I’m 3 Days into my residency and have a number of tangible signs of activity – not least sunburnt forearms !

Before the residency started, I made a couple of A3 linoprints and took several hundred photographs. In addition, I began a scrapbook, where I stuck in secondary sources and images of others’ work that may inspire further development. I also added notes and developed a few ideas in this A5 sketchbook.

I use A3 display books a lot when I’m collecting visual material and I have one where I’m assembling larger experimental work for the project. I also have a ring bound A3 sketchbook which, so far, has three drawings in it – 2 observational and one that I made from an assortment of photos. I rarely copy photographs direct and pefer to draw a composite of three or more photos taken from different angles. Very often I’ll radically change the perspective or visualise the subject from a totally different angle – just to inject an element of ME into the work !

So to summarise,  I am currently working in an A5 and an A3 sketchbook and one A3 display book. In addition, I am putting my A4 computer printouts of photos in a loose leaf A4 folder.

I have taken hundreds of photos, which hopefully will prove to be a valuable resource both for myself and the students.

Observational drawings are key to my way of working and yesterday I cooked myself in the sun from about 11.00am – 3.45pm and produced an A3 drawing of the Garrison Chapel in Old Portsmouth. I find using a camera is a useful tool not only to take photos of your subject to refer to later but it’s also a quick way of “framing” the subject and I often look through the lens and “compose” my drawing by zooming in and out until I’m happy with the extremities of the panorama before me. Sometimes it can be quite daunting seeing so much and deciding what to leave out ! Because of the way I often work – I draw out the subject in pencil first and make any necessary amendments before going over and redefining the outline in pen. Yesterday’s choice of pen was a Berol Fineliner but I quite like to use dipping pens or quills as they have flexible nibs and produce a line with more character. As yet I haven’t completed the drawing and will need to go back over the weeekend and finish it. When I returned to the studio yesterday afternoon, I played around with a composite drawing that I made in my smaller A5 sketchbook and whilst this is not resolved you can see where its going.

“A5 Moleskin Journal” : A number of different images are superimposed on top of each other. The drawing begins with a pencil outline of part of a building, then varous outlines and shapes are drawn in, with pen. Then I begin to break the rules and draw apparently random, semi abstract, shapes, using the data that is in front of me and you can see the blue shapes beginning to appear. This layering and cutting and pasting is something that has been influenced by my use a computer as a drawing tool. I would be lost without a computer and this is very much an essential part of my creative process. That said, when I’m life drawing I use a lump of charcoal and rely on hand and eye coordination rather than technology !

I’ll add a few more drawings when they are nearer completion but in the meantime, have a look at some of my photos. Some are complete and recognisable Portsmouth architectural icons – others are details or apparently random compositions just looking at colour and texture as in the image below

“Colour & Texture, Brick & Lichen”

“Line and tone : St David’s Road”

A pile of “disguarded newspaper” makes an interesting composition – but I like the lines and patterns of the shadows !

“Hot Walls and The Round Tower”

Here my attention was grabbed by the pineapple stonework. The front of the building was very grand but I was able to get access to the back and very often the backs of buildings are just as interesting as the fronts ! It rather looks as if the Buddleia is taking over.

“Window” I like the graphic simplicity of this – very often architectural details are far more interesting than complete buildings.

The new “Univerversity Library” – I took this image because whilst I like 15th century buildings, like the Round Tower, I also like the clean lines of modernism and here we see a post modern building with crisp geometric shapes and forms. I rather like the “leading lines” in this composition.

More “Leading Lines” – to the left at the bottom is “The Round Tower”. Lines and more lines !

Again, this composition relies on leading lines which take your eye up to the chimney pots, which look so out of place alongside the geometry of the modern St Georges Building of the University in HIgh Street.

I have been interested in ships and the sea since I was a very small boy and the ferries are very much part of the fabric of Old Portsmouth.

A simple and some might say rather bland composition but I like the shapes – even the negative shapes, made from the perimeter of the sky !

Next week : I will start to work larger and with more vigour – charcoal & mark making – to create emotion ! I’ll also experiment with charcoal with other media. Some traditional media and some that can’t be bought. I’ve got a book of the British sculptor Antony Gormley’s drawings and he uses an interesting mixture of non-traditional materials. When I used to teach fine art on the Foundation Course at Southampton, I used to encourage the students to make their own ink and paint from natural organic substances, such as ground up mud, rabbit skin glue, leaves and berries and this is the next phase of experimentation – it’s also one that can be done in the studio – assuming bad weather ! This is not an omen – if the weather is good – I’ll be out drawing from observation again.

There are a few more digital developments on the PROJECTS page of this site – TAKE A LOOK !

About chriswoodartist

painter, print-maker and illustrator


  1. Cheers ! Line, shape & form – my three favourite things ! : ) }

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