Cambridge Inspiration

Cambridge has a very vibrant artist community with annual Cambridge Open Studios and flourishing urban sketcher’s group with blogspot and Facebook page with photo gallery.

There is also a tourist market with a number of art galleries selling original, print and also cards, some of are images of Cambridge.

From my research before the assignment I did not find very much that was particularly striking, compared to sketching techniques I had looked at from other places.  Much of it was fairly conventional ink and wash, with some watercolour like the very detailed ink and wash of Peter Wenman. Some etchings that I find too flowery by Walter Keesey from 2013 and Cambridge:The Watercolour Sketchbook with illustrations by Graham Byfield whose style I find quite insipid.

My main influences at this point were from Fine art, aiming at styles I had explored previously for my own OCA painting courses in watercolour and ‘View From EAT.’. My main new influences from Cambridge were: 

Sam Motherwell who does quick drawings on the spot. His charcoal drawings of Cambridge have a simplified, ‘lonely’ angular line, sometimes much more energetic. His drawings of St John’s use ink and watercolour. He also sometimes adds collageand this creates very vivid colours to contrast with the ink line. He also does Black and White linocuts.

Frank Hopkirk ink line drawings – often using just one continuous line. He produced a number of cards of drawing of Cambridge musicians that I bought at the 2016 Open Studios.

A key resource for much further exploration going forward to level 3 – is a recent publication (only available just before Christmas 2017):

The Cambridge Art Book: the City through the Eyes of its Artists edited by Emma Bennett 2017. The official website has links to the websites of the different artists. The selection on the site is not however the selection I would have made. I have not included actual images here as I am not sure of the Copyright protocol with the galleries and artists.

The artists I find most innovative and interesting – though I discovered these artists too late to explore these techniques in my Assignment – are:

John Tordoff who combines collage – often newspapers – to create tone and texture. His images in the book and on the Byard Art gallery site are very moody, often twilight time, using dark tones and skies, often with windows with lights on. For some reason these are not on his website. I particularly like: Green Street, Walking at Night, What’s on in Cambridge!, Cambridge market, Bridge of Sighs. He also does iPad paintings, but I do not find these as accomplished or interesting as his other work or other iPad art.

Claire Caulfield who often combines printmaking with other media. Here images often have an exaggerated curvature of linear perspective to give a dynamic lead in and/or isometric overview and other distortions. Her pen drawings use a range of distinctive ink styles. In her drypoint and chine colle the drypoint gives a very distinctive line to her images and the chine colle add texture as well as colour.  Her website also has screenprints some of which also use acrylic and watercolour – these also have a very distinctive irregular line that give a lot of atmosphere and dynamism to the image.

Vanessa Stone  does papercut work of Cambridge views with a very bold line – similar to what can be achieved with linocut, but flatter and with sharper edges.

Rebecca Stark does simplified street paintings in oil, using limited palette and muted colour to create atmosphere and sometimes cutting and pasting sections to exaggerate the shapes – though in many cases I find this overdone and gimmicky. I particularly like Chesterton Lane with Boats, Portugal Place, Market Square.

Ophelia Redpath does surrealist, dreamy images with sweeping lines where the foreground is enlarged. Her early paintings used oil pastel overlaid with gouache to give a curdled texture that increases the atmosphere. See for example:   Corpus Christ College, Tech tennis balls, Musique Representations.

Glynn Thomas copperplate etchings. These have very interesting perspective and composition, combining different elements into one image. See Queen’s College, By the Fountain, On the Cam, At the Mill.

Barbara Pierson does simplified oil paintings of people, often on their own, sometimes with dogs, battling the elements. Her images Cycling in the Snow, Wedding Punt, and After the Snow I find particularly atmospheric.

Tessa Newcomb


distinctive quirky illustrations: oil paint, watercolour, lithographs. Pencil on oil. Or pencil and watercolour.

