Monday 7 February 2022

Five books to inspire you to draw

I was happy to be invited to select five inspirational books about drawing for Shepherd, the website that's like roaming around your favourite bookshop. Follow this link to the Shepherd site to find the reasons why I chose each one. It's a rich field to choose from and it was hard to select just five: these are the ones that rang my bell the loudest as I chose. In no particular order:

Ways of Drawing: Artists’ Perspectives and Practices, edited by Julian Bell, Julia Balchin and Claudia Tobin (Thames & Hudson)

Je Suis le Cahier: The Sketchbooks of Picasso, edited by Arnold Glimcher and Marc Glimcher (Atlantic Monthly Press)

The Art of Urban Sketching: Drawing on Location Around the World, by Gabriel Campanario (Quarry Books)

Lines of Thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to Now, by Isabel Seligman (Thames & Hudson)

Drawing Projects: An Exploration of the Language of Drawing, by Mick Maslen and Jack Southern (Black Dog Publishing)

Visit the Shepherd website to find more.

Saturday 29 January 2022

Tuesday 17 August 2021

Numbering the sketchbooks


All of my sketchbooks – and there are hundreds of them now – have remained unlabelled until very recently. They were, mostly anyway, dated and their contents were listed on the opening pages, but there was nothing on their covers to identify them. Some of those from the 1980s to the 2000s have no dates in them and very little written in them, but there may still be enough to date them, such as a drawn infant daughter, or a specific location that can be pinpointed to a particular time. Date and location, date and location, I say to myself now: easily done at the time, less so later on, sometimes impossible decades later on.

Part of the reason for not labelling them was not being sure what was the best method. I didn't want to use one system and then change to another. I have opted for a simple dated system: year and month that the sketchbook was started. Perhaps a simple numeric system would be enough, but the system I've opted for allows new sketchbooks to slot in easily if necessary. And each page can be numbered and added to the catalogue number so it can easily be identified and found: say, 2020.03.32.

In my imagination I can see spreadsheets of each book with every image listed so I know exactly where and when everything was done in an easily searched format, but really, life is too short for that. There is a balance to be found between organisation and creativity. I think time is better spent drawing and writing. 



Wednesday 30 June 2021

Adjaye's Sunken House and an almond tree

We recently followed a street tree walk around our local streets from Paul Wood's enlightening book London's Street Trees. It was a bit of an epiphany to realise what an urban arboretum we have been walking under all these years: the route took in strawberry trees, tulip trees, dawn redwoods, Persian ironwoods, juneberries, wild service and Japanese pagoda trees, among others. The borough of Hackney alone has alone planted more than 1,000 street trees since 2018.

This almond tree (you won't recognise it from my drawing) grows on the pavement outside David Adjaye's Sunken House. Adjaye's designs include the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, and the Mole House, just around the corner from the Sunken House, which was once owned by the Hackney Mole Man, who spent years tunnelling under the house with unfortunate consequences. I wrote about it on the Urban Sketchers blog a few years ago when the house was still a ruin.

There's more of my work on Instagram

Monday 22 March 2021

Zoom sessions with ENO Breathe


This is the view of the final Zoom session of the ENO Breathe programme I've been attending; it's a six-week course for people recovering from the effects of post-Covid breathlessness lead by singing experts from the English National Opera and Imperial College Healthcare Trust. It may not have turned me into an opera singer – it will take longer than six weeks to do that – but it has been great for the breathing and relaxation. Those opera singers certainly know how to breathe. 

Thursday 14 January 2021

Landscapes in lockdown

Most of my drawings are about where I’ve been, what's caught my attention, what’s been going on. In these grim days of the UK’s third lockdown, things inevitably change and opportunities shrink, which needn’t be a bad thing. As well as the view out of the front windows and the view out the back, there are also the places where the imagination leads. 

Here are a few of the ink drawings - all postcard sized - that I have been working on over the recent months. Some refer to sketchbook drawings done on a trip to our farming family in Cornwall, and perhaps others have echoes of the Devon countryside where I grew up, but there’s no specific place about them and they’re all done from the imagination. 

The process of making them has been a kind of escapist release. 

You can see more of my work on Instagram at jameshobbsart.