Tag Archives: sketching

World Mental Health Day – Tuesday 10th October 2017

How was it for you? Many friends were in school, some probably wore yellow to show an awareness. Others’ institutions wouldn’t let it disrupt their day I am sure. Last year I wore an awkward mix of many yellows, I had talked about my mental health struggles as part of my introduction to the school in assembly-it has helped when meeting now ex pupils and parents in the months since my final breakdown as a teacher and my resignation from my vocation.

So I know about mental health issues, I left the job that triggered many incidents for me so I must be fine now mustn’t I?

Of course not – I have struggled with these issues since a teenager back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, possibly earlier. it’s part of me. Triggers are many and varied. So Monday 9th circumstances saw me hit a rock bottom day. I knew there were positives ahead, I could mention and acknowledge them -this is new and very encouraging. But essentially there were also thoughts where I considered the whole suicidal concept -it’s not a choice I have ever attempted for real and I don’t want to but it’s an ever present escape that pops up and says hi in times of stress. So I am participating in #Inktober2017 on Facebook and Instagram, it is a daily drawing in ink project for October using a daily prompt, yesterday was #screech, today was #gigantic. I used these in my drawings to be open about my state of mind. I have blogged about it for several years now and don’t really care what response I get, it’s a topic I will continue to stick my head over the parapet to talk about  so that someone might not have to go through the same thing as me.

October 9

Today I have woken in a more positive frame of mind and taken part in the day and exercised at the rowing club this evening both on the rowing machines then out on the water and was able to show this as;

October 10

I have many supportive friends and family members who reach out. Tomorrow on the 11th I will attend one of the two Depression Support Groups I attend -we are sufferers who listen with empathy and support where we can. Sometimes when I am low I resist attending even though it’s the best time for me to go. The key thing s I can always be there to aupport others.

So my WMHD has been an exercise in recovery and reaching out to many others online. I hope your day has been a shared experience today.


I left teaching, I attended a teachmeet in Poole in February and I went to Pedagoohampshire today. So what is going on?

Well today was my third visit to an event that started in 2015. Teachers and others connected to education gather, chat, listen to talks, participate in workshop sessions, chat with new friends and old, go away and try to mplement some change based on their new learning. These events happen in people’s own personal (non work) time so that shows commitment too.

I had a great day.

I was told how much more relaxed I look. I looked ten years younger. My art is great. My experience had value as how often do you get to talk to people who have actually left… I sold some art, I designed and received a tshirt. I chatted.

I really enjoyed attending and my thanks go to many who were there today or in 2016 or 2015 and the many other events we have met at. At the end a friend said which event will I see you at next? And I had to admit I wasn’t planning to be at anymore to be honest as. Am now out of the profession. I then received invites to be at events again in the future including this one – we will see.

Finally thanks to Martyn Reah the driving force and host behind this great event.

Creativity is good or I did some art

Yesterday rollercoaster dive,this morning we knew the electricity was going off at 9, so until a visitor had been, I was working by natural light only. I produced some templates / shadow silhouettes of three views from the house that I can use to record the various spectacular colours we get at sunrise / Sunset.

Very productive and pleased with the outcomes. I had messed about with iOS app Art set last night when unable to sleep and did a marker and oil pastel version of a recent sunrise that was fresh in my mind. This has led to an idea on other Dorset landmarks close by that I could use for a range of skies including Corfe Castle.

Art app – marker version

Two of silhouettes produced with freehand drawing using fine nib on Promarker and then shaded using chisel nib. 

We then went out and visited a few places returning home in time to wash the Yeti down which I had squashed in a sketch of the cars this morning. I feel tired but enjoying finding energy to do things.

I have also agreed to have a table at a craft fair in Swanage on April 1 – so I will need to be producing goods and getting this @AndyKnillArt idea rolling. Details as it happens.

A release… What is yours?

A month ago I started the above, a new and separate mishmashlearning adventure. It is a blog about my sketching, a hobby I have embraced especially since the start of the school summer holidays. Recently while clearing a dusty corner under a desk at home I found an old notebook with three sketches from 2009,2010 and 2011 – 3 sketches in three years did not qualify as a hobby but I wouldn’t have taken the time out to apply myself to developing my skills.

I have liked scribbling ideas down, drawing diagrams in the classroom for years. In 2015 I have taken time to discover the restorative qualities of sketching, be it a corner of a rail carriage on the way to London or an architectural detail in a fine building or recapturing the awe behind a photo I took or I saw and wanted to emulate.

