Peterborough #benchviews 36-40

In case you’re new here, I’ve sketched my surroundings as postcards when on holidays for the past twenty years, on and off. Over the past three months this changed to sitting on a bench in Peterborough, UK and sketching what passed me by. I’ve now done over fifty views from Peterborough benches and am gradually posting pictures of them here five at a time.

Bench View No 36

There’s lots of different fundraising activities that happen everywhere. Peterborough has a Zombie walk at the beginning of November. People dressed up in scary costumes scare me and it wouldn’t be my choice of days to go into town, yet here I was sat on a bench for over an hour waiting for some scary characters to pass me by.

Sketching an event as it passes is different from sketching people as they get on with their daily lives. I can’t explain it, I seem to put an expectation on myself as this is a one off, I’d have to wait a year to get this opportunity again. There were so many of them, they interact with me which made my self imposed task that much harder. Choosing the character and pose to capture’s done in an instant and the sketching of it’s almost as quick.

Bench view No 37

This sketch turned out much different from the last. The shops were boring to me and the zombies were taking more interest, particularly the scarier ones with more blood and sewn up mouths. The thing with having a vivid imagination is that it works.. I couldn’t relax sketching this one and the pressure mounted which, to me, shows and makes for a less accomplished drawing but this is my rapid interpretation of what passed me when I sat on a bench on 1 November 2014.

Bench View No 38

A chillier wetter day as the leaves, bobble hats and fully covered up waterproof covering on a motorised buggy appeared in my sketch.

Bench View No 39

I’ve no idea what others see when they look at this one. It’s done from a bench next to a roundabout and a cycle route. I’d been waiting for the right time to sketch from it and when the workmen tore up half of the pavement pushing the passers by to walk right past the bench I got very excited, as you do. The timing was right.

As you view this, imagine the cycle path behind you yet lots of cyclists went past in front of me regardless of how narrow the space was for them, people with pushchairs, people with luggage and my feet. There’s something not quite right at that part of town with the cycle path and with the works everything got bottle necked into one space and I tried to add it all.. More men with pushchairs passed me here than I usually notice. Sketching from this location, at this point in time, was a very different experience than I’ve been used to.

Bench View No 40

There are some benches which are never free, well rarely free, and since I’ve been prowling Peterborough’s benches for a few months now I’ve started to keep my eyes peeled for those cherished, well used, popular benches being available and grabbing one anytime I have my sketch bag with me. This was one of those times and this was done from a very popular bench outside a chippy.

Yes, I had haddock and chips before I sketched, why wouldn’t I?

Keeeep sketching!



Peterborough #benchviews 31-35

I was asked to participate in creating some postcards for a big draw event in Peterborough. Always happy to draw regardless of ability I tried to encourage as many people as I could to also take part. I got a little carried away and probably created about 20 postcards, some of which apparently did get hung up on the washing line.. No, I’m not going to explain here.

Bench View No 31

Anyhow, I said if they could find me a bench I’d draw on the day. I had expected to capture people pegging up postcards but instead I sat on the benches I could find nearby which were picnic benches and I sketched the comings and goings related to the event, rather than the event itself, though you might be able to see some postcard like items in one of the drawings.

Bench View No 32

I did love the location though. Sat in between three different train lines was quite a thrill for someone with a passion for rail.

Bench View No 33

There were many more people in this scene than I captured. The tree and the umbrella caught my attention oh and the train that went by as the speeches were being given. I think I prefer it when there’s lots of people passing me as they all merge into each other and I get more of an essence of who passes. This one’s a bit of an odd one. It was the third one I did this day which turned into a day when I did seven sketches..

Bench View No 34

This picture is of one of the willow arches in the Green Back Yard.  I think I need to spend more time when drawing foliage than I do when I sketch from a bench. I seem to be able to do buildings and people passing quicker and, in my view, better, than I do when I sketch foliage.

