Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Top Marx All Round!

Today is apparently Karl Marx's birthday (born 1818), so I thought I would post some sketches from my recent visit to Highgate Cemetery, where he is famously interred.

Above is his monument, normally where all the visitors flock to, although only a few came to take photos while I was sat here drawing, probably due to it being a very cold and blustery day despite the sun. He, of course, isn't buried here, but rather somewhere more discreet, further down the hill, beneath a very modest and plain headstone, beside his wife, amongst hundreds of identical headstones, as befits a man who preached equality - he in fact specifically requested that there be no monuments erected to him upon his death. As you can see, his wishes were ignored.

Actually, I hadn't gone to see Marx myself, but Douglas Adams, author of "A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" which I'd just finished reading. I was reading it because several months previously I'd visited Highgate Cemetery for the first time and saw his grave and thought "Ah, I have his book on my shelf at home, I must re-read it!". I'd been a big fan of his books when I was a teenager but couldn't remember much about them, so reacquainting myself with his unique and hilarious style of writing was a real pleasure. 

I've since moved into the Highgate area, and it's now just a short walk for me across the beautiful Waterlow Park to reach the cemetery, so upon finishing the book, I decided to pay him a return visit to thank him for his literary gifts to the world. He characteristically said nothing, of course, owing to the fact that he's dead, but I took his silence to mean that he understood my reasons for being there, that he was pleased and humbled, and that really he had a much better spot than the Karl Marx bust anyway, so he was quite alright, thank you very much.
But then again, it might just've been the wind.


Sunday, 3 May 2015

Let's Draw Kew Gardens - Saturday 16th May 2015

Our next London Urban Sketchers sketchcrawl will be at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew - in south west London - on Saturday 16th May 2015. 

It's FREE and there's no need to book a place - just turn up on the day!

It will be my special pleasure to introduce people who have not been before to a place which has endless opportunities for sketching. It's certainly one of my absolute favourite places for a day's sketching! You'll see some of pen and ink and coloured pencils below.

Syon Vista by Katherine Tyrrell
This is from the Palm House looking down Syon Vista (very wide grass path) to the River Thames
- overlooking Syon House on the other side of the river.
© Katherine Tyrrell 
WHERE:  Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew - Download the  map of Kew Gardens

WHEN:    Saturday 16th May 2015 (The gardens are open from 10am if you want to get there early)

ENTRANCE FEE: £15 per adult (£14 if purchased online) and Free if you are a Friend. 

START:    11:00am at the Terrace outside the Cafe at the Entrance (just to the right of the ticket gate) - introduction to those new to urban sketching and tips re. Kew Gardens

LUNCH:    1:30pm at The Orangery - share our sketches, group photo - and time for lunch. The Orangery has hot and cold food from Peyton & Byrne and tables and chairs to sit and eat at.

END:        3:30pm - in front of the Palm House (Lake side)  - share our sketches + another group photo to add to the collection!

TRAVELKew Gardens Station - Underground: District Line to Richmond | North London Line to Richmond. For other lines see the map below

MAP:  Kew Gardens Maps and Gates (download for free)

Organiser: Katherine Tyrrell (do please leave any queries as comments on this post - or post them on the Facebook Event Page and I'll do my best to answer them)

Download the Getting to Kew Gardens Transport Map,
also showing gate locations

Things to do and see and sketch

There's absolutely masses to see and sketch at Kew Gardens which is HUGE!  If you've never been before, a little bit of research before you go really pays dividends at Kew Gardens.

You can see some of the sights of Kew on this Kew Gardens Spring Slideshow

I've identified all the key features on a Google Map and annotated it for this Sketchcrawl. Just click the link to access it - and then click the icons to find out what they represent.

Click the icon second from right on top line to see it full size on your screen.  Use the +/- signs to get the scale right.

When I've got a minute, I'll add a few more in....

