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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Tudor Tea Rooms Christmas

A painting finished last night for a very nice chap called Anthony who runs a unique architectural gem of a building called The Tudor Tea Rooms in Harbour Street, Whitstable, Kent, UK. It has lovely arched windows with white stitch-effect details and herringbone brickwork shown in the painting under the sills. This will be the cover image of a calendar Anthony will be giving away to his happy customers. The rest of the calendar will feature 12 of my other 'local/Whitstable' works seen on this site in landscape format. Anthony will be hanging some of my works inside the restaurant soon too. Watercolour and gouache on 300gsm Langton rough.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Girl on number 73 Bus

Girl on number 73 Bus
Originally uploaded by Peter Gander
No, it’s not painted from life (sorry, purists ;) - I’d spill my ink on the bus! No, it’s drawn from a photo. I never trace, of course, but draw freehand by eye, using the photo at arms length as a loose reference point. This stylish young woman had a very characterful face and a lovely-to-paint fake leopard print coat. Quink ink on Khadi handmade Indian paper.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Running rabbit (linocut) 091118

Still on the subject of English countryside fauna, here's a running rabbit linocut that I cut last night. The blue and green inks were blended on the roller, an effective technique behind the negative shape of the rabbit. In this particular artists' print, the ink was running low, but I do like the fatigued effect that comes with that. I also cut away the hard-lined edge of the block to soften the look. Oil-based ink on cartridge paper.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Black as the Night (crow) 091117

Black as the Night Crow © Peter Gander
Did this during lunchtime at work. Drawn in white Conté Pastel pencil, or rather, not drawn, as everything but the crow is drawn of course! On Daler-Rowney black sketchbook. The smaller crows were ticked in afterwards with a black Conté pastel pencil. With my new passion for relief printmaking, I see a strong future for this kind of image with its strong design and mono appeal.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Whitstable Fish Market Figure, hand-coloured

Not a great image quality as I had to shoot it behind glass now it's up in 'the exhibition (ends tomorrow). The colours here (for those local, 'in-the-know types) are the original colours he was painted in, not the current colour scheme of garish process yellow, etc. The original figure had nicer, egg-yolk yellow waterproofs and the cod was as shown, as opposed to the flat silver he's now rendered in.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Whitstable fishing boat 091102

One for my current exhibition, this is a tiny (8cm square) watercolour of a fishing boat at low tide. The gritty mussel-bed shore revealed in the foreground. In the distance is the Isle of Sheppey in the Thames estuary. The scan failed to pick up the subtleties of the pinks (rose madder) in the sky to the top left which you’d have to see in the flesh at the show to appreciate ;) Watercolour on Langton (NOT) rough paper. SOLD (Fri 6 Nov 09)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Maunsell Fort - ‘Standing Sentry’ watercolour

Whilst the former print (see previous post) was drying, I painted this version, based on the same sketch, but drawn ‘by eye’ rather than traced for a freer feeling. Drawn in fine waterproof pen first, it has my ‘trademark’ use of wax resist evident in the clouds/sky.

Maunsell Fort - foamboard print

An experiment in alternatives to lino, I made this print from what we call in the UK ‘Foamboard‘, otherwise known by brand names such Foamcore or Featherlite, which is (normally) used for mounting design work. The central area of the face of the fort has been stripped of its paper shell, leaviung the textured foam to create an uneven surface which I scratched to attain a fatigued, rusted effect which worked well. What didn't work well was the lifesapn of the medium as it soon compressed with the rollering and burnishing process. The russet colour only is printed in oil-based ink, the rest of the painting is hand-coloured with watercolour. SOLD (Dec 2010)

