Sketching on Stage with Oliver Lovley


The Pitman Painters by Lee Hall

In 1934 a group of Northumberland miners attended a WEA evening class in art appreciation. Struggling to understand the paintings they were presented with, they began to paint the everyday things they saw around them, producing some iconic artwork.

Lee Hall, writer of Billy Elliot, again champions that culture should be available to all and tells their story in this award winning play. Funny, emotive and entertaining, the play examines the lives of this group of ordinary men who do extraordinary things.

Oliver Lovley in character

Oliver Lovley as Robert Lyon in “The Pitman Painters”, photograph by Grace Eden.

Oliver Lovley ASGFA, played Robert Lyon, artist and teacher. The role merged artist Oliver’s own talents in theatre and visual art. Here he explains more about keeping a sketchbook of the project and how it helped.

Why is it important to keep a sketchbook?

It is important because in my opinion it is comparable to doing scales on a musical instrument. Observational drawing is a skill I use in many ways constantly and I need to maintain it. I am only as good as the practice I have done.

How do you find combining theatre and visual art?

I found combining theatre and visual art quite a roller coaster ride – it had elements of a live art show where I would be demonstrating my drawing, but I was not supposed to be myself. Also when I was drawing live onstage I had only two minutes to finish and I was speaking lines at the same time. And I was using my non-dominant hand to draw!

Oliver drawing on stage using his left hand

Oliver drawing actor Fraser Wanless on stage using his left hand, photograph by Grace Eden.

When drawing on stage is it the character drawing or you?

I found that drawing live stage whilst speaking lines helped me to get a better idea of the character, who incidentally was a real person – the artist and teacher Robert Lyon. His work I believe is in the Essex Town Hall. I usually feel that drawing live is a performance.

Did drawing as someone else effect your own drawing style?

I found in the play I didn’t have time between scene changes for it to affect my style! I was drawing what I saw in front of me (another actor) and then I had to get off!

What other projects can we expect to hear about in the future?

At the moment I am finishing a large wall mural at The Malt Cross Music Hall in Nottingham where for the last year I have been their resident artist.
Very soon I will be designing and building a small set for a play ‘The Dance of Death’ by August Strindberg at The Lace Market Theatre. I am also exhibiting this year at Focus Gallery, Nottingham and The Nottingham Society of Artists.


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Oliver Lovley interviewed by Charlie Kirkham SGFA. Charlie is the Editor of the Society of Graphic Fine Art Journal and a contributing writer. For more information please see

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Image of the Month: Spring Surf by Felicity Flutter ASGFA

"Spring Surf"

“Spring Surf”, watercolour and pencil on paper, Felicity Flutter ASGFA

My process for producing ‘Spring Surf’ began with a reference photo I took at Winchelsea Beach near Rye on a blustery day. I brightened the reference photo on my computer and looked at close ups to study the wave forms and colours more closely; I then interpreted this into what would work as a painting. I began creating the painting with a loose drawing to indicate areas of light and dark. This was followed by wet washes of watercolour over the entire paper. The next stage was to draw the details in, once the paint was dry, with a shading technique using a range of Caran d’Ache Grafwood pencils from B to 9B. I recently discovered Cretacolor Nero Pencils which are perfect for the darkest tones as they do not have a reflective finish as with the softest Graphite. I then continued to apply layers of Winsor & Newton Artists’ Watercolours until I had built up the range of tones and colours which I felt worked best. I could not erase any of my pencil marks or this would have removed some of the watercolour paint so I needed to get it right first time.

I had left some areas of white paper but the final stage involved adding the splashes of white foam. To achieve a random effect, I masked off some of the painting with scraps of paper before ‘flicking’ opaque white to get the finest blobs of spray.
I like to keep a rhythm while I am painting, continually readjusting colours and tones as I work. This paper is robust enough for me to both apply my pencil mark-making and to build up layers of watercolour and washes until I have achieved the balance I am trying to attain in my paintings.

