dedicated to processing motor, or sensory functions, for different parts of the body. Taking this further the nervous system is connected through dermatromes. Dermatrome, in anatomical terms, is an area of skin innervated by sensory fibers from a single spinal nerve.

Dermatrome Map

Dermatome Map

Cervical vertebra with intervertebral disc

This healthy symmetrical cross section shows how the spinal chord is protected and the spinal nerves are cushioned. There are a number of online examples of MRI scans in the Radiopedia platform which aims to create the best radiology reference the world has ever seen and to make it available for freefor everfor all.

This simple, but clearly explained description of the causes of nerve pains from the neck that had led to my posterior decompression surgery was immensely useful. My anatomical supper expert had been able to explain as she had time. She was not under medical service pressure to move onto the next patient.

We returned to the printed self portraits and drew connection between the binary transmission of signals to, from and across the brain with the binary marks of information required to capture and print the interior self portrait images.

Our anatomy evening came to an end with the sharing of Leonardo Da Vinci’s 500th Anniversary catalogue, published this week and celebrated across the land and in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Da Vinci’s drawings laid the foundations for anatomical study and the knowledge base of today. Current Magnetic Resonance Imaging techniques allow detailed images of inside the live, human body to inform medical diagnosis and treatment. I am eternally thankful for the medics and my anatomical expert for enabling me to create my interior self portraits.

brain neck and head. self portrait #1,2&3. A1 Silk Screen self portraits.

An Urban Sadness

All thats left after 100 years

100 years ago a conifer seed landed in Ingoldsby Court, Moseley Birmingham UK. A tall mature tree in 2018 developed a rotting disease and had to be felled for safety’s sake. In two days the deed was done. Sad, but Super efficient

Morning climb to the last branch

Slide show below

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Paperlike Drawing

Autumn Acorn bunch Landed in Ingoldsby Garden

This drawing is 8th in the series of Fruit of Drawing. It includes three empty Autumn acorn cups and one still to be released, in search of warm winter leaves and grounds to germinate in the Spring.

This drawing was the opportunity to try and test a new addition to my toolset: Paperlike.  This is a sheet of textured film that adheres to the glossy iPad screen surface.

I have  spent many hours perfecting my drawing technique on the iPad.  First with various styli and finally with the perfectly matched Apple Pencil, which in tandem with the procreate app, with its multitude of variable brushes, is  perfected for the tablet surface. However drawing with these tools has always ‘felt’ materiality different to drawing on paper with graphite pencils. After all they are ‘digital’. I have developed drawing techniques and styles for the smooth surface which over time has made it possible to make rewarding digital drawings. The fruits of drawing series are all made using this approach.

Getting the balance between traditional drawing materials and contemporary digital possibilities is always of interest and like many other human activities technology moves on and the launch of ‘paperlike’ offered a new addition.

It was developed by Jan Sapper and funded through a £40K Kickstarter raise in 2017:  ‘ We optimized the PaperLike for maximum precision and control. The friction is perfect for long drawing sessions or taking notes in endless meetings. And yes, it also feels nice.’ with testimonies like: ‘There’s actually a lot more resistance between the tip of the pencill and the surface – it really changes the way the ipad feels” and “The nice texture and grip, makes it easier to get whats in my head on to the screen”.

 There were a few not so positive reviews, mainly about the application of the film to the iPad screen and avoiding dust. I ordered it and it arrived in a relatively massive box.  Once I got through the paper packaging to the A4 envelope I watched the video and decided to take the dust avoidance advice and fix the screen in the allegedly dust free bathroom.

I nearly succeed, but a couple of pesky bits of dust evaded my cleaning and polishing.  Before drawing I  scrolled around applications with my fingers and the screen certainly felt much more like paper with its paper like, rather than digital glass friction.

Using the Apple Pencil I tested out a variety of pencil/brushes to get a feel for what was possible.  My ‘favourite’ pencil brushes seemed to visually deliver a softer line, with more texture. Drawing was more tactile which I had hoped for. The screen has a rough rag paper coarseness which encourages a  ‘natural’ drawing technique with the drawn mark response more akin to an analogue pencil on paper relationship.

