Remote sketching


Drawing of Matera, Italy, seen through the doors of the Santa Maria de Idris

Remote sketching sounds like some kind of psychic connection but in reality it’s a term I tend to use when describing pieces of art that have been inspired by photos or other reproductions of real life scenes.

For the most part it’s old scenes and views of steam locos that tend to fit into this category but from time to time something else comes along that inspires me.

This view of Matera in Italy sadly didn’t come from a visit to the region. Instead the recent broadcast of Italy Unpacked on BBC2 provided some beautiful views of the country that sparked my excitement and urge to once more put pen to paper.

I’m always looking for interesting compositions for my artwork whether it be unusual angles or purely an unexpected view. One particular scene on the programme saw presenters Andrew Graham-Dixon and Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli climb up to the Santa Maria de Idris which is carved out of the very rock it resides on. That view in itself would make for a stunning piece of art however a shot from within, looking through the door back out to Matera did it for me.

Thankfully at the time I was watching the episode on good old iPlayer and more that that on my laptop so with a quick pause and a swift screen grab I had a new reference for a drawing!

Above all I love being out and about enjoying the moment and the view ahead as I capture it in my paintings but when the opportunity doesn’t present itself I’m always happy to make the most of all types of media to continue my passion of art.


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Stuck in a moment


If something is worth doing it’s worth doing well I’d say and there is nothing better, well almost nothing, than a period recreation where you feel you have simply jumped back in time.

A long planned visit to the Watercress Line came around just the other day and it is true to say that they go all-out to make you feel part of the environment. The chance to stand on a platform as a U class engine whooshes to a stop, steam enveloping you where you stand, would be enough to whisk you back to the 1940’s alone but Ropley station is well known for it’s awards. Way back when I was just eight the finely cut topiary bushes impressed my artistic eye, especially when compared to Black and White photos that showed the same beautifully shaped plants. And even now such care has been given to them like countless station staff before. Having spent a good while chatting to the smartly dressed Station Master about passed and present I made my way into the ticket office.

To be fair I have my own memories attached to this station, from the winter nights when all from Primary School gathered to attend carol singing to the first time Bodmin approached the platform in all it’s restored splendor I have much to remember. That aside Ropley currently sports a nostalgia oozing scene from the past in the form of the Station Masters Office. Complete with desk, period clock and notices of authority from the time, yes indeed I felt like I was back in the days where steam reined superior! And thanks to the atmosphere I added the soothing tones of Ella Mae Morse singing ‘Shoo Shoo Baby’, or was someone playing it in the background?

Having moved to Cornwall  my love of rail Steam Engines had taken a back seat as the addictive atmosphere of the Traction Engine took over but thanks to moments like that which I had on the MidHants there’s still a place in my paintings for a steam misted station.

Station Masters Office at the Watercress Line