I paint Paris how I want it to look. A Paris drawn from films, books, poems. Fewer cars, less noise and stress, better clothes, nicer notice boards – or that’s what I like to imagine. I use selective vision.

flat and skewed perspective. A lot of neutral pastel colours.

somewhat randomly inserted. Different sizes. Captions give title, medium and size – as if they are to be sold???

somewhat random text. In chapters, but without clear narrative. Little vignettes with illustration.

how I see paris







Interview with Tessa Newcomb


Sue Coe



The Nation


Sue Coe Facebook page

Graphic Witness

Americans who tell the truth

Sue Coe (born 1951) is an English artist and illustrator, currently working  from upstate New York.  Her work is highly political, and part of her activism. Having grown up next to a slaughterhouse, she has been particularly involved  in trying to stop the animal cruelty that takes places hidden behind its walls.  Her work is often directed against capitalism, focusing on issues like sweatshops, prisons, AIDS and war.

She uses a realistic drawing style, sketching what she sees in slaughterhouses, prisons and sweatshops – having developed strategies for getting permission to draw and talk to people there. These sketches are then used as developed drawings in charcoal and other media, painting and printmaking, often published as illustrated books and comics. Her illustrations have appeared in a wide variety of publications, including The New York TimesThe New Yorker, and The Nation.

She is an artist I want to study more for insights into political illustration, particularly ways of portraying very upsetting situations and linking striking imagery with activism.

Selected bibliography from Wikipedia

Architectural Illustration

Architecture as a discipline uses drawing as a way to describe buildings and structures. Architectural illustrators are employed by architects, heritage centres and property-based businesses. Illustration can do important things that photography cannot, and is used in two main  ways:

  • to draw up plans and diagrams. This uses technical language and techniques aimed to objectively and accurately represent the topography of a building and its parts.
  • to visualise proposed projects and buildings – imagining the built environment.

Illustrators need to have an eye for detail,  understand proportion and perspective, have good observational skills and a drawing style that can convey complex structures. However not all architectural illustration is technical and dry.

Different architectural illustrators approach the task of documenting visual space and the built environment in different ways. They differ in choice of drawing approach, and how the perspective and materials used relates to the architecture itself:

  • some are driven by the ideas that drawing and illustration offers
  • some by the ideas inherent in the architectural styles they’re representing.

They may produce very different effects supporting or contradicting the ideas underlying the buildings, for example:

  • glossy images used by a developer to suggest the idea of luxury
  • approaches may seem at odds with the spaces they’re representing.

Project 2.3 Architectural Illustration: Port of London Authority and Walkie Talkie


Key Resources on architectural illustration

The Society of Architectural Illustrators

Represents ‘professionals who bring architecture to life’. Their illustrators / SAI members A–Z section shows a wide range of different approaches.

Archigram (1961–1974)
A group of architects influenced by avant-garde art movements who playfully challenged assumptions about modern architecture. All of their work was presented as proposals, through drawings and collage. A very different approach to representing and visualising architecture through drawing.

Illustration web Architecture Section

The Royal Institute of British Architecture (RIBA)
Has a series of online workshops, videos and other resources exploring architectural history, drawing and design. Useful to gain a broader perspective on architectural ideas.

Michael Blower archive
Examples of British architect Michael Blower’s sketchbooks are available via the website:

Photorealistic 3D and CGI imaging

Top of the list of Google Search for Architectural Illustration are companies doing photorealistic 3D and CGI imaging, some with animation. This is a very specialised field requiring a high level of 3D Digital skill – not something I could aspire to.




Michael Vaughan
Michael; Vaughan
Michael; Vaughan
Michael Vaughan
Michael Vaughan

Watercolour/ink and wash/acrylic

Some of this merges into street/travel illustration.

Philip Bannister
Philip Bannister watercolour
Philip Bannister watercolour
Philip Bannister ink
Philip Bannister ink
John Walsom

He sets up perspective views on a drawing board in the traditional way and uses a range of stencils for ellipses and curves, working with pencils, brushes and paint. His watercolour images are usually more detailed and accurate than his acrylic paintings. He spends more time doing the drawing than the painting. He also paints in oils en plein air – he likes to work fast with the changing light.