The Maunsell Forts

A bit of background to the two latest paintings first. The Maunsell Sea Forts in the Thames and Mersey estuary are a series of small fortified towers built a few miles from shore during World War II to help defend the UK and especially London, during The Blitz. The Thames estuary was seen as a chink in the British armoury as it provided a relatively smooth path to London for the German airforce to fly over, avoiding the anti-aircraft guns which proliferated on the terra firma of Kent and Essex. The individual anti-aircraft tower sets comprise seven interconnected steel platforms, five carried guns arranged in a semi-circle around the control centre and accommodation while the seventh, set further out than the gun towers, was the searchlight tower. The forts are named after their designer, Guy Maunsell. Two of Maunsell’s fortification 'pods', Red Sands and Shivering Sands, are visible on a clear day from both Whitstable and Herne Bay (North Kent) shorelines but also looking south from the North side of the Thames estuary (county of Essex). They were decommissioned in the late 1950s but were used by various pirate radio stations during the 60s and 70s. These days you can see them up close and personal by boat trip from Whitstable and Herne Bay harbours.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Whitstable fish market figure: lino print

One of the first pulls, (hand-pressed). A good result, but I’ll be tweaking it here and there of course. Some of the lettering needs tightening up, for instance. Water-based block printing ink on brown wrapping paper.

Whitstable fish market figure

Finally the block is inked up with water-based block printing ink (I’ll use oil-based ink for once I am happy with the final block as it won’t smudge with hand-colouring by watercolour paints).

The final cuts in the base of the figure. Just the blackboard left at this stage and getting rid of the extra lino outside the border.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Peter Gander on the Isle of Wight’s VentnorBlog

The postcard I painted specially for Vintage Vacations was recently featured (with permission) to illustrate an article about building renovations on

Nearly there...

The fisherman is now mostly cut away, leaving just the outlines and buttons to print black. Not far to go now. Fingers aching from tensing.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Work-in-progress, Whitstable fisherman figure

Following the previous black and white design, I re-drew it all on tracing paper, paying particular attention to the distinctive font found on the fish market’s outer wall, which is painted on the shiplap/weatherboard-style building.
The fisherman obscures much of this font anyway,so I used trace again to check which letters would realistically be visible behind him. Pencil outlines normally suffice with a simple linocut, but to ensure accuracy especialy with the font here, I went over the whole thing with a fine pen. It also helps to see the design here ;) ‘The first cut is the scariest‘ as Rod Stewart nearly said. All went well on my nicely-warmed lino. The final sans serif font cut completed.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Design for Whitstable fish market fisherman

Not sure if I will actually go to the lengths (and extra lino plate) to add the shading shown here, unless I hand-colour, but am happy with the composition. You can see the blue Biro construction lines in places where I ghosted the proportions first. The white lettering style is very distinctive and very peculiar to Whitstable and especially to the black, shiplap-clad fish market.

Whitstable fish market fisherman

Returning to the theme of this fine fisherman outside Whitstable’s Fish Market (see previous post), I thought he would make a great subject matter for a linocut. The above sketches, or scamps as we call them in the trade, were scribbled on the homeward train last night.

It’s important to ensure this design looks right, rather than technically accurate, so I have played with sizes and location of type etc to ensure that the fisherman is our focus. In the first sketches, he was competing with the type too much and was becoming too secondary. Biro on layout paper.

Imogen’s cat

A nice and simple linocut, about actual size. For a friend’s young daughter who adores them. (Cats, that is, not linocuts). Hand-pulled linocut on cardboard.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wet sketches

091019a Wet Fish Thought I’d try out wetting the paper after using Quink ink to paint this fish. What better medium than watercolour to convey the blurriness of an object under water! The ink pigment blooms like tiny coral branches out of the painting where the spray diffuser landed most heavily.

Here the rear end of the painting was wetted only, creating a perspective blurring of the back end of the shoal.

Okay, Hockney has been there and done this in oils, but watercolour is a natural medium for such optical experimenting, though far less predictable, of course! Quink ink on Khadi handmade paper.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Old Neptune, Whitstable linocut

Work in progress. First draft and test print of one of Whitstable’s better-known landmarks. The Old Neptune sits right on the pebbly beach and is a favourite place to watch a beer and the sun, go down. Regarding the linocut, I just need to use a wider/deeper cutter to incise the lettering, which has filled in with ink too easily, so I will open that up. It needs a bit more care in the consistency of inking too, but it will all look excellent with some hand-colouring in watercolour later.