Bench view No 35

The fifth sketch done on the same day while I was sitting waiting for the Zombie walk to pass. Although there are police and cyclists in this one, it’s by no way a political statement. They both went past me during the thirty mins it usually takes me to pencil sketch. I try to not be too selective but I do make composites. These sketches aren’t one moment in time. They’re part of one day but not one moment.

These were all drawn on 1 November 2014 in and around Peterborough England.  I did enjoy that day.


Peterborough #benchviews 26-30

A quick reminder.. all rights reserved, they’re all my own work.. There’s something comforting about posting five of my bench views. It means I’m still enjoying doing them and am slowly heading to my target of sketching from each and every bench I walk past to and from work and those I encounter during my normal shopping routes.

Bench View No 26

When there’s something different in front of a bench I’m more drawn to sit there and see what the view looks like. On this day there were works taking place. While I was there a van left and another returned parking perfectly to not change my view of the church for which I was grateful. There’s something about the church. I though it would be easy to sketch but it isn’t.  I think, one day, I need to draw it ‘properly’ not just a quick view done in minutes. The thing is, as someone pointed out to me, there’s a lot of sky. Hmm.. There is a lot of sky when you sketch that church.

Bench View No 27

I wondered what was going on the day I drew this. I was sketching later than I usually do and there was quite a different feel about who was walking or cycling through. Apparently my sketches are ‘controversial’ due to the cycling cyclists I put in them. What can I say, I interpret what I see and I think this was the first time I saw cyclists walking their bikes since I’d started the bench views. Later, I found out that I drew this on World Mental Health Day and what I’d been watching was the Council Leader being photographed signing the ‘stop suicide’ pledge.

Bench View No 28

I’m not sure what to say about this sketch. There are a number of things I noticed, choosing this day, this location and facing this direction all have their own stories. These buildings used to be overshadowed but now they’ve got benches in front of them and, when faced on a sunny day, give an amazing reflection of the church in the middle of town (in case you weren’t sure what I’d drawn).

Bench View No 29

Then, just as the leaves on the trees started turning colour the shop windows all went orange and black..

I don’t put too many words with my sketches here and will try not to bore you, other than to say I’ve heard and seen a few fall outs while I sit. The next sketch has three motorised wheelchairs (two are hiding..) and two motorbikes in it and it was another passing motorised wheelchair that got shouted at as they nearly caused a scene. It’s also a good sketch to discuss what an artist leaves out.. as the area’s for motorcycle parking it has large black railings right in front of the bench that the motorbikes park up against.

Bench View No 30

A friend recently asked me how I manage to make Peterborough look glamorous and exciting. I don’t think I do but will happily take that as a huge compliment and remind you to look around you. What do you see? Why are you there? What’s good in the places you live and the people who live there with you? Once you get used to seeing the good and beauty in everything the negative stuff seems to melt away a little. Afterall, you’re there and you, your family and friends are all good and beautiful, aren’t you?

Maybe I wash things out and the hue I put on my sketches is much paler than the city is to others, lighter where there’s perhaps grime and you can’t tell the cheaper shops from any others betraying the financial and social issues in the city. I notice the circles in the paving which adds to the views and pick out bits of architecture I find interesting. Sketching what I see in the hope that most of the people in my bench views are unattributable, meaning I don’t have any illusions to my ability to sketch people and the sketch look like them!

We all look at the world differently, due to our upbringing, experiences and general views and interests on life. What do you think of when you look at my Bench Views? What do you notice when you sit for a while? Where does your mind wander?

#benchviews was started on 28 August 2014 when, due to increased signs of stress, I grabbed my spare art bag, left work at lunch time, sat on a bench and sketched. My work seems to have captured the imagination of the people of Peterborough who’ve seen them and I’m still enjoying sketching them which is good.