John Walsom
John Walsom
John Walsom
John Walsom

Mixed media

Lucia Emanuela Curzi

Lucia often brings together lots of photographic references and creates a preliminary collage as well as doing some sketches. Her actual illustrations are created on paper using ink, watercolour, pastels, pens or acrylic – though not necessarily all together.  However she does use Photoshop to tweak and perfect a piece. Also fashion.

Lucia Emanuela Curzi
Lucia Emanuela Curzi
Lucia Emanuela Curzi
Lucia Emanuela Curzi



Fujio Yoshida
Fujio Yoshida
Fujio Yoshida
Fujio Yoshida
Fujio Yoshida
Mike Hall

Clean with some Photorealism. Hand-drawn imagery and coloured digitally. Sometimes he combines drawn print designs with digital elements to build up an image. Sometimes, he’ll also draw his map designs using vector graphics.

Mike Hall
Mike Hall
Mike Hall
Mike Hall
Cliff Mills

more stylised influenced by Pop Art. Drawn with pen and ink then scanned and coloured in Photoshop.

Cliff Mills
Cliff Mills
Cliff Mills
Cliff Mills
Juliet Percival

She works from a graphite or pen drawing, sometimes with a subtle watercolour background. This is scanned in and coloured digitally using Photoshop’s brushes or flat colours.

Juliet Percival
Juliet Percival
Juliet Percival
Juliet Percival
Decue Wu

Uses different compositions, and bold colors in a limited palette, often creating patterns. Most of her work is done using Photoshop and Illustrator, but she also combines hand-made textures, screenprinting and collage work. Also does Fashion.

Decu Wu
Decu Wu
Decue Wu
Decue Wu
Thilo Rothaker
Thilo Rothaker
Thilo Rothaker
Thilo Rothaker
Thilo Rothaker

3D Sculpture

Model Making on SAI

Tobias Wustefeld

Tobias creates little worlds in bringing together digital and traditional techniques. He draws designs by hand and finishes them in 3D with the computer.

Tobias Wustefeld
Tobias Wustefeld
Tobias Wustefeld
Tobias Wustefeld
Alex Hogrefe
Alex Hogrefe
Alex Hogrefe

Visualising Architecture

Interesting Tutorial on using SketchUp

Andre Chiote
Andre Chiote ?ercedes Benw Building
Andre Chiote Mercedes Benz Building

5 abstract illustrations

Natural Science Illustration


There is a long history of illustrators working closely with scientists, and scientists who have been skilled illustrators. Natural Science illustration often aims to balance functionality and beauty and reflects a sense of drawing as an aesthetic activity and an observational one, of drawing as science and drawing as art (Course Guide p58).

“The main goal of botanical illustration is not art, but scientific accuracy. It must portray a plant with the precision and level of detail for it to be recognized and distinguished from another species.

The need for exactness differentiates natural science illustration from for example more general flower painting. Many great artists, from the seventeenth-century Dutch masters to the French Impressionists, such as Monet and Renoir, to modernists like Georgia O’Keeffe, portrayed flowers, animals and still life; but since their goal was aesthetic, accuracy was not always necessary or intended. In the hands of a talented natural science artist, however, the illustration goes beyond its scientific requirements.

Although photography and perhaps particularly microscopic photography, may help inform natural science work, there is certainly still a need for illustration because simplification through line and shape based on detailed observation  can represent clearly what may not easily be seen in the continuous tones of a photograph. The composition of the image can be manipulated and features displayed together to highlight similarities and contrast in ways that may not occur in nature.

This project focuses on Botanical Illustration. I used work from a series of courses in botanical illustration at the Cambridge Botanic Gardens.

2.4 A Rose by Another Name: Phlomis


Asian botanical illustration

The earliest botanical illustrations are from Asia. See:

Natural History Museum Archives

Victoria and Albert Museum

Western botanical illustration

See history in Wikipedia

In Western cultures interaction between science and arts goes back to early herbalist manuscripts of the Middle Ages, and flourished from the Renaissance onwards across all the various natural sciences. Media have traditionally used drawing, and other portable media like crayon, ink, watercolour and gouache. Many illustrations were later reproduced in etchings and engravings to reach a wider public.