Friday, October 09, 2009

2009 linocut 091009

My lovely girlfriend Fiona has been putting together a ‘mosaic family portrait’ (samples of which I must find later) which is basically as you might guess a photographic print for one family made up of umpteen small photos of an identical size to make the whole. For her first one, she needed the year’s date, so I was tasked with coming up with something in a square format. Looking for something bold, I chose a linocut. It’s been a few years since I did one at college and I think even this modest sample has renewed my interest in the medium. Inspired by a few Etsy and Flickr artists, I popped into London’s well-known art suppliers in my lunch hour, Cowling & Wilcox and the ancient Cornelissen & Son, the latter feels like one of those Harry Potter wand shops, oak panels, hundreds of drawers full of arty treasures and creaking floorboards! So, equipping myself with two rubber rollers; oil and water-based inks; lino cutters and lino pieces, I was set all set. Oh, and a new word in my lexicon, a baren, which I was unfamiliar with. It’s used for pressing the paper onto the lino from the reverse. I have a modern rubber and felt one, but Cornelissen & Sons (naturally) also sold traditional bamboo ones. Apparently, there is only one solitary craftsman in China left who still makes them. (Or perhaps it’s an urban myth). I should really have bought one to help keep him in business, but a) I was advised honestly that my modern baren was superior and b) I had already spent too much and the Chinese ones were suddenly outside my budget. When it comes to art materials, I find they are on a par with fishing tackle shops and I find it hard to ignore a nice shiny gadget!

I won’t go into the detail of how I did it until next time, when I will also do a more adventurous and illustrative linocut, but suffice to say I was completely hooked and can’t wait to get started on another next week. Watch this space!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Invite for our November show at The Horsebridge, Whitstable.

My lovely girlfriend Fiona (who is a photographer) and I are having our second joint exhibition at The Horsebridge Art Gallery in Whitstable. I can’t take credit for the idea for the card, which was Fiona’s ;) Watercolour on Langton Rough 300gsm paper.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Charcoal & Conté version of ‘A Fantasy Full of Fail’

This was more like it. The depth of tone that comes with charcoal and Conté conveys well the dark and light contrasts which adds so much to the feeling of melancholia. Just enough grittiness, though were it to be a painting, I’d probably emphasise the seediness even further!

Biro sketch for 'A Fantasy Full of Fail'

I once read a story about a vicar meeting a mermaid when I was younger and recently the idea for a drawing in a more adult vein came to mind. This was the idea I had in my head, but I wasn't happy with the fussy composition and the more or less realistic figure proportions. The Biro also could not convey the gloomy, brooding atmosphere I was after. Anyway, I left it unresolved in the sketchbook for a week and revisited it last night with the charcoal and Conté drawing, (next post, above).

Monday, October 05, 2009

Office desktop 091005

A quickie lunchtime sketch at work. Permanent pen on khadi paper with a Quink ink wash plus highlights spotted in with the correction pen shown. The yellowish tinge of the khadi paper doesn't show up too well but is far more interesting than plain old white.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Blue Koi (Khadi paper) 091002

Sold another painting so I thought I'd treat myself to a new sketch book. This one's a handmade Khadi (cotton rag) watercolour sketchbook, rough surface and 210gsm. The sized surface and pulpy paper makes for some interesting effects.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Conté ‘carp on black’ sketch series 3 of 3

I was on a roll with the third sketch and it shows with the looser, more fluid feel. The Conté is blurred by the finger to intimate movement, which seems to work well. Well-composed, it's very much like my earlier post, ‘The Yin and Yang of fly fishing’.

Conté ‘carp on black’ sketch series 2 of 3

This is more like it, not ethe more even black and the soft edges where the Conté pencile embeds nicely in the tooth of the black paper. He looks a little miserable for a symbol of happiness, but I blame the down-turned whiskers.

