Thursday, 8 September 2016

Let's draw Smithfield: Saturday 15 October 2016

Smithfield – “the smooth field” – was the site of a livestock market dating from the medieval era, and of the annual Cloth Fair held around St Bartholomew’s Day.  It is outside the area of the City of London destroyed by the Great Fire of London of 1666, so has some very old buildings, including the oldest church in London.

The nearest Underground station is Barbican.  From Aldersgate, walk along Long Lane and you will soon see Smithfield Market.  We will meet at West Smithfield garden, a small circular city park in front of the market building.

Summary of the day:
  •          Meet at 11 am at West Smithfield garden in front of Smithfield Market
  •          Meet at 1 pm in the same place
  •          Meet at 3.30 pm either at the West Smithfield garden if dry or the Rising Sun pub on Cloth Fair if wet

Smithfield is an area of varied history, and rapid change, and offers a great mix of subjects to draw:

Smithfield Market is a large Victorian building (see top image) completed in 1867 (architect Horace Jones), a wholesale meat market (trading Monday to Friday).  At the southwest end are disused buildings, formerly a general market, which have been acquired for redevelopment as a new location for the Museum of London.  The provisional opening date for this is 2021.

St Bartholomew’s Hospital has stood on this site since 1123, and some of the existing buildings date from the eighteenth century.  The hospital complex includes St Bartholomew the Less church (unlikely to be open), and a courtyard with a fountain and plenty of seats.  The hospital’s Henry Vlll Gate is on West Smithfield.

Memorials: Smithfield was for centuries a site of execution.  Memorials alongside the hospital include one to William Wallace, Scottish leader executed in 1305

St Bartholomew the Great church: the oldest church in London, interesting interior and exterior, admission charge, open 10.30 am to 4 pm

The Old Bailey, the Central Criminal Court, down Giltspur Street

Postman’s Park and St Botolph Aldersgate, down Little Britain.  The park includes G. F. Watts’ Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice

The Museum of London on the junction of Aldersgate and London Wall, free admission, open 10 am to 6 pm

I have listed quite a few options as the impact of building work in the area is unpredictable.

Wet weather options include the interior of St Bartholomew the Great, interiors of pubs and cafes, and the Museum of London

Facilities: Old pubs are characteristic of the area, although not all open on Saturday.  The Rising Sun, 38 Cloth Fair, the Old Red Cow, 71 Long Lane, the Fox and Anchor, 115 Charterhouse, should be open, also Carluccio café on West Smithfield and cafes near the tube station and the Museum of London

This day is organised by Jo Dungey.


Saturday, 3 September 2016

Drawing Little Venice: Saturday 17 September

We are meeting at Little Venice in west London for our next sketchcrawl on Saturday 17 September. The plan is to meet at Rembrandt Gardens, right next to the canal, at 11am, and again at 1pm. It's a short walk from Warwick Avenue tube station (Bakerloo line) or a longer one from Paddington tube station (Bakerloo, Circle, District, Metropolitan, Hammersmith & City). There's a map below.

The area is a quiet, affluent place where the Grand Union and Regent's canals meet, with quiet back streets and occasional passing narrowboats. The more modern Paddington Central development, close to the Westway flyovers, is nearby along the canal.

Meet at 11am, and again at 1pm, at Rembrandt Gardens, where Warwick Avenue crosses over the canal, and overlooks the basin. There are public toilets here.

There is a variety of pubs and cafes around Little Venice, although not too cheap. This is the Warwick Castle pub, easily overlooked down Warwick Place, which looks promising.

There are a variety of subjects from the traditionally leafy, such as these...

... to the more modern developments around Paddington close by.

We will finish at the Shelton Square amphitheatre, which is just along the canal towards Paddington, just past the flyovers. There is a variety of cafes and bars around here.

There aren't a huge number of wet-weather options around Little Venice, apart from drawing in Paddington station or from cafes and bars around. Let's hope it's dry, or even sunny.


Tuesday, 23 August 2016


Despite the very unpromising weather early in the day, the skies cleared on Saturday for the August sketchcrawl in Greenwich, with a great turnout, a mix of familiar faces along with some international visitors from Australia, Barcelona and New Zealand.  
Below are just few snaps of sketchbook drawings from the day.  Apologies for the names that aren't credited, if you recognise your drawing, please let us know in the comment box and we'll remedy it as soon as possible.



