The Hungry Bookling

A journey through books and the imagination

When my mum was a little girl she loved to draw, but not having much money she had to wait until Christmas to get a drawing pad. Her precious drawing pad had to last all year and so often she would have to find other things to draw on. No not people. I could tell you were thinking that. It mostly involved the corners of old newspapers and if all else failed there was always the pavement (or sidewalk: for my American friends).

It was about the time of the Queen’s coronation. My mum is sat outside her childhood home, her chalks in hand, when a family friend walks over and begins to study the pavement at his feet. It peaks back at him with a mask of brightly chalked horses. 

’Did you draw these?’ 

‘Yes’ my mum responds. 

‘They really are very good – do you draw anything else?’

My mum opens her drawing pad. ’I have drawn a picture of the Queen’, she says, holding up the freshly torn-out picture for him to take. 

He studies the drawing for a moment.

‘I wish to buy your drawing.’ A smile breaks from his lips as he produces a shiny shilling from his pocket and hands it to my mum. 

My mum’s eyes grow wide as she reaches out to take it. 

The man carefully folds the drawing and tucks it into his jacket pocket with a reassuring pat. He nods to my mum and goes on his way. 

Much later on, the family friend told my grandma that he carried the picture with him always. 

My mum has never forgotten that. I hope that was true and my mum’s drawing was next to his heart for many years. 

That was my mum’s first art commission and it all began with a handful of coloured chalk. 

I am so glad my mum shared that story with me and now I am sharing it with all of you. 

I think I get my love of drawing from my mum – to capture a moment and share it – well, it tells a story just like the written word, don’t you think?

And if I could choose any profession for my passport ’Storyteller’ would be it. 

Those of you who have read my earlier post: ‘Some Hobbies and a Happy Monday’ (click here if you want to read it) will know I talked about the importance of hobbies. Following this post, you could say I have been sharpening my own skills. 

I was happily surfing Twitter when I came across a very inspiring tweet of an urban sketcher named Róisín Curé she had posted a video of her sketchbook and the drawings were truly brilliant. They certainly did inspire me to start my own sketchbook. I have been sketching on a digital tablet for a few months now and so the idea of starting my own urban sketchbook intrigued me. I sent a tweet saying I was interested in urban sketching. I was looking for advice and also some book recommendations. To my good fortune, Róisín amongst others kindly responded. Twitter at its best and I was grateful. Róisín kindly shared the following advice (which I really hope she does not mind me sharing too!) : 

  1. Draw what you want to draw, not want you think you should draw. 
  2. Only draw on site (and better to paint too) No photos after the event! 
  3. Join urban sketchers on Facebook and share.
  4. Feel the fear and do it anyway. 

After seeing her beautiful sketches, I was also intrigued to read her book ‘An Urban Sketcher’s Galway’ and I have shared my (unbiased) book review of this and another urban sketching Twitter recommendation towards the end of the post. 

I tried to adhere to Róisín’s advice (Apart from number 3, but I am sharing with all of you so I hope that counts!)

I found it initially harder then I thought, for some reason choosing the subject matter was difficult for me – maybe it was being stuck inside or maybe I was just nervous to get started and then I saw the sewing kit. I wanted to draw it, but for some reason I held back, then I remembered Róisín’s advice – draw what you want to draw – so I pushed on. 

Some could argue that it is not technically urban sketching if you are not out in the elements and drawing life as it buzzes around you, but I drew where I was at the time and on the spot and there will be plenty of time to build up my sketchbook. 

So, I am sharing my first sketch with you now:

(Hopefully, it will work, it is my first time sharing a video on my blog – fingers crossed!) I am also aware the video seems to take up the entire screen sorry about that! – You will stare at the video – ha ha!

I didn’t say I was perfect, did I! I think for my future sketches I will remember not to be so controlled and to not worry if the watercolour runs. 

Ok… moving on…so I have already mentioned the Queen in this post and now I would like to mention a King. 

Stephen King to be precise. 

In my humble opinion, one of the greatest storytellers on the planet. He has such a unique and compelling voice. 

In the interest of sharpening my skills I re-read ‘Stephen King On Writing’ and now I eagerly share with you my book review. Note I said: re-read. I read it a long time ago, but it is one of those books you keep around, bugging you, until you read it again.

Enough chatter and onto my book reviews: 

An Urban Sketcher’s Galway by Róisín Curé

‘An Urban Sketcher’s Galway’ is a collection of stunning sketches brought together with the authors personal experience of her life in Galway, Ireland. This is not a how-to-book on sketching although the author does share some tips on becoming an urban sketcher. However, I would say it definitely falls into the categories of inspiration and pure enjoyment. This book is stunning. When you first open the front cover you know you are holding something rather special in your hands. The paper is thick and luxurious. It definitely fits the bill as a coffee table book you would happily leave this book out for guests to leaf through – if you don’t mind sharing that is! You get an incredible insight into the every day life of Galway and its histories and it is all bought together with lively sketches that are truly one of a kind. The author’s love for Galway springs from the pages. This is a truly lovely book and that fellow booklings is my honest and unbiased opinion as always! 

‘The Urban Sketching Handbook: 101 Sketching Tips: Tricks, Techniques, and Handy Hacks for Sketching on the Go’ (Urban Sketching Handbooks) by Stephanie Bower. 

This is a perfect little companion for the novice urban sketcher or even those more experienced that need a reliable reference guide. It is, as the title would indicate, a culmination of 101 helpful tips relating to urban sketching. There is some really useful stuff in here and yes, I can see myself referring back to it time and time again. The tips are supported with excellent. clear to follow examples so you always fully understand the author’s point and the sketches are beautiful and inspiring too. I also loved the little ‘Challenges’ section at the back of the book. The book itself is very easy to hold and flickable too if you want to carry it around with you. 

‘Stephen King On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft’ by Stephen King 

‘Stephen King On Writing’ is crammed with the author’s personal life stories and writing advice for the aspiring writer. I urge you to read this book whether your are a writer or not. Mr King’s life stories are incredibly engaging and told with a raw, honest, jab to the jaw originality that is very addictive. I also find it a very funny read in parts. The book is a fascination, a must read and boy would I have loved to see this book on the school curriculum when I was a kid. Not so sure it would thrill all the teachers though! In short Mr King: I love your book – note the present tense! Thank you. 

So – how to end this post – well as I read this, ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ by The Clash is playing in the background. I think that is my cue.

I hope you enjoyed reading it…until next time… stay safe…stay well. Does anyone one else think of ‘Gandalf’ from the ‘Lord of the Rings’ (and Sir Ian McKellen of course) when people say that? It just seems to me something Gandalf would say. 

I would really love to end this post with a video clip of Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf saying ‘Stay safe…stay well.’ But alas I do not know him. So imagine it in your heads please. Thanks so much. 

4 thoughts on “Some coloured chalk, the Queen and a King

  1. Donna Dunstan says:

    Loved reading your blog (as always!) and your sketch turned out great. I haven’t done any sketching in a long time but would love to check out the books you’ve reviewed for some inspiration!

    1. Thanks Donna you are too kind! The books will definitely give you an inspiring start!

  2. Hello. You know, on another website today I saw mention of King’s book. I definitively want to read it. It is greatly admired, from what I gather. Take care.

    Neil Scheinin

    1. Hi Neil – I would highly recommend it! Thanks for your comment!

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