Carmel Market at Lockdown

Carmel Market, Tel Aviv, during the third lockdown.

This is the first time that I’ve used my new watercolour palette and I’m still figuring stuff out. I’m also using an 8’’x10’’ Stillman and Birn Alpha which is a large format that I’m still getting used to and isn’t the best for smooth washes. I’m embracing the patchiness here and letting the paint do its thing. More importantly, despite temptation I’m not making any adjustments to the new palette now, as I need more time with it.

Also, the Sailor Fude 55 degrees fountain pen is magic. I used one here with Noodler’s Lexington Grey.

Decrepit Old Buildings Can Be Beautiful

A drawing of a decrepit, old building in central Tel Aviv. Painted only using the new Schmincke super-granulating watercolours (Galaxy, Glacier, Deep Sea, Forest and Tundra). The only exception is the yellow, which doesn’t exist in this range.

My review of these colours will probably be up this weekend.

Starting To Get Back To Normal

I met with friends for a meal for the first time in a little over a year and it was glorious. We were all vaccinated, and so we could sit down and talk over food and drinks in Tel Aviv that was starting to get back to normal. There are still plenty of signs that Covid is still with us: we were masked at first as was the staff, the first place we chose to go to had closed down and due to the new occupancy rules it was difficult to find a place that could seat us. None of that mattered as we sat down and talked and laughed for hours. I hadn’t realized how much I missed meeting people face to face until I finally had a chance to do so.
As I was waiting for everyone to arrive I sat on a bench and drew the first thing that I saw in the dusky evening. In the end I ran out of time and light, but I decided to leave the drawing as is and not fix it at home. A true Urban Sketch that will forever capture the moment for me.

OneWeek100People 2021: Day 4

Day four of the One Week 100 People challenge, and the one I struggled with most so far. Started really late and when I was tired, and barely got the daily twenty drawings in. Also first smudge of the challenge (no 70), but it’s something that looks relatively fixable. I’m gaining confidence, speed and a better insight to human faces daily with this challenge, so although it’s tasking, I intend on finishing it on time.

OneWeek100People 2021: Day 3

Day three of the One Week 100 People challenge. It appears that the street photographers aren’t exactly catering to sketchers, or they’d take more profile pictures than they currently do 🙂
I’m getting into a pretty good rhythm, and more importantly I’m getting better at figuring out where to start each portrait. Many start with a general outline, others start with the hair, or the nose->eyes->lips. Every day it gets a little easier to draw people, and though 20 people a day is still far from easy, I do feel like I’m getting the most out of this challenge this year because of my choice to work directly in pen and with no shading or paint.

OneWeek100People 2021: Day 2

Day two of the One Week 100 People challenge and today was more challenging than yesterday, mainly because I started late and had trouble finding decent photographs. Photographers apparently love photographing blurry people, masked people, people with their backs to them, other photographers (while they are taking photographs and their face is half covered by the camera), or people from a large distance. Some of them also love photoshopping their subjects to death, so I’m now able to find a half decent subject only every five or six photographs. Thankfully the pool is huge and varied, with people in all ages and from all over the world, so while things are slowing down a bit, I’m still grateful for the the opportunity to enjoy the work published in this wonderful group. Even if I can’t use all of the photos there, I am thoroughly enjoying perusing through all of them.

OneWeek100people 2021: Day 1

I’m doing the One Week 100 People challenge again this year (I skipped it last year but I have done it before). It’s a challenge that I find difficult but very rewarding, and this year perhaps more so than in the past. I’ve decided to work from Flickr photos, to challenge myself to draw every clear face that I see in the photo pool that I’m using, to work fast and directly in pen and ink. I’m also not hiding behind watercolour at the moment, but we’ll see for how long my resolve holds. These all took a minute or two each, and were drawn with a TWSBI Vac 700 with an EF nib and Platinum Carbon ink on a Stillman and Birn pocket softcover Alpha. There’s some feathering and spread with this ink, which I’m not enjoying, so I may switch to Staedtler Pigment Liner pens later this week.

