Tuesday 31 January 2017

Terry Pratchett, Wilber Smith, John Banville and Garth Nix pencil and watercolour sketches. Some old Ramsgate pictures.

Having been about a year away from the pencil while concentrating on drawing in watercolour I am now using both again.

I think this post is about getting a likeness, although it’s difficult to tell with painting the authors you are reading or have just read, the scientific explanation being that what you know about the author and what you have read of theirs means your subconscious mind changes the picture. 

Anyway here in my bookshop in-between helping customers with local history questions, finding them the books they want to read I painted another couple of authors on my bit of paper, using the pencil and watercolour technique.

To do this I use a 0.5 mm propelling pencil a propelling rubber, a paper tissue to wipe the brushes, a number 1 and a number 0 sable watercolour brush and a watercolour paintbox that I have squirted paint from tubes into and let dry out.

So today I have added Terry Pratchett and Wilber Smith to the John Banville and Garth Nix watercolours I did yesterday. 

I did take some progress photos which will expand if you click on them 

 note having sketched the face in in pencil I rub most of the pencil out before slapping the paint on.

I think the next there pictures are of the mill that used to be in Grange Road Ramsgate  

 The next one Harbour Parade in Ramsgate in 1815 looking towards where the pavilion would be built in about 90 years

and finally one from the days of Thanet political harmony
Finally here are the books that went out in bookshop today http://michaelsbookshop.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/et-in-bookshop.html

Monday 30 January 2017

Watercolours of Garth Nix and John Banville and some old photos of Ramsgate and Thanet charabancs.

As a bookseller one aspect of my job is reading. Another aspect of bookselling, something I started doing in my family’s bookshops when I was quite young is that you see and talk to a lot of people. Whether it’s because of this or just because of the toys that were already loose in my attic, I don’t know, but for many years now I terrible difficulty recognising people.

Now on the whole when I paint I paint from life, but today I have been pencil sketching and painting from photographs. This is a bit of a mixed issue, as I said in yesterday’s post I had some problems with my watercolour painting in Canterbury Cathedral crypt. The upshot of this is I have decided to break the artistic rules and guidelines I made for myself a while ago – these were only to paint directly from life and to do the whole painting in watercolour without any pencil guidelines. I suppose the sketches in Turner Contemporary also partly figure here as sketching in the galleries I had to do as pen and wash.

I set myself different rules today, which was to make pencil sketches from Wikipedia of the two authors I am reading at the moment, the pictures on the wikipedia page are very small so I sketched very small. After this the rule was to turn them into watercolour sketches using an eraser and a brush. Then after having done all this to click on the photo so it expanded and see where I had gone wrong.

Anyway my children’s fiction reading at the moment is Garth Nix “The Keys to the Kingdom” series, so partly as and aid to my memory here is the sketch.

If you haven’t investigated this area then it is worth pointing out that fantasy fiction aimed at the 12 to 18 age group is particularly good at the moment and Garth Nix is one of the best of a very good bunch.  The whole field which has its roots in the fairy tail is very significant in the area of the development of the story and from that fiction as a whole.

The main error in this sketch for me was misjudging the darkening between the subjects teeth which looked black in the small picture, probably because of the contrast.

The adult fiction book I am reading at the moment is John Banville’s The Revolutions Trilogy about Copernicus, Kepler and Newton. Once again a very good writer and if you are interested in science, which I am, a must read. 

So here is the watercolour sketch of John Banville.

In terms of likenesses, working at this sort of size I am not sure if they will improve much, I hope they will as I do a lot of my sketches of real people in cafés and so on and getting the small faces in the background of an A4 watercolour to look like the people is very difficult. I also suppose that drawing authors that I am reading at the moment must have some sort of influence on what the pictures look like.

Of course this is a local blog and I am pretty sure that what most readers want is local content particularly from a local history publisher, so today it’s pictures of local charabancs.

 Says on the back of photo Excursion at Minster 1926 27
Notice Pneumatic tyres on front only the first charabanc round these parts to have them

Location Thanet Road Ramsgate Redboure's staff outing 1926 driver Cyril George Crow Girl Mr Redboure's daughter.

And finally the pictures of the books that went away on the shelves of my bookshop today, here is the link http://michaelsbookshop.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/this-changes-everything-in-bookshop.html



Sunday 29 January 2017

Ok let’s get the yoghurt go to Turner Contemporary and get in the lift together and some old pictures of Thanet, sorry I’m sure you can work it out with a pencil.

Having had a big dose of contemporary art, see yesterday’s post http://thanetonline.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/todays-new-expeditions-at-turner.html I found I am still in rather a heightened frame of mind.

