Trying to understand deckchairs.

I’m sure that there are plenty of comedy acts about putting up deckchairs and failing. It seems to me an equally impossible job to draw them successfully. Perhaps I haven’t the patience.

230718 - Deckchairs 1In London’s Green Park (or “Brown Park”, or “Straw-coloured Park”, as the heat-wave seems to have repainted it) the deckchairs have already been put up for you, but as I was idly drinking my coffee, I could see a game of Cat and Mouse going on, as people dodged around trying to avoid paying the attendant with his ticket machine.

230718 - Deckchairs 3When you are trying to draw or paint them, the deckchairs always seem to have too many bits of wood, or frames, and does this interlock with this, or that? Do they go in front or behind the canvas seat?

And what about the stripes? Deckchairs always seem to be striped. Yet more lines to get entangled with when drawing! Always a mess, but fun to draw all the same.

230718 - Deckchairs 2Deckchairs are never that comfortable to sit in anyway I find, and there is always that fear of imminent collapse as you sink into one, and the difficulty of getting out in a hurry as the deckchair attendant draws near… –  “OK you win, here is you £2.80 for an hour…”

Personally, I prefer to sit or lay on the grass anyway. So much less hassle. I like the easy life, although I do think I need to set myself the challenge of drawing, or painting, deckchairs again sometime – keep going with my attempts until I can get the hang of it…

230718 - Deckchairs 4Not there yet!


Meet Jock. He’s a hot water bottle.

280118 - JockI was inspired to draw / paint this after visiting the Rachel Whiteread exhibition at Tate Britain last weekend. She had cast quite a few “Torso’s” by filling up hot water bottles with various materials, plaster, resin etc. and then, presumably, removing the outer rubber “skin”. It’s alright Jock – I wouldn’t dream of doing that to you!

I must admit, if you did lop off the head, arms and legs of somebody (please don’t try this at home, or anywhere else for that matter!), then yes – you can see the resemblance to the inflated insides of a hot water bottle.

Rachel Whiteread likes turning your mind inside-out and back-to-front with casts of stairs, windows, sheds, baths, bookshelves (I liked these!), and rather infamously a complete terraced house (sadly now demolished under rather controversial circumstances). It is the voids, the spaces inbetween that she captures so well.

The papier-mâché shed end exhibited here took me back to seeing the inside-out shed installed in the grounds of Houghton Hall in Norfolk that which we visited last year. In particular, I liked the cast detail of the bolt from the inside of the shed door, especially as a caterpillar was crawling up the side (bottom left of the right hand picture). It made it seem so real!

280118 - RW TBLastly, I have to share this with you. This is Rachel Whiteread’s “Untitled (One Hundred Spaces)” from 1995, which filled one of the main Duveen Galleries at Tate Britain. Each of the 100 pieces is a cast in various coloured resins of the underside of a found chair. Really beautiful!

Drawn to Hastings beach…

011017 - Fishing Boats at Hastings

Fishing Boats at Hastings

You cannot take a trip to the seaside without going to the beach and getting some fresh air. After visiting the Jerwood Gallery, we had a little less than an hour to go before our train left. Jane went for a walk, and I headed for the beach to see what I could find to draw.

Behind the Jerwood Gallery are the tall black huts once used by the fisherman for drying their nets, and numerous other haphazard huts that create a kind of shanty town, a ramshackle fishing village. Beyond this is the beach where the brightly coloured fishing boats are hauled up onto the shingle by rusty old winches, tractors and caterpillars.

I found an old fish crate (not too smelly or fishy!), turned it upside down for my seat, my knees were my easel, and my canvas was my trusty old sketchbook. I used pencils and coloured watercolour crayons for creating the marks.

Having only a few minutes to put something down on paper concentrates the mind. I wanted to draw the fishing boats of course, as they are quite picturesque, but I’m glad I had time to turn the “easel” around and quickly sketch the view behind me with the East Cliff rearing up behind the black huts, with the funicular railway scrambling up it’s face.

011017 - Hastings east cliff

Hastings East Cliff

During my meanderings around the internet, I’ve discovered another artist who roams these shores, and I must admit, I do like his linocuts which in their naivety remind me of my perennial favourite Alfred Wallis. Might be worth a look at: Melvyn Evans.

Tonbridge Dragon Boat Painting

100917 - Dragon's Head

Dragon’s Head

The Loudspeaker. The starting line. The lining up of the two boats – forward, back, forward. The pomp of the glorious costumes. Hats and wigs straightened.

Pencils, brushes, paint and paper are ready.



BANG! They are off. The digging in and the clash of the paddles. The water boils and spray hurtles upwards. Dragon Boat Racing is upon us.

They are round the bend now. Still in the distance. One slightly ahead of the other. Preliminary scurry of drawn lines. Pencil meets paper.

The drum beat! Smothered, dampened thuds at first. The cries and whoops of the crowd as the boats come scampering down the river towards us.

Drum beats get louder. More frantic. Boom…boom…boom! Brushes, watercolour, splash – get those colours down on the page.

They are upon us! Yelling, bellowing, a heaving mass of bodies, paddles, water, spray, dragons, pencils, paint, line and tone.

The drummer beats and shouts. The artist frantic – hands a blur.

It is close, very close, too close to call! Dragon heads straining forward, pulling and diving towards the finishing line…

Bang! Bang!

It is over now. Paddles are shipped, and arms raised. The drums fall silent. The helmsmen serene, as the boats slide under the bridge.

The artist survives the carnage on the page, and the paint begins to dry.

100917 - Dragon Boat Racing

Dragon Boat Racing