City in Grey

A5 Stillman and Birn sketchbook spread with two watercolour drawings, one on the lower left side and one on the upper right side (with ink), and two text blocks, one in Hebrew on the lower right side and one in English on the upper left side. The palette is grey and muted.

In early January we had a bout of very foggy days and I took photos of various city scenes in the lockdown and the fog thinking that I’d later draw them. I thought that drawing fog in watercolour would be pretty straightforward, because what is easier than just drawing wet on wet and letting the watercolour do its thing? But after looking more closely at the photos I realized that fog isn’t just grey sky melting into the landscape, it’s also a muting of colours, a flattening of the landscape, the lack of shadow. In the end I drew two small landscapes, one urban and one of the park, and although they were challenging I enjoyed drawing them enough to want to have the same experience with the text. The grey writing in Hebrew in the bottom right corner is a line out of a well known rock song that embodies a lot of the spirit of Tel Aviv. It was written using Diamine Silver Fox on a semi-wet background, to facilitate ink spread.

These drawing also showcase a shift I have made in my palette and my mixing over the past few weeks. Once things settle down I’ll probably post about my new palette.

Lego Architecture Trafalgar Square

I created this page as part of Liz Steel‘s excellent Sketchbook Design course. I remember drawing it while listening to a live Q&A with the Mischief Theatre improvisors on Instagram. I got back to building Legos after more than 20 years because I saw how much joy Adam Savage took in building Legos and I decided that I wanted some of that childhood joy back too.

I discovered that legos have become much more sophisticated these days, especially the Ideas and Architecture sets, and that building Legos puts me into a zen like mood that beats anything I’ve been able to achieve with meditation so far. My mind becomes calm and focused on the step that I’m on and I can utterly forget about my problems for a few hours. If I didn’t have budget and space limitations I would be knee-deep in the giant Millennium Falcon set as we speak.

Today I discovered that a local Lego guru is collecting money to buy sets for kids that are going to spend Passover in the Oncology departments of various local children’s hospitals. For years he’s been purchasing sets for kids, teenagers and young adults that are hospitalized for long periods of time, at first entirely from his own pocket, and now with the help of donations as well.

If you can, treat yourself and someone you care for to something like a Lego set, or a nice pen, or a cool notebook or just a half hour of listening to them talk about whatever they want to. I think we could all use a little kindness pick me up right now.

Silver Needle Tea Seminar and Virtual Tea Seminar Review

Silver Needle Tea virtual seminar spread.

I drew this spread as part of Liz Steel‘s Sketching Now Sketchbook Design course, and it records my experiences from the final virtual tea seminar session that I had with Juyan from The Chinese Tea Company. I took all of the seminars that she offers, and I can see that she’s running a few of them again later this month and next month. I highly, highly recommend them (I’m not affiliated or paid to say this in any way, I’m just a happy longtime customer of her wonderful shop). Whether you are just starting out in Chinese tea or you’re well versed in Gong fu tea brewing, you’ll learn a lot about tea and tea tasting in her seminars, and have a lot of fun along the way. You get four tea samples that you drink while your in the seminar (and there’s enough left over for another brewing post seminar too), Juyan gives a presentation about the tea, the grower and the growing region, as well as tips on how to assess the leaves, brew them and taste them. The seminars are small and intimate, and are a wonderful way to spend an evening. If you’re starting out the Fundamentals of Oolongs and Green Tea Exploration (currently sold out) are phenomenal, the Wu Yi Rock tea seminar is a must – a gateway into understanding a complicated and elusive tea (as is the Phoenix Oolong seminar, if she gives it again). The Puer tea masterclass (also sold out) is just that, and a great way to get familiar with an easily misunderstood class of teas, and the Silver Needle White Tea seminar will take you by surprise. Until this seminar I thought that white tea in general and Silver Needle in particular is boring, but it’s anything but that.