UK sketches 2022: Dartmoor and Glasgow

(Previously: UK sketches 2022: London)

I spent most of my time in Dartmoor either working, getting rained on (well, that was at Tintagel) or talking. But I did get a few sketches in!

Here are several teams of morris dancers. They all — with bells on! — had to run from a sudden downpour, and that was a remarkable sound.

A wonderful, windy, sunny afternoon on Haytor.

I introduced a younger artist to one of my favourite places — a very old stile in the woods.

Sketches of tangled trees, and a girl sitting near a stream sketching a stone stile

There was music on the wall on long summer evenings, and concerts in the chapel — here is the beautiful Elizabeth-Jane Baldry performing at both.

Then a last round of singing, and off to Glasgow (via an unexpected night in Newcastle) for the Once and Future Fantasies conference at the University of Glasgow, where I ran into many old and new friends, including the team from the Australian Speculative Fiction Project at the Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf (previously).

Sketches of people playing guitar, and sketching a lamppost in Glasgow

And many others, including Rob Maslen, Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman, Terri Windling, and Amal El-Mohar and numerous wonderful people not shown (due to talking to them instead of sketching them).

Then on the last day I took myself on a hop-on, hop-off bus tour and was enchanted by vehicles at the Riverside Museum on a very warm day.

Sketches of people talking at a conference and at a busstop, and a very old car

Then to Glasgow airport and from there, home.

Sketches of airport workers in hi-vis on the tarmac

(For the first half of the sketches from this trip, see: UK sketches 2022: London)

The Stone Road — online conversation with Trent Jamieson

Cover of The Stone Road. Photo of Trent Jamieson. Photo of Kathleen Jennings.

Trent Jamieson and I will be talking about his new book, The Stone Road, online for A Room of One’s Own, this Monday August 15, 2022 in the evening (if you are in America) and Tuesday August 16 in the morning (if you are in Australia).

UPDATE/EDIT: you can now watch the conversation here:

Here is what I’ve previously said about The Stone Road:

Trent Jamieson’s The Stone Road is a heart wrapped in thorns. Its world, even as it unpicks itself at the seams, is shot through with bright mysteries. And the novel, like its heroine, holds dear a loving, quarrelling community, even as it understands that towns — like time and people — slip away like dust. The Stone Road is a cycle of mysteries, an invocation of kindness amidst decay, a promise to the living, and blessing for the dead.

To read The Stone Road is to enter a lyrical, wavering world, a landscape wearied by time but vibrant with monsters grown out of history, watched over by clever birds, whispered beneath by the dead, where a girl strives to hold one town safe even as time and the long shadow of other people’s choices erode what she knows to be true.

If you love Tiffany Aching and CSE Cooney’s Saint Death’s Daughter, you’re going to want to read Trent Jamieson’s The Stone Road

UK sketches 2022: London

In June/July I went on my first overseas trip since 2019, and here is the beginning of the sketchbook. (Update: the second half is at UK Sketches 2022: Dartmoor and Glasgow.)

I didn’t sketch a whole lot on the trip. I am editing a large project that is fighting back, and had some other deadlines, and still wasn’t really well yet. And the rest of the time I was catching up with people and/or looking at things with people, neither of which really suit sketching.

But I did draw a fair bit on my three days in London — there was a tube strike, so I only arranged two meetings, and I had my days largely to myself. So in spite of the heat, I got to the V&A and the Soane collection, among others, and walked along canals and met a fashion MA student ( who suggested I go sketch at the Graduate Fashion Week, so I did that, too.