Buildings and Structures

Kew Palace by Katherine Tyrrell
(see Liz Steel and Borromini at Kew Palace)
© Katherine Tyrrell 

The main buildings which people might want to sketch appear as a "yellow house" on the map. They include:

  • The Palm House - absolutely amazing building both inside and out. Try going up the steps to see the view of the palms from above! Great view of it from the other side of the Lake 
  • The Temperate House - currently closed for restoration. Views of it will depend on the nature of the building works at present 
  • The Princess of Wales Conservatory - lots of triangular angles! I like the inside best. (near the Orangery) 
  • The Alpine House - cute and perfectly formed greenhouse (near the Orangery) 
  • Kew Palace - lots of traditional architecture to sketch her - and good for before or after lunch as very close to the Orangery
  • Chokushi Mon - the Japanese Gateway - set in a formal Japanese Garden. Not visited as much as some other parts of the garden and usually very peaceful.
  • The Orangery is Grade I listed and is Kew's only original plant house which still survives - although now used as a cafe and where we will meet for lunch (on the terrace if the weather is fine)

A couple of structures which are also definitely worth a look are:


Pagoda Vista © Katherine Tyrrell
This was originally done on mat board cut to postcard size and was posted to a lady who lives in the USA!

Then there are the Vistas!  These are marked on blue on the Google Map. The main ones are:
  • Pagoda Vista - very probably one of those views which says "This is Kew".
  • Cedar Vista - this runs from the Pagoda down to the Thames
  • Syon Vista - see the top sketch for the view from the Palm House down Syon Vista
  • Syon Overlook - looking down the River Thames towards Richmond and across the Thames to Syon House.
The Thames at Kew from Syon Overlook by Katherine Tyrrell
© Katherine Tyrrell
    This list gives you more information about other attractions

    People who are wondering about how to sketch the big old trees at Kew may get some inspiration from the Exhibition: Kew's Heritage Trees by Masumi Yamanaka at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art (see map).


    Sunday, 26 April 2015

    St Paul's and the Thames - we've got to do it again!

    The general consensus from yesterday's sketchcrawl by London Urban Sketchers was that there was absolutely masses to draw and we need to go back!

    We were sketching in the area around St Paul's Cathedral and down to the north bank of the Thames - next to the Millennium Bridge - see TODAY is "Let's Draw St Paul's to the Thames" and the map created in Google Maps/Drive of the area and key places

    I think this location will become a regular feature of our sketchcrawls in future years!
    This is a photograph of one venue which blew people away with the views!

    Sketching after lunch from the Roof Terrace of One New Change
    and here's a sketch of the same by Daniel Lloyd-Morgan.
    Roof terrace at 1 New Change by Daniel Lloyd-Morgan

    New people

    Yet again we saw several new people join the group of London Urban Sketchers. Please note there is absolutely no requirement to live and work in London to join the group.

    A warm welcome is extended anybody who likes drawing London - and this month we welcome:

    From outside London

    • Marissa Lee Swinghammer - living in Oxford since February, late of Boston, Massachusetts
    • Chuck Stull from Kalamazoo Michigan, currently on sabbatical in Oxford.
    • Sue Smith from Cambridge
    • Laura Moore - from I'm not quite sure where but I think it might be the Herts/Essex borders! 
    • Debbie Eyre from the Birmingham Urban Sketchers

    From London

    and we hope to see your sketches on Facebook or on Flickr very soon! :)

    Do please let us know if you are new and where you come from - we're always pleased to see new faces and to link up with you.  You can leave a comment at the end of this post.....


    On a practical note, we've certainly noticed that emphasising that:
    • the "Let's Draw" event is FREE; and
    • there's no need to book
    gets a very positive response from people! :) 

    However it would be great to also get some feedback about the maps. The use of a map link embedded in the notice of the "Let's Draw" even seems to be working quite well - for all those with smartphones. I think maybe we need to think about creating a downloadable pdf for those with no phone but access to a printer.  This saves organisers from having to personally cut down trees to print off maps ;) - but more to the point means that when the organiser's printer has decided not to work(!!) we still have a way of getting the "where is everything" out to people.

    Some photos from the day

    I'm going to show you in this blog post how much easier it is for me to include your sketches if you tweet them!

    Here's kickoff under cover at the top of the steps in front of St Paul's and that's me up on the little ledge so people could hear me more clearly over the noise of the traffic and the tourists.