Warning.. benchviews special

If you’re a regular here, you’ll know I’ve been blogging about the sketches I’ve been doing from benches in Peterborough during my walk to and from work and going about my daily business in Peterborough, UK (other Peterborough’s are available, not that I’ve visited any, yet..). If you know me, you might have been surprised by my order of posting these. So far there’s been blogs about bench views 1-5; 6-10; 11-15; 16-29; 21-25.  Sounds logical.. yes and so not me.

This blog is titled random, eclectic, see how my mind works which does not usually involve going in an order expected by many, and so here’s a post about one day. Yesterday. Saturday 1 November 2014. It’s not even about the whole of this day, just a small part of it, the other sketches I did might be posted another time.

My afternoon, yesterday..

I’d woken and written almost 2,000 words for a November writing challenge I do, doesn’t everyone? Then I turned up and sketched from  four benches while three local sites were linked as part of the Big Draw, What? You didn’t do that either?

Finally we get onto my afternoon.. I hadn’t done this before. I wasn’t going to do, it but I was going to watch and hoped to sketch as it passed me by.

Bench view No 35

I need to explain. I get scared easily, always have always will.. Hated Halloween.  I can just about manage a Halloween party these days but Zombies, that’s another matter.. I didn’t really know what they were till a few years ago, as I don’t read about them or watch those sort of programmes, they look scary so I’ve always given them a wide berth. Why then did I decide to sit for almost an hour and wait for the flash mob that is the Peterborough Zombie walk to arrive?

Since I started sketching from benches I’ve noticed how many there are particularly in Bridge Street. 28 of them I think.. I’ve tried not to be too specific.. Lots, that’s all I need to know. I’ve noticed that I seem to sketch looking up or down the street yet I prefer facing the buildings and sketching people as they pass. There would be lots of interesting characters passing down Bridge street, I thought, what a great idea to sit and watch the world go by.

‘Really, you’re scared of anything scary.. and you thought it would be a good idea to sit on a bench and sketch while a mob of Zombies walked past, what did you think would happen? That they’d walk past obligingly and not notice you?

Ahh, actually, yes, I did think that.

Bench view No 36

The sketches on this page are one from before and two during the Peterborough Zombie Walk 2014. The third on this page was the hardest to do. By this time the photographers must have gotten all the scary Zombie pictures they could get and were trying for new angles, hey there’s a woman trying to sketch them as they pass… Let’s take a photo of her sketching them.. Even one of the Zombies decided to stop and photograph me sketching them scaring me.. As you can see by my sketch some of them even started levitating as I sketched them.. It must be true, I drew it.. I’ll write a blog one day about what goes in and what gets left out of sketches.

Bench view No 37

Sketching from benches has it’s moments but yesterday, I had the most experiences in one day that I could cope with. When I look at what I produce the emotion has been memorised and I can see how I felt in the brush strokes. The first image on this page was finished in situ and the other two had to be completed at home because I was either being scared, honed in on by zombies, (why it didn’t occur to me that me sitting sketching wouldn’t attract their attention I have no idea..) or being photographed by professional photographers and zombies..

I had such a wonderful day. It had to be blogged about..

Peterborough #benchviews 21-25

Yes I’m still sketching.  Must admit, I’ve not completed one for almost a week so thought I’d post these previous ones to see what you think before I head out to find a bench to sit on..

Bench View No 21

This won’t look like it but I was very chilly while painting this. It had rained when I was there earlier so I had to stop since the rain was washing all my watercolour from the page and I was getting rather chilly. This was painted when I’d warmed up a little as Diversity day was coming to a close in Cathedral square.

Bench View No 22

There are some days I paint one sketch and others where I do four!  This day I finished my day by painting the memorial in the middle of Peterborough. It’s rare to have a day when it’s not bustling with activities and I was able to notice the remembrance wreath and architecture of the town hall while a few cyclists passed me. Apparently my sketches are controversial depending on when I do them..

