777, wasn’t that a plane? #nano

It’s November and not only did I forget to tell you that I’ve finished my Bench View Series I forgot to tell you that for the fifth November in a row I’m doing NaNo (National Novel Writing Month). Remember, 50,000 words in a month towards a book of fiction. Only I’m being a NaNo rebel this year.

I’m writing a non-fiction book about my Bench View Sketches. Those 201 sketches I did over the course of a year which I forgot to tell you I’d finished. I’ll write an update on how that went later. For now I’m doing the blog I got tagged to do.

The task.. go to the seventh page and seventh line and paste the next seven sentences on a blog post. I have a question. Does a heading equate as a sentence? No I decided it didn’t so you can read a bit more about the sketch I’ll use to provide t he visual stimulus.  As I write this I have no idea which picture it is so this choice of picture’s not mine it’s the NaNo challenges.

Here’s Bench View No17.

bench view No 17

And here are the sentences.

I wasn’t completely at ease since I’d just had to finish No 15 from this bench before focussing on this view. I don’t think this is the first sketch showing the eco building. I must find out what it was built for.

Bench View No 17

I think this was the day a picture was taken of me. By this time artists in town were showing an interest in what I was doing and had ideas of how I could get involved. Some of these ideas have worked out and others didn’t. Again the theme is expectations of myself and that of others and if those two different expectations fit.

And just for interest here’s Bench View No16 which the first two sentences relate to.

Bench View No 16

I’m not tagging anyone else since I think I only know one blogger, who’s not already done this, who’s doing NaNo.

Any bloggers out there who are doing NaNo, and fancy doing this, consider yourselves tagged by me :)

HIVE: Live Art, Urban sketching

I’ve been there before, I’ve sketched there before and I’ve painted there  before. This is the first time I treated the attendees at a Green Backyard event as I would those I sketch from a bench. What I mean is other than the first one I drew from a bench while people arrived, I got closer to the action so the people were about the same size as they would be passing me in front of one of the two hundred benches I’ve been sketching from elsewhere in Peterborough. You can breathe now..

Collins, HIVE arrival, 2015

For those not aware “The Green Backyard is a vibrant community growing project in the heart of Peterborough, which was established in 2009 and is run entirely by volunteers.”

The next three were sketched from my chair so if they’re any series they’re chair views..

Collins, HIVE BAR, 2015

The event I participated in was HIVE: Live Art. I had a wonderful time. Took too much art stuff as usual and didn’t do half of what I’d intended to create but instead I chose to draw the event as it happened.  The Bar’s always a good draw.. see what I did there..

Collins, HIVE poetry, 2015

Always one for a bit of poetry they were very accommodating of my slight sideways seating preference so I could get the crowd and artists in.  I couldn’t resist adding the little boy who seemed to know I was sketching and just kept waving at me. The poet performing at the time managed to keep going even though they had competition. The sound at the venue’s amazing. At times we heard the roar and chants from the football ground, interspersed with the regular passing of trains. The cars seem very distant yet within this foliage framed space the poets were still enjoyed.

Collins, HIVE Pizza shack, 2015

After all the hard work we all get a bit of time to eat, drink and enjoy.

Someone asked how many sketches I’ve done in one day before, fully completing them during the day it has to be seven last November. This day I fully finished all these five A3 sketches on site over eight hours. I have to admit I find it hard when there’s so much foliage. Structure and architecture with people passing is easier to sketch for me. There’s still so much I have to learn about sketching and illustrations, this day gave me more legitimate practice time.

Collins, HIVE Music, 2015

Even with people standing behind me watching me sketch, for what must have been ages for them, I was able to focus on what I was doing and thoroughly enjoyed every moment. Particularly the moments where people valued and showed appreciation for what I was doing, don’t we all enjoy those.

I didn’t get around all of it due to many wonderful conversations as I sketched. My favourite? Has to be this last one due to the wonderful music being played by Kerry while I drew.

I hope you like them and next time come visit or join me sketching from such a wonderful urban place.

Countdown to end of Peterborough City Bench View Sketches

Believe it or not, maths was my strong point.. It’s not now.. I thought I had 22 benches still to do to get to 200, at the time I’d done 176.. err..

