Thursday, 24 May 2018

East Molesey

[John Webb] Spent a pleasant if chilly few hours last week with a friend beside The River Thames in Hampton. Well actually on the other bank, East Molesey having taken the ferry over to sketch the old boatyards on Platts Eyot known as Port Hampton - once a thriving vibrant leisure boat island. Sadly very much less so now. As ever there's plans to develop it for luxury houses or apartments so it was good to get a good look and a sketch or two.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Fun in the sun in E3

[Evelyn Rowland]
Lovely afternoon near Bow flyover. I gravitated to the familiar sight of a clock tower rather than attack the algae and foliage. Tried a different method of working this time, more paint, less pencil. If I had got there earlier in the day, I probably could have managed another one.


Friday, 18 May 2018

Old and new in the City of London

(Olga Mackness)

As an architect I have always been interested in historic architecture - the City of London has plenty of wonderful buildings, churches and palaces.
I live in London since 1993 and I used to admire old City of London and the way it has been preserved over centuries. The old City of London has changed since that time, with the new iconic buildings such as The Shard, The Gherkin, The Cheese grater…

What lovely nicknames for the modern masterpieces of architecture!

I remember public resentment when first tall buildings were introduced to London’s skyline.
Frankly, I felt slightly unsure about new developments too.
But now I realise, how wonderfully it works together – old and modern.
I admire the way modern structures reflect beauty of the smaller historic buildings standing next to them. I carry on sketching old and new, famous and not very famous - hope to add to my collection with our next sketch crawl in Bromley-by Bow.


Brentford Football Club/Brentford Community Stadium

[John Webb] 

Brentford have a long and distinguished history in west London. Once in the top league, they have been through many difficult times but more recently seen huge progression upwards through League 2, League 1, and now a consistent top half finisher in the Championship – in 2015 we made a serious challenge to get to the Premier League by reaching the Championship playoffs.

This progression includes plans for a new stadium. Whilst longer in the planning than construction, at last the site has been cleared and construction is well under way.

As my son and I have been season ticket holders for a few years it was a natural instinct to draw it as it happens, documenting the progress towards what will be one of the most significant moments in the club’s history.

BFC and their development partner Be have arranged site access so I can make an artist-eye view of the journey towards our new era at Lionel Road.

Site clearance  April – July 2017

Groundworks & piling  April – June 2018


Sunday, 13 May 2018

Summer evening sketching 2018

Join us for some relaxed evening sketching near London’s river Thames. Explore, sketch, socialise, eat and drink, as you prefer. We have planned three evening meet-ups:

We will draw from 6pm to 8pm, then meet up again to look at the sketches done and take photos, then people have the option to eat, drink and socialise. Each evening is free of charge, no need to book, just turn up with your art kit. More information below:
Wednesday 20 June 2018

Meeting point: 6pm next to the Golden Hinde, a full-size replica of the 16th century galleon of Sir Francis Drake, next to the Old Thameside Inn, and at 8pm at the same place. 
The Golden Hinde is at St Mary Overie Dock, Cathedral Street, SE1. As well as drawing the Golden Hinde, we can draw river views, Southwark Cathedral, the ruins of Winchester Palace, and the small shops and streets around Borough Market. If it is wet, we can draw inside nearby pubs and cafes or under the canopies of Borough Market, and finish up at the Old Thameside Inn.
This event is run by Jo Dungey and Lis Watkins
Nearest station: London Bridge
Wednesday 25 July 2018
Meeting point: 6pm at Flat Iron Square, Bankside, off Union Street, and at 8pm at the same place.

Flat Iron Square is a new ‘foodie hub’ in Bankside. It is at the junction of Union Street, O’Meara Street and Southwark Street. Having redeveloped seven old railway arches, it has restaurants, bars, street food trucks and sometimes live music. Draw the people and buildings, including the old railway arches, and the nearby old shops, buildings and bridges in this mixed but historic area. If it is wet, there is plenty of cover and interior spaces at Flat Iron Square.
This evening is run by John Webb and Jo Dungey
Nearest stations: London Bridge, Southwark, Borough

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Meeting point: 6pm at Gabriel’s Wharf, near the central canopy, and at 8pm at the same place.
Gabriel’s Wharf, Upper Ground, is an open area just back from the river between the National Theatre and the OXO Tower building. It has small shops, galleries, restaurants and cafes, which we can draw.  Other options for drawing are river views from the nearby jetties, and the OXO Tower buildings. If wet, we can draw inside the National Theatre or inside pubs and cafes.   
This evening is run by Gafung Wong and John Webb
Nearest stations: Waterloo, Southwark, Blackfriars

Photographs by Lis Watkins


Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Five squares in London's spring -- James Hobbs on Urban Sketchers international

Cavendish Square by James Hobbs

Are you on the international Urban Sketchers mailing list? If not, you might have missed 'Five squares in London's spring' by our very own James Hobbs, co-founder of Urban Sketchers London. It's a brilliant reminder that Urban Sketchers sketchcrawls in London aren't just about drawing, they're also about discovery.


