Writing about drawing

Drawing at Moleskine, Covent Garden, with UrbanSketchersLondon

On Saturday 6th September I went along to an Urban Sketching event at the Moleskine shop in Covent Garden. I went to workshops led by urban sketchers Adebanji Alade and Olha Pryymak and was also lucky enough to get a free Moleskine sketchbook to try out.

In the morning Ade shared his enthusiasm for sketching out and about, showing us his IMG_2154sketchbook of drawings made whilst travelling on public transport. He also shared his expertise, demonstrating the tools he uses and his approach. It was interesting to hear how he uses something that will make a broad tonal mark such as a thick felt pen or graphite stick, in partnership with as something that will make a fine line such as a biro, pencil or pen. He showed us how using a combination of these he could quickly record his observations from life. He encouraged us all to have a go – bravely being the model! Later he took us out in Covent Garden and he demonstrated blocking in tone then adding linear detail looking at the architecture we could see.

Ade’s enthusiasm and positive commitment to drawing and sketching and especially the idea that everyone should have a go and that if we practice every day we’ll improve were great to listen to. His own work and ideas can be seen on his website Adebanji Alade and his blog.

I went out and about doing some drawing over lunchtime and discovered the lovely garden attached to St Paul Church, Covent Garden, the actors’ church. This is a quiet and calm space right near Covent Garden and a wonderful place to sit, draw and have lunch.

IMG_2157In the afternoon I went to a session led by Olha Pryymak, also an Urban Sketcher. Olha encouraged us all to have a go at continuous line drawing for three minutes. She showed us her own wonderful sketchbooks that were were crammed full of drawings, notes and ideas. Its great to see an artist who has continuously used a sketchbook as part of her work. Olha also set us the task of going out into Covent Garden and capturing something we could see in 20 minutes. By this time it was much busier, but we managed to find doorstep and ledges where we could sit and draw from. When we came back it was so interesting to see all the different snapshots of life and architecture that had been drawn – rickshaws, motorbikes, rooftops and many, many people! Olha’s art can be seen on her website – Olha Pryymak where her paintings on London life really show how her ongoing sketching inform her work.

I learned lots and hope to have a go at some of the approaches and ideas as I continue drawing every day.

More about UrbanSketchersLondon here

More about Moleskine here. Moleskine run challenges that people can take part in. the current one is to draw your town and submit it by September 16th, details on the website.

#ArtDropDay Tuesday September 2nd 2014

Last Tuesday it was world #ArtDropDay. This is an idea from artist Jake Parker – you can see more about on his website here.

jpI found this by accident on either Twitter or Facebook – I like the idea of sharing art and the sense of unpredictability that leaving it for someone to find brings.

I choose three prints that were inspired by Northampton, wrapped them up to protect them against the weather and added the #artdropday and my contact details. On Tuesday morning I went to Abington Park and ‘dropped’ my art! Now its over I can tell you where…

Processed with MoldivI left a print that was inspired by some medieval tiles in Northampton Museum on a window ledge on Abington Park Museum. I left a print of the hill in snow hanging on a tree on the hill and another hanging on a bush in the sensory garden. During the day I could see that other artists around the world were also placing art for others to find and enjoy. Nearby Minnie, Lorraine, Lizzi, Wyn and Jamie placed art in Kettering, Northampton and Towcester. In the afternoon I was surprised to get a phone call from BBC Radio Northampton who had come across the event and wanted me to talk on the radio about it later!

I haven’t heard back from the people who found my art yet – although I know its been found as it isn’t where I placed it anymore. I do hope they get in touch…

Next year it would be great to have more Northamptonshire artists involved and try to make sure that the public know more about it…more later!

TEAm – A Collaboration, at the Gerald Moore Gallery 22nd February 2014

The opening of the #TEA sketchbook circle exhibition at the Gerald Moore Gallery was the culmination of the year’s work by all the participants in the TEA project. During the day, before the opening, there was a series of workshops and seminars exploring collaborative practice in art.

2014-02-22 10.49.30These included a ‘pass round the circle’ sculpture activity where each person began to use the materials laid out in the middle of the circle to make a structure and then passed it on several times. After about three passes we then got together to combine the creations into a coherent piece and present it to the rest of the group.

2014-02-22 10.58.24After this we all went off to the workshops we had chosen – mine was bookmaking. It was great to have an intensive introduction to various bookmaking techniques, some familiar and many new to me. I came away with some lovely books and some brilliant ideas.

