Monday, 18 March 2019

Let's draw Croydon - Saturday 27th April 2019

In April we meet to sketch in Croydon. We’ll start near the main entrance to East Croydon station, where there are lots of new developments and some great examples of Brutalist architecture. In the afternoon we will walk along to the shopping area, looking at some of the older buildings in the town. Matthews Yard, a café in the street of the same name, have kindly offered to host us at the end of the day so we have a good place to spread out our sketchbooks.

The day is free of charge, no need to book, just turn up with your art kit. If you have one, a sketching stool could be handy for some of the locations.

The entrance to Boxpark next to East Croydon station

Key times and meeting points for the day

11 am: Meet at the entrance to Boxpark, next to the main entrance of East Croydon Station on George Street.

1 pm: Meet back at the Boxpark entrance to look at sketches made so far. (We can move inside if there is rain)

3.30pm: Meet at the Matthews Yard cafe, on Matthews Yard, about halfway along Surrey Street.

Anyone who has time is welcome to have coffee and chat at the café afterwards. There is also a pub, The Dog and Bull, close by in Surrey Street. 

Matthews Yard is just off Surrey Street in the Old Town
Options for drawing

One Croydon
Croydon has a wealth of architectural heritage, ranging from old Almshouses to many examples of Brutalist buildings, including the landmark 'One Croydon' designed by Richard Seifert. Currently there are a large number of building developments so lots of concrete and cranes.  

Croydon Town Hall and Clocktower
The Victorian Town Hall stands beside the Clocktower, an arts and museum complex.The museum contains a drawing by Malcolm McClaren who attended the art college in the town.

Surrey Street Market
The bustling market in Surrey Street is a great place to draw people.

The Whitgift Almshouses
The view along Wellesley Road
The Old Water Pumping Station, Matthews Yard, off Surrey Street Market.

Wet weather options include Croydon Museum at the Clocktower and inside the shopping centres. There is an interesting Contemporary Art Galley called ‘Turf Projects’ in the Whitgift Shopping Centre.

Practical Information
The nearest station is East Croydon which has good transport links including frequent services to Victoria and London Bridge plus a number of Thameslink services. This is the link to the National Rail website for more information -  National Rail

There are plenty of places to eat at Boxpark and in the town centre. Toilets at Boxpark and in the shopping centres.

The day is run by Lis Watkins and Jo Dungey.


Sunday, 17 March 2019

British Museum USk workshop review

Demo sketch by Oliver
[by Oliver Hoeller] I had not been to London in 10 years and was very excited when the opportunity arose to come back for a few days in December 2018. Last but not least, I was to hold London’s first official Urban Sketching workshop! In the British Museum of all places!

The 4 hour class “ 10 tools: How to combine weak elements into a strong sketch” was sold out – attracting participants from as far away as Oxford and Brighton – and, I tried my best to  provide a lot of useful information and “tools” for the sketchers. The workshop focused on ways to combine disparate elements into a coherent sketch and the Museum’s artifacts were more than suitable to choose from. The atmosphere was light hearted, yet the structured exercises gave everybody a chance to practice the approaches. In the second part participants assembled larger and self guided sketches in the museum. I gave feedback throughout as best as I could and once again was happy about the handout I had prepared ahead of time. It makes teaching much easier for me and provides the participants with a useful resource for future reference. Truly a win-win situation.

Group shots from the Great Court

 I am grateful for the feedback I received:
“Thanks for a great session. Well structured with perceptive and useful observations.”
The day whizzed by and the venue with the big tables was excellent. Loads of subject matter there. It was fun and educational.” 

Work by Michael Moran
Work by Peng Lee
Looking at the results of the workshop
All in all the workshop proved to be an excellent break from the pre-Christmas madness for Urban sketchers. And if you could not make it this time, I have a little sketching tip from the workshop for you:

“Don’t be stuck with your view, if you only like one particular element in front of you. Turn your head and look for other elements you like. Combine them in your sketch by overlapping and connecting. This way you will create your personal spread of a place.”

I’d love to see you (again?) soon at a sketching gathering! Oh, and If you are interested in information about any upcoming workshops, get in touch via and I’ll keep you in the loop!