So first the pictures of the new art installation in the lift, just some more to add to my collection to Thanet pictures, more of this in a mo.

With contemporary art you usually get a good sized sheet of instructions, so a quick glance at the ones for the lift, before looking at the photos of the exhibit:- “As part of Entangled: Threads & Making, Turner Contemporary’s spring exhibition, Samara Scott has created a new artwork, Old Lake, for the gallery’s lift. Using a combination of carpet, food coloring and yoghurt, Scott’s artwork will entirely cover the walls of the lift...” Not sure if the American spelling of colouring is deliberate and part of the installation experience or just a spelling mistake like JWM Turner’s studbook.

“Scott is inspired by traditional arts, citing JMW Turner as inspiration. She says: “by using very crude materials, it’s imitating something that’s very serious – like painting in a pritt-sticky way. The work has been specifically designed for the lift, it’s important that visitors can get in and get up close to it – it should be an overwhelming experience.”

Please also note the warning notice for the lift

 It says on the back of the photo, Driver C Crow nigger mistral A Kirby 1920, I believe the location to be Minster. Note also the solid tyres so a bumpy ride all round and not something we would put up with today.
 Diving into the harbour just before the arrival of the safety elf, I do whish the council would put the resources into a properly supervised diving board rather than spending the money trying to stop people form diving.  
 An unusual picture this one, it’s of the work being done to replace the ten square miles of Thanet that got washed away during the 1953 tidal surge storm.  

 One here of the Mayor of Ramsgate greeting a carnival queen.
 A couple of pictures of the crew of The New Moss Rose Captain William Thomas Watson, the central figure seated.

I spent the morning in Canterbury, had a bit more of a go at my watercolour of the medieval wall paintings in the crypt of the cathedral, the main issue with this is that I used only watercolour paint and as the painting progresses problems are occurring with the perspective and the positioning of things within the picture.

I think I may have to go back to drawing the thing in pencil and rubbing it out as I progress, so I drew a pencil sketch to think about, any thoughts on this gratefully appreciated. 

Saturday 28 January 2017

Today’s new exhibitions at Turner Contemporary Margate, stumbling towards some sort of review.

The main new exhibition is “Entangled: Threads & Making”, I used my usual modus operandi this is latin for, method of operation, I should point out here that at the time I learnt latin I got 4% in the exam, my school was on the edge of bankruptcy and in the process of being taken over by a boarding school that specialised in military training.

The minor exhibition is of prints by JWM Turner and I have been teasing the gallery mildly about this since December when they announced it would be called “Liber Studorium” which when translated from Latin means something like the “The Sharp Stud Book” http://thanetonline.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/some-old-ramsgate-and-margate-views-and.html 

I got out of my problem with Latin, partly because the headmaster of the college got sent to prison for child cruelty and partly because I got diagnosed with various illnesses which resulted in a place at a special school where they didn’t do latin.

Turner Contemporary are getting out of their latin problem by slowly changing all the signs, website entries and leaflets Liber Studiorum which translates as book of studies.

Personally I blame the rocker, which is the wosoisname that is rocked on the printing plate that lead to being able to produce halftone prints.

Sorry I digress, back to my usual modus operandi, which is to. Turn up at the gallery fairly early on the first day of a new exhibition, have a fairly quick look around. Go off to the gallery café and try a bit of sketching. Go back to look at the exhibition, taking photos if allowed and if not making a few sketches, particularly of anything I remembered after the first look around. Back to the café more sketching…

Once again photography is not allowed, the down side of this is that the exhibition degenerates into everyone getting out their mobile phones and starting to take pictures while the gallery attendants rush around asking the not to. The upside would of course be the gallery attendants talking to people about the exhibits.   

As I have said here before, I am a slow thinker when it comes to art, so it will be several more visits before I have properly taken in the exhibition.

Anyway the work that struck me the most was Sky by Kiki Smith, I wasn't allowed photograph it so I have just used one of pictures of it on the internet

I did do a pen and wash sketch of part of it while I was in the gallery, just in case it wasn’t already on the internet, here it is, sketching in a busy art gallery isn’t and easy business and there is always the likelihood that you will get asked to stop using pen or brush and have to do your best with a pencil.

The other two I sketched were 
The first Laura Ford's penguins, so here is her video about these

And the other one Joana Vasconcelos Slash once again picture from the web

I went back to the café and painted the view from my table
I should stress here that after the previous cold snap sitting in the sunshine in this very good café sketching the view while I probably should have been at work and diving off into the exhibition made for a very pleasant day.

