On the afternoon of Wednesday 13th January I officially began my three week drawing tour of the UK. As I still have teaching responsibilities in Brighton, and a portrait commission to work on I'll be spending weekends on tour and the beginnings Monday-Wednesday in Brighton. Appropriately Im starting the tour at the Cass Art flagship store in Islington with a workshop for 35 people. Packing is always a satisfying ritual; considerably more enjoyable than actually carting the 35 drawing boards, draiwng kit and overnight bag around London during rush hour...
I always enter art shops with blinkers in an attempt to avoid the distracting tempting glimmer of the unnecessary and hone in on the objects of my shopping list. It is hard to avoid today though as the workshop was to be held on the top floor of the three floor behemoth of a store, with chairs arrayed infront of a wall of canvases. I got in without being distracted by the delights on display, and the charming Santi made me a cup of tea. So far so good.
I have a lot of respect for school teachers, because a class of 35 can be tricky to teach. Teaching a class of 10 can be discursive and personal, and lecturing to a theatre of 300 is something of a performance but I knew this session would have to be broad ranging yet clear. To accommodate the keen novices as well as the skilled artists in the group I led everybody through some simple exercises that gave room for development. Blind contour drawing is always a classic starter (drawing without looking at the paper) and I always love the results; bellow is a bookshelf drawn 'blind' by Doug Shaw and a blind draiwng of Bella by Daniel. Amongst some other exercises from the book also threw in a five minute face-in-profile, with Bella kindly posing for me whilst everybody else draw the person next to them. 90 minutes goes quickly, but in that time some gorgeous drawings were made and more importantly, everybody had a good laugh.
It was a great crowd of inevitably mixed ability, from keen begginers just starting out to professional artists; I never have enough time to chat to everybody so a few of us decamped to the Wenlock & Essex for a drink afterwards so I could get to know everybody a bit better. What transpired shall remain undocumented; suffice to say that I was very pleased to spend the evening to such a lovely bunch although after two whole pints I was good for nothing. Through out the tour I am being helped by some amazing friends and artists; in this instance Bella Franks of Bella's Bits & Bobs not only helped me in the evening, but put me up for the night. Thank you Bella!
I'll be keeping a diary of all my stops on the DRAW Tour, and ill be using the #DRAWTOUR hashtag to document it on Twitter and Instagram. Next on the DRAW Tour is a book signing in Hampstead on Sunday 17th Jan from 2-4pm.
John Buchan once wrote that journeys made in haste by night were the epitome of adventure and I've taken great comfort in that every time I have found myself on the road with the sun slipping away and hours of travel ahead. This month there will be much adventure and many late night journeys as I embark on my Draw Tour, a trip around the Cass Art Stores of the UK. I'll be giving a few workshops and, on request, scrawling on books, but mostly Im out for adventure. I'll be meeting new cities, new people and drawing everything I see on the way. As much as possible I'm hoping to encourage other people to draw too: to initiate the un-confident in the ways of the sketchbook and join new friends in wearing blunt their pencils in diligent scribbling.
I would love some company along the way, so if you are in London, Liverpool, Glasgow or Bristol over the next month come and join me. Details are on the front page of this site and I'll be keeping a drawn diary on here as I go...
Teaching, drawing, writing and painting.