Outside the Studio

Although my work does cross over at times in to abstraction, observation painting and drawing are important to the final piece. Painting from life gives me the opportunity to fully experience the subject. Once you get out there and set up your equipment, there's nothing else to do but paint the scene before your eyes. In other words, painting plein air eliminates distractions and helps me focus.

Painting from photographs is a lot more convenient, doesn’t require a lot of thought, and gets quicker results – and therein lies the problem. When I'm painting I spend more time looking at the piece than physically applying marks and paint to the canvas. This contemplation time allows me to see and experience more than what's on the canvas in front of me.

Standedge Tunnel, West Yorkshire - photo by Dale Abbott

Urban Sketching

Urban sketching is reportage: drawings or paintings created on-site, as a spontaneous response to people, places or incidents. It is the act of placing oneself in a space, attempting to capture and interpret a particular moment in time. There's many different groups around the country and it's also a great way to meet other artists, share tips and generally gets you out of the studio.

The Urban Sketchers Manifesto:

  1. We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation.

  2. Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel.

  3. Our drawings are a record of time and place.

  4. We are truthful to the scenes we witness.

  5. We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles.

  6. We support each other and draw together.

  7. We share our drawings online.

  8. We show the world, one drawing at a time.

Sketch done on location in San Diego, Indian ink and watercolour on paper