Before Paperlike arrived I had begun to draw the Acorn bunch and rather than start a new drawing I added new layers and began to draw with the new surface.

pre paper like

post paper like

The two images are at different stages of completion, but there is a material difference between them. The first is less textured, the second, after getting used to the textured surface and a range of pencils, is less ‘smooth’ than the first.  As I experimented with procreate pencils I used HB, 6B, Blunt, Narinder and techical pencils. I had never used the narinder and technical pencils in previous drawings as they felt too fine and sharp for the gestural drawing I wanted to make for the fruits. I used the blunt pencil much less than in the previous drawings as it was too textured and difficult to control the spread softly.

All in all I enjoy the grain of the paperlike surface and the opportunity it has offered to draw on a less slippy surface more materially akin to a paper sketchbook, but with the digital opportunities of layering, reviewing and multiple choices of pencils. A step forward bringing digital and analogue drawing closer.

And it sounds different! The pencil sounds like it is drawing on a textured surface.

More Fruit, Portrait and Location drawings will confirm the value as I hope not to have to remove the film from the iPad screen.

More Paperlike details.

Acorn Life Cycle’s First Stage

The first stage of the acorn seedling’s life is fruiting. This is when an acorn grows on the oak tree, which happens through the spring and summer shortly after the tree has flowered in the spring. Different type of acorns can fall at various times. For example, toward the end of the summer or in early fall, fully grown acorns from white oak trees fall to the ground. Acorns from red oak trees fall during late fall or winter.

The Beauty of Uneaten Acorns

Acorns are heavier than many tree seeds and usually fall to the ground close to the parent tree. Acorns rarely sprout or germinate when close to the parent tree due to lack of light through the tree’s canopy. This function is performed by squirrels and other rodents that scatter, hoard and eat the acorn seedlings. Those acorns left uneaten have the chance to sprout and grow into an oak tree.

Acorns need the right soil conditions to germinate and sprout. Most germination of trees will begin during the early spring season. They require loose and moist and nutrient-rich soil in a location that gets plenty of sunlight and rainfall. Given these conditions, the acorn will start to germinate and grow a taproot that pushes deep into the surrounding soil. As the taproot grows down, the acorn sends a shoot upward. This is the first stage in the transformation of the mighty oak tree life cycle.

Reproduction is often aided by birds such as jays, which bury acorns to retrieve later, perhaps forgetting where they stored them.



Calendula’s Cloak, Jann Haworth

This dramatically varied, insightful and warming exhibition opened on Saturday with spoken word performances and a fully engaged debate with four women MPs. Inspired by the bold work of feminist artists and activists, Women Power Protest raises awareness, provokes debate and asks how much has changed for women. The show was very well attended by a diverse audience throughout Saturday with visitors enjoying the thought provoking work on every wall of the Gas Hall.  

It is curated to mark a century since the first women won the right to vote, the exhibition brings together modern and contemporary artworks from the Arts Council  and Birmingham’s Collection to celebrate female artists who have explored protest, social commentary and identity in their work.


Portraits on £10 notes

Condor and the Mole. Lynette Yiadom-Bookye

It showcases pieces by celebrated artists including Susan Hiller, Lubaina Himid, and Mary Kelly, as well as sometimes controversial artists such as Sam Taylor-Johnson, Sonia Boyce, and Margaret Harrison, the exhibition does not shy away from difficult subjects, nor underplay the genius behind these artworks. 

Trilogy. Claudette Johnson


Drawing of visitors viewing Rose Wylie’s Size 8: Orange. 1996.

In November 1918 The Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act passed allowing women to stand for Parliament. 100 years on to commemorate this landmark event in history, Birmingham Museum is delighted to host a panel discussion with four female MP’s from Birmingham and Solihull, chaired by leading feminist campaigner Caroline Criado Perez

Debating Mps with Lynsday Rutter who conceived the debate event.

Participating politicians: Jess Phillips, MP for Birmingham Yardley
Preet Gill, MP for Birmingham Edgbaston
Shabana Mahmood, MP for Birmingham Ladywood
Dame Caroline Spelman, MP for the Meriden constituency (Solihull).

The debate explored what it means to be a woman in parliament today and what the future looks like for women in politics. Caroline led the panel in rich and informed discussion   based on the MP’s extensive experience and knowledge of the parliamentary system. Dame Caroline Spelman was able to compare the changes in women’s engagement in parliament over her 20 year contribution in the house.  Legislative changes and custom and practice were welcomed, but there is still much to do.  The continuing social media abuse faced by female Mps and the need for social media platform companies to prevent or remove abuse was called for.  The chair encouraged questions of no more than ten words from the floor from women, and one man. There was more valuable exchanges and debate than for much of the debate earlier in the week in Westminster.