Happy sketching in 2019,
Oliver Hoeller


Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Finally Sketching RAF Hendon

RAF Hendon Kitty Hawk When I heard that USk London's latest sketchcrawl was going to be at the RAF Museum Hendon, I couldn't resist. I was planning a quick trip to England anyway to see family and go to a wedding, so I just came a few days earlier. I am from Burnt Oak, which is very close to RAF Hendon (which is in Colindale), in the northern edges of London, and my family are still there. Yet the thing is, I've never been inside RAF Hendon (I know, right? Not even with school! We just never went). I was blown away by just how big it was - so many planes! I was joined by my nephew and budding apprentice urban sketcher, Sonny, who produced an impressive amount of sketches, and happily chatted away with the other sketchers he met. RAF Hendon Sonny sketching The first plane we both sketched was the Curtiss KITTY HAWK III, at the top of this post. With its painted mouth, this was an obvious favourite. We then moved on to draw a couple of others, the small red CHIPMUNK plane which is post-WWII, and had cool black and white striped propellers, which must have created a great effect while spinning. Ohhhh, like the stripes on a chipmunk's back, I get it. Next to it was the golden yellow HARVARD, but I didn't catch the name of the plane behind it.  RAF Hendon Chipmunk and Harvard
Below is the TORNADO, which is one of my absolute favourite planes. Back in the 1980s when I was in primary school (which is not far from here, at Goldbeaters), pupils were divided into four houses, which were if memory serves 'Phantoms' (green), 'Jaguars' (blue), Harriers (red, I think?) and 'Tornadoes' (yellow). I was in the Tornadoes. We would get House Points for all sorts of things, sometimes for sporting achievements (we would be split into our houses on sports day), but also good behaviour, good academic work, and other such things. If I recall I got us a few House Points for drawing, but not as many for sporting prowess (I was good at chess though). Anyway, that's why I like Tornadoes. Also, just look at it. It looks like a Transformer (yep, I was a child of the 80s).RAF Hendon Tornado Quick five-minute sketch of the enormous LANCASTER bomber, which I will definitely attempt again some time, it is an enormous flying fortress. It brought to mind the great flying battleships of Castle In The Sky, one of my favourite Miyazaki films. Also, the first part I drew was the round bit at the front, the one with the strange screaming emoji face on it. RAF Hendon Lancaster When I was a kid my older sister went out with a bloke called Neil, who worked at British Aerospace. When he came to visit once he brought me all these posters of modern British fighter planes, which I hung on my wall, and I tried to design new, faster, more weapon-filled versions. I was a little bit into jet fighter planes. Yet I still didn't visit RAF Hendon. The magnificent flying machines were very much part of our local lore - RAF Hendon is at the site of the great Hendon Aerodrome, which spanned the area now covered by Grahame Park Estate (where many of my school friends lived, and my sister lives on the adjacent Douglas Bader section), named after flying legend Claude Grahame-White. He had established a flying school here in 1911. Of course, two of the most famous of all RAF planes were the heroic fighter planes of the Battle of Britain, the HAWKER HURRICANE, and the forever popular SPITFIRE. So my last two sketches are of those beauties.RAF Hendon Hawker Hurricane RAF Hendon Spitfire And here are some of the sketches my nephew Sonny did. Newest urban sketcher! A fun time was had by all. Thanks for organizing, and hope to see you all on a future sketchcrawl!


Monday, 18 February 2019

We drew at the RAF Museum, Hendon - February 2019

A very different location this month for us; over 40 Urban Sketchers faced the challenge of drawing aircraft with satisfyingly good results. See our Facebook page – they are worth the time.

The age range was as wide as the distances travelled. Pete Sculley came from California to bring his nephew from near Hendon. Spain, Hertfordshire and Leeds were also represented. 

Some sat on the floor….

….others opted for café comfort.

Museum visitors were intrigued, interested or just stood static and watched (Steven Baker) intently....

....whilst others were treated to an informal tutorial.

Concentration was high……

.....almost airborne.

Our next meet up is at Spitalfields on Saturday 30th March. It’s an ideal and varied location.