10/9/11: Sketchcrawl – Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Spent the whole of Saturday sketching at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I tried to pack in as much as possible so my sketches are very sketchy…

Sketch Point 1: The Underground Gallery: Jaume Plensa Exhibition
Lovely stuff, also very interesting video interview with the artist below.

9/9/11 Chester Zoo

Well it took two hours to get there and we had a mere four hours to get round it all, but we just about managed, despite rushing a bit. We also missed out a couple of areas in the middle, and a few exhibits were closed for improvements.

Lots of things to see. LOTS.
Great monkey enclosures – loads of space and swinging aparatus

Top 5 Highlights:

  1. The FRUIT BAT FOREST in the dark at feeding time! Crikey those fellas like swooping about for melon. Just amazing. Definitely Numero Uno Top Primary Highlight.
  2. Seeing the BUSH DOGS walk in formation around their pond, like a troupe of tiny bears. Then witnessing frustrated bush puppy trying to reach the water for a drink but, because mummy bush dog grabbed onto his hind leg (with her teeth) to stop him drowning (?), his tongue wasn’t quite long enough.
  3. GIANT OTTERS! Two of them, squeaking, and splashing about. Not like that invisible one at the Chestnut Centre, although that one is, admittedly, a lot closer to home.
  4. CHEETAH CUBS – Very cute.
  5. The ASIAN ELEPHANT enclosure. Loving the naturalistic fencing – they didn’t have a lot of space, but even their indoor enclosure has had some thought put into it with regard to the animals needs. This would have come higher up in my list but it was also a lowlight as we got to them last and they’d already gone to bed so we didn’t get to see them playing outside :( Continue reading “9/9/11 Chester Zoo”

8/9/11: Haddon Hall

Oh my goodness, look how pretty Haddon Hall is.

Look at it. Look at its pretty flowers. The inside of the house is absolutely beautiful as well, obviously, but all my photos were rubbish. You’ll just have to visit it yourself. Or Google it?

15th Century fresco seccoe in the Chapel. Thinking about doing something like this to one of the walls of our 1950s semi.

This house is just too pretty. Imagine living there though, with all those people outside taking photos and blogging about it. Annoying.

‘Do you come here often?’ Not often enough, my friends! (They didn’t have a ‘Vernon’ keyring in the gift shop, can you believe it?!). Good hommity pie in the restaurant though (also the best toilets. For reals… I was going to take a photo but I’m not quite that weird. You will have to visit to appreciate them. Go to Chatsworth, Hardwick etc., first though so you have a frame of reference).

I did a little sketch in the garden. It’s not as pretty as the real thing. How could it be?
More info on Haddon Hall here.

SHEEP! By the river at Grindleford on the way home. Always good to get a photo of the local sheeps. They’re quite chunky ones.

Edit for Brontë  and film-fact fans: Haddon Hall was used as the location for Thornfield in the 2011 (Fassbender) adaptation of Jane Eyre. It was also used in Pride and Prejudice 2005 (Keira Knightley), The Other Boleyn Girl and, my favourite, the Princess Bride.

The Week (Stanage Sketch)

Okay I was going to start writing a weekly blogpost of a Friday, informing you of all the Things That I Have Done, like anyone cares. But hey! Lucky for you, I’ve done b*gger all this week, just for a change. Not even anything remotely interesting. I was thinking earlier that I should probably try moving off the chair I have been sitting on for the last 48 hours and look away from the screen as my eyeballs are starting to fuse to it.

So, let’s see. I had a few days off work at the weekend, which was excellent. Again, I did nothing. But doing nothing on your days off is OK, right?

Oh, wait – on  Saturday I got itchy feet so went for a drive up to Stanage with the intention of going for a walk. However, it absolutely tipped it down with rain so I sat in the car with the window rolled down and drew for a bit. I saw curlews in flight and heard a sheep go baaa in it’s sleep. I then drove over to Hathersage and back, by which time the rain had eased off so went for a little walk over the moor. Someone had carved their initials into one of my favourite places which made me really sad, so I tried to uncarve it off, grr. Walked back through the woods, which haven’t been managed for the last 50 years, and now the council is trying to make up for it by clearing massive swathes of it. The result is sort of like a cross between Narnia and Glastonbury.