MPs, Staff and Trustees at the debate.


The show is free and on until 31 Mar 2019.  Go See.

Women Power Protest is part of the Arts Council Collection National Partnership Programme which sees four major UK galleries working together to curate, host, and share a series of exciting and innovative new exhibitions with works drawn from the Arts Council Collection. The National Partner venues are Birmingham Museums Trust, Walker Art Gallery National Museums Liverpool, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Towner Gallery, Eastbourne.


  • This event is free

IPMACT10- Two Hanging Prints

The IMPACT10 Salle 2 exhibition in Santander was a unique space amongst the Bienalle venues as it was soft carpeted and flooded with natural light. It also housed a wide range of print based exhibits. Many were large scale presentations and innovative in their use of walls, floors, screens and 3 dimensional spaces.
Two of these were works hung from the ceiling.  They were work by Kiochi Yamamoto and Ana Vivoda from Japan/USA and Croatia respectively.  Kiochi Explained that his original submission was a kite, but had been lost in transit.  He had made the hanging print artwork overnight from etchings he had with him and conceived of them being hung from the celiing. Two join them together he had boiled rice and used the mixture to glue the paper prints together.  5 Days later he replaced the impromtu piece with the kite.

To the right in the streaming sunlight from one of the traditional windows was a series of hanging prints composed of discreet photographic images and light coloured, but dense marks. This work was intriguingly beautiful and tiled Interactions. It attracted many viewers who enjoyed interacting with the 15 prints. Some were even drawn to touch the delicate works. The QR code carried the information about the Croatian artist : Ana Vivoda. I poped her name into Google and she came up in facebook. I messaged her to ask if she was still in Santander? “I am next door in the symposium” came the immeadiate reply. We met and Ana explained the motivation behind the self portrait was to give a number of impressions of herself, rather than a single image. She also explained her technique – very fine, hardly perecptible photographic traces of herself digitally printed that were added to with light ink through lino cuts. The balance of the inks, images, marks and rag paper hung with small clips and transparent lines came together to make a work demanding return visits and interactions.

Click here for Pictures of the pieces :





and two clips from Kiochi’s work are below

IMPACT10 Santander – ‘Circumstance of asking’

IMPACT 10 Santander

IMPACT10 title was Encuentro, ‘meeting’and there were many new and inspiring meetings of art and people throughout the week of exhibitions and symposia.  There were many print exhibitions from Goya to Yamamoto, Diggle, Single, Mitra Kupfermincand Ana Vivoda that it was hard to select what to view.  On Tuesday I selected Edinburgh Printmakers and their portfolio of artist prints with a stand out gestural litho by Ren Narbutt.

Ren Narbutt, Stone Litho printed at Edinburgh Printmakers

Fred from Tennessee viewing Barbie Kjar’s Tent Portraits

I turned round to see a tent! A long vertical canvas square reaching from floor to ceiling.  People were coming in and out, some entering and closing the two curtain ‘doors’ behind them. I wanted to see what artworks were enticing them in. Three drawn and printed portraits invited the viewer to go up close to the images, face to face with them. One Portrait was deep red giving the tent space a red glow. The drawings were evocative, simple and powerful, reflecting diverse characters.

I exited the portrait tent and watched how people looked at the portraits to their left, right and in front and how they entered inquisitively and exited with more intention than when passing by the many wall hung prints. The portrait tent seemed to afford a material viewing experience allowing the portraits more attention from the viewer as they had made a conscious decision to step inside. They had made a choice to view these drawn portraits and been rewarded for their commitment.


As I observed these goings on I noticed a woman was watching too. I asked her if the portrait tent was her work and she smiled : “Yeah.” In that unmistakable Australasian way of saying yes, in a ‘Yes of course’ sort of way.
We briefly talked about the tent and her three portraits within, which I said very much enjoyed and asked how do you go about the making the portraits?  “I meet them in the street, bars or venues and ask them if they would like me to make a portrait of them.” I was immediately impressed and interested and we talked some more before she had to talk with her other admirers. Unlike me, I asked her to stand in the entry to the tent for a photograph.

“Lets talk more” we exchanged contacts and when I saw her name was Barbie I could not help but ask: “Is your original name Barbara? Mine is Jonathan not Jonnie? Two ‘ie’s’ – A connection was made.




