Monday, December 09, 2013

Guitarist, Jazz sketchbook

Drawing of jazz guitarist in A4 sketchbook, ink and watercolour
I'd wanted to draw the violinist leading this group but the seating arrangement and 'the curse of the music stand' made it very tricky. I went for the guitarist and his lovely fender amp instead. He was rocking back his footstool when I got to that bit, which is why the footstool looks odd.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Trumpeter, Jazz sketchbook drawing

Drawing of jazz trumpeter, ink and watercolour, A4 sketchbook

I spent a bit too long looking at the musicians before getting to work this time.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Neil Cowley Trio- Mr Big Plays Jazz

Drawing of pianist Neil Cowley, ink and watercolour, A4 sketchbook

Drawing of Bassist Rex Horan, ink and watercolour, A4 sketchbook
This week I drew the incredible Neil Cowley Trio.

As part of a week of half term activities, the event linked up Symphony Hall's Jazzlines program with the The Campaign for Drawing's Big Draw and The Big Fun, a national family arts festival.  'Mr Big plays Jazz' was a live drawing and jazz event at Birmingham Town Hall bringing to life Ed Vere's children's book about a jazz loving gorilla. The listings invited the kids to bring a pencil and pad to join in; I needed no further encouragement and snapped up a third row seat. It's very hard to get to draw at ticketed gigs. Drawing at a Neil Cowley gig would have been top of my list, and an ambition ticked off.

Neil read each spread of the story, providing suitable musical accompaniment while Ed carefully drew lovely ink drawings that were projected onto a large screen. Once they'd finished the story, Ed got the kids to draw along as he showed how to draw Mr Big. At the end of this he asked everyone to hold up their paper so they could pick the best three drawings to show on the big screen. Around me various pads and scraps of paper with drawings of Mr Big were held aloft while I thought about what to do. I cautiously held open my sketchbook as Ed peered out into the audience. It was funny to watch his eyes dance between the various pieces of paper and as he caught my book he stopped, squinted and leaned forward for a closer look at what was obviously not Mr Big. He asked if I'd mind him having a closer look and I passed the book forward.

Now, normally I do my best to be very discreet drawing at performances and keep very much to myself. I don't assume the subjects would be in any way interested, or that they'll like being drawn. Fundamentally I draw for myself; I have my own objectives and the last thing I want is to become more conspicuous than absolutely necessary. It can be a huge challenge to draw amongst an audience, and particularly to draw people who are moving around yet get a good likeness. For a moment I began to get a bit apprehensive; the trio were going to see my drawings, and I was going to be outed.

After showing three of the best drawings by the children, Ed showed my drawing of Neil, and then Rex on bass. I took a few quick photos as he slipped my book under the projector to show everyone. I like the photo of bassist Rex Horan looking at his drawing.

I have to say the drawings looked bloody good up on a twenty foot screen. To have a band being drawn on a big screen could be a great backdrop for a relevant act. It was a fantastic event, and great to see just how people of all ages loved watching Ed draw.

I'm regretting not using better paper for these, given it was something special. The sketchbook doesn't take washes that well. I also ran out of time to properly draw Evan, their magnificent drummer.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Jazz sketchbook- Audience and Guitarist

Drawing of audience at jazz gig, A4 sketchbook, ink and watercolour

Drawing of guitarist in A4 sketchbook, ink and watercolour
Two drawings this week, from a position at the back. This gives a more general viewpoint and therefore more subjects to choose from, but at the expense of detail. The guitarist's face is a case in point, as he was much happier than my drawing would lead you to believe. ..That's the blues for you!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Jazz drawing, September

Drawing of jazz quartet in a4 sketchbook, ink and watercolour

This scan isn't quite straight; you are advised to hold your head at an angle. This was a jazz group led by Sam Slater on guitar, playing Django-influenced swing. Percy Pursglove on trumpet/flugelhorn, Lluis Mather saxophone/clarinet, Chris Mapp on bass.

