Blog Archive

Sketch Book Pages

The following images are sketch book pages.  I carry a sketch book everywhere and have done since I was at school.   It was a habit instilled in me by my art teacher, Mr John Duncan at Carrick Academy.  My homework was to have a sketch book and draw something every day; a lesson to which I am eternally grateful. To draw every day is akin to a musician who practices his or her scales every day; it's fundamental.

People often comment “I wish I could draw,” but I reckon everybody does in one way or another.  A bored doodle on a notebook during a tedious meeting, an idea on a cigarette packet, diagram on a beer mat, a map, a plan, an idea on an envelope.  We draw pictures in the sand, carve love hearts on a beech, draw squeakily on the condensation on a bus window.  Using something to put a mark on something else, our mark; it’s what we all have in common.  It doesn’t have to be pencil to paper but that particular combination is my personal favourite and had been for as long as I can remember.

For me, it’s all about looking; a response to what’s around me.  My earliest drawings were of electric pylons; a feature of the Galloway and Ayrshire landscape and the regular haunts of the family picnics of my childhood, and my drawings are still of whatever is around me; in that respect they are a visual diary.

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All images are Copyright of Alan H McGinn

Surviving a day at Kepier Training centre. 

Our trainer. Aug 2015

Kev Ellis, drawn while waiting in a windswept field for the engineers to turn off the power so we could get on with cutting the trees away from the lines. Dec 2014

Tony trying to stay awake in the classroom, Kepier Aug 2015.

In the classroom at Kepier, learning about electrical networks.

Richard; not even our managers escape a day in the classroom.

Andy  in a state of absolute rapt attention at today's heart-poundingly exciting classroom-based manual handling theory lesson. April 2015.

A very enjoyable couple of hours down Bollihope Burn, even with the midges and sore from sitting on a rock for too long.  There is always a great light down there with the trees and the water.  It's another favourite place and within walking distance from  home.

Watercolour - this view of Dunstonburgh Castle was done on a little pad of watercolour paper postcards.  I like to send something unique.

Taking some colour out with me down the woods. Didn't have too long as Barney was with me and a Jack Russell doesn't have a long attention span.

Another of a favourite view of the Dales.

A favourite view looking towards Eggleston. This is often my journey home and I stop in this lay-by just for the view.  I see a painting coming out of this.

Craster  Harbour at low tide.

Boat at Craster.  I've always been drawn to the sea and boats - there's just something about the shape that intrigues me.

Ink sketch of  Craster. One of my favourite places since I visited there on a family holiday of my childhood - probably because it reminded me of my own home village.


Spent some time over the holidays sketching Barney.  He doesn't sit still for long so I have to be quick.  It reminds me of the life drawing sessions we used to do at art school where you'd do a series of five minute poses as a warm-up.  This and the 8 below are the results.

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Barney the Boy.

David Icke, pencil on paper, Nov 2012

Portraiture is a great exercise in drawing and working from a live model is always best; photographs rarely get even close to what an artist sees in a few hours in front of his subject.  This one of David Icke is a departure in that respect; as an experiment I found a filmed interview with him where the camera angle was constant for and hour and a half  which was long enough to get this.  I consider that a success and will trawl Youtube for more interesting characters to become unwitting subjects.

Oh Tomtom, you bring me to some beautiful places. Sat-nav adventures. Nov 2012.

Humanity puts everything in boxes; even safety training.

Keith is my unwitting model for today's distraction while at Kepier training centre. 

Morrisons' men working on a line rebuild. While they have the power switched off, we jump onto their shutdown to do any tree cutting work.

Big Ash. Sketch snatched in a moment stolen from another slow work day.

I love the shape of old weather-beaten hawthorns that were once part of a hedge but now stand alone. 

Fiona was most apologetic that she's fallen asleep for nearly an hour on the sofa by the fire; I had no complaint - had a free and perfectly still model to draw. Bless her.

Old Lille 2012

Hawthorn, aka Crataegus monogyna, aka horrible jaggy bush.

Thistles.  I'm drawing loads of these for an idea for a tattoo design.

I spend a lot of time looking at trees.

Sometimes I have to write down what I can hear.

Not everywhere is a view of a quaint landscape.

Sometimes, a few quick lines with a pen is all the time I have - and it's usually enough.

Big trees in the wind.

Watching the last shivering leaves clinging to the trees.

The leaning over tree.

The spaces between things are equally as interesting.

Jojo's ladders and a big ash while the rain lashed down. Drove home with a wet arse that day.

Ivy covered pole.

Roddy Allan eating his piece on the track on a nightshift.  This was from 2001 when I was working on the railways as a tree cutter.  The tracks were cold on the bum.  We usually sat on our gloves.

"The Bored Room" 2012. Ever had to sit in a really boring health and safety talk? My sketch book was out of view; he could see my pen moving and I kept making eye contact; he thought I was taking notes and was the only one in the room paying attention.  I was, but not on what he was saying.

Portrait done at Kepier training centre, 2012. Another training day where my sketch book killed the boredom.   The following two portraits were done the same day.

Tyne Opera House, 2002.  Sometimes I'd take out a big sketch book and go to town with Indian Ink & white Gouache. 

Courtyard in Florence 1998

Sitting at a Restaurant in Lille 2012
Cherry Tree, drawn at Belford Golf Course while waiting to start some tree work 2012.  Most of my sketches are done in these moments while waiting for something else.


Brian M Carr said...

I really like that each sketch has a memory or story attached. It adds bonus charm to what are already engrossing & evocative drawings. Lovely.

sara waller said...

You draw beautifully

suaramirza said...

You have a Tallent,Mate! =)

About Me

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up in the hills, Co Durham
tree climber, painter, stilt walker, musician. After 20 years of city life and all the late nights and fun, returned to my country-boy roots. Open fires, tranquility and muddy boots.