Snoring Sheep, before she fell asleep

We both had Monday off too, so we went to the cinema 3 times, THREE. We have these unlimited passes which means we can go to the cinema an UNLIMITED number of times (see what they did there) and *only* (ahem) pay £15 a month or something, which is great except if you only go three times in one day every 6 months (and you have to pay extra to see stuff in 3D as well, which is sort of cheeky), but anyway.

Oh, look so I did do something vaguely interesting. I don’t remember much about the films though, but let’s have a go:

  1. Green Lantern – Ryan Reynolds aka Maverick from Top Gun gets picked by a green blob of light to become an intergalactic spaceman who has the power to make anything from willpower, as long as it’s green.
  2. X-Men First Class – James McAvoy putting on a weird voice and touching his temples a lot. Explosions.
  3. Nandos – we had the chicken
  4. Pirates of the Caribbean 3?4? Who cares – Jack Sparrow, check. Some sort of quest for treasure, check. Lovejoy, check.
On the way to the cinema

Other stuff:

  • We went out for a lovely meal with my Dad for his beeday one night. Noms
  • I’ve started using Pinterest (click over there to follow me —–>)
  • I went to work, I rode on a bus, I listened to some Bright Eyes and some They Might Be Giants off of the 90s
  • I put *thumbs* on the bottom of my blog posts, look!
  • I noticed that the back of my shoes look like a surprised sloth:
<I still have this photo somewhere, let me know if you want to view it>
A bit more wrecking just for funs

Aaand that’s my week. What did you get up to? Anything nice?

Happy Father’s Day! Bryn Hughes

Not only is my pops a great Dad, he is also an incredibly talented artist. He’s currently down in That London reuniting and touring with “27 architects vintage Sheffield Uni 1963”, but to honour him on Father’s Day I’d like to share with you this interview, which was originally written in 2010 for UK Handmade Magazine.

MEET: Bryn Hughes

Please tell us what do you do and how you started

I draw and paint (in that order). I knew I was going to be an architect when I was just 10 years old, which is strange really since I was born in a small village in South Wales where my father was a coal miner and my mother a nurse.

After years of threatening to produce a sketchbook of buildings which inspire me to stop and look, the gift of a small box of watercolours from my eldest daughter in 2001 was the spark which led me to start sketching.

Were you taught to draw and paint?

I did Art at ‘A’ Level and a degree in Architecture but I was left to develop my own style, which was really good. The only formal advice I was given was how to put on an even watercolour wash over a large area and how to set up one and two point perspectives. I do love to buy books on watercolour techniques which I’m sure have influenced my style.

Tell us about how you work

I am always accompanied on my wanderings by my rucksack containing my box of watercolours, a 0.1 Pilot DR pen, sketchbook and a stool.

My personal technique is to sit facing a building and draw directly in pen, normally without pencil pre-drawing, onto rough A4 size watercolour paper. This method gives spontaneity since mistakes cannot be corrected and the adrenaline produced speeds up the whole process. Then, to keep the mood going at a fast pace, I immediately start watercolouring by painting in the dark windows. I find putting the first strokes of paint onto paper the scariest step so I always start in this way. I then continue with the rest of the watercolouring dropping in yellow ochre, ultramarine or magenta to give those “happy accidents” that mixing watercolour directly onto the paper can give. Working quickly and with a light touch gives a sense of immediacy and the best results.

What memorable responses have you have you had to your work?

The most memorable response was being invited by Buxton Museum & Art Gallery to give a one-man, seven-week long exhibition of my drawings. I will also never forget winning the Stephen Welsh Prize for Draughtsmanship at the University of Sheffield in 1965.

What is your favourite piece?

A fisherman’s cottage in Puerto Soller, Mallorca

What themes do you follow and where do you get your inspiration?

My usual subjects are frontages and facades of buildings. My draughtsman’s eye draws me into painting detail of shape, shadow and texture. I’m always amazed at how clever humankind is at creating buildings, works of art and works of use (I try not to dwell on its faults).