The paper is beginning to bug me; really I should be using heavier paper designed to take water, but then the drawings would become something different. I want these to be sketches rather than laboured paintings.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Drummer and Reflection

Drawing of Jazz drummer A4 sketchbook, ink and watercolour
Dearest reader, I direct your attention to the attempt to engage with the reflected lighting in this drawing. At Symphony Hall there's a large window in the cafe space used for the performances. In the Autumn as the light falls outside the interior becomes much more prominent by the end of the gig. In Winter it's like a cold big black mirror.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Saxophone, A4 sketchbook drawing from jazz illustrator, ink and watercolour
The Autumn jazz performances begin after a summer break.

Monday, July 22, 2013


I was invited to an evening soiree recently; a benefit of being urbane and well-bred, no?
Great food, great jazz. I broke out the sketchbook to draw.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Birmingham Jazz Festival 3

Jazz festival drawing in A4 sketchbook, ink and watercolour
I made a last minute dash to catch Boogie Woogie pianist Bob Hall and guitarist Dave Peabody at the festival (above), who were every bit as excellent as I'd anticipated.

Photographer Drew Kirkland was also at the festival again, and caught me in action earlier in the week..

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sketchbook drawing, Jazz Festival 2013

A4 sketchbook drawing in ink and watercolour, jazz festival, 2013
Third outing drawing Birmingham Jazz Festival 2013; my second visit came to an end when an over officious security guard needlessly moved the band halfway through the gig. Just moved them several feet, but it meant I had to abandon a good drawing. This was the excellent Jon-paul Gard Organ Trio. It came as no surprise to hear them mention in their introduction a security guard almost wouldn't let them set up. What a welcome.

These were drawn live, and painted 'as live' later working from a short video I took. The drying time involved with watercolour would make painting during a performance unworkable. Knowing you'll be painting later sharpens up your perception as you make mental notes about colour relationships.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Jazz Festival 2013

Sketchbook drawing of acoustic jazz trio, ink and watercolour. Birmingham Jazz Festival 2013.
This year's Birmingham jazz festival begins. These were gypsy jazz exponents The Barrett Brothers. I like what the rudimentary watercolour adds to these drawings, though the paper is possibly suffering a bit too much.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Jazz, June

Jazz, saxophonist, sketchbook drawing, ink and watercolour
jazz guitarist sketchbook drawing, ink and watercolour
Feeling under par, so tried something different. Whilst the band were setting up, through the walls Elvis Costello could be heard doing his sound check inside Symphony Hall.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Jazz, June

Jazz musicians, A4 sketchbook drawing, ink and pencil
First drawing an a new sketchbook..

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Jazz, May

Jazz group, Ink and pencils, A4 sketchbook drawing
Greyish Quartet, Symphony Hall.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Jazz, April

Bit off a bit more than I could chew this week, going for the whole thing. Nearly an hour and a half of frantic drawing..
jazz illustration in sketchbook of quintet
Jazz quintet, ink and pencil drawing in A4 sketchbook

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Jazz drawing, April

Bassist and Pianist, ink and pencil drawing, A4 sketchbook
Here's a video of some of the performance from Youtube, which unwittingly features the back of my head. Besides seeing what I was working from, careful observers might spot which bits I was looking at when, and when I finished the drawing and started adding tone.
It goes without saying I'm the guy in the suit, not the lady who's also drawing. (Turns out she'd been to a conference during the day in the building and happened to sit next to me.)

Monday, April 01, 2013


My website now has video; take a look for the first in the series, in which I draw a caricature in my sketchbook. (watch the video here)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Jazz, March (2)

Jazz group, A4 Sketchbook, ink and pencil
Uninspiring view, but ran with it..

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Jazz, March

Jazz quartet, A4 sketchbook, ink and Conte pencil

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Jazz, February

Pianist studies, A4 sketchbook, Ink and pencils

Drummer, A4 sketchbook, Ink and pencils



Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday, February 01, 2013

Saturday, January 12, 2013