Saturday, 5 May 2018

Streets of Greenwich

Sketching every corner ...
[by Olga Mackness] Greenwich is a part of London which gives me just as much inspiration as the City of London.

Of course, the whole of London is like a universe - every corner, every step is like a different galaxy. We can only do our best to explore and draw what we find along our journey whilst discovering the great space called London.

I am very attached to Greenwich. I love wandering around through old streets, starting from High street and moving towards Greenwich Park.

Of course, everyone knows the main attractions of Greenwich – National Maritime Museums, Naval College, Royal Observatory, Cutty Sark.

But personally, I like the quiet residential areas of Old Greenwich town, with its terraces, old pubs and streets meandering up and down the hill.

Point Hill, Brand Street, Royal Hill, Crooms Hill – I often feel as if I am visiting Victorian times, checking out details like original windows, doors, hooks, tiles.

Drawing simple terraced houses and meeting with the residents, who pop out of the houses to see what’s going on, admire my sketches and sometimes buy them – this is my personal Greenwich.

In this post I included drawings from different years.

I keep drawing and finding more and more seemingly ordinary places full of history and character.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Drawing Attention - May 2018 plus links to back issues

May 2018 

The latest issue of Drawing Attention is here! 
It's the official zine of Urban Sketchers international, and it's full of information on Urban Sketchers workshops, symposiums and events across the globe.

April 2018

Each issue includes a review of sketching materials by Parka of

March 2018

Spotlight on the new Urban Sketchers chapter in Swindon and Simone Ridyard in Manchester

February 2018

In which Urban Sketchers London co-founder James Hobbs appears in NBC Nightly News

January 2018

First issue of Drawing Attention in the shiny new zine format


We Drew Walthamstow!

It was cold. It was damp. In other words a a typical English spring day, where glorious early summer had suddenly reverted back to winter. Even so, a creditable number of sketchers ventured out to the far end of the Victoria Line, many of them discovering the hidden pleasures of Walthamstow for the first time.

Many headed first for the area's most famous monument, the William Morris Gallery, set in Lloyd Park – bow windows at the front, delicate canopied staircase at the back, and a delicate spatter of drizzle all over anything painted outside.

Watercolour by John Trotman

Watercolour by Martin Stone

This was where we met up at lunchtime for a photo opportunity on those steps, followed by the welcome discovery that there were homemade hot lunches for a fiver in the park cafe.

Meanwhile down in Walthamstow old village, Nicky Browne was getting into the mood of the graveyard....

Watercolour by Nicky Browne

Devi Narayanaswamy tackled the half-timbered Ancient House.......

Sketch by Devi Narayanaswamy

and Maria Armengol Gonzalez had fun with the Victorian post box.

Image by Maria Armengol Gonzalez

But the unexpected hit of the day turned out to be the nearby kitsch emporium specialising in vintage neon signs, God's Own Junkyard. It took a bit of finding, tucked away on a backstreet industrial estate, but inside it was glowingly warm, there were teas and scones (and avocado on sourdough); it was, as one sketcher put it, 'neon heaven'.

It was also an artistic challenge, particularly for those who had arrived with all the right kit for delicate watercolours on on a pearly grey spring day. But there were some terrific attempts at catching its lunatic vibrancy.

Sketch by Steven Baker

We all ended up in the garden of the Vestry Museum, before finishing the afternoon in the pub.

Our next sketchcrawl will take us to Three Mills Island, down in the East End, just south of the Olympic Park, on the 20th May. And yes, this time we are meeting on a SUNDAY. Don't be confused. See you all then!

Friday, 27 April 2018

Let's draw Twickenham - Saturday 16 June 2018

Church Street, Twickenham by Helen Hayhoe

Historic Twickenham is a wonderful location for sketching. It is on the river Thames and has alleys, museums, sculpture, boats and buildings of huge character in a compact area. Oh, and a rugby stadium.  There could also be cranes – the steel rather than feathered variety.  But there are plenty of our feathered friends on The Embankment where we’ll start the day.