Bench View No 23

During my work to work one day I sat a while in one of the gardens near the cathedral and watched as the summer bedding was removed. This was a job I did annually with my Dad while I grew up. Speaking to the gardeners about their practices and choices of bedding I’m looking forward to sketching their Autumn/Winter bedding which should be in by now. I’ll go take a look today.

You can’t always tell by my sketches but this scene has the Lido in the background and an unmarked police car passing with blue flashing lights.

Bench View No 24

The police also got into this sketch. I sketch over a period of time. People keep moving and what goes into my sketches is a composite of images I lodge in my brain of what passes and what I’m interested by. I can be focussing on one thing and completely miss another. There are times things scream to be drawn and others that try to be ignored. The bike leaning up against the lamppost was an object I didn’t see at all initially although it was right in front of me.

Bench View No 25

Hope you enjoy these. Must go, got a few benches that need sketching.



Peterborough #BenchViews 16-20

They say that after doing something 13 times it becomes habit. Now I’m sketching by habit here’s my bench view sketches numbers 16-20. I hope you like them.

Bench View No 16

I struggle if I don’t have my art bag with me.  I gave a local three minute talk of the first 16 bench views and someone commented on my art bag.  It’s a habit, what can I say.  I’ll have to take a pic and do a blog just about that bag as why I chose it has it’s own history.

bench view No 17

There were so many things I wanted to add into this sketch and found it a bit harder to relax because there was a lot of sky and the people weren’t as close as I like. I also sketched it before and after a meeting held on a bench on a Sunday. There’s something about meeting on a bench in Peterborough that’s food for the soul these days.

Bench view no 18

People who are looking at my sketches regularly have commented how different some of them are. They say that doesn’t mean better or worse just different.. I try to finish them while I’m sat on the bench but some have to wait to get finished later. This means I’m in a different angle and more or less comfortable and have more or less time which all add to how I finish the lines and colour.

Bench View No 19

This was sketched on one of those days where things happen you’d never be able to plan.

Bench View No 20

Winter arrived and it rained on Diversity Day.

I hope you’re enjoying these. They’ve already taken me to Folkestone to view the triennial, more about this on a later blog and when I’ve completed some of the bench views from there. Who knows if they’ll take me anywhere else but regardless, I’m enjoying all the time I’m currently sketching and watching the world go by.

What do you think? Any benches you’re drawn to?




A few #Ourzoo sketches

This week I’ll be watching the last episode in the current series of a TV drama based on the Mottershead family story who started Chester Zoo.

I wanted to say a few words of thanks and share my first sketches of some Chester zoo animals that I’ve done for decades. My family had very close ties to the zoo. Dad was taken in to work and given a home by George Mottershead from the orphanage and childrens home where Dad was living at the time.

elephant family

Growing up I spent a lot of time after school, at weekends and during school holidays, with a sketch book drawing every animal I could as I wandered around the zoo. Unfortunately those sketches weren’t kept so earlier this year I spent a few hours in #ourzoo and created as many pencil sketches as I could.  Many are still to be finished and I’m hoping to return to create more but in the meantime, here’s the first few.


I show them here by way of a thank you to all those involved in the drama. June, who’s portrayed in the programme, has had a wonderful time throughout the whole process and it’s been a fantastic experience to be on the sidelines hearing all about it. June rang me one morning reminding me of which episode was on that evening, it was lovely to speak to her the day the episode with her as an extra was on.


June Mottersheads story which inspired the #ourzoo drama will be out in a book soon. No I’m not in it, but dad is.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these few tasters of my animal series.

Peterborough #BenchViews 11-15

The leaves are starting to fall and there’s a few places I feel I must sketch before the flowers go over and the trees are bare.

Bench view No 11

I noticed more leaves falling on the Autumn equinox, a day I did three sketches. One on my way into work, one at lunchtime and one on my home.

Bench Views No 12

I’m beginning to notice more about what shops and others show from their windows.. There’s a shoe shop who’s stacking of shoe boxes in their upper windows strangely brought pleasure to my eye satisfying my love of order.