Barbie Jkar 

After a couple appointment hiccups, we met after we had viewed each other’s websites.  Barbie is a much more experienced exhibiting artist that I and I was full of anticipation of hearing her views on portraiture.  She had just mounted a show of 10 portraits in Melbourne. Surprisingly she was interested in how I had curated my recent High Sheriff portrait show. We talked for half an hour sharing each other’s drawing, print and portrait interests, art and personal experiences. We talked together freely and with ease, getting to know if our initial connection was to be fulfilled. Portraiture is something we are both focused on. We shared other artists of interest and tools of the drawing trade. Barbie is Tasmanian, and her Antipodean direct talking is mixed with an ability to stay quiet, pause from time to time to allow conversation to develop. We could have enjoyed more coffee and sharing, but then came the moment we had been building up to: sharing our approaches to the portrait subject:

“Some days I NEED to draw someone.  I know I want to meet someone whose face interests me. I go to places with ‘my looking eyes on’. I will be aware of people in a café, bar, or a music venue and my looking eyes will touch upon a face that I want to draw. There is a moment when it’s as if there is a Light around them. Like a spotlight illuminating their face. I am drawn to draw them.

‘Circumstance of asking’

“I approach them and get into conversation. I Tell them about me as an artist: ‘I draw people’s portraits and I’d like to draw you’. I show them work on my website. I share my previous portrait credentials and evidence of portraits made with people unknown to me at the beginning. I explain I hope to exhibit the pictures in the future, which may be a good opportunity to show friends and family. When I make this first approach I’ve not got to be intense. I am intense, but I’ve not go to exhibit that. I don’t want to scare them.  Through this ‘Circumstance of asking’I am hoping to establish a trusting relationship with a subject to make it possible for them to accept me as their portraitist.”

I can imagine Barbie approaching and engaging with a stranger as her ‘looking eyes’ would be replaced by ‘engaging eyes’ that look directly into the person she has selected, while she is balancing between responding and initiating discussion.  I can imagine her warm, genuinely interested character beginning the first stage of engagement.  However, she has an end goal in mind that is not far from her consciousness in this moment of asking. “Eventually I ask them if they would like to be drawn by me. There are very few occasions that the sitter or I, the artist stop the process and go our separate ways.”

“When it’s a go situation we agree a time to meet at the studio. When they arrive I make some tea, coffee and chat for 15 minutes or so. It is a chat, a further getting to know you and establishing a relaxed relationship before we begin, but I am also looking and assessing what would be the best, most representative, interesting position to place the sitter in. I suppose I am directing them.”

“Then we begin. We are face to face and I have ‘my drawing eyes’ on.  It is intense. While I draw we tend to speak about many things. Many times the conversations become quite deep. The sharing of the intimate space together and my concentration provides a situation of trust, where it feels ok to share thoughts, emotions and concerns.  After the portrait is completed, in one or two sittings, I have become close with the subjects. The intimacy of the portrait drawing session, when I can get quite physically close, along with the sharing of personal information makes it akin to a counseling session.”

It seems to me that when the process begins the fact that there is an end point/product, not an ongoing relationship, gives Barbie and the sitter a space to fill and feel safe together.

In a speedy ‘screen’ world where celebrity images abound and selfies are everyone’s opportunity to portray themselves, the focused artist and sitter relationship is very special. “

“My show of their portraits was wonderful. Everyone came and celebrated their images and the fact that they were real, on paper with the charcoal, graphite and conte in the gallery for all to see. The portraits are in the world to be shared and the subject to be ‘recognised.’”

I wish I had asked Barbie if we could record our conversation in order I could have quoted her verbatim and got the detail accurately correct, but I think this was the thrust of it.

We went on to talk about my approach, which is not as straight forwardly up front as Barbies’. However I do look to share my portraits of those people that my ‘looking eyes’ are attuned to and my spotlight has illuminated their faces and drawn me to first, smart phone photograph them and then to draw them.

The initial feeling we perceived when we met in front of Barbie’s portrait tent that we are on the same wavelength had been confirmed through our conversation. Barbie suggested we share a beer as the coffee ran out long ago and the sun was shining.

While Barbie got the beers in I reflected on my modus operandi. Our conversation has raised questions for me about whether my premise of discreet capturing of the subject through the smartphone could be developed. I am drawn to the possibilities of creating a ‘circumstance of asking’ that works for me, but I am not there, yet.

We kept talking and Barbie noticed similarities in our drawing selections: the focus on the head, hair, hands, and inclusion of elements of relevant clothing. Barbie tends to draw the torso never the whole body.