A painting can be similar to a signature, I am told that my watercolour work is very recognisable. However I am eager to experiment with new subject matter, techniques and materials. I have recently begun combining my love of drawing with watercolours, this technique has been inspired by becoming an SGFA member.

This has meant that I needed to search for a paper which would suit both wet and dry mediums. I contacted Stillman & Birn and tested out free samples of different papers they had sent me, settling on their Beta paper (extra heavyweight, white, cold press) it was just what I had been looking for.


Felicity Flutter SGFA

Felicity Flutter ASGFA

Profile of the Artist: Felicity Flutter ASGFA

Felicity Flutter ASGFA began as a Graphic Designer. She has lived in South East England all her life and is inspired by the Kent and Sussex countryside. In 1992 Felicity began to concentrate on watercolour painting. Her landscapes have been exhibited with the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours and the Society of Women Artists as well as being shown in the Society of Graphic Fine Art shows. Alongside painting and drawing Felicity is a committee member for South East Open Studios and the Cranbrook Art Show.

Exhibitions this year include the South East Open Studios, “Florum”, Sevenoaks and regular slots at the Artichoke Gallery in Ticehurst, East Sussex.

For more information please see:

Twitter: @FlicFlutter

Charlie Kirkham SGFA is Editor of the Society of Graphic Fine Art Journal and a contributing writer. For more information please see

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Image of the Month: The Runner’s Dilemma by Barry Harrison SGFA


“The Runner’s Dilemma” pencil on paper, 21 x 27.9 cm, Barry John Harrison SGFA

My crayons definitely decorated the walls when I was a child, but the trauma of chastisement is forgotten; all I know is that in my teens I started drawing and since then I have never stopped, slowed sometimes, but never stopped. In true artistic tradition I was the child with the sick note and managed to stay well away from most exercise. Then, oddly, in my mid 40s I tried long and then longer distance walking which led to running, then marathons and ultramarathons. So now I had two obsessive compulsive disorders (actually more, but I won’t bore you), drawing and running.

People I meet find this an odd combination, but mentally they are very similar, physically one is a little more perilous; yes I have cut myself sharpening a pencil, but the injury has never needed physiotherapy. A run and a drawing are difficult to start, the horror of the blank white page, dare you mar it; the thought of leaving a warm house and going out in the usually inclement weather. Then when you do start it’s mark after mark, or step after step. Sometimes brain and body enter a state where everything feels possible, at other times it is all frustration, but something keeps you going. And it is the keeping going that is the real pleasure. A marathon is a runners high, but it is the 30/40+ miles you run week after week that is the real thing. When your picture, in its neat frame, goes on the wall there is the feeling of achievement, but it’s the making of the marks that is important.

Further Information: Barry Harrison SGFA

The Society of Graphic Fine Art has a history of supporting the AGBI, Artists General Benevolent Institution. The charity is best known for being set up by J.M.W. Turner. Many artists are self-employed and work to a strange flow of commissions and projects. This can result in too much or too little work coming in, making financial planning difficult. The AGBI was set up to help artists who become ill or who die leaving young children with no financial support.

On the 24th of April this year Barry Harrison SGFA is running the London Marathon for the AGBI. If you would like to support Barry’s run you can send a pledge of a set amount or price per mile to

Charlie Kirkham SGFA is Editor of the Society of Graphic Fine Art Journal and a contributing writer. For more information please see

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Image of the Month: Borough Market by Les Williams SGFA

Borough Market

“Borough Market”, pen and ink on paper, Les Williams SGFA


‘ I sat on a bright sunny, Saturday morning in September with colleagues Stuart Stanley and Lyndsey Smith from SGFA looking out over a very busy Borough Market, bustling with tourists. Through the queues for the Monmouth Coffee shop, and the beer drinkers at the Market Porter, I can see the spires of Southwark Cathedral in the distance. A great place to come sketching’

Les finds inspiration in the life and buildings of the City of London, having worked there for many years.

Photograph showing the top of Southwark Cathedral, by Les Williams SGFA

Photograph showing the top of Southwark Cathedral, by Les Williams SGFA

‘It is impossible not to be impressed by the way buildings and areas rapidly change, providing the opportunity to record history in the making’.