I have to thank Lucie Golton principally for helping me open my eyes. We have linked online and met now a few times, usually around hunting for large models of Aardman animation characters. She recommended sketching as a creative outlet and also the group known as Urban Sketchers or come from a broad brushstroke of life to sketch/paint/… live. When I started Lucie reassured me that I would see my output (refuse to use word #work) develop over time. She is 18 months ahead of me. I am now in my sixth month of sketching most days and it has given me a new outlook which I value dearly.

Yesterday I travelled to London, drew sketches on a train, in a crypt, out of the National Gallery window looking across Trafalgar Square and then inside the gallery. The other artists came from a wide variety of locations and backgrounds. Amateurs like me upto professional artists who earn their living from it, this is most noticeable when we gather to compare and discuss, if we wish, our pieces. The overriding atmosphere though is a shared love of using art to record. Previous meets have seen discussions on techniques, which paper/ pad /sketch pads to use; equipment – pens, pencils, obscurely name items that I am learning about; where did you purchase said equipment? – comparison of favoured shops / stockists. I am learning a new language and a new shopping habit, I confess I have the full colour selection of Cass bag for life bags (up to date on 12/12 anyway); pencils, pigment pens, alcohol based markers, bleed proof pads, sketch pads with bound or spiral bound spines, erasers, white pencils, art books, …Christmas will see money gifts that will be given for me to develop new techniques like water colouring in 2016. 

Yes I am hooked. This has become my mindful release. When I am sketching I am absorbed in the task, I am not easily distracted, other worries are left in picking up my sketch tool. I have blogged about it, talked about it with a range of people especially educators on Twitter. In October I even seemed to have acted at least as one of the inspirations for #teacher5adaysketch which was a great honour amongst a growing community actively promoting teacher wellbeing. The fact that I was signed off work due to my mental health breakdown just emphasised why I needed a distraction that took me away from work. If something doesn’t move it is fair game to attempt to sketch it.

What do you do to relax, switch off work, take time for yourself? Please share.

London Urbansketchers Sketchmeet yesterday – 2pm photoshoot, picture from Alexa Ramsaroop.


Ka kite ano

Last night I was invited to a get together for two ex colleagues who are heading home to New Zealand and Australia at the start of next month. According to a search engine of note the Maori to English translation is see you later.

A difficult week as the previous weekend I had tried too much. Saturday had seen a meeting attended for the voluntary group that I serve on at St Pancras, this had been preceded by some sketching at the station where there was a stronger police presence than usual after the tragic events in Paris the evening before. After the meeting I had “tubed” to the post sketchcrawl refreshments with USK London (Urban Sketchers) at Timberyard in Soho. Great conversations and more sketching. A little bit of shop mooching including trying out the Apple pencil and IPad Pro at the Regents Street store – a chance to use Paper app on a larger screen.

Sunday, a visit to Cambridge which included a new coffee venue – Hot Numbers on Trumpington Street/Road. Then a meet with USK Cambridge at the Fitzwilliam Museum, a place I had meant to visit but had not got around to yet.Afterwards this provided an opportunity to catch up with Alice, an ex pupil now studying Geography at St Catherine’s College. Then a drop in chat and tea with my sister before heading for the M11 and home – I was lucky that Anne drove home because I was too tired and there had been an accident on the M11 which led to long tailbacks.

Result, a chest cold which meant that I stayed indoors Monday to Thursday and was starting to go stir crazy. One positive side effect was to spark the idea of producing a leaving gift for Ruby and Adam – a hand drawn card for each with the map showing their UK to Auckland / Brisbane journey. Then I had asked each about their favourite UK place and produced individual artworks (I will post about this new development in my sketching on Mishmashlearninggoessketching soon). 

Apologies for digressing. I arrived early after driving to Leytonstone ably guided by Google maps. The group gathered and then we moved onto the Red Lion E11. A large example of a traditional pub with what has to be one of the more interesting beer garden areas I have visited in a long time. Chatting and, yes you guessed it, sketching- to the intrigue of some of the group including colleagues I have not seen now for several weeks. It was a great evening meeting teachers and non teachers from mainly Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. Conversations ran from the enduring reliability of Toyota cars, the feeling about driving stick or automatic especially if driving in the USA to what links people in the group had, to people sharing their experiences of depression with me and the compliment that two colleagues had read several posts from this blog – thanks to Gordon and Jess.

As the evening went on it became too cold for the seating outside, so back into the main body of the pub we went – a popular and crowded venue, security staff present but an atmosphere that always felt safe. At one point I secured a seat and proceeded to sketch part of the interior of the room and some friends. The dj had an area where you could move slightly more freely, some even attempted to dance. I of course tried a new idea, oops, now usual idea and sketched as I shuffled. This drew interest from people around me in a generally complimentary way and then I was asked by a young lady if she could borrow my pad and pen, I passed the pad to her and she proceeded to sketch a portrait of me. That was a new experience, Laura signed it and I have promised to keep it in my sketchbook. 

