Friday 26 July 2013

london, waking up

Trafalgar Square 
I just got back to California from my annual excursion back home to London, and was surprised to see that it was actually summer time, and the weather was hot and sunny every single day. Not what I had ordered at all! I was looking forward to gloom and cold and drizzle, though I'll admit the sweaty tube at rush hour was pretty gloomy. So on one particular Tuesday, I got up and took the tube at the determinedly pre-rush hour of 5:45am and headed into central London to sketch in the early morning light. I love wandering around a city as it is waking up (preferably having recently woken up myself, rather than stayed up all night, as my much-younger self may have once done). London is no different, although in Leicester Square I did witness the remnants of some people's night-before, a drunken testosterone match of pitiable proportions that made the street sweepers stop and raise their eyebrows. I've never liked Leicester Square. Trafalgar Square on the other hand... I've seen a fair few incidents of silliness there among the late-night throngs waiting for their night-buses in the shadow of Nelson's Column, but when everyone is gone and before the city of the daytime re-emerges, this is an excellent place to stop and really absorb an epic sight. I'll forever be grateful to London for pedestrianizing that awful north side of the square, the former rat-run outside the National Gallery, turning Trafalgar Square from a pigeon-infested overgrown traffic island to a nice place to sit and hang out. I sketched the view from the northern side in the early morning light, with Horatio on his high perch looking down Whitehall to the clock tower of Parliament, home of Big Ben. Summer morning light is like nothing else, except golden custard pouring across the city, and those shadows move pretty fast as that sun rises. London can be incredibly annoying sometimes, expensive, grumpy, sweaty, time-consuming; but in these moments you get to see it at peace, waking up with a smile, in a good mood.
 Sketching London in the early morning Sketching London in the early morning 


Thursday 25 July 2013

Last month I posted on here some drawings made down in Wapping. I developed one of these into a print - a drypoint intaglio print, using two plates.

Here's how it looks at proofing stage:
The alley to Wapping Old Steps - 2 colour drypoint on Hahnemuhle paper 21x29cm


Tuesday 23 July 2013

Sketchcrawling through London's East End

James Hobbs, Gherkin and Christ Church from Hanbury Street, London E1
Thanks to Pete Scully for his great sketchcrawl through the East End of London last week, which took in places made notorious by the 19th-century serial killer Jack the Ripper. About 30 of us took the route between Whitechapel tube station and the Ten Bells pub next to Christ Church Spitalfields – some of them fresh from the symposium in Barcelona, lucky people. Some people just can't draw enough. As always with sketchcrawls, it was great to meet people who had previously only been virtual artists online. 

James Hobbs, Ten Bells, Commercial Street, London

You can find more images on the group's Flickr pool,