Profile of the Artist: Les Williams SGFA

Les Williams and colleagues enjoying a coffee at the Southwark Cathedral Refectory.

Les Williams and colleagues enjoying a coffee at the Southwark Cathedral Refectory.

Les Williams SGFA works in pen and wash and he loves painting on location. He has trained at the Royal Drawing School and under the tutorage of some of the leading watercolourists in the United Kingdom. Over the last few years he has exhibited on many occasions in London, including The Barbican, Menier Gallery, Lloyd’s, Bankside Gallery, St Martins in the Fields and Southwark Cathedral.’

Upcoming exhibitions in 2016 include  the Barbican Center, London 2nd – 24th Feb, University College Hospital Gallery 3rd March – 24th April part of Drawing London Group, and Norfolk Open Studios in June.

Les is exhibiting this picture as part of “Drawing on Location”, a show featuring images created by SGFA members on a drawing day around Southwark Cathedral. The exhibition 16 January – 11 March 2016

For more information:

Charlie Kirkham SGFA is Editor of the Society of Graphic Fine Art Journal and a contributing writer. Charlie is based in Birmingham, for more information please see

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Image of the Month: Mask by Harriet Brigdale SGFA

"Mask 2", Harriet Brigdale SGFA

“Mask 1”, Harriet Brigdale SGFA

I have always been interested in masks and very interested in signs and symbols and their meanings.  Also I am so interested in the reasons for wearing a mask, a place to hide or is it the pretend you are someone else, a God or a devil ?  The masks are also stunning without the wearer, hinting at past events, and forever locked behind glass in an museum.

I have used a 19th century Ngil mask from Gabon as the basis of the first image and I used a pattern from a Pongo Barkcloth from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a lot of symbols that float about in my head , I loved some of the images of the Ice Age exhibition in the British Museum a few years ago, all filed away for future use.

"Mask 2", Harriet Brigdale SGFA

“Mask 2”, Harriet Brigdale SGFA

Drawing the second mask I used lots of different face shapes and symbols and created my own mask, again I used ink, gold pigment which I mixed with Nori glue, Sumi paper and silver felt tip pens.
I use Arches Not paper, it’s a high sized paper I love drawing lines with a pen and Senellier  black ink, this ink is water soluble when wet, but becomes waterproof within a few minutes.

Profile of the Artist: Harriet Brigdale SGFA

IMG_0528Harriet Brigdale was born in Holland where she attended a Steiner school in The Hague.  She moved to England to attend the Chelsea School of and and London College of Printing. For the past 29 years Harriet has been a full time artist printmaker and teacher, producing card designs for Aries Design, Gordon Fraser, Two Bad Mice and others. Her previous exhibitions have been include the Gallery Graffiti, Business Art at the Royal Academy and Amalgem in Barnes. Harriet’s interests centre on drawing, printmaking, mixed media, quilting, watercolours, oils and pastels. Her etchings have been sold in galleries in the UK, US, Japan and Australia.


avitarCharlie Kirkham SGFA is Editor of the Society of Graphic Fine Art Journal and a contributing writer. Charlie’s studio is based in London where she draws and paints. For more information please see

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Lyndsey Smith ASGFA is a Christmas Bestseller!

Lyndsey Smith’s Eastbourne themed Christmas card has become a local bestseller. Depicting the local beach with residents enjoying a wintery swim, Lyndsey’s illustration has captured the imagination of Christmas card buyers. Alongside illustrating scenes local to Eastbourne Lyndsey has also produced a set of cards themed around London’s Westminster Abbey.

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Image of the Month “Snow Orchard” by Ruth Baron Ezra SGFA


“Snow Orchard”, 187 x 132mm, Ruth Baron Ezra SGFA.

The graphic qualities of snow-covered landscapes have always fascinated me. Clarity and detail appear sharpened when tonal polarities of intense whiteness and darkness sit side by side.