The Cutty Sark proved a popular subject throughout the day.


Great views across the Thames, from the shore or up high near the Observatory.



If you are on Flickr, you can apply to join the London Urban Sketchers Flickr page or those on Facebook can join the London Urban Sketchers Facebook page.  If you are on Twitter or Instagram, use the hashtag #urbansketchers for your work to get seen and shared by others.

London Urban Sketchers Flickr page

London Urban Sketchers Facebook page

Thank you to everybody who came along and hope to see you all at the September outing to Little Venice!


Monday, 22 August 2016

Good old fashioned fun

Down by the Cutty Sark, this looked fantastic against the cloudy sky and the tower blocks on the other side of the river. Not that I managed to get the watercolours out to record it's lovely paint work of course. No, I was too busy getting the all metal supports in.


Thursday, 18 August 2016

Sketching Wren's London - again!

wren's city sticker On Sunday July 24, a whole lot of us gathered outside St.Paul's Cathedral, and then dispersed and sketched Christopher Wren's London. It's the second Wren-themed sketchcrawl in the City I have put on, and as before, I created special handouts which included a hand-drawn map showing all of the Wren churches (and other buildings) within the City boundaries. There are a couple of Wren's City churches not showing, only because I didn't stretch the map far enough north, west, or east, and of course it shows none that are outside the Square Mile; perhaps we'll sketch all of those next time!
Here is the map: Sketching Wren's London Booklet MAP We started at 10:30am outside St. Paul's, and I gave a little historical introduction talking about London leading up to 1666, starting with the beheading of Charles I, which many English people believed had brought a curse upon them, manifesting in the year of the beast, 1666. That was the year of the Great Fire of London; I won't tell the whole story here, you had to be there. We were joined by a good number of people from around the world who were in England for the Manchester Symposium. It was very international - in addition to the UK and the US, we had sketchers from Singapore, Hong Kong, Italy, France, Pakistan, Luxembourg, China, This was day two of London's Urban Sketching pre-Symposium, and it was a little cooler, and a lot calmer than the previous day in Trafalgar Square. I do like the un-crowded City on a weekend. Temple Bar In 2014, I sketched seven Wren buildings in one day, and my ambition was to sketch more. However, you sketch what you can sketch, and I'm pleased to say I at least matched my previous haul. I did use more pencil while sketching than usual, something I am doing more. First off though I sketched the Temple Bar gateway in pen. This was originally down at Fleet Street at the entrance to the City but removed many decades ago, only to sit languishing in Theobolds Park near Cheshunt. It was restored and placed next to St. Paul's just over a decade ago, forming the entrance to Paternoster Square. It was from that still-shining-new plaza that I sketched St. Paul's itself. I have always struggled with the great domed cathedral from this angle but that's ok, you have to draw St. Paul's. St Pauls Cathedral Next up, a couple of neighbours to the great domed masterpiece. First of all, St. Augustine's Watling Street, largely destroyed in the Blitz. I sketched this in pencil from the gardens of St. Paul's churchyard while talking to my old friend from high school, Joan Uloth (check out her Instagram) and Beliza Mendes from Luxembourg. Then I sketched St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, which is visible across the street (now that the building that was in the way has been demolished, that is).
St Augustines  St Nicholas Cole Abbey
This next one was sketched across a busy street, St. Benet's Paul's Wharf, the church where they hold the sermons in Welsh. St Benets Paul's Wharf
I was fcuing more on the south side of the City, so next in line was St. James Garlickhythe (haunted by "Jimmy Garlick". I sketched from an angle and with the very loud and quite chaotic bells ringing, adding the old paint splatter thing because the great Tia Boon Sim from Singapore was on the sketchcrawl and I've always been inspired by her paint splashes. It seemed appropriate given the noise of the bells!
 St James Garlickhythe

My final sketch was of the neighbour to St. James, which is St. Michael Paternoster Royal. What I loved about this crawl was that wherever I went there would always be at least one or two other sketchers there busy plugging away. This by the way is the church where legendary (but historically very real) Mayor Dick Whittington (he of the cat and the pantomime) was buried. Nobody knows where his grave is now though, but while Wren's tomb says "Look Around You" I presume Whittington's tomb says "Look Behind You".
St Michael Paternoster Royal
That is a panto reference if you don't know. In the end, we did seek out Wren's Monument, which is actually a massive column commemorating the Great Fire. Of the 60 or so people that made it to the finishing line (quite a few did not; I checked the number of maps given out and I think we had around 80 participants total), we got together and I read out the names of each Wren building, asking sketchers to raise hands if they had sketched it. And we sketched ALL OF THEM. Every single one! Great job, London sketchers!!!
See you next time!