2014-02-22 15.29.39In the afternoon the whole group were led and supported by ceramicist Rose Nguyen, who talked us through her work and then set us the task of using clay and natural materials to ‘draw’ with individually and collectively in three dimensions. This was quite daunting for me as three dimensional work is not my natural choice – but once I got going I was absorbed and challenged.

At the end of the day we were able to go to the opening of the #TEA sketchbook circle exhibition which was truly inspiring, especially since I am now part of the #MoreTEA sketchbook circle. I even met Mary, one of the teachers I am exchanging sketchbooks with!

Processed with MoldivI came away from the day having met in person some of the people I had previously only interacted with through social media, a bag of made things, loads of photos and masses of ideas and inspiration. Throughout the next day I continued to use what I had experienced to inspire my own drawing.



Last night I went along to the TeachMeet at Wrenn School in Wellingborough, Northants. This was an event to celebrate what is positive in teaching and allow teachers to share their resources and teaching strategies. I’ve been to a TeachMeet before but this time I gave a presentation. This blog post is a recreation of it.

As a primary school teacher I have been an art teacher and art co-ordinator for many years. Over the last few years I have picked up on the concern that many teachers have about the place and status of art, and in particular drawing, in schools. A recent OFSTED report (2012) identified that children’s most adventurous experience of drawing was likely to be in the Early Years Foundation Stage, with progress slowing in the primary phase until was barely satisfactory in the secondary years. Other researchers (such as Anning, 2002) noted that children often pursue drawing activities at home and don’t necessarily share these at school.

photo (2)

At the same time I am an artist and over the last few years I have experienced the possibilities that social networking are providing for great opportunities to share their work, provide and take inspiration from each other and make contact with artists locally and around the world. Examples of this are #DrawingAugust – where artists from around world posted a drawing on twitter using this hashtag every day for the month of August and #twitartexhibit – where postcard sized art is used to fundraise. Pinterest is a fantastic way of researching and collecting images for inspiration and there are UrbanSketcher groups in many cities who get together to draw.


Social networking is already beginning to have an impact on art in schools, helping us reclaim our subject and our own practice as artists with positive effects for our pupils. The TEA Project is a great example of this. I have just begun participating the the moreTEA sketchbook circle 2014. This week I sent my sketchbook forward to a teacher in Leeds and received a sketchbook from a teacher in Middlesex. I’m looking forward to responding to what I find and sending it back later this month. I also took part in the Creative Communities Artist Swap Box – I was given the name and address of an artist in Scotland and I had to make a box of inspirations to send to her and she is going to do the same for me!

2014-01-19 17.16.21

This is what I sent to her – its all wrapped up to make it more exciting!

In the TEA materials Eileen Adams (2013) reminds us that drawing is an innate capacity that can be nurtured through experience, learning and practice. I really like the way she explains this: we all learn to walk and some of us become runners and dancers. I would go on from that to say that we might not all become runners or dancers but we can gain use and pleasure from walking. We may not all become artists we can all get use and enjoyment from drawing.

In thinking about this I wondered if i could use social networking and technology to address what Eileen Adams identified as the need for a purpose (why are we drawing); content (what are we going to draw) and technique (how are we going to draw). I have set up a blog called ‘What shall draw today?’ It has some simple ideas to prompt why, what and how to draw.


I have also set up a Flickr page where people who try out the activities can share their outcomes in order to help and inspire others. (I gave out lots of fliers to the people at the TeachMeet, that had QR codes linking to each activity)


I’m floating this idea out to see what happens…

You can see more tweets from the TeachMeet at #tmwboro – some interesting and useful teaching ideas!


Adams, E. (2013) Drawing to Learn: Learning to Draw. [online] Available from: http://t2.nadfas.net/sites/t2.nadfas.net/files/2.%20DRAWING%20TO%20LEARN%2011_06_13%20%20.pdf [Accessed 26/01/14]
Anning, A. (2002) Conversation around young children’s drawing: the impact of the beliefs of significant others at home and school. Journal of Art and Design Education. Vol 21, No 3, pp197-208
OFSTED (2012) Making a mark: art, craft and design education. [online] Available from: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/making-mark-art-craft-and-design-education-2008-11 [Accessed: 22/01/14]

posted on The Big Draw blog, Feb 2014

Time for TEA

One weekend in early November I went along to the TEA Symposium at the National Gallery.
I had seen TEA cropping up social networking and in relation to NSEAD activities over the last few months but I didn’t have a clear idea about what it was – expect for a sense of excitement on the part of participants so by the time I saw the Symposium advertised I was keen to find out more about it.
TEA is Drawing as thinking, expression, action. The day was all about sharing the experience of the 74 art, craft and design teachers in secondary schools who took part in the programme last year and culminated in the launch of the TEA website that gives all of us access to some great resources to inspire us in supporting and teaching drawing.
It was a busy and action packed day with opportunities to hear a range of speakers and try out and hear about some practical approaches.

