Exploring the narrow cobbled streets of St Mawes, every turn uncovers a charming cottage or an absolutely stunning view. This small historic fishing village is nestled at the end of the Roseland peninsula on the south coast of Cornwall and is magical.
Natural stone, slate, and white lime-washed simplicity, so with pen in hand, I set about capturing some of St. Mawes architectural coastal doorways.
What initially grabbed my eye was the contrast. Dark inside the windows against the elegant white window frames.
Diagonal textual elements from the bushes on the left, and almost a diagonal line that goes through the side climbing foliage, lead your eye to this dark area on the bottom right which helps to ground it all. Then you’ve got all the lovely different textural elements within the slate and stone.
The palette is crisp white and vibrant azure, dotted with pops of pinks and reds of sunny pots on doorsteps. Where the sky meets the sea, the enchanting harbour is scattered with colourful fishing boats and sparkling light.
I love the colours on this cottage, the pops of bright pink next to powder blue; it just looks so pretty.
I went back to sketch this house because I really liked the textural elements I saw in the initial detail of the sash window. You’ve got lots of angles coming in together, which helped give a point of focus, so it feels like it’s got real depth to it, making a nice composition. Then you’ve also got differences in tone, and rough next to smooth.
I love the shape of the chimneys and how they have the curve on the angle. The house felt like it drew you into it; the dark area with the background of the trees behind, so you can’t quite see inside, adds a bit of intrigue.
Urban Sketching Materials
From the top: 0.2 Pentel Pointliner, 3.0 Pentel Pointliner, Pentel Brush Pen, Lamy Safari fountain Pen, Pentel Aquash water brush. (I seem to like Pentel!)
This was such a pretty white house with a white picket fence and then roses all around the door; it reminded me of a Singer Sargent painting. I thought it was really lovely.
Fabulous textures and patterns within the stone walls
Sketching the Steps
I really liked the step element of this house, and I think it’s quite interesting to be aware of if you’re ever drawing; the focus is the door, but the steps give grandness to the space and help frame everything.
So if you look at the whole image to be split tonally, you’ve got the grey of the road, then a white band, a grey band, and a white band; there was this nice balance between lovely dark pots on either side of the door and white boxes sitting on another grey tone. So an interesting tonal pattern already exists within the image.
Stages of the Drawing – Thin Line Sketching
The initial sketch used a 0.2 Pentel Pointliner. I’ve only come across these pens recently when doing some architectural sketches for the next stage of the studio build. I’m enjoying the precision with which you can tweak the line depth. Because the 0.2 is so thin you’ll see some of the lines are broken and whispy.
The two plant pots were drawn using a Pentel Brush pen. The brush pen is fantastic for giving trees and foliage a textural, broken effect.
You can see in the earlier sketch the trees and bushes drawn with the brush pen.
The Pointliner’s are also water and fade-resistant, so they work well with a technique I like to use, mixing non-soluble and soluble inks.
When drawing window panes, using the 3.0 chisel tip is super handy. It creates a clean and precise shape faster than if you drew an exact square repeatedly and then fill it in. I also use the tip to create small random marks for detailed areas.
I’m now concentrating on the darkest darks. Looking for areas in the subject that I want to ‘ground’ or give weight or shadow to.
These get built out more using the 3.0 chisel for the square architectural sections and swapping to the brush pen for more fluid sections.
Creating a wash with water-soluble ink
After filling in the darkest areas, I begin adding in the grey tones. To achieve a wash effect, I utilize the Lamy Safari fountain pen. This pen is perfect for beginners who enjoy sketching, with its comfortable grip provided by the scallops in the barrel. It also comes with various nib options, and the one I am currently using is a fine nib (F). You can read more on a minimal sketching kit.
The scalloped edge at the front of the pen makes for a nice controlled grip when sketching
The scalloped edge on the Lamy fountain gives a super comfortable grip for sketching
Effectively, I ‘load’ an area with the Lamy water-soluble ink and then use the Pentel Water Pen to pull the colour out. I add a bit more ink and pull the wash over to get a darker grey.
To add the final details, I’m using the 0.2 pen and carefully added intricate designs around the windows and the front pillars. I take my time to ensure a more solid, considered line. Additionally, I enhance the shadow of the windows by drawing a thicker line and gently using the water brush for a subtle cast shadow effect.
You always have to treat yourself when drawing; it can be so exhausting! This is an epic almond croissant from Da Bara Bakery (check out their cinnamon buns as well)
Amazing live music from Ashley Harding.
Hope you enjoyed the sketches; if you’d like to learn more about Urban sketching, the Urban Sketching for Beginners Course is a great place to start.