Saturday, 6 August 2016

Sketching Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square
Well, it has been a sketchtastic couple of weeks in England, as sketchers from all over the world converged for the Urban Sketching Symposium up in Manchester. With two big sketchcrawls in London the weekend before, the capital city formed its own pre-Symposium, with slightly warmer weather. Actually the Saturday of the Trafalgar Square sketchcrawl was pretty hot and sticky, especially with so many people out in central London, as is usual on a Saturday afternoon in July. I was back in London from California, where I assure you the weather is much hotter, but far less sticky. There was a great and very international turnout for the 'crawl in the Square, and it was so great to catch up with many old friends, and also meet at last many others who I had only known online. We are a nice global family, the urban sketchers. Above, I sketched the National Gallery and the church of St.Martin-in-the-Fields, designed by James Gibb. I look at this stretch of pedestrianized goodness and I still remember how much of a coughing traffic mess it used to be. That right there is where, twenty years ago, I would get my Night Bus back to Burnt Oak in the wee hours of a Sunday morning (with emphasis on the word 'wee'). It's so much better now. Charles I statue, Charing Cross
Above is a statue of the Cavalier King Charles I. No, he was not named after the dog, though Charles was actually the shortest English king (well, the shortest human adult English king). After his head was chopped off, just down the street from here at Banqueting House, he was considerably shorter. And no it wasn't served at a banquet. Here he is holding a flag or the E.U., which I'm sure is some sort of statement but given that it's King Charles I, I am not entirely sure what. This statue by the way is the not-necessarily-geographic middle of London - all distances from London are measured from this spot. I sketched this while squashed against a wall next to Tesco Metro while a crowd of anti-Robert Mugabe protesters paraded by and hordes of tourists waved selfie-sticks in front of them, a sentence I can safely say I never get to say while sketching in Davis. palace theatre London

I went a bit further north to sketch the Palace Theatre on Cambridge Circus, which is where the new play Harry Potter and The Cursed Child is playing. It's a two-parter, set a couple of decades after Harry's last story. I read the script already, an expensive book, and yes, twenty years later and I can confirm they still don't have internet or mobile phones or anything cool in the Wizarding World. I enjoyed sketching this though. When I was younger Charing Cross Road was my favourite street in London (because of the bookshops and guitar shops). And then afterwards I met with the sketchers back at St.Martin's, and carried on with a bit of sketching the sketchers. What a fun first day back in London! Sketchcrawl Sketchers sm

Big thanks to Jo Dungey and Lis Watkins for organizing! I'll post about the next day's "Sketching Wren's London" sketchcrawl very soon, for that was another super fun day out.


Monday, 1 August 2016

In Wren's footsteps

[By James Hobbs] A big thanks to Pete Scully for his excellent sketchcrawl around St Paul's on the weekend before the Manchester Symposium. Apart from sending me to places I had never ventured before, it was an excellent place to meet people from Singapore, Hong Kong, USA, France, Germany and more who I got to know better, although too briefly, at the symposium. And there were plenty of London regulars in Manchester also – it's a great city, and I'd be back there to draw like a shot.

Here are a few images of the sketchcrawl around St Paul's.

Pete's brief history lesson on the steps of St Paul's. (It's 350 years since the Great Fire of London.)

Nick Richards in action.

Lis Watkins, Jason from Portland, Oregon, and Pete draw near Paternoster Square.

And our final meeting place at the foot of the Monument. These were two excellent sketchcrawls in amazing weather on consecutive days – Trafalgar Square and around St Paul's – thanks to Jo Dungey and Lis Watkins also for organising the Trafalgar Square day.

I've posted some images from Manchester on Instagram.