In the morning we heard from Helen Goodman, Shadow Arts Minister, who talked about her concern over the apparent narrowing of the curriculum and her commitment to a balanced curriculum. Lesley Butterworth, from NSEAD, talked about the importance of social networking for helping us find a space between work and leisure in which explore our practice.

Colin Wiggins used some wonderful images of drawings to remind us how drawing underpins so much art including some of Michael Landy’s drawings in the exhibition ‘Saints Alive’ in the National Gallery. By coincidence I had just been to see this exhibition before the Symposium began and even done a quick drawing of my own.20131109-181339.jpg

Christophe Egret shared his approach to drawing as an architect – he said ‘I draw every day, like breathing’ and it was interesting to hear about the purposes he had identified: conceptual, exploratory, explanatory and representational. Eileen Adams talked in more detail about TEA itself and I was particularly struck by the way she proposed that children have an innate capacity for drawing that can be nurtured thorough teaching, practice and experience.

teaThe next part of the day was centred around exploring and learning about the practical work of TEA. I went to Orla Crean’s workshop ‘Abstract drawing to develop confidence and skills’. As well as hearing about her work with pupils to explore composition and line and seeing examples of how they developed this learning into print we also took part in a sketchbook circle by using pens and collage materials to explore line on a page before passing our zigzag sketchbook to someone else. It was noticeable that as we worked we became more adventurous in response to what we saw others do and the materials themselves. Looking at these at the end inspired lots of ideas for using this approach in learning and teaching as well as discussion of the challenges of collaborative work with pupils.

Later I went to ‘Drawing from life’ where Oliver Hurd-Thomas shared his approach to still life and Jane McDonald shared her use of life drawing with us. These case studies highlighted a range of creative possibilities and made me quite envious of secondary colleagues who could go so far with art with their pupils.

Towards the end of the afternoon we returned to the Sainsbury Wing to hear from Paul Sproll and his work in Rhode Island to support young people and their teachers and from Ian Middleton, who reminded us that ‘Marking a Mark’ had identified that ‘Perceptions of their [children’s] own drawing abilities were often at the heart of their attitude to the subject’ (OFTSED, 2012, p51). He reviewed some of the key findings that can help us improve and develop drawing in schools using evidence from inspections.

tea1The day culminated in Susan Coles from NSEAD and some of the teachers who had been involved in the TEA project: Karen Wicks, Georgia Naish and Elinor Brass, sharing their thoughts and artwork with us – from this the potential for learning and inspiration was so clear in their words and the images they showed us. By this time I felt I had really missed out by not being part of the project so I was very glad when they presented us with some opportunities to take part in future developments!
At the end of the day NADFAS and Sue Grayson launched the website of case studies and resources available to all of us as inspiration and a source of practical ideas.

Going to the TEA Symposium inspired me to take action!
I’ve sent off my details to be involved in the more TEA sketchbook circle.
I’ve set up a Facebook page called Draw_NN with the aim of helping teachers of drawing (and art) to make connections and support each other. You can see it here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Draw_NN/426604130796209?ref=hl&ref_type=bookmark
I’ve looked at my local NADFAS network to see how they support Young Arts in Northamptonshire. You can find your local group here: http://www.nadfas.org.uk/
I’ve explored the TEA resources here: http://t2.nadfas.net/
I made a storify of the tweets from the day which gives you a flavour of the day. You can see it here: https://storify.com/JeanEd70/tea-symposium-9th-november-2013
OFSTED (2012) Making a mark: art, craft and design education. [online] Available from: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/making-mark-art-craft-and-design-education-2008-11 [Accessed 31/03/12]

written November 2013


#Drawing August

Throughout August 2013 I was part of a fantastic Twitter initiative begun by Jean Stevens (@JeanStevens4) and Dean Lewis (@olderThanevil). About 200 artists tweeted a drawing everyday throughout August using the hashtag #DrawingAugust. Ian Gordon Craig (@IanGordonCraig) added a selection of them to a Pinterest board that you can see here: #Drawing August Pinterest board Later Dean Lewis wrote this article in the
Welsh Arts Review
Seeing drawings appear throughout the day and night on Twitter, from all over the world created such a sense of excitement and a drawing community. Having a window into the artistic lives of so many people was truly inspiring! On the last day of this virtual experience six of us who had been joining in in Northamptonshire met in a local park to make and post out last drawings in person. From left to right (below) here’s Kardi Somerfield (@kardisom), me (@JeanEd70), Willy (@WillyGilder), Minnie (@ProjectDogwalk) and Spike, Dave (@DaveBarrow3) and Jo (@JojoPalm22).


