Just me and my sketchbook

  • My wife couldn’t come away with me to Southwold this year (a quite coastal town on the east coast of England) so I had four days on my own in a lovely little cottage right in the middle of town, next to the lighthouse.  I decided to use this short period as a “retreat” both for drawing and Christian reflection (don’t worry, I won’t write about the latter here!).

    I had just bought a new sketch stool and had all my supplies in a small rucksack.  The weather for once was fantastic for the whole period so I was able to be out morning and afternoon sketching in this extremely picturesque little town and its coastal surroundings.

    On the Sunday morning I went to the 11th century Parish Church of St Edmund and then drew one of the many “greens” in the town, with the lighthouse visible behind a row of cottages.

    Then later in the day I went out to another part of town and drew “South Green”

    This is a double-spread in my Moleskine watercolour notebook of course.  It was glorious sitting in the sun doing all the details of this interesting view.

    The next morning I went back to the old church to try to do a church interior (Stephanie Bower is so good at these) and I wanted to see if I use her approach to this complex scene. Unfortunately I couldn’t!  Its come out a bit messy and confused but at least I learned some tips for next time.

    As a bonus, a pianist came in to the church to do his practice and it turned out that this was no ordinary pianist but a concert-level musician who played Liszt’s etudes while I was painting – what an experience to be sitting in the ancient church with these sounds washing over me.

    Later in the day I went down to the little ferry (one man and row-boat!) across a river to cross over to the little village Walberswick where there was so much to draw – here is one of three I drew there.

    After that I went home and after a short rest went out to the local pub where I had a pint or two of the local Adnams ales sitting outside on a bench in the sun and reading a paper.

    The next morning I went back to the church and tried to do the entrance from outside in the church yard with local people passing by all the time and trying to glance at what I was doing.

    Above the doorway you can see a statue of St Edmund the Martyr who was tied up by invading Vikings and then shot with arrows and beheaded.  Poor Edmund!

    Back to the harbour again and couple another river scene

    Then on the way back to my cottage I sketched “Gun Hill” with its row of cannons

    In the evening after another couple of Adnams ales I went back and sketched the view from the window my my little house with the lighthouse again visible behind cottages.

    And that my friends was what I did with four days on my own in the delightful little town.  I will finish with just one more sketch

    What an amazingly productive few days Tom! The sketches are beautiful and I feel like I just had a short vacation looking at them.

    Thank you Julia.  I had a very enjoyable time and kept in touch with my wife via WhatsApp throughout! What a boon modern technology is.

    Wow! What a satisfying way to spend a retreat.  You did some fabulous work.

    Thanks Sandra.  Just sketches really – not as neat as my usual stuff – but perhaps better for it

    Beautiful sketches, Tom!  What a wonderful way to spend four days.

    Thankyou Tom for sharing

    I really like your sketches. You are really good. The colors you use make it look so defined

    This is outstanding. Just remembering me Ghibli studio and some old movies. Especially, I love the way you used the colour schemes. May I ask which paints did you used? At some places, it gives a gesture that you did some pencil work with crayons but I think you also used some paints like gouache paints. Am I right? If yes, then please recommend me good gouache paints from here. I am confused between too many brands and their exciting casing as a newbie. Hopefully, you will give a better idea.


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