Tuesday, 3 June 2014

a drawing a day - sketches from Leros

"The important thing is to do, and nothing else: be what it may" - Pablo Picasso

Last time I blogged about my drawing a day project, I was doing pencil sketches in and around the home. This taught me a lot, even though I don't really enjoy working in pencil;  years ago I did an evening class in Life Drawing at Central St Martins and found I much preferred charcoal - only really coming alive when the tutor let me use ink and a brush!

Zig pens and Hahnemühle sketch diary
© Teresa Newham
At Christmas I was given One Drawing a Day  - a book by Veronica Lawlor, which places the emphasis on working quickly and playfully, rather than on the result, and encourages experimentation with different media. I treated myself to two or three Zig Brushables, and quickly became hooked.  I'd also been given a Hahnemühle Sketch Diary, and decided to use these to record our holiday.

Chora town square, Patmos
© Teresa Newham
In the past I've done watercolour sketches on location in Ireland, usually with my friend Sue and often from the comfort of a car; wide open spaces with nobody else around.  But my husband and I were travelling to the Dodecanese island of Leros, via Kos - a day trip to Patmos was also in the mix - popular holiday destinations.  As soon as I got my sketchbook and pens out, fellow tourists started to take an interest, so I had to get over my self-consciousness pretty quickly . . .

family on Panteli beach, Leros
© Teresa Newham
I was keen to practice drawing figures, but didn't want to intrude on anybody's privacy; so I often found myself sketching people some distance away.  Of course, they kept moving: by the time I finished the little illustration above, the young boy in black was sitting somewhere completely different.  I needed to rely on memory as well as speed!

the ridge above Panteli, Leros
© Teresa Newham
I tried various ways of capturing the hillsides and vegetation of Leros, but short of carrying dozens of pens of varying shades I had to improvise.  A black and white sketch will remind me of what the place looked like just as well, particularly if time is short.

diners at the next taverna
© Teresa Newham
I also discovered that by and large tourists don't wear brightly coloured clothes; blues, whites and greys proliferated.  Flesh tones might have been a problem, but as everyone was tanned I was able to use orange, which contrasted nicely with the blue!

yacht in Lakki harbour, Leros
© Teresa Newham
Having time to spare over a sketch wasn't always an advantage, as the temptation was to overwork it: I can't help thinking this yacht would have looked better without the background hills (or just their outlines). Ironically, for someone who is scared of water, I love drawing boats . . .

on the ferry from Leros to Kos
© Teresa Newham
I even got a bit twitchy on the ferry, so to take my mind off things I tried to immortalise some of my fellow passengers.  They, however, were busy exploring the boat;  I'd only half got this chap's hat down on paper when he left the rails and I had to try and remember what his back view looked like.

view from the terrace
© Teresa Newham
You can probably tell I had a lot of fun with these sketches.  And there's the small matter of 400 photos to attend to.  I trust that the spirit of Leros will be with me for a long time!


  1. Awesome! Really lively and those brushables work a treat for this : -)

    1. Thanks! the brushables are ideal as they don't require any setting up, unlike watercolours. And they encourage me to experiment!

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  3. I like them all, you are a graet artist, congratulations !!

  4. These and the diary notes are an excellent record of the holiday. I think these quick sketches work really well, with an imaginative use of colour.