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Sketching in Gloucester Cathedral

I recently spent an afternoon sketching in Gloucester Cathedral near my home. A monastery has stood on this site since the late 7th century and the cathedral was established in 1541.

There are many things that I love about the cathedral, but having a particular interest in women’s history I am always drawn (no pun intended!) to the exquisite 15th century Lady Chapel. Below is a sketch I made of the tomb of Elizabeth Williams, who sadly died in childbirth aged only 17 years.

Sketch of the tomb of Elizabeth Williams, Gloucester Cathedral (sketching)

The inscription reads:

“Elizabeth speaks: Husband, you carved me in marble here your wife;
Thus you’d ensure her immortality.
But CHRIST my hope and trust was, all my life;
So God forbids that I should mortal be.
July 4th AD 1622. Wife of W.I. Williams,
Youngest daughter of Dr Miles Smith,
Bishop of Gloucester
Aged 17″

Also laid to rest with her was the tiny unfortunate child, who sadly, somewhere over the centuries has lost her nose.

Sketch of child of Elizabeth Williams, Gloucester Cathedral (sketching)

Elizabeth Williams and her baby lie directly opposite the tomb of her sister, who also died in childbirth. So very sad, but I’m grateful that the lives of these two young women were valued enough by those who knew and loved them for them to have been commemorated with these beautiful memorials.

Tomb of Elizabeth Williams and baby, Gloucester Cathedral

The memorial to Elizabeth Williams and child – Photo by Julian P Guffogg

Make a simple sketchbook – Tutorial


Using only folding and cutting, this is possibly the simplest way to make a fantastic sketchbook that slips easily into your pocket. Depending on what you fill it with, it could be the most creative use of a piece of paper ever!




I’d really love to hear how your sketchbook turned out and, more importantly, what you filled it with! So why not share how you got on in the comments below? Many thanks, Erica.


DIY Simple Sketchbook

Garden watercolour warm-up sketch

The UK has waited so long for the spring to arrive & now it has it’s almost time for summer. I wait every year for these magnificent irises to open, checking their progress every day. Now they’re open & displaying their splendour in the sunlight!

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There are two types of bearded iris in the garden, but these blue ones are always the first to flower.

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Here is my work station set up. I now just have to avoid getting grass clippings mixed in with the paints – not a good effect!

Irises 052I first used a water soluble fine liner to mark out my drawing – trying to keep the marks loose & fluid. A little oil pastel resist was added for the stamens. Then I began to soften the lines of the drawing using plain water & very dilute paint.

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Finally, I got to my favourite part – the soft, overblown flowers themselves. I just feel that watercolour is so sympathetic to this subject – the way the colours run & bleed into one another perfectly reflecting the soft blousiness of the blooms.

If you enjoyed this post, you might like:

Iris & transience

Summer Poppies

Plants on the balcony

Edge of the Cotswolds

Isadora Duncan – completed

Here is the finished portrait of Isadora Duncan.


The dress is made of recycled tissue- I think it came from a shoe box. I’m not quite happy with this portrait, so I’ll probably take what I learned from this one & have another go at it. Something very strange happened with this picture, a couple of people commented that it looks like my mother when she was young. Now that this has been pointed out to me, I can see the resemblance, but wasn’t aware when I was making it………

You can read the first two posts about how I made this portrait by clicking here & here.

Other portraits in the series can be viewed by clicking here.

Isadora Duncan – beginning a portrait

I have had little time recently for making art. My real life art teaching at college began last week & I have also been working hard on preparing & launching my new website & e-course.

Today, the heavens opened in Gloucestershire & finally, I had time to retreat into the sanctuary of my studio. I already had plans to continue the series of portraits I had begun making, drawing inspiration from early photographs of creative people & others within their circles. I love this portrait of Isadora Duncan, her beautiful almond shaped eyes & long white neck. My process is always to begin by making a number of preliminary sketches to help me understand the pose, the dimensions of the face & the expression of the subject.

I usually make my preliminary sketches on scrap paper & will often use recycled paper in the finished piece. This drawing was made using a roller ball ink pen.
I then used Conté crayon to add tone & was pleased with the way the dark background lifted the face forward. I’m sure there’ll be many more sketches before I move on to making the final piece, but feel that I have begun to become acquainted with Isadora.

The new website & e-course info can be viewed here. I’d love any feedback on the new site!

Other portraits in this series can be seen by clicking here.

Leonardo at Bristol

There are not many displays of under a dozen exhibits that I would drive over 40 miles to see, but I made an exception for the latest exhibition at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery.
On show until 10th June, ‘Ten Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci’ is the main attraction & for good reason.

This exhibition, although light on exhibits, contains examples of all of Leonardo’s major areas of work. He thought of himself as a scientist first & an artist second. Two of the examples are meticulous anatomical drawings, one of arms & the other of bones of the foot. Others include designs for clothing & sculpture.

I loved this drawing of Leda (below) & was fascinated by the techniques used. Leonardo had made an under drawing of black chalk & then a fine drawing of ink was made on top of this. It was amazing to see the marks made by his hand over 500 years ago.

This was my personal favourite, Scenes from the End of the World. Click on the photo to see clouds raining fire & skeletons rising up from the ground- an interesting subject for the leading scientist of the age!

I came away inspired to find out more about Leonardo & become more prolific as an artist!

The drawings are part of the Royal Collection & are being exhibited as a Diamond Jubilee Celebration.

Emerging out of the dark

“A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.”
Leonardo da Vinci

These two drawings were made by covering the paper with a layer of charcoal, then lifting out & drawing back in, to enable the figures to emerge. I was pleased with the somewhat sculptural effect it created.


I attended a drawing with mixed media & technique workshop at the Bristol Drawing School. The workshop was tutored by Ruth Wallace. Five hours drawing – bliss!

Many of the techniques involved painting the surface of the paper, sometimes adding a further layer of charcoal or ink and then, scratching out or lifting this off to reveal the original layer. This was an exciting way of working and very useful to be able to draw by creating a white line.

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