Sketches on cream paper: people dozing in airport
First international flight (second trip) since 2019
Colourful sketches: people sitting and playing on V&A lawns
Sunny day in the V&A courtyard
Sketches of Fashioning Masculinities exhibition at the V&A
The Fashioning Masculinity exhibition at the V&A
V&A sketches: menswear, people looking through microscopes at Beatrix Potter exhibition, pelicans in St James' Park
Men’s fashions, microscopes at the Beatrix Potter exhibition, and pelicans in St James’s Park
Sketches of people looking at racks of clothes at the Roman Road markets
Roman Road Markets
Sketches of photographers
Photographers at the Graduate Fashion Week at the Coal Drops Yard
Sketches of seated audience and very rapid fashion sketches at Graduate Fashion Week
Audience and photographers at the Graduate Fashion Week
Very rapid colourful fashion sketches at Graduate Fashion Week
Fashion sketches! Cambridge School of Visual & Performing Arts
Very rapid colourful fashion sketches at Graduate Fashion Week
Bath School of Design
Very rapid colourful fashion sketches at Graduate Fashion Week, including some shoes
Bath School of Design
Very rapid colourful fashion sketches at Graduate Fashion Week, people wheeling racks of clothes, people along canal
Fashion, racks, a narrowboat bookstore, rowing classes
Pencil notes and sketches made at the Soane museum
Notes at the Soane museum, purposeful abundance, the light of Rome, infinite arpetures, convexities

More sketches soon! (Update: more sketches up at UK Sketches 2022: Dartmoor and Glasgow.)

Observation Journal: Project reviews for silhouettes and portraits

Two more project-review pages of the observation journal.

For previous examples see the project review category, and for a list of questions I ask, see Questions for Project Reviews.

The first was for my silhouettes for Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare (the process post about those illustrations is here: Art Process — Chain of Iron).

Mind-map style project review re Chain of Iron illustrations

I identified two important lessons on this project:

  • I really like links within projects, physical and metaphorical, final effect and process. I’ve written about this previously — see, for example, On Silhouettes and Further Points of Connection, and The Key to All Mythologies — cultivating spurious links.
  • Tools need to be good and in good condition. The difference between newly sharp and poorly resharpened blades is the difference between cutting butter with a hot knife and gnawing through a branch with your teeth. But so is the difference between two different manufacturer’s blades.
Silhouette portrait of a man tipping a hat, with an oval frame surrounded by flowering vines, a spear, a newspaper, a dagger, and a bottle

The next review is for the portraits I did for the Queensland Literary Awards. My interview about those is up on the SLQ website: A Conversation with Kathleen Jennings.

Mind-map style project review re literary award portraits

A few key lessons from this:

  • Build panic into my planning — it’s part of the process.
  • Plan to do multiple versions/”throwaway” versions — permission to throw a piece out it makes me loosen up a lot and occasionally removes the need to.
  • Price originals before finding out if people want them. (Thank you Gavin Grant for lessons around this!)
  • The difficulty I have with portrait work from photos (static reference, some degree of likeness required) can be offset to a degree by requesting photos with pets in them (adds life to the pose, adds movement/character, distracts the viewer).
  • The need to practice aspects (e.g. skin tones) in advance, when working with limited materials and colours. Usually with the sketchbook and markers I’m relying a lot more on strong light and context hints than I can for static portraiture, even in a sketchy style.
  • While I get tense about portrait work, I love and miss documentary sketching — it’s reminded me to steer more towards the latter, and suggest it vs traditional portraits. In fact, the next job I did for the State Library was documentary sketching: Next Library.
Kathleen Jennings's portraits of Queensland Literary Award winners Yen-Rong Wong, Tabitha Bird, and Joey Bui
Portraits of Queensland Literary Award winners Yen-Rong Wong, Tabitha Bird, and Joey Bui

I also learned a few lessons about project reviews generally:

  • I retain end-of-project lessons better than day-to-day ones (I have theories), which makes these reviews very useful.
  • Many of the small details help me usefully answer those tricky little questions in bios, etc, (what do you find difficult to draw?) as well as giving direction for specific projects and techniques in future (the original point).
  • A project review can itself become the basis for an article, whether about a specific piece (e.g. A Conversation with Kathleen Jennings) or more generally. For example, I’m starting to think about a piece on my experience portraiture, and aspects of both these project reviews (fictional silhouette portraits, stylised portraits of real people) will get into it.
  • Highlighting the most important notes (in the moment) is very helpful.

For other posts about project reviews, see the project review category, and for a list of questions I ask, see Questions for Project Reviews.

reading on the sofa

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TV Sketching: Shakespeare & Hathaway

I will put up the travel sketches once I’ve scanned them, but in the meantime: Some TV sketching! Shakespeare & Hathaway: Private Investigators, Season 4 Episode 2 (f.i.n.a.l.l.y. available in Australia).