I drove Gordon and dropped him off on route back home which meant we got to chat. Overall, it was a great evening, it made the staying in to shift the cold worthwhile and I wish Ruby and Adam all the best for their journeys home and look forward to seeing you both again. Sketch evidence will be shared through the sketch blog linked to above.

My next see you later will be this week where I go into school for my Review meeting about my absence to date and planning my return. I am looking forward to it.

Going on a bear hunt, oops, no a sketch crawl

No animals were hurt in this event or knees damaged from crawling around.

So what is a sketchcrawl? It is a group of people who like sketching getting together in one area or on a led route visiting and capturing the atmosphere, architecture, life of the area in an artistic form. It may include painting but often starts with a sketch. It can be on a menu, a sketch pad or a mobile device or …

It is about sketching live. Yesterday I took part in one with the London Urbansketchers at Borough Market just south of the River Thames. The event ran from 11.30 to 16.30 and in that time market goers found a variety of people, over 20 of use drawing and / or painting around the market place. Some were sat on foldable stools, others sat at cafes sipping at rapidly cooling drinks between pen/pencil/brush strokes, others stood to the side of busy routes through the market. There may have been other teach inquest, these are what I saw or did.

Now, this week rather than go on about my sketches in detail on here I have started my own Sketching blog. The link will take you to Saturday 7th’s post on the sketchcrawl. If you fancy joining one let me know, look up urban sketchers online or make up your own with family, friends, colleagues or even strangers.

Developing a skill…sketching

Since June 20th I have been sketching and I have now bought books to read to look at others work, techniques and ideas plus the #teacher5adaysketch initiative currently taking place. I have used a variety of sketchbooks mainly A5 in size so far as they are easy to transport and carry around with me. I bought some drawing pencils but have then stuck with using fine liner pens. My first purchases were Pilot drawing pens bought individually in London from the London Graphics Centre. My student Rotring set awaits setting up to use – I must do this soon. Then I discovered Cass Art while on a break in Bristol and have since visited their Charing Cross Road branch in London and using Staedtler pigment pen set which others line widths from .05 to .8. 

I have thought about using colour but lack the confidence to try yet on paper, I have found a solution and am now using Paper app on the iPad. I sketch on the iPad or photograph one of my sketches and import it to then colour with pens or “paint”. The results are developing and it offers me an introduction to using colour.


Teachers encouraging each other #teacher5adaysketch

  This year one wellbeing initiative that has drawn in a number of #tweachers (teachers on Twitter) is #teacher5aday. The initiative led by Martyn Reah has helped to encourage conversations about wellbeing and taking time away from work. There have been #cook, #read over the summer holiday, #PE in October – so still going and now for half term homework there is #sketch. Also we have seen an exhibition that has been displayed at the Haslemere museum, Institute of Education and PedagooHampshire.

Are you looking for a community to link with? Other teachers to talk about subjects other than teaching? I admit #cook didn’t see me participate but I have taken in all other aspects. Currently #sketch is apparently linked to me sharing the sketching I have been doing as a break and recently as a recovery strategy from my recent breakdown.

Take part, have fun, that’s what it’s all about.


Yep, ……., Oops…

Saturday – gym was good, did some exercise before class and still able to give it my all. At home helped son with an assignment for Monday for his BTec. The slipping into teaching role was welcome at first. His disorganisation and gaps in knowledge of the task led to an increasing stress feeling. I finished Saturday mentally exhausted. 

Did spend lots of time chatting online and sharing World Mental Health Day images, posts, poems…that I found and chatting about sketching and #teacher5aday.

Sunday – low / flat – lowest point since Tuesday, so move away from return to teaching role. A walk and brunch at local country park – Thorndon South. Issues starting to filter through my head – will start to note down but not try and analyse yet. Can I try and sell idea of my time off as a sort of sabbatical to assuage my sense of guilt for not being there in the classroom? Watch end of Russian F1 Grand Prix, then some more RWC. later this afternoon I intend another gym visit as I can almost hide away without locking myself in a room or curled up in a ball and benefit from it at the same time.

In conclusion, I tried too early to do something teacher-y, I need to switch off, my mind difficulty is that guilt assuaging as mentioned above. New positive mention and wellbeing teacher5aday Homework for half term with a vehicle for more sketching which won’t be an issue as I return to Norfolk and lots of potential subjects.