Chuck Close MOMA Sydney 2015

We talked about Australia, Melbourne and Sydney and the immense Chuck Close show at the Sydney MOMA in 2015. Barbie had seen it too and we discussed his approach(es) to portraiture, drawing photography and print. That show was a seminal moment for me as I saw again what printmaking could be.  It resurrected a calling to make prints.

Thinking back to my time in Melbourne I remembered I begun portraits in Melbourne that I had not shared with the subjects because I had drawn and printed them in retrospect, in the UK. Barbie wanted to see them and took the phone and its small screen under the shade of the table to see the portraits. She was interested/intrigued to see my choice of subjects on the Melbourne public transport system.  It felt good that someone of Barbie’s insight and shared artistic values enjoyed seeing portraits from her part of the world.

This 2 hour meeting of minds in the Spanish sunshine had established we had shared approaches to drawn portraiture.   Even though, and perhaps because we live at other ends of the world, I hope we can share more as we make images of people we are drawn to.


Jonnie Turpie September 2018

Fruits of Drawing Ep 3: The Oak Gall

Following on from the surprise Damson drawing developments of episode 2, I was expecting to find new fruit subjects in Santander, Spain when I attended the IMPACT Printmaking Biennale.  I came across some figs, but they were no more enticing than the surprise Welsh find of episode 1. No citrus fruits, lemons or oranges. Perhaps I was not looking in the right place.

Link to squid Ink 

However I met David Faithfull, a Scottish Artist when attending his ‘Squid Ink’ art work using sand silk screen printing on the Sardinero  Beach : Playa Primera de El Sardinero.


He also presented his work on a panel which  he began by handing out packets of what I thought were individual OAK seeds.  He informed us they were OAK GALLS, a very different proposition, from which he had made prints using, focusing, inspired by the OAK, which was hanging in the Impact10 Central Library Exhibition.

Smart Phone Photo of OAK GALLS Courtesy David Faithful, Impact 10
Photo of OAK GALLS Courtesy David Faithful, Impact 10

Liminal – Alchemical Aviary, David Faithfull

Subsequently I visited the exhibition, next to David’s Liminal, Aviary exhibit, and enjoyed the prints, BUT there placed on a small ledge, were the Galls on their branch,  I could feel episode 3 of the Fruits of Drawing beckoning. My trip back from Santander was long an laborious, but it gave me the opportunity to draw the Oak Galls.

OAK Gall
OAK Galls. Santander 2018. Courtesy David Faithfull



Fruits of Drawing Episode 2

Fruit of Drawing Part 2

Having revisited a 15 yer old Corsican walnut line pencil drawing and been inspired by the similar growing Figs structure in West Wales in the summer of 2018, I was surprised to come across ripening Damsons growing in a Birmingham garden.

Blooming blue, purple as their weight drew them ever closer to the ground below. Here we have another voluminous fruit with stems, branches and leaves supporting them to fruition. Like the surprise fig find, the damsons inspired more drawing. But unlike the figs when I reached for the electronic iPad, I was lucky enough to have been given two very different sketchbooks recently from a printmaking studio clear out. Although very different in size, paper, colour and quality I embarked upon drawing a selected bunch of 6 damsons with a 6B lead pencil before they over ripen, split and drop.


 The first drawing was in a small sketch/notebook with its own leafy design printed throughout. The first page was mainly clear for the drawing and I began by making a basic line drawing capturing the fruit’s composition on the A5 page. The 6B and the cloth like texture of the page allowed for a soft approach rather than a fine detailed representation.  It was enjoyable to feel my way through the fruits and their shapes, for although they all appear to be oval, they each have their own distinct shapes, which may not always be the uniform oval.  They may have grown together in a fashion that encouraged uneven growth, with the odd bump or straight edges within  the overall oval curves. The branch has its own round core with its uneven ridges of growth to support the ripening fruit. The end of the branch is the opportunity for the thin green stems to grow out to hold, connect and feed each of the relatively massive purple fruits. I wondered how they knew how and when to let go of their charges. Shading the fruit, branch and adding impressions of the leaves made a sketch rather than a drawing.

Picking up the A2 Gainsborough Designer Pad was a very different proposition because of its size, weight and the need to hold it high and draw while looking up.  However the major difference was the texture of the paper.   More a Felt dimpled finish. The larger drawing space allowed for more freedom to create shaped fruits and branch, but the rough texture had its own grain that became more prevalent as the lead built up.

