2.1b Drawing on Location: Aldeburgh Carnival


Use your sketchbooks to produce a series of drawings and notes that documents an event of your choice. Try and produce a body of work that depicts the event over a period of time. An event can be defined as something happening within a limited time slot, but you can also choose to interpret the term ‘event’ more loosely. It can be a private celebration or your local football match, a Saturday market or the arrival of workmen to dig the road.
Choose something that offers you the opportunity to explore your particular style of drawing, so think about the dynamic of the event and how this relates to how you draw.

Selected coloured images

Working process

For this project I chose to sketch the Aldeburgh carnival. In the previous project I had mostly used pencil and an A4 landscape format sketchbook. This worked quite well in terms of portability, but also gave me plenty of space to try out ideas and put multiple sketches on the page. I did not normally rub out. But there was the option of printing on paper and then painting over, or working up digitally. I continued to sketch in pencil mostly, but also tried ink. I am intending to work up more of the images below, using some of my photos also for reference.

Overall assessment

I enjoyed this project, and want to do much more of this type of sketching to become really confident and develop my own style. I like quick drawing with a thick clutch pencil, but also with a Rotring pen where I have to draw spontaneously because I cannot rub anything out – though I can alter emphasis and tone with a waterbrush wash. Using simple black and white media, I can draw quickly and there is a lot of potential for reworking images through printing out and overdrawing, or digitally on an iPad or in Photoshop. With reference images and/or video.

Using colour on the actual sketch is harder to get an effective image of people moving and things happening. And also harder to rework.  I would like to experiment with media like pastels and pencil, and also drawing with an iPad on location. Maybe layering and mixing photos and drawings. Again I also have ideas that I want to work on to make some more expressive illustrations based on my sketches.

I am quite happy sketching alone and found people quite friendly – when I say that I am studying and learning I do not feel too embarrassed showing what I have done. In general, where people and particularly children are involved, it is actually less sensitive to sit drawing than taking photographs. The main challenge was the sun – that requires knowing the location and which spots are shady when. And some events are just very difficult – as in the procession where I could not find a good vantage point in the shade.

But I need a lot more practice!

Music festival May

Aldeburgh has many festivals during the year to attract the tourists out of London and nearby towns like Colchester. The first one we went to was an arts and music festival with events on the beach. This was only for a day, so I was not able to sketch that much. Also I think there may be Copyright issues sketching other peoples’ art. But these glass icicle posts and the way they were wired to produce sound music was beautiful – also the piano playing on the beach. This image would make a very interesting surrealist painting – cross between Hopper and de Chirico.


With these sketches I started to redraw them, and also print them out as light images and draw over with pen and wash or pencil and Inktense. These sketches are good for practising drawing figures from memory – a similar treatment to the British Museum exercise in Part 1.

I took some reference photos below. But I felt more embarrassed standing and taking photos of people setting their stalls up than I did sitting and sketching. So I only took a couple – though if this had been a photography exercise I could have asked people and done it properly. My partner doing a photography course actually got commissioned to take photos of the stalls – promise of payment if they were any good! The photos are also very flat and lack any energy – unlike what I saw. The photos from later in the day could be used as the basis for interesting watercolours – something I am planning for later. Also collage – with their crowded colour clash feel.

Fair rides

On the way to the fair rides is a children’s boating pool with the statue of a dog. The dog looked really mournful early in the morning dwarfed by the climbing mountain (folded up at the back) as if its territory had been invaded.

The Climbing Cliff and Bouncy Castle were interesting to draw. The main problem was keeping out of the sun. So I could not stay too long.

I tried to do a watercolour of the Sky Ride. It was difficult (but interesting) to get the perspective right. I need to experiment with this one in ProCreate. It would probably work well in pastels with smears for the hair. As well as coloured ink pen – if I was good enough at drawing.


One of the easiest places to sit in the shade and sketch was the Merry-go-round which was just next to a shelter with quite comfortable benches. No one minded me sketching at all, and most of the time I was not really noticed. Some people came and started chatting – a few artists as well. There was lots of inspiration here with the many different people who came, peoples’ faces and different relationships. As well as the opportunity to practise speed sketching of the horses themselves from different angles. For these sketches I used a Rotring pen to practise drawing at speed where I could not rub out. I actually really enjoyed drawing in this way – forcing me to be bold and not think too much – not to take things too seriously – just have fun in the moment.

Photo collage and drawing

When I got home I also tried collaging and drawing on collaged photos – ideas of stuckedness and freedom – partly drawing on Gertler’s Merry-Go-Round at the Tate Modern. There are many ways in which I could develop my sketches by redrawing, or again printing and over painting in ink and wash.

'Merry-Go-Round', Mark Gertler:
‘Merry-Go-Round’, Mark Gertler:

Reference photos and video

I took a few reference photos and a short video on my small compact camera. But here also I felt much more uncomfortable taking photos – particularly because of the children I did not know. Sketching was much less sensitive.

Punch and Judy

Punch and Judy always reminds me of Dave McKean’s illustrations for Neil Gaiman’s Tragical Comedy of Mr Punch     See Google Images. I could do something really effective with these images if I experiment with different styles. Possibly like a drawing I did a while ago in the same Pastel and line style of Mr Punch, using the sketches and photos below and other Punch and Judy images from the web.


The donkeys were down the road just by another sitting place. Here I made friends with the lady who ran it, and she really liked me drawing. Again it was much less sensitive to sketch than to photograph the children. Though I did have to be careful not to sit too long and let the parents sit down.

Carnival – the big escape: Ideas for further development

I originally thought of developing these images further for Project 4.2 Self-publishing, together with some more sketches from Aldeburgh carnival in August 2017. However unfortunately I was unable to go that year because our van was not working. So the work below is now something I aim to develop further at level 3 of the degree.

I started by collating my different sketches and editing and combining these in Procreate, colouring them with pastel, ink and/or wash brushes (see Gallery above). My favourite sketches are of the girls on the merry-go-round seeming to fly and/or be chased by other horses dreaming of freedom, and the girl on the reluctant donkey that just wants to chew grass. The style I had in mind was somewhere between Olivia Lomenech Gill and Ronald Searle. Trying to further develop the Procreate techniques I had explored with my drawings in Cambridge for Assignment 2 A Sense of Place.

I then coloured and combined these in Procreate into a set of 10 double page spreads that could be printed in a small square stapled booklet, incorporating also some images from the previous project.

I think this series is potentially interesting if developed further with more images from a future visit at carnival time. Although it does not work yet, it could possibly become a graphic novel ‘Carnival: The Great Escape’  with completely new drawing done specifically for that purpose around that idea of escape: escape to the seaside, escape from the merry-go-round, escape through drink or snoozing. With the Punch policeman in the way and the stone dog watching. I could also think about incorporating photos and collage, playing with ideas of dream and reality as in McKean’s work in the Tragical Comedy of Mr Punch. I need to think more about the narrative to underlie this revision of the illustrations. Maybe instead of dreams of escape we just need to stay still and enjoy the moment.

I need to let this mull for a while and am planning to come back to it later as sketchbook practice at level 3. When I have further developed gouache and other mixed media drawing skills in Assignment 5. There would be a potential market for this – as a book or individual images for stalls at the carnival itself and tourist bookshops in the area.

Carnival Procession

For the actual procession it was too hot to draw and in the shade I could not see over peoples’ heads. So I took photos to draw from later. I have not edited them as photos because there are things in the images that I would want to draw that I could not photograph well. The aim was to capture enough information that I could then adjust later when I come to draw. I use these images later as the basis for Project 4.5b Paper Circus.

Going to the carnival
Float competition
The band
The onlookers
The procession