  • Herbalist manuscripts
  • Leonardo Da Vinci
  • Albrecht Durer
  • Robert Hooke
  • Victorian hand-coloured engravings.

Women artists feature prominently, especially during the nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries when science was basically an entrenched male preserve. Botany was deemed a respectable pastime for young ladies, and their botanical drawing was analytical enough to feed into science.

  • Marianne North (1830–90), an English naturalist and botanical
    artist, and the
  • Mary E Eaton (1873–1961) American artist
  • Mary McFadden
  • Georgia O’Keefe
  • Sarah Simblett

I am also interested in very stylised designs in Art Nouveau and Still Life painters.

Contemporary Approaches

The contribution of botanical illustrators continues to be praised and sought, very fine examples of drawing and watercolour continue to be produced. See  Google images for contemporary botanical illustration.

Photography and other lens-based media like fibre-optic cameras, x-rays, remote cameras and video and new methods like magnetic resonance imaging have extended the ways in which we are able to see the world – for example freezing motion, capturing at distance and/or  microscopically, giving views of ‘reality’ beyond out senses. Some illustrators are beginning to build on these new technologies in their illustration.

Some illustrators use stylised forms and flat colours:

Other sources to explore:

Wellcome Trust: a global charity that supports biomedical research into human and animal health.  The Wellcome Collection – a London-based gallery and online resource explores the connections between medicine, life and art in the past, present and future.

Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, Kew Gardens

Society of Botanical Artists : on-line gallery 

Botanic Gardens Conservation International

Victoria and Albert Museum

Botanical Art and Artists Historical Overview

Botanical Art and Artists Contemporary

List from Wikipedia to be further investigated:

Reportage Illustration

Reportage illustration as a distinct discipline is a form of visual reporting that covers everything from exotic locations to war zones, enclosed courtroom proceedings to public events. It shares many of the concerns of written journalism and documentary photography, but reportage illustration offers something additional to both of these practices. It provides a different way to understand a place or event; it is visual but it’s often more than just a snapshot.The nature and style of reportage illustration has evolved alongside journalism and the technical development of printing.

Truth in drawing is about trying to capture the essence of the situation, whether it’s an emotional truth, a descriptive truth, or trying to capture a particular dynamic or tension. Getting to the truth of a story might, for example, mean emphasising certain aspects that you want a viewer to focus on.

(Course Guide p45 my emphasis added – illustration is inevitably a subjective interpretation. The key issue is to be aware of that subjectivity and its implications.

Project 2.1 Drawing on the familiar: Aldeburgh

Project 2.2 On Location: Aldeburgh carnival

History of reportage illustration

Reportage illustration has a very long history – going back to stone friezes depicting rules and wars of ancient civilizations, tapestries like Bayeux Tapestries and medieval illuminated manuscripts. 17th century woodcuts were used to illustrate cheap publications called broadsides and later chapbooks or rags (named after the recycled fabric they were made from). These focused on murders, robberies and executions and provided grizzly depictions of victims and consequences.

By the nineteenth century news reporting had widened its scope and, with it, the breadth of material illustrated. As the market for newspapers increased the quality of the illustrations improved with the use of more expensive wood engravings and etchings. It took a while for photography to become integrated into newspaper publishing as a form of journalism, mainly because of the technical issues of printing photographs.

In Fine Art painters at the end of the nineteenth century painted social topics, for example:

Contemporary reportage illustration

Reportage illustration is still practised as a way of providing a viewpoint on hard to document events, from courtrooms where cameras are banned, to personal experiences such as travel that are difficult to sum up in one image. And to convey mood of a piece. Particular sources of contemporary inspiration for my work include:

Frank McMahon

L S Lowry urban landscapes for their perspective and stylisation

and stylistic possibilities of:

Graham Dean  watercolour

Franziska Neubert simple linocuts and woodcuts

Jake and Dinos Chapman: reinterpretation and reworking of Goya and other contentious issues.