When we met we talked about how amazing it had been to encounter artists from around the world; how the experience made us think about what we draw and the materials we use to draw with and how it opened our eyes to huge amount of drawing going on. We got the chance to look at each other’s drawings – surprised by how big or small they were! We hope to go on and work together again. You can see all my #DrawingAugust drawings here: Jean’s #DrawingAugust Pinterest board

Joining in with #DrawingAugust overlapped with my personal quest to make and post a drawing every day for a year. You can see my daily drawings on my blog: Jean a drawing a day The feeling that I was drawing in company with many other artists enhanced my experience so much and motivated me to continue into a second year. I’m now considering aiming for 1000 days of drawing. If so, yesterday was day 423.


Towards the end of the month someone suggested we continue into #paintseptember. I’ve interpreted this as pen and ink and inkwash so that I can combine it with my drawing. Today (1st October) we move on to #printoctober. I plan to try out drawn monoprinting and continue to explore the link between drawing and other media.

Come and have a look or maybe join us!

Written October 2013 for The Big Draw blog


Blog entry for London Drawing

London Drawing – The Drawing Theatre with Paul Kindersley
Shoreditch Town Hall
Saturday June 15th

Going along to London Drawing’s The Drawing Theatre at Shoreditch Town Hall, I knew that I would have some interesting and different experiences of drawing as I’ve been to other drawing events run by London Drawing at Tate Modern and Battersea Arts Centre.

It was pouring with rain that day and as we all arrived and gathered in the first room under Shoreditch Town Hall we could see the rolls of white paper from ceiling to floor and the materials laid out for us to use. Just looking at these made it clear that we wouldn’t be drawing with pencil on paper as in a conventional life class – all sorts of papers, scissors, tape, glue, pens were available and one of the first things we had to do was collect some materials and tools to use for the first session.

20130615-195042.jpgOnce we were all ready to draw two models took the stage – their contrasting body shapes and poses and the way they moved and posed at intervals was challenging and interesting. Over the first session a pattern of posing, then moving and painting onto each other and the background with black paint and posing again emerged: this inspired drawings that were dynamic and changing and forced me to abandon the expectation of a ‘finished’ drawing. Looking back it was interesting that having black lines and marks on the models’ bodies helped with the drawing – and the contrast between the white backgrounds, models’ skin and black paint worked so well together. This session lasted about an hour and we all become totally absorbed in the pattern of movement and stillness, responding to each change as it happened. Not knowing how long each pose would last made me work more quickly and decisively as the session developed.
20130615-195033.jpgThe next session was based around poses spread around the spaces underneath Shoreditch Town Hall. Exploring the dark corridors, we would come across sudden bursts of colour and light where models were posing, making sounds, talking and sometimes even singing. In this part of the session we could choose where to draw and how long to stay in each room – a big difference to a more traditional life class where the people drawing might stay in their place throughout. In this session I found I had change the shape of my paper, adding to the edges of it as the poses changed. I also used collage and drawing together to explore the larger shapes and the details.

20130615-195020.jpgAfter lunch we were all back together in a large, dark room with a number of models and hanging banners. The contrasts of light and shade, having more than one model to look at and the various other props bombarded us with images to record – I could have stayed in this room for much longer! For me this room led to me thinking about the layers and views through and the patterns created by some of the lighting effects and architecture.

20130615-195010.jpgThe final session was again based around models posing in the spaces around the building. The contrast of the colours and models against the drab and dark spaces was notable as was the models still having some of the painted marks left from the morning.

Throughout the day we were able to look at the work of the group as it developed – it was interesting and inspiring to see the huge range of responses and the interplay between the materials available, the poses and the scenarios and our own approaches. I found myself using materials and tools more adventurously and remembering how much I like collage, something I rarely if ever use in other life classes, although there’s no reason why I shouldn’t.

A day of life drawing with London Drawing is challenging in both artistic and physical terms – I came away tired from drawing for so long and from working on the floor in sometimes awkward spaces. But I also came away having enjoyed the process of drawing in a different way, a less controlled and finished way than my usual approach. The Flickr images provide a great reminder of the day to browse through and get ideas from for future drawing.

You can read more about London Drawing here – http://www.londondrawing.com/

Jean Edwards


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