Sketch books – Ian Hay – Digby Gallery, Mercury Theatre, Colchester, Essex

Sketch books - Ian Hay - Digby Gallery, Mercury Theatre, Colchester, Essex

Seen last week an exhibition of new artwork, small oil paintings and large charcoal drawings by Ian Hay. “A mile from the Mercury” continues until 9th November at the Digby Gallery, Mercury Theatre, Colchester.
I chose to post a photograph of two sketch books accompanying the exhibition as it can offer an insight to an artists creative process. Ian Hay was tutor for drawing at Colchester Institute when I was a student of visual studies for two years and our small student group had a lot of fun, regular life drawing and drawing outings. Useful preparation for when I went on for further studies at Ipswich Art School.
Artwork can be see at
A biography

Fungi on oak twig – Jenny Hill – acrylic ink, indian ink

Fungi on oak twig - Jenny Hill - acrylic ink, indian ink

My seasonal studies continue after I went on a fungi hunt at Tiptree Heath organized by the Essex Wildlife Trust and supervised by a Mycologist from Colchester Natural History Museum. Approximately twenty people searched the heathland and in two hours collected 50 different fungi. Of these only a handful are good to eat, a few more are edible (would not make you ill), but some are highly toxic.
With very little time to draw I took photographs for reference. I find working from a print out of the photograph restricts my preferred way of working so I make quick sketches from the image on my computer, using pens or oil pastels. This approximates to drawings made outside and is my starting point for further development into an ink painting.
Essex Wildlife Trust
Colchester and Ipswich Museums

Plant form – Honesty seed head ripening

Plant form - Honesty seed head ripening

Before the seed head ripens to brown and silver it goes through a range of pink, red and green. This year was good, not a lot of rain in the summer, hot and dry, so very little black mould to discolour the drying seed head. I used indian and acrylic ink for this painting, reworking an oil pastel sketch from early summer. Throughout the year I fill sketch books with drawings, initially to record my idea of the transformation of plants but always with a focus that this is a resource for future artwork.
I use photographs when the weather is too cold or wet, or I am rushed for time but my preference is to work from my first impression recorded by drawing.