Stick sketch at Anglesey Abbey!

Birch trees at Anglesey Abbey. Stick and watercolour.

Birch trees at Anglesey Abbey. Stick and watercolour.


During my recent Open Studios event I talked a lot about my sketchbooks and sketching and about choosing a book that you like with the right sort of paper, the travel paintbrush, the right sort of pens, [I like the water soluble ones that you can smudge with a licked finger! Very useful when you don’t have any colours with you!]. I talked about how to get started, about not worrying about trying to draw a complete picture, just start by making marks, just start!
I did a lot of talking, but I have to admit that I didn’t do a single sketch during open studios, so I thought it was about time I got started again myself!

On sunday I was in Cambridgeshire with my sister and we walked to Anglesey Abbey, it was a glorious sunny bright autumn day. I took a small rucksack with my sketching gear, yes, the things I had been busy telling everyone else to get.
The walk was lovely across the fens, and when we got to the abbey we marvelled at the colours in the gardens, so striking against the blue sky. I sat down on a bench in the silver birch plantation and got my sketchbook out, my little dish for water, a water bottle, my tin of watercolours, and, oh no! No paintbrush, no pen, not even a pencil! So much for telling everyone else how to get started! After a moment of dismay I looked at the paintbox, it seemed a shame to give up, so I dipped the tip of my finger into some water and then into the paint. What had I been saying about going back to basics!
I smudged a bit of colour onto the paper, hmm, then my sister found me a small stick, I snapped the twig in half and dipped the sharper end into the paint and started to draw with it. It worked!
It may not be my best sketch but it was amazingly liberating. I have kept the twigs, they are now part of my kit! But hey, it doesn’t matter if you forget your pencil case. Just look around and use anything!

Birch trees on birch bark. Birch stick and watercolour.

Birch trees on birch bark.
Birch stick and watercolour.

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