Conté ‘carp on black’ sketch series 1 of 3

I bought a square format, black paper Daler-Rowney sketchbook yesterday and before sullying its pristine surface with a poor drawing, I did this sketch first on a seperate sheet of paper. In fact this first fish was drawn in white Conté over a black-marker area, which proved not nearly as nice and solid a black (of course) as the black paper which was used for the next two drawings. But still, a worthy trial. When drawing what is effectively ‘in reverse’, i.e with white as the highlight, it’s tempting to draw outlines as you would with a black-on-white example, but that would kill the subtlety, so restraint is the order of the day.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Reading on the train 090915

Was scratching around for ideas for more surreal fishy drawings, but as we fisherman say, I 'blanked'. So I drew this fellow-commuter instead on the homeward train. Black Biro on Cachet recycled sketchbook.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Lucky 7-in-One 090908

Drew this on the homeward train last night. A new take on the well-known big-fish-eats-little-fish scenario. I remember seeing film footage of Australian angler Rex Hunt reeling in a fish only to have it eaten at the boat's side at the last second by a much larger fish, so this really happens. (Okay, not quite as neatly as in my pic). Black Biro and Chinagraph white pencil on recycled sketchbook.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Fishermen’s Thoughts 090908

Inspired by a recent fishing trip to Skye in the Scottish inner Hebrides last week, where salmon fishing was the order of the day. And also the work of MC Escher, who mastered the illusion of negative and positive spaces and interlocking images. Black Biro on recycled sketchpad.

Nude, Fiona 900903

Having loosened up with the previous study, I drew the model with a charcoal pencil and then applied a loose watercolour wash, keeping distracting background detail to a minimum.

Fiona study 090903

A quick charcoal pencil and watercolour wash warm-up sketch, prior to my main painting of Fiona on a recent fishing trip to the isle of Skye, Scotland.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Suitable Fly

I drew this on my homeward journey last night on the train. He‘s found that fly that fills him with hope. The first fly. The one that’s been on his mind since he woke up. His lucky fly. Not the gaudiest or the best-tied, but something indescribable. A Suitable Fly. Okay, he looks a bit like the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, but that’s not a bad thing. He’s obviously done too much fishing as he’s looking like a fish. But come to think of it, can you do too much fishing? I don’t think so! Black Biro on recycled sketchbook.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Flying Fisherman

Still on the surreal side of fishing and ’under the influence’ of reading a fishing novel at the moment, comes ‘The Flying Fisherman’. I once saw some of these amazing fish on a fishmonger’s slab in East London. Their pectoral fins are extraordinarily long (the pic’s not anatomically accurate of course). It was very exotic for Leytonstone. It also reminds me of reading ‘Adrift’ where the starving author was stranded in the Pacific and as well as being butted from below by dolphin fish (dorado) in his thin inflatable ‘boat’, he was lucky enough to receive some manna from heaven when some flying fish landed virtually in his lap during a storm. Quink ink and charcoal pencil with white pencil highlights.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Yin and Yang of Fishing

I was reading (US author) John Gierach’s 'Trout Bum’ (Fly-Fishing as a way of life) this morning on the way to work and was inspired to get my sketch book out. A man who’s familiar with the delicate balance of the right timing, the right fly and the other influences one doesn’t have any control over when fishing, Mr Gierach would certainly get this. The harmony of it all going right on the day, The Yin and Yang of Fishing. I had originally planned the composition the ‘usual’ way up, but it looked much more relaxed with the character lying side-by-side with his catch in harmonious bliss. Black Bic biro on recycled sketchbook. As featured across the pond in the US on Steve Stracqualursi’s website Way Thanks for the interest Steve. (UPDATE: 17 Sep 09: PS Apologies for mis-spelling 'Ying' on the drawing!)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Quink hen

A quick, Quink lunchtime painting (sans pencil) drawing stage, of one of our hens as a thank you for a family who looked after them whilst we were on holiday. (Thanks Jo & co!). It’s challenging to eschew the pencil when it’s so handy as a starting point, but once you drop in the main, palest colour (of the hen’s body) as a guide, this can be added to, especially wet-into-wet, such as in the tail and neck tones. It’s very subtle without the pencil outlines, but has a charm of its own.