When I was studying at Wall Hall College I would often take a walk in the college grounds, clear my head, ready to tackle another essay perhaps. During all of the seasons the scenery around the college was incredibly varied. I would sketch and take photographs throughout the year in the orchards, the woodlands, open fields or Italian Garden. Like a number of teacher training campuses at that time in the 1970s, Wall Hall College had been built and expanded around a former country house in Hertfordshire, along with the estate’s wonderful gardens and surroundings.

Many years later, looking through old photos I came across some rather dog-eared images of the orchards blanketed in snow, and one immaculately dark and light image with not a footprint to be seen anywhere – on the day that I took the photo, I had definitely got there first! Looking at that photo once again, even in its forlorn state, it seemed a classic image and one that would lend itself beautifully to a black and white drawing – I was surprised I hadn’t used it years ago.

In the pencil drawing you see above, the density of tiny branches in the upper part has been deliberately filled out to the top in order to give greater contrast between the whiteness of the snow in the foreground and the almost total darkness of the trees above. In between lies the random spread of spidery, snow laden branches. I tried to give a sense of depth, as if the orchard just carries on endlessly into the distance.

Many other snowy and frosty subjects have caught my eye over the years – a snow covered pile of logs in the garden, icicles hanging from the edge of a thatched roof, different types of tracks left in the snow, hoar frost clinging to a tree and so white and crisp it looks like snow.

Perhaps this winter will make for some great snowy or frosty scenes…… who knows?




Profile of the Artist: Ruth Baron Ezra SGFA

RuthBaronEzraRuth lives and works in Test Valley in Hampshire. She creates finely worked graphite drawings, many of them reminiscent of etchings and illustrations. She loves to get into the detail of myriad subjects from nature, and natural forms. She enjoys exploring the shapes, contours and textures but most of all the tonal ranges in those subjects, highlighting the striking qualities of dark pitched against light. Sometimes the material is rendered in her own stylised way, resulting in strong elements of pattern and design.

More recently, Ruth’s art has been inspired by tropical plants and visits to botanic gardens during a number of trips abroad to Australia, Singapore, Israel and Peru. Closer to home she has enjoyed the wonderful attractions at Kew Gardens, the Eden Project, Cornwall, and oddly enough a local lavender garden with tropical plants. What appeals to her are the boldness and solidity of tropical plant shapes and masses, and the strong contours. Again, she particularly enjoys the contrasts made by intense sunlight, and darker, more shadowy areas, not forgetting those areas that reveal more subtle, intermediate tones.

Ruth studied Art and Design for a B.Ed (Hons) at Wall Hall College, Hertfordshire in the 1970s specialising in drawing and painting. During the 1980s she had a number of teaching jobs in the London area, always using art widely in her teaching. In the early 1990s Ruth gained an MA in Art History of the Modern Period from Goldsmith’s College, University of London. She taught history of Art during the 1990s, running a variety of courses for Artscope and at Adult Learning Centres in Kent. She has also written on art, and helped in setting up the Turner Centre project, now Turner Contemporary in Margate,  where she provided the initial research on Turner’s connections with Margate.

For the last twelve years, Ruth has returned to her distinctive and intricate style of drawing that she first crafted back in the 1970s.

Ruth has exhibited in venues and galleries across the South of England, including the Oxmarket Chichester, Southampton City Art Gallery, Salisbury Playhouse, Project Workshops Quarley, the Allen Gallery Alton, Weyhill Gallery, Hackwood Arts Festival, and Sir Harold Hilliers Gardens, Hampshire. A number of Ruth’s works are held in the Hampshire County Museums Fine Art collection.

For the last ten years she has exhibited with 4Seasons Artists for all of the Spring season at the Five Arrows Gallery, sited within Exbury Gardens, Hampshire, and famous for the Rothschild collection of azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias and rare trees.

Ruth was elected to the SGFA in May 2011 and has exhibited with them at Ilminster Arts Centre, R K Burt, Barbican, Menier and Bankside galleries, London.

avitarCharlie Kirkham SGFA is Editor of the Society of Graphic Fine Art Journal and a contributing writer. Charlie’s studio is based in London where she draws and paints. For more information please see

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