    Here we all are at lunchtime

    London Urban Sketchers on the Roof Terrace of One New Change at lunchtime
    and here are our sketches at that stage


    Saturday, 25 April 2015

    TODAY is "Let's Draw St Paul's to the Thames"

    Just a reminder that Let's Draw St Paul's to the Thames - SATURDAY 25th April 2015 has switched from Sunday 26th to today because of the London Marathon tomorrow.

    The weather forecast is for light rain late in the afternoon but otherwise sunny intervals should prevail.

    Tweet your sketches with the hashtag #usklondon and we'll try and retweet them via the Urban Sketchers London Twitter account.

    St Paul's Cathedral
    and the bronze statue to the firemen that saved it during the blitz in WW2
    WHERE: St Paul's to the Thames

    WHEN: Sunday 26th April 2015 CHANGED TO Saturday 25th April 2015 (due to the London Marathon) 

    START: 11:00am at the top of the steps (right hand side) of the Main Entrance to St Paul's Cathedral

    LUNCH: 1:30pm One New Change (shopping centre) - two options for where we meet depending on the weather
    • Dry: on the Roof Terrace of One New Change - we want a group pic with the roof of St. Paul's in the background if possible!
    • Wet: in the lobby area of One New Change near where the lift is to go to the roof terrace
    Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge
    from the Peter's Hill walkway down from St. Paul's
    (near to the Salvation Army Cafe 101
     which is building on left)
    END: 3:30pm 

    TUBE: Stations:

    • St Paul's (Central Line); 
    • Blackfriars and Mansion House (District and Circle Lines) 
    RAIL: Thameslink @ London Blackfriars and City Thameslink; Cannon Street

    The North Bank of the Thames from the Millennium Bridge
    Don't forget to look out for Shaun the Sheep!  He's everywhere - supporting children in hospitals - and as you might expect he has an app.

    This is the https://www.flickr.com/groups/usklondon-grouppool/ where you can post your sketches of today:
    1. after you have posted them to your own Flickr account
    2. after your application for membership of the Urban Sketchers London Flickr Group has been approved. The review of your application for membership depends on the sketches on your own account. You don't have to be really good at sketching but your sketches do need to conform to our rules - see below

    Rules for posting to the Urban Sketchers London Flickr Group

    All drawings posted to the group were drawn on location IN LONDON, not from photos or memory. Your membership will be terminated if you repeatedly post sketches of places other than London.
    • The location of the sketch IN LONDON is always included in the headline or caption or the image is located on your public Flickr map.
    *The only photos which can be posted to the Group MUST relate to Urban Sketchers London Sketchcrawls - on the date of the sketchcrawl
    • No sketches from figure drawing sessions or posed models will be posted to the Group Pool
    * No objects or figures without a location context which is a place in London will be posted to the Group Pool (ie sketches of people in locations are OK; sketches of people in isolation are not)


    Friday, 24 April 2015

    Spring sun, tree shadow

     A few days of warm spring sun. Blossom on the fruit trees, and in London parks horse chestnut leaves are just opening to their full, while other trees are still budding.

    It's actually too hot today to sit in the sun, so I sit in the shade, my back to a tree.

    It's only at the end of the morning I realise that my subject has not been trees or parkscape, it's been shadow.

    Clissold Park - charcoal, inks 42 x 29cm

    Clissold Park - charcoal 42 x 29cm


    Wednesday, 22 April 2015

    The trees are not green (yet)

    Walking around South bank with a friend on Monday we stopped a couple of times to draw - the first time was spurred by the many building cranes along the north bank. I noticed the great amount of trees along the north bank - still not green.

    In doing the second view,  we were amidst the people enjoying a warm Monday afternoon after work, the buzz and activity is only possible in London. It was impossible to get anything but either water or pimms at the roof top bar we were sat at. Water it was. 
    A great setting, Royal Festival Hall, London Eye, with Houses of Parliament beyond, Big Ben, Hungerford Bridge, the Thames


    Tuesday, 21 April 2015

    Just one more ...

                                              St Mary Abchurch, Abchurch Lane EC4

    This lovely little piece of Wren is tucked away in-between King William Street and Cannon Street. I can't believe I didn't want to draw it before. This church is also home to an outfit called Friends of the City Churches. Anyway, pretty it may not be but wacky it certainly is.