Digital sketches of many small people from Shakespeare & Hathaway, some dancing

As usual, the rule is: no pausing the show.

I didn’t sketch the first episode because I was eating dinner at the time, but I’m not ruling out revisiting it.

Digital sketches of many small people from Shakespeare & Hathaway, some dancing

These are mostly featuring Sebastian and Luella, of course.

For more TV sketching, see the tag: TV sketching.

Curlews on Vulture Street — preorder (and discount)

Cover of Curlews on Vulture Street by Darryl Jones — a photo of a bush stone-curlew on a blue background

Darryl Jones’ memoir of life as an urban ecologist, Curlews on Vulture Street, is now available for pre-order — and there’s currently 20% off for orders placed through the UNSW Bookshop.

The book will be released in September, and there will be an event at Avid Reader on 14 September 2022 — you can book here. There’s a fairly high chance that some of the original art will be there too… more on that soon, but for now, here’s a teaser — one of the illustrations in progress.

Hand holding partially cut silhouette — boy in bucket hat, magpie, egret

July 2022 — round-up of posts

Photo of hand holding tiny cut-paper forest

Here is quick master list of the July 2022 blog posts (not including Patreon posts).


I was in England and Scotland for much of the month, so posts were spaced out more than usual.

Ballpoint sketches of women working (reading, sewing, etc) in arched frames
Conference notes

Posts over on Patreon at various tiers included: travel photos, dividers and dingbats, illustrated conference notes, and early access to the calendar.

Small ballpoint sketch of a cat sitting on top of a tumble-dryer

August calendar: Enchanted forest

Green trees with jewelled leaves on dark background

This calendar is made possible by patrons, who get it a little bit early, along with alternative colourways, and other sneak-peeks and behind-the-scenes art: It is also supported by those very kind people who throw a few dollars towards it via the tip jar:

Here, for August, is an enchanted forest, its branches ringing with improbable leaves.

I will be putting it up as a repeating pattern very soon (and last month’s Hind Girls are now up on Redbubble), so stay tuned. UPDATE: This design is now available as prints, cases, scarves etc on Redbubble in a few colours: Malachite (the green one above); Daylight (the oatmeal colour below); Folk Art (no lines); The Night Forest (bare branches)

White trees with jewelled leaves on oatmeal background

Below (for personal use) are the printable versions — two pre-coloured and one to colour in yourself. If you like them and/or like supporting artists, you can contribute to the calendar (and get it and other behind-the-scenes things early) at (starts at US$1/month) or tip me a few dollars through Ko-Fi: Either is greatly appreciated! And of course many previous designs are available as prints etc on Redbubble and Spoonflower.

Also, I have a very occasional mailing list (not a newsletter), if you’d like to keep up with any major announcements: Mailing List Sign-Up

August 2022 calendar: Green trees with jewelled leaves on dark background
August 2022 calendar: White trees with jewelled leaves on oatmeal background
Line art August calendar - trees with jewelled leaves

July 2022 Short Story Reading Post

Photo of handwritten notes — key sections extracted below

This post is a roughly tidied version of my July 2022 tweets about short stories. It was curtailed by travel, but is still quite long, so I’m putting the rest of it below the cut. There’s a list of all stories at the very end of the post.

Also a warning: I was either in transit or badly jetlagged for a lot of this. Coherency may vary.

Continue reading

Little silhouette process pictures: Tiny places for stories to happen

Photo of hand holding tiny cut-paper forest

I’m still charmed by this little forest I cut out. There are areas I’d tidy and balance and things I’d add, if I do something similar again, but it’s such a satisfyingly complete little grove (for the advantages of that, see Little Groves).

It was for a tiny illustrated story for the small (wonderful) tier of patrons who receive them in allegedly monthly emails (on average it works out that way). I’m collecting a pile of little tales in the hopes of doing something with them, although I’m not sure exactly what yet — their dimensions and styles are very various. Some are one line, some are several hundred words, some are poems, some are instructions.

Photo of titles "Reputation", "The Tiger... Once, when there was still virtue in seeming...", "The Girls in the House", "Effigies & Sea Breezes"

But they are a wonderful place to just play.