Friday 27 January 2017

Thanet local history pictures Ramgate's Migettown and wosisname

Something I get a lot of is “how do I get an old photo of my house?” Of course back in the day people took photos of people, marvellous views, famous buildings, the seafront, but not normally your house.

Sometimes putting say, Southeastern Road Ramsgate or, South Eastern Road Ramsgate may help, going onto the image tab and clicking on, search tools, then on the Color tab selecting, Black and White can help too.

The picture of Southeastern Road comes up under some of these circumstances because I have used South Eastern Road in a post heading, if I hadn’t the most likely, although the picture is on the internet, you would never be able to find it.

With very local history, like your house, the first thing to understand is you put a lot of time and effort in and usually very little or nothing comes out.

One of the things you can do is to come into my bookshop and look at the old maps and street directories, perhaps there will be something or someone that would have been photographed where your house will appear in the photo. Having residents either of your house or your neighbours with an unusual surname could just do the trick.   

Today in my bookshop I have mostly been drifting around in local history, helping people with theirs and following the leads.

Managed to find some text about this picture off the web

“These two homeward bound East Indiamen were put ashore at Palmer (now Palm) Bay after damage in a suddenly northerly gale there in the small hours of Sunday/Monday 21-22 November 1840, as a means of securing her cargoes.

A third ship, carrying hardwoods, was driven onto rocks in Kingsgate Bay but the crews of all three were safely taken off by local boats. Another was reported sunk with all hands and a Spanish ship also put ashore behind Margate pier to prevent it sinking.

The 'Westminster' (left, Captain Mollison) inward bound from China and Singapore with 900 tons of tea grounded further out than 'Claudine' (Captain Brewer) from Madras, which was came in nearer the cliffs carrying cotton, indigo, rice, silks and wine: both began discharging cargo the following day.

The 'Westminster' loaded 6000 chests of tea into two steamers which delivered it to the East India Docks and was refloated on 7 December. 'Claudine' unloaded into 200 carts from the day after stranding and was refloated on a spring tide a little later than 7 December: both ships were repaired and put back into the trade.

J.M.W. Turner, who was at Margate at the time, was among artists to make (slight) sketches of them ashore there.”

looking down King Street from the bookshop

found the answer to this one on my own blog.

"Frederic Standen and his family moved from Eastry to Ramsgate in about 1910. Standen and his eldest son Stephen started business with premises at 15 Plains of Waterloo. Very soon, they moved to 75 King Street (bottom of Plains of Waterloo).

All business ceased when Stephen died in 1959.

By 1964/65, 75 King Street was demolished.

At the height of their business, the Standens had large premises at the end of Turner Street & Belmont Street. Here Standen garaged his bull-nosed Morris-Crowley, and Stephen had space for major work on horse collars and saddles. The shop at 75 King Street was widely known for quality sports wear/leather goods, suitcases. Above the entrance, you can see in the photograph a carefully painted advertisement, showing two elephants bouncing off suitcases – below the caption – “Our Trunks Last A Lifetime.” The white wall next to 72 King Street was the side of a widely known sea food shop – particularly haddock and kippers. If that shop was Number 70 – then 68 would have been Skitts the Chemist.

Thinking again about Ramsgate in the late thirties, I think Midgets had a show in the Merry England Covered building, immediately below Wellington Crescent.

A propos sights which must be on photographs somewhere are –
a. the howitzer at Wellington Crescent, which was cut up by oxyacetylene torch in 1938
b. the shop front on Albion Hill which exhibited remnants of an unexploded bomb
c. record of artistic flint work (pavement and walling) at the seafront end of Augusta Road, skirting Truro Court."

Many thanks to Mr and Mrs Yates who came in the shop while on holiday here from Buckinghamshire. They said when the got home they would post me copies of two pictures of King Street above the accompanying letter.
And then again on my own website would you believe

and this elsewhere on the web

 Then the Land Train

So having written bits of this post during the day, as stuff came up and knowing that a lot of people will actually read it, even find it interesting I am now considering both pressing the publish button and somehow putting all or part of it on some of the local Facebook groups.

Obviously this sort of kidney, if you do it at all, is best suited to a blog or possibly best left alone all the pictures, some of the text, just a link, oh well who knows.

As the day progressed in my bookshop a lot of it was me endeavouring to sort out people’s questions about our local history, I looked up stuff in the books on the shelves and on the internet and put some of the stuff I found interesting on my blog

Here is the work we actually did in the bookshop, i.e. pictures of books priced and put away today http://michaelsbookshop.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/rudley-cabot-quests-in-bookshop.html

just added another picture as a result of a Facebook comment I think roughly Merrie England Olympia before the war just Merrie England after the war and Pleasurama after the mid 60s