Monday, 8 October 2018

We drew Soho - October 2018

(Evelyn Rowland writes) Urban Sketchers London met on Saturday 6 October to sketch in Soho.  It was a good, well attended day out - rain doesn't seem to affect urban sketchers!

We found various vantage points, inside and out, around this much-loved part of London.  Some hard-core sketchers were well at it way before kick-off, having found themselves a dry spot by the Palace Theatre.  

As you can see, we ended the day smiling, with more observational drawing experience under our belts. Join us for the next one!


Thursday, 4 October 2018

Let's draw the National Army Museum - Saturday 17 November 2018

Our venue this month is the National Army Museum, in Chelsea. Re-opened in 2017, this museum tells the history of the British Army since the times of the English Civil War down to modern times. It provides the opportunity to draw the building, the exhibits and the visitors.

If the weather is good you might also like to draw the Royal Chelsea Hospital, the spectacular retirement home for army veterans, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, right next door. The grounds are open to the public, although we won’t have access to the interiors.

There is no charge for the event, and no need to book, just turn up with your drawing gear.

Meeting points and times

We will meet in the museum at 11.00 am in the Atrium. This is to the right as you enter, down some stairs.
We will meet again at lunch at 1pm in the open area at the entrance, near the reception desk.
Finally, we will meet at 3.30, again in the Atrium.


Founded in 1960, the museum was re-opened in 2017 in a refurbished venue on Royal Hospital Road.

The museum tells the story of the army, from the English Civil War, right down to modern times. There are five permanent exhibition areas, plus another currently showing an exhibition about the SAS (but for which there is an entrance charge).

Maybe the skeleton of Napoleon’s horse, Marengo, captured at Waterloo, would be a challenge:

The Royal Chelsea Hospital occupies a 66-acre site, adjacent to the museum. Designed by Wren, with further work by Sir John Soane, the hospital is home for 300 retired servicemen – the Chelsea Pensioners.

Practical information

Entry to the army museum is free. Expect a bag search on entry. They have asked that no ‘messy’ materials be used for drawing, so please do not use anything that might spill, splash or crumble. Be aware also that you will be drawing among many visitors, so try not to cause an obstruction.

The museum is about 10 minutes’ walk from Sloane Square Underground (District and Circle lines). Alternatively, the 170 bus runs from Victoria, and stops outside the museum:

There are toilets and a café in the museum.

The museum’s website is here:

The day is run by John Swanson and Olga Mackness.  The photographs are by John Swanson.


Monday, 24 September 2018

We drew the Design Museum and Holland Park - September 2018

(Nicky Browne writes)  On 22 September, we sketched at the Design Museum and Holland Park, in Kensington.  A keen group of sketchers turned up, although the rain started as we arrived and continued until lunchtime, when it then started to pour seriously.

There was not a dry moment to enjoy the large park and formal gardens, the Japanese Garden with peacocks and the early 17th century mansion. But some hardy souls tried and succeeded, even doing watercolours in the rain. 

The sensible sat under the iconic Design Museum's capacious overhanging roof or, even better, drew in the warm interior.  This Grade Two listed landmark was built in the 1960s as the Commonwealth Institute but was renovated for its current, very appropriate purpose.  The temporary installation of a huge textile airship proved a popular sketching challenge. 

The rain encouraged quite large crowds to see the last of their temporary exhibition of the work of the couturier Azzedine Alaïa, so the building was busy.  However, Urban Sketchers always find quiet corners to observe and draw. 
The photographs are by Nicky Browne and Olga Mackness


Saturday, 8 September 2018

Rainy Day in Greenwich
(Olga Mackness writes)
I have had big sketching plans for Sunday 26th of August!
But the day was so very grey and rainy...
I wondered around Cutty Sark and could not resist this view! So I've found a spot next to Waterstones and done very quick watercolour sketch. It came out really as I wanted it to be, some ink details added on at home. Very pleased -  feel prepared for the rainy autumn sketching now.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Let's draw Soho - Saturday 6th October 2018

Drawing by Evelyn Rowland
Soho has a reputation as the entertainment district of London with theatres, music clubs, bars, restaurants and is home to the independent British Film industry. The coffee culture we take for granted today originated in the 1950s in Soho’s coffee bars. It’s busy and built up but there are a few green spaces, namely Soho Square, Golden Square and at the rear of St. Anne’s Church. The area is going through a period of change. The Crossrail development means there are some road closures in the north of the area and Walkers Court, where buildings date from the 1700s, is boarded up at present.
The day is free of charge, no need to book, just turn up with your art kit.

The Palace Theatre, Cambridge Circus
Key times and meeting points for the day

11 am - Meet in front of the Palace Theatre at Cambridge Circus (see photo above)

1 pm – Meet by the Tudor-style hut in the middle of Soho Square (see photo below)

3.30 pm – Meet in the Courtyard at the rear of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. Café in the Crypt if wet (see photos at the bottom of the blog post)

We can move to the Café in the Crypt afterwards for coffee and chat.

Soho Square
Options for drawing
Lots of small shops and cafes
St. Anne's Church
The Gielgud Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue

The Courtyard at St. Martin-in-the-Fields

Entrance to the Cafe in the Crypt at St.Martin-in-the-Fields

Practical information

There are a huge variety of cafes, bars and restaurants and Soho is easy to reach by bus. Nearby tube stations include Leicester Square, Tottenham Court Road, Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street). The nearest mainline station is Charing Cross.

The day is run by Evelyn Rowland and Lis Watkins


Monday, 20 August 2018

We drew Chiswick House and Gardens - August 2018

(Nicky Browne writes)  Lord Burlington's elegant eighteenth century Chiswick House and Gardens hosted a dry and pleasant August sketchcrawl.  The gardens are famous for their cedars and their serpentine paths through the woods.  There are sculptures, a waterfall and a temple beside a small lake with an obelisk. 
Most people challenged themselves by drawing the Palladian house with its six columns and dome, and did so impressively and magnificently!
Lord Burlington's design was influenced principally by the architecture of classical Rome, and also by its re-interpreter, Andrea Palladio.  It is said to be based on Palladio's last masterpiece, Villa Capra, known as La Rotunda, near Vicenza in Italy and there is a statue to him at the front of the building. 
Certainly Burlington followed Palladio's thesis: “form formed by the landscape and forming the landscape”.  William Kent the architect and garden designer developed the surrounding park in keeping with this concept.
Photographs by Nicky Browne


Monday, 13 August 2018

South of the river

Making the most of the light summer evenings, we ran evening sketching sessions in June, July and August.  We explored south of the river around Borough and Bankside, finishing with river views of the ever-changing City of London.

In June we met near the Golden Hinde, a replica of Sir Francis Drake’s ship near London Bridge.  We sketched the ship, the area round Southwark Cathedral, and the remains of Winchester Palace, with its fourteenth century rose window, contrasted with modern developments in the area.

The new ‘foodie hub’ of Flat Iron Square was our meeting point in July.  

We drew here, and in the surrounding streets, with small shops, the railway bridge and arches, and views of the Shard.

August found us by further west on the South Bank, meeting at Gabriel’s Wharf.  Some people drew the shops and cafes of Gabriel’s Wharf, others river views towards the Oxo Tower and the City.  All of these areas show the complex layers of London’s history, underpinning the arts and leisure activities now prominent on the South Bank.

We were pleased to welcome many new sketchers to our summer evening sessions, as well as familiar faces.  We hope you will all want to return to sketch and explore London with us.
Photographs by John Webb and Jo Dungey.