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.



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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.