I’ve now sketched 178 bench views + there’s about 20 still to do = 198 not 200.
There’s 1 or 2 peripheral benches that might get included and there might be more in cloisters than I recall so I might be at 200 after all.

Bench view No112

In case you’re lost, on August 28 2014 I took out my spare sketch pad at lunchtime to force me to take a proper break and sat on the first bench I found unoccupied and sketched. I enjoyed it so much and got so much out of it that I carried on. 10 months later and I’m coming to the end of sketching from each and every bench that I regularly pass on my daily wanderings to work and where I shop in town.

Bench View No120

It might not be your usual countdown..

Bridge street ‘new’ benches – done
Bridge street near magistrates – done
around St Johns – done
Around parrots – done
within market – done
the circles near market and passport office – done
long causeway – done
the three which face the underpass boulevard large roundabout – done
the one which eluded me forever outside Asda – done
those outside the regional pool – done
the two along from long causeway – done
the two outside market car park – done
that one on the bridge – done

along the river – about 5 to do
Grain barge – 5 to do
facing the Lido – 1 to do
Bishops gardens – 3 to do
around cathedral square – 3 to do
cloisters – maybe 3 to do – I need to check how many are there.

Bench View No133

I’m hoping to get them all completely finished by 28 August 2015.

Many are now only pencil sketches as I wanted to get them sketched before I gave up. I used to complete them before I carried on from more benches but I seem to be on a roll and want to sketch from as many as I can while the weather’s so amazing. throughout the year the most I’ve had to finish is 15. I’ve currently got 40 which need painting. Oops!

Each one’s still vivid in my memory and I’m looking forward to seeing what transpires as I paint, it completely changes the image.

Bench View No134

Occasionally while photographing them I notice some gaffs.. I’ve been chuntering that there are few benches that I can sit and see the Cathedral from and what do I do when I’m sat on one.. Get distracted by a cyclist and a friend and don’t put it in.. It should be in this one surely! Oh well, more content for any text I write about them. It’s been and still is a wonderful thing to do.

Bench View No135

Less than 3 weeks ago I sat in the rain sketching the workers in town and yesterday I talked to them about the hot weather we’re having.

I’ve still got hours of pleasure to come from these bench views before I continue my next series..

When you sit and stop a while you can be.

#AtoZChallenge Reflections


Another year, another AtoZ reflection, this one’s my fourth.

Before I start I’d like to thank the co-hosts and Arlee without whom this challenge wouldn’t happen.

Chuck together a few words with some sketches I’ve done during the year and job done was my theory for this year.

Draw and write about drawings.

Easy, no?

Far from it, since I took ill and didn’t get many if any posts prescheduled.

Goals are great but be prepared to miss them.

Hours disappeared as I caught up with some amazing blog posts.

Individuals graced me with their presence, not as many as I’d hoped but I didn’t get around as many others either.

Janizary got me out of a hole for J.

Kind comments were left by those visiting me.

Largely an enjoyable experience, everyone was very supportive and played nice as expected.

Mystery surrounding when I tried to comment and wasn’t able to, that put me off visiting as I never knew how successful it would be.

Numbers of participants were lower than expected and I haven’t yet found as many blogs as I’d usually be drawn to.

One by one the numbers dropped off, no idea if more than usual disappeared throughout the month.

Pre-scheduled is definitely the way to go to help engage with others and be more ‘visible’ with comments, I probably said the same in previous years.

Quieter than the usual buzz but I still had quality visitors.

Reflecting if I’m a robot or not.

Stats were much lower for me than previous years though steady for most of the month.

Tina’s sunflower story helped inspire me to keep going.

Unique writers are out there, as usual.

Valued visits from co-hosts and their volunteers.

Waiting to fall into the trap of doing it again next year although at this point I’d say ‘no way!’.

X is always a tough letter to blog about though this year some of the easier letters were harder than the usual harder letters.

You can take me off the lower than 100 followers (broke that barrier) list if that’s still there.

Zombie seemed to be the in-word to finish this year, it would be good to have a list somewhere of the titles each day allowing us to find ones we’re drawn to more often, no idea how you’d do that other than by a hashtag maybe.