Bench view No 13

Since our office moved I’ve not spent so much time near the market, a place I always used to have my lunch. Remembering the benches I went at the weekend and hadn’t realised how much it’s changed and is becoming a food court hub. The towering flower stands add a lovely touch of brightness to what was a bit of a dull corner.

Bench Views No 14

By now I’m starting to notice how much I see and hear. How we all seem to forget others near us when we sit on benches and have personal conversations. Bench view No 15 was done from two places as I felt a need to move away from those talking near me.  I felt just overhearing their conversation was a bit intrusive of me and I found myself listening so much that I struggled to focus on my sketch.

Bench views No 15

There’s something else that happened while I created this sketch.. I decided it was a pink day.. as you do, such is the whim of the artist!

You might, or not, be interested to know I’ve worked out how many different bench views I could do from my walk into and from work and where I go for lunch and shopping in town.. Around 100 so we may be here awhile.. five bench views at a time.. Tell me when you’ve had enough..

Peterborough Bench views 6 -10

Work-life choices, I’ve not had as much time to sketch as I’d like. Isn’t that always the way. I have been out and about a bit and now have done 12 views from Peterborough benches. Here’s the next five.

Bench view No 6

There’s different reactions to what I do depending on all sorts of things.  How much I want to engage with others, where I sit, what time of the day and which days.

Bench views No 7

I’m learning a lot more about myself, others and the town. I thought I’d learn about painting which I must be, but not consciously.

Bench view No 8

Not surprisingly, when I sat in the middle of town at the weekend when there was an Italian festival happening all around me, people were more interested in what I was up to than when I sketch at lunchtime. At the weekend festival, many sat or stood quietly near me for a long time watching how I worked.  Most commented very positively on what I was creating before they moved on. I work very fast and that seems to fascinate people.

Bench view No 9

Mothers brought their children to watch me paint. ‘See how she’s working quick to capture the people before they move away’ it was fun listening to how others see what I do. People veered from their route to pause a while and watch over my shoulder to see what I was doing. People who also paint stopped and talked to me of their work. I was most concerned by those who said there’s no art in primary schools anymore and since I can’t quite believe that, I will look into it.

Bench view No 10

Please let me know what you think.

View from Peterborough Benches 1-5

I sketch outdoors. Wherever I am and whatever I see, I’m always itching to sketch these days.

view from bench No 1

Like most, I’m not brilliant at taking proper breaks during the day and noticed I was only sketching at weekends or on holidays.  I had words with myself ‘Take your spare art materials into work, take them out at lunchtimes and see what happens.’  This is the result of the first five and now seems to be the beginning of a Peterborough Bench project. 

View from bench No 2

The results are pretty rough but I’m amazed at how differently I already feel about the place and what I’ve noticed.  I had no idea how many benches were close to where I work or why. There are about fifteen outside the magistrates court for example and these first five were all done on some of those. We’re talking over 60 benches within easy walking distance for lunch.. This might take me a while.

View from bench No 3

Next week I’m hoping to move to one of the gardens before the flowers and bedding plants get removed so there should be more colour in them.  I’m hoping to continue and do them all and have a few other projects, that have stemmed from this one, in mind.

View from bench No 4

I have noticed that there are less flowers and no hanging baskets where I’ve been sitting.  The hangers are there just as they are the other side of the road but as I move across further into town I should get more hanging baskets to draw.

View from bench No.5

Given that by the time I’d drawn view from bench No.5 I’d been sitting there each day for a week for an hour  I shouldn’t have been surprised when someone came up and said ‘so you’re the artist.’ Then proceeded to see if what I’d drawn looked like what was in front of me.  They thought there was a likeness thankfully!

All of the people are composites as they change in front of me often and each is my interpretation of what I see.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I have enjoyed my daily art routine.

Happily sketching, Lynne