A2 6b drawing

sketch using grained paper

small and large damson sketchs

The paper and pencil choice made for a textured impression of the damson bunch giving shape and volume to each fruit from a distance. However the vertical texture revealed itself on closer inspection. This is fine for an impressionistic drawing, however damson’s are a smooth finished fruit and perhaps there is another combination or method that can be applied to reflect the surfaces in the composition. Additional smooth paper and pencil selections could be found, however I could feel the tablet and Apple Pencil calling me to experiment with their capabilities. Before following that route I realised I had not been so observant on the A5 cloth book drawing to see the 7th damson hidden behind the foremost fruits which is included in the A2 drawing.  This smart phone photograph of the bunch from another angle that reveals not 6 or 7, but 8 fruits!

Click this link 6,7 or 8 damsons – for a clip beginning with a front elevation view and panning round to the profile reveals how many damsons are actually on the branch.


From papers to iPad drawing

Picking up the iPad I selected  a 6b pencil to draw the branch holding the fruits with all its knurled growths and protrusions. Parts of the branch were drawn over to create the smooth  lengths between growth stages. For the fruits I tried a ‘blunt pencil’ in the hope that broad strokes could create the smooth/velvet fruit skin finish, but it felt to brash. Switch to 6b. Much better for the range of tones needed to achieve each fruit and their position in relation to each other. The leaves needed to be given shape with the pencil shading by drawing at an angle to create width of mark, rather than line. The veins of each leaf were made with pencil line followed by eraser line to provide highlights.

Digital Damsons Drawing

The clip below captures the drawing process.

Auto tone digital damsons

In preparing the digital drawing for this article it was exported as a pdf (portable document format),  imported into  Photoshop and converted to a smaller jpg file for uploading here. However an auto tone function can be applied. The result is below. It is has much more contrast, which while viewing on screen gives a denser tonal range, greater the dimensions and volume to the fruits. I shall leave them both here for screen viewing and later print onto paper for comparison.

Auto Tone Digital Drawn Damsons

Fruits Drawings 15 Years Apart.

Corsican Walnuts drawing 2005
Corsican Walnuts drawing 2005

In 2005 on a summer visit to Corsica I drew a line drawing of walnuts growing on the vine.  The drawing was made with a pencil on sketchbook paper. For 15 years I had not come across a walnut plant or anything like those defined fruits, leaves and branches. This summer, 2018 I saw figs growing rather incongruously in West Wales with a similar fruit and structure. Attracted by the same sun lit ripe fruit image I embarked on a drawing, but this this time I had an iPad and pencil to hand.  I deliberated on what I should draw to reflect this group of fruits: line, shading?

I began by taking a number of smart phone photographs from a range of angles to achieve a useful composition. Not something I considered in corsica with a traditional lead pencil and sketchbook in hand. I began the figs drawing with it in mind to make a line drawing similar to the walnut drawing. First I created a layer in the iPad procreate app for my favoured photographic composition. A second layer became the space for a shading and a third for a line drawing. For the line drawing I selected the 6b pencil and a mix of ‘perfect pencil’ and ‘blunt pencil’ for the shading layer.  I began by line drawing two of the figs to the left and their branches. I then swapped to the shading level and drew the figs to the right. Enjoying reflecting the shapes in both modes I went on to compare each by viewing them side by side by making each’s layer visible. Each had their own quality of image and I went on to completing each I their particular layer.

Drawing in line requires a lightness and variation of weight to create a line depicting the whole object, while shading  demands an overall approach to the object and its volume. Like the Corsican walnuts both drawings include indications of the branch, stem and leaves structure to the plant to suit each technique.  The line drawing with rather extended branch and stem with little detail of the leaves, while the shaded drawing takes the reverse approach, with more detail in the leaves and less attention to the branch and stems.

Fig line drawing

fig shading drawing


fig shading drawing with leaves

For the shaded drawing the leaves were added to give more depth to the fruit on the branch. Both drawings have their discreet qualities. However, out of interest and ‘just to see’ what it might be like to mesh the two I switched both layers to visible and a ‘new’ third drawing is revealed. The shaded drawing now had sharper edges. The more defined edges from the line drawing gives the third composite drawing more presence and the inclusion of the line drawn extended branches give more context to main subject – the figs.

Line andShading Composite Drawing

Click the Line,shading composite above image to view a moving imager capture of the drawings.