Friday, 27 March 2015

Anticipating summer

I don't do a lot of outdoor drawing in London at present. I can't be doing with the cold. To remind me of warmer times I've dug out some colour drawings/paintings I've made in Finsbury Park in the last couple of years. Roll on summer!


Tuesday, 24 March 2015

A bit of the ordinary with a pretty name

                          Daisy Road, South Woodford, E18

I was in search of new chimney pots to draw and there was a lovely hazy blue distance, with pylons, to go with them! There aren't many good distance views round here but fortunately there is a road bridge over the Central Line. Pretty nippy at this time of year though.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Around South Kensington

We all met up to draw in and around the Victoria and Albert Museum on Saturday. It was a great turn-out, helped by springlike weather. I stayed outside to draw for most of it, around South Kensington tube station (above), and across the road from the museum in Thurloe Square (below). The museum's first director, Henry Cole, who also helped introduce the Penny Black, the world's first adhesive postage stamp, lived in the house on its corner. It would have been an easy commute for him in the 19th century – easier than now, when crossing four lanes of speeding, outsized 4x4s and tour buses is required.

It was good to see everyone again, and especially to meet Carla Blackman, who was visiting London for a week from Cleveland, Ohio. Her drawings are on the Cleveland Urban Sketchers blog. Have a good trip home, Carla!


Sunday, 1 March 2015

Odd shop in Burdett Road, Mile End

Sandwiched between a couple of food shops is Telrose Carpets. It's windows are somewhat distressed but they still have the original coloured lights and painted metal frames. The properties on either side have exactly the same brickwork but four windows of the same proportions us the top floor ones here.  Good to see something pleasantly out of place once in a while.


Sunday, 22 February 2015

Let's draw the V&A and Environs - Saturday 7th March 2015

See above details for our next sketching event.
You can find the handy map for the day here
If you want to plan your visit - see the V&A website.
Please note that the V&A has restrictions on the materials that can be used for sketching in the galleries and where you can sketch - see  for full information see the V&A Guidelines or see Making a Mark post on drawing on galleries and museums and look for the V&A (towards the end of the post).
Given the restrictions and that I would like to use watercolours, I will be painting outside in the surrounding area on the day.


Friday, 20 February 2015

British Museum - The Court and Africa

I enjoyed our visit to the British Museum last month and it was great to see so many faces some old friends and some new acquaintances - it makes sketching so much more fun!
The morning went quickly around the Grand Court and looking at the architecture of the roof - quite a daunting task but it had to be tried out!

I spent the afternoon around the Africa section and my imagination was caught by a great collection of square cast brass plaques from an old palace in Benin City - they depicted warriors but some looked positively westerners with bowler hats and some African - they all were surrounded by flowers - odd.
The second object I drew was the  Tree of Life - from Mozambique, made with bits of guns and other weapons handed over - very powerful how something so horrid can create a beautiful piece of art - a lot more peaceful.

See you all soon


Sunday, 8 February 2015

Drawing at the British Museum

Above: I should point out that the mummy Tamut was actually a priest's daughter, not a temple singer; I confused my mummies there.

Sometimes when you go around a museum, the visitors are just as interesting as the exhibits. As someone who always feels a bit self-concious drawing strangers up close and personal, being in a museum is the perfect alibi to do so undetected. You can stand by a display (preferably with your back to a wall, as people are always nosey and look over your shoulder) and sketch out the scene in front of you. Whenever someone interesting comes along to look at the artefact, I immediately start incorporating them. Normally they're too engrossed to notice, but if they do look up, I just go back to drawing the actual object, or details of the room. An added bonus is that people tend to stay still slightly longer than they would if just walking around in the street, so you have more time to capture their pose.

When I wasn't drawing, I was browsing around the museum, and I came across a rather different example of urban sketching - in the Napoleon exhibition there was displayed several watercolour sketches done by an anonymous (and, as the British Museum put it) "accomplished amateur artist" of the aftermath of the Battle of Waterloo. The surrounding villages are shown, a typical scene almost, if not for the wounded troops making their way through, while in the background, naked corpses lie, stripped of valuables and abandoned. 
The drawings are dated 2 days after the battle, but the sketchbook itself ended up in an attic in Ireland and was not found again until the 20th century.

I find it oddly gratifying to see evidence of so-called "amateurs" in action throughout the ages; people inspired by events around them to get out their sketchbooks and record it as best they can. Sometimes, as in this case, they end up being valuable historical documents, but I don't believe that was the goal, nor should it be. Simply that by observing, we are able to make sense of things a little better. And that for me seems like a good enough reason for being a little less self-concious and to start sketching more!