Favourite artists include Constable, Van Gogh, JMW Turner, John Singer Sergeant, Sturgeon, and the watercolourists John Blockley, David Bellamy, David Curtis and Nita Engle. I also just love the work of Ronald Searle and Quentin Blake. My favourite architects are Frank Lloyd Wright, James Stirling, C.R. Mackintosh, Peter Aldington and Richard Rogers. I admire the builders who work in all conditions to construct the edifices dreamt up by designers. I think modern architecture is going through a good period, designed by architects who are a small part of vast teams head by the accountants of modern construction – the quantity surveyors.

I’ve also recently discovered Urban Sketchers, which has inspired me to get out there and sketch, and I am really enjoying producing quick sketches on my new iPad.

Your work is extremely detailed – you must have a lot of patience. 

I think detail is a relative term. After practising mainly as an architectural draughtsman for the past 26 years, my work is not that detailed. I don’t have great patience – just a will of iron! My drawings nowadays are usually a fast sprint and not a marathon. The faster my pen moves the more satisfying the result.

What is your favourite or most inspirational place?

Venice. I would like to visit Seville/Cordoba area of Southern Spain. Castellon de la Plana (north of Valencia) is the place where I reinvented my drawing style in 2001, France has the most beautiful old villages but Spain has the colours.

You’ve just retired, congratulations! What are you excited about doing next?

Everything! I’m finally living my preferred lifestyle. Now I’ll have more time, I hope to use my weird imagination a bit more and increase my repertoire of artistic technique other than watercolours.

What’s your definition of the perfect day?

Waking up without the alarm clock, a quick burst of sketching/drawing, a speed walk or slow jog across the heather moors opposite our family home on the outskirts of Sheffield, then to end the day, a glass of red wine and meal with family and/or friends.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Don’t be an architect. But it was my ‘calling’ and I didn’t (still don’t) know any better!

Where can we find out more about you and your work?

My website www.brynhughes.co.uk

All images in this post Copyright Bryn Hughes

Sheffield Sketchcrawl 7: General Cemetery and Botanical Gardens

Well, the forecast wasn’t good, but we merry Sketchcrawlers gathered with our sketchbooks (and waterproofs) in the General Cemetery at 10am. I had a good mooch about the place, reading inscriptions and panicking about trying to draw vegetation, before I decided to just choose the best place to sit. I sat on the steps to the Old Chapel and draw the Monument to George Bennet, which is Grade II listed, and seriously decayed. It looks like his whole portrait has been chipped off deliberately.

Sheffield General Cemetery monument - original sketch by Sian Hughes artist


I got a photo in case you didn’t believe me. Look, poor fella:

George Bennet Monument


As it seemed such an important-looking object, and knowing nothing about this man, I wrote down the inscription from the reverse. George Bennet was a Missionary who spent eight years travelling the world and founded the Sheffield Sunday School Movement; he isn’t buried here but this is a monument to him and his work.

Sheffield General Cemetery monument inscription - by Sian Hughes artist


George Bennet’s story from the Cemetery Trust’s website
Some other interesting graves I saw included Leopold Lichtenthal of St. Petersburg, who was killed from a fall from a horse in 1879. Showing off, apparently. He was 17.
Leopold Lichtenthal
And John Burch, Gentleman, who died aged 80 in full hope of a joyful Resurrection. I hope he wasn’t disappointed. For more history, please go to the General Cemetery Trust’s website: http://www.gencem.org/
John Burch, Gentleman

We managed about an hour or so before the weather started to turn, so we quickly departed and reconvened inside the pavillions at the Botanical Gardens. We were just in time, because it started to absolutely tip it down for the remainder of the day. Here’s a sketch I did of the agapanthus in the “South Africa” pavillion, and the view through the door into “South & Central America”:

Sheffield Botanical Gardens, inside the pavilions - sketch by Sian Hughes artist
I then tried to draw the cacti in the South & Central America beds, but there was too much information! I may have made some of this up, but I think it looks pretty! Those tall things on the left were actually really fluffy. Well, they looked fluffy but they were probably very stabby:

Sheffield Botanical Gardens, cacti inside the pavilions - sketch by Sian Hughes artist

And still it continued to rain and everybody got very cold, so most people went home. Only an intrepid few braved the trek up to the pub for the de-brief and sketchbook swap but a good day was had by all!

As usual, click on the images to see larger and keep an eye on Lynne’s Picture Gallery to see work from the day from the other sketchcrawlers!