Zombie walk #AtoZChallenge

I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. Many people, amazingly made up walking on a route through town. It happens each year in Peterborough to raise funds for charity. I think those taking part have a pretty wacky time too. Since I’d been sketching for a while from benches I asked if they minded me trying to sketch them as they passed a bench or two that I was going to sit on. I had no idea what I was letting myself in for.

Bench view No 36

I’d already done four sketches of another event before this one started on a normal Saturday afternoon. Some of us found our spot early. I must have sat for about an hour or more.. It’s not like there’s not enough benches in Peterborough and at one point I worried that I was on the wrong side of the street.. as you do when the zombie walk’s in town.

Bench view No 37

What I didn’t expect was that I’d become a target of interest or that I’d know so many who took part. I’ve never been good with people dressed up as I have such a vivid imagination. It was pretty hard sketching while being rather frightened at the same time so I didn’t manage to make as many sketches as I’d hoped. While sketching one of these I had people behind me taking pictures of what I was doing as well as some of the Zombies stopping and taking pictures of me sketching them.. One of the most bizarre experiences of my life.

That’s it for AtoZ’s from me for 2015. Many thanks to all who’ve popped by, to the organisers for yet another wonderful AtoZ experience and to all those who came up with posts for me and others to enjoy along the way and last but not least to my friends and family who coped with me happily hiding away for another month, did I miss anything… Each AtoZ is a bit different for those participating, I’ll now do a little pondering on what I got out of this years ready for my AtoZ reflections post..

My AtoZ Blogging Challenge was all about sketches I’ve done this past year and some benches I’ve met along the way. Most but not all of the sketches were done from benches during my walk to work and around town where I shop.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this post why not see what others have done too during 2015 AtoZ Blogging Challenge.

As I do each year, I’ll try to blog more for the rest of the year but for now I’ll zzzzzzzz

Yellow benches #AtoZChallenge

There’s two yellow benches in Peterborough.


I’d never noticed them really, no idea how they merge into the wall. And yet there they are..

Bench view No72

The two yellow benches in Peterborough sit side by side in front of a brick wall at the back of the market and I sketched from one of them in December. When I went to sketch from the other on Saturday I realised I couldn’t tell or remember which I hadn’t sketched from so did one from each.

Bench View No102

I got distracted when a photographer decided I’d be a good subject and we had a good chat about capturing the moment.

Bench View No103

My AtoZ Blogging Challenge is all about sketches I’ve done this past year and some benches I’ve met along the way. Most but not all of the sketches were done from benches during my walk to work and around town where I shop.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this post why not see what others are doing too during 2015 AtoZ Blogging Challenge.

X marks the spot #AtoZChallenge

How do you know which benches you’ve sketched from? How do you remember which ones you’ve still got to sketch from? These are the two questions I get asked when I talk about my sketches of views from benches on my usual walks around Peterborough.

Xmarks the spot 04

Perhaps, if I’d started this as a project to sketch from all the benches in Peterborough I’d have set maps and a list of the order I’d do them in so there couldn’t be any confusion. Whilst I don’t use X to mark my sketching spots (I use arrows) it seemed relevant to this heading. Creating these paintings has a huge air of spontaneity and I rarely know which benches I’ll sit on till I’m there sketching.

Xmarks the spot 02

I keep a note as best I can on each sketch of where it is sometimes. I also have a bit of a map of Bridge Street, remember B the street that has 46 benches in it? And bizarrely, I can remember most of them and know which one’s I’ve still to do. Tomorrows post will talk about the confusion when two benches are next to each other and the view’s not that different.

Bench View No76

Then there’s the sketches that have an unusual view.. My pet hate is when marquees are placed directly in front of a bench I want to sketch from. Mind you, I usually can’t stop giggling while I’m sketching the block of colour, love the reaction of anyone who sees me sketch the back of a marquee and of those who wonder why I did it when they see the final sketch. These can be the hardest to remember where x marks the spot was..

