At the end of August, I was asked by Frome Town Council to record a visit to the town by the Academy Of Urbanism. What the Council had in mind was a series of sketches that could be presented to the Academy as a memento of their visit; one that might persuade them to think kindly of Frome while they deliberated upon who should win this year’s prestigious Great Town Award.
Looking at the day’s itinerary – which began at Rook Lane, dog-legged past St. John’s Church, looped down Cheap Street and wobbled up Catherine Hill to the new Town Hall, then after lunch, performed a neat figure-of-eight past Whatcombe Vale, the Welshmill Hub, the allotments and the new riverside walk to the Cheese & Grain – I knew I’d have my work cut out. If these were to be as-it-happens sketches, I’d have to produce at least one every half hour. Buildings, streets, people; whatever took the Academicians’ fancy, I had to fancy too.
I wanted to produce something distinctive and quirky – a bit like the town I live in – and the Town Council wanted the sketches in a format that would be quick and easy to reproduce. I’d had in mind using good, old-fashioned pencil and paper, but it quickly became apparent that a little modern technology would help me to go further, faster.
‘Paper’ for iPad by FiftyThree has a neat tool that fills in the shape as you draw it. Ideal, I thought for capturing Frome’s idiosyncratic architecture in a hurry.
A line that can turn into a plane the moment you lift your stylus from the screen! In my view, this is a radical and exciting new way to draw and to think about drawing. Each plane is semi-transparent, too, so if you pile one on top of another, your chosen colour will steadily darken.
Paper also has a clever ‘fill’ tool that enables you to colour your background after you’ve done your drawing – a big no-no when using traditional media.
I remember I also twizzled the very useful ‘rewind’ dial quite often on the day, too.
Despite the drizzle and the dazzle, which made drawing on the iPad tricky, I had a great time touring the town with the Academy Of Urbanism. Seeing a place you know so well through the eyes of others can wake you up to it all over again or even help you to discover something new about it. This is one of the reasons why architect and RIBA Wessex chair, Giles Vallis and I are so keen on our Frome Sketchers get-togethers. If you’d like to join us on one of our tours around town or nearby, visit our Facebook page. You can click here for more info, too.
More sketches of Frome here!