Sally Pring for the flat colours

Olivia Lomenech Gill for her very diverse style with gouache, pencil, printmaking, collage

Practical Issues

  • How to draw something that might only be in place for a few moments? It takes practice to analyse a scene and commit the essential elements of fleeting impressions to visual memory, then make those impressions into an image.
  • Initially at least the aim is not to make a finished picture, but to capture information. Focus on the key elements – a person’s face and hands, how they’re standing, the dynamic of a group of people huddled together. You might also have to draw a lot quicker. You’ll need to do a number of drawings. Movements are often cyclical even for people. Decide when to do the background and when to do the people.
  • Interactions with the subjects – how to stop people being embarrassed or self-conscious See some of the hints in Urban Sketching
  • Many reportage illustrators include written notes with their illustrations, reflecting on their perceptions, describing dialogue, thoughts or events. This adds to the personal perspective and gives the drawings a sense of personal identity.
  • Final image: Mood, Media, Cropping, Colour etc



Dan Eldon

I first came across Dan Eldon as part of my OCA Book Design course, and was struck by the impact of his combination of photographs, collage and text. Although some of the videos and media coverage of his work since his death in Somalia is somewhat idealised – and he is still an outsider, I think combining different media to present different perspectives can be a powerful way of documenting both journeys and also social and political documentary.

Google Images

Netflix video

Travel illustration

Drawing on location, especially abroad, is another example of reportage illustration work.

For this project I used a trip to London in March. This trip was a weekend break with a boat cruise along the Thames. On the actual journey I focused on sketching and did not take supporting photos to see just how much I could fill in from memory. Then what the lessons would be for future. Also we were travelling fast and I wanted to draw as much as possible. I then produced final images in Procreate later, using the sketches directly or combining several into one image.

2.5 There and Back Again: London Journey


Tourist material: Seaside and Railway posters

Here  travel illustration tends to be used as a way of promoting a place through tourist material and visitor guides and so can be less concerned with objective drawing. In Europe and North America the railway poster served as a way of presenting these destinations as desirable locations for trips and holidays. The posters were commissioned by train companies and were presented on train platforms and station buildings. Following the current illustrative and painting styles they present picturesque and idealised views of landscapes and landmarks, often with the inclusion of people enjoying themselves.

John Hassal: eg image of the Jolly Fisherman skipping along the sands in ‘Skegness is so Bracing’

Tom Purvis: bold use of flat colours

Us and them: ‘Exotic’ or anthropological illustration

The danger of any form of reportage representing other people, cultures and  places, is that it is framed from the perspective of difference. There is a tricky fine line between ‘cultural interest’ and racist stereotype.

Early travellers and image-makers often took on a voyeuristic and often disapproving tone. Images often make comparisons between different
peoples and are framed within the sense of ‘discovery’ of ‘Darkest Africa’, of the west exporting civilisation to dark and forgotten corners of the world for their own good. These images reflect that message back again, reinforcing the values of western culture.

The same traps exist when visually representing class, poverty or wealth, or in fact any area of life where differences are noticeable.

I am inspired particularly by the work of Dan Eldon with his multi-layered collages. I first came across Dan Eldon as part of my OCA Book Design course, and was struck by the impact of his combination of photographs, collage and text. I think combining different media to present different perspectives can be a powerful way of documenting both journeys and also social and political documentary.

Documentary photography

I did a lot of work and research on journeys for my OCA Landscape Photography course (not assessed). 



I also looked at other forms of travel photography:

Lee Friedlander’s fragmented images that strongly accentuate the distance between the viewer and the world outside the car.

Robert Frank’s journey across America and its much more engaged social commentary through juxtaposition of contradictory elements

Dana Lixenberg‘s much more long-term socially engaged studies.

Many of the issues highlighted there are also relevant for illustration – and are explored further in:

Assignment 4 From the Edge where I look at different ways of thinking about and then representing diaries

Assignment 5 Oromia: A Collaged Journey

I also looked at a number of You Tube video courses on sketching techniques:

Urban sketching: people

Urban sketching: watercolour

Urban sketching: approaches and materials

Urban Sketching: pen and ink