Bench views No 15

The sketches also have hints in them. Take the market ones, there’s ten in two circles and I use the one’s I’ve already done to help work out which I’ve still to do. If a sketch has other benches in it it’s much easier for me to confirm those I’ve completed. Working out which sketches to use for this post I’ve realised there’s over thirty which have  benches within the sketch.

Bench view No 8

Sketches made during events can be tricky to work out where they were done from as the buildings usually give the clue. This is where the other street furniture which is linked to the benches helps.

TrainView No1

And finally.. As we’re getting close to Z, here’s the first in my latest sketching series that I’m so excited about! I thought I’d be sketching from station benches in order as I could see immediate problems with working out which bench I’d sketched from or not and if I went in a set route I thought it would give me a bit of helpful routine. That’s not going to work as I’ve already done two from one bench and sat on platform 6 before finishing all from the benches on platform 7, though I might manage to stick to two platforms at a time..

My AtoZ Blogging Challenge is all about sketches I’ve done this past year and some benches I’ve met along the way. Most but not all of the sketches were done from benches during my walk to work and around town where I shop.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this post why not see what others are doing too during 2015 AtoZ Blogging Challenge.

Waiting to watch the world go by #AtoZChallenge

The benches I’ve had to wait for.

[STOP PRESS: The bench I sketched this featured image from wasn’t there today.. It’s been completely removed and no replacement bench put there. There was nothing wrong with the previous one which I had to go in early to get to sit from it… I don’t know what to say..]

Bench View No51

I’ve mentioned in some of my earlier blogs this month that some benches in Peterborough are very sought after. These tend to be where they’re the only one in that location or they’re near something specific like the chippy.

Bench view No74

I’ve already included some of the most sought after locations in other posts (see I and F) but here’s another few that I’ve had to wait to sketch from as each time I passed them by they were occupied. These are three of five that are close together and always occupied. One of which I’ve still not managed to sketch from yet.

Bench view No75

My AtoZ Blogging Challenge is all about sketches I’ve done this past year and some benches I’ve met along the way. Most but not all of the sketches were done from benches during my walk to work and around town where I shop.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this post why not see what others are doing too during 2015 AtoZ Blogging Challenge.


Views #AtoZChallenge

This was the last post to be written. Surely I have lots to say about views but I didn’t and I had no idea what images I’d use here.

As I was looking at the list of my draft blog posts, wondering what on earth I’d say about views, there was a picture staring at me from a draft I never finished. It was a view I rarely see, one I might not see again, of people who get views I will never see. Cryptic or what? Here’s the pic.

the seats that fly planes

The airshow I love viewing annually is not on this year so I’ll be searching for some views elsewhere. The views we get are, hopefully, the ones we choose, of the places we decide to live and visit, of the people we spend our lives with, of the things we surround ourselves with. I’ve been sketching many views over the past year and hope to continue to do so. The process of sketching them often changes my personal view of them.


Here’s a sketch I did when visiting a friend of their view from their office, their cat was also enjoying the view.


While writing this I paused to think, looking out of my back door window and got an amazing view. My garden is laid out so I can get wonderful views while sitting here writing.

woodpecker on peanut feeder

What views do you give yourself? (please be clean)

My AtoZ Blogging Challenge is all about sketches I’ve done this past year and some benches I’ve met along the way. Most but not all of the sketches were done from benches during my walk to work and around town where I shop.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this post why not see what others are doing too during 2015 AtoZ Blogging Challenge.

Unusual umbrella views #AtoZchallenge

Bench View No 3

Usual, unique.. no.. It’s got to be.. Umbrellas. There must be lots in my sketches from the past eight months.. ahhh not really and one of yesterdays True to the view blog pose images had umbrellas in it limiting my choice.  I don’t sketch in the rain much, watercolours get a bit soggy and pencils stop working.. so it’s unusual for me to sit and see people with umbrellas.

Bench View No59

Here’s a few times when there were umbrellas for me to sketch. The lengths we go to for our art.. .

Bench View No 33

My AtoZ Blogging Challenge is all about sketches I’ve done this past year and some benches I’ve met along the way. Most but not all of the sketches were done from benches during my walk to work and around town where I shop.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this post why not see what others are doing too during 2015 AtoZ Blogging Challenge.