The day is free of charge, no need to book, just turn up with your art kit.

Key times and meeting points for the day:

11am: Meet at The Embankment just below Café Sunshine (see photograph above)

1pm: Meet at the corner of Water Lane and The Embankment using the curved steps to look at drawings done so far

3.30pm: Meet at Marble Hill House at the front (north side), in Marble Hill Park to look at drawings done, and take group photographs

Then for those wishing to dally longer and share each other’s sketch books we will repair to The Crown pub, a short walk over the grass, or up Montpellier Row or Orleans Road, each worthy of a sketcher’s scrutiny.

If the forecast is inclement then we’ll remain in the Twickenham town area with pubs, cafés and other shelter, meeting in The Eel Pie pub on Church Street.  A decision on which option will be given at 11am and confirmed at 1pm.

Options for drawing

We will start the day on The Embankment where we will meet at 11am just below Café Sunshine.  Opposite here is Eel Pie Island – a private island albeit accessible with discretion via a narrow foot bridge.  Nowadays there are a rowing club, boatyard and moorings but it is perhaps better remembered (by some of us) for its 60’s heydays launching the likes of The Rolling Stones, Joe Cocker and Eric Clapton.
The Shark by John Swanson

The recently opened Eel Pie Island Museum is nearby at 1 – 3 Richmond Road.  That is opposite York House, the home of Richmond Borough Council.  A fine 17th century building with, in its grounds, The Oceanides, statues by Oscar Spalmach (Italian, 1864-1917), who carved them in Carrara marble in the Roman studio of Orazio Andreoni at the turn of the nineteenth century. They are known locally as ‘the naked ladies’.
The naked ladies by John Swanson

There’s pretty Church Street with boutique shops and, on the corner with Church Lane, the Museum of Twickenham.

And – you’ve guessed it – a church, St Mary’s.

At 1:00 pm we’ll meet on the corner of Water Lane and The Embankment, using the curved steps to ‘show and tell’.

Weather permitting in the afternoon we’ll sketch crawl along Riverside passing public gardens, Georgian Terraces, The White Swan . . .
The White Swan by John Webb

. . . views over the River to Ham House, Orleans House, (home of the Borough’s Art Gallery), a café and exhibition/craft spaces.

Thence to Marble Hill Park and Marble Hill House where we’ll meet again at 3:30pm outside the front (north) to ‘throw down’ sketchbooks.

If the forecast is inclement then we’ll remain in the Twickenham town area with pubs, cafés and other shelter, meeting in The Eel Pie pub on Church Street.  A decision on which option will be given at 11am and confirmed at 1pm.

A further option for the day is an exhibition at the Orleans Gallery, Richmond: People and Places, which runs from 2 June to 19 August.  Several of our Urban Sketchers have had work selected.

Practical information

The nearest station is Twickenham, 5 – 10 minutes walk away.  There are numerous buses from Richmond Station including 33, H22, R68, R70 and 490.  Alight at York Street Twickenham.

From Marble Hill House the nearest station is St Margaret’s, on the Waterloo line, or there are plenty of buses to Richmond.

There are pubs, cafes and shops in the Twickenham town area.

The day is organised by John Webb, Helen Hayhoe and John Swanson


Saturday, 21 April 2018

A quiet garden in the City of London

(Jo Dungey writes) The ruins of St Dunstan’s in the East now stand in a small public garden in the City of London.  The church was severely damaged in the Blitz of 1941.  The Church of England decided not to rebuild it, and it is now a quiet place to sit, midway between London Bridge and the Tower of London, on St Dunstan’s Hill.


Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Let's draw Three Mills Island - Sunday 20 May 2018

The Clock Mill by Martin Stone

Join us to draw in east London at Three Mills Island – meeting on a Sunday this month. Three Mills is a unique site to explore and draw London’s industrial past. House Mill (1776) and Clock Mill (1817) are tidal water mills on the River Lea. Also close by are the Bow Locks, and the area has river and canal-side walks and panoramic views of east London. 

The day is free of charge, no need to book, just turn up with your art kit.

Key times and meeting points for the day

The Clock Mill
11am: Meet by the Clock Mill (see photograph above). Bring an umbrella if it is raining (the nearby café does not open until 11am).

1pm: Meet by the Clock Mill to look at drawings done so far. If it is wet, we will meet in the cafe of the adjacent House Mill.

3.30pm: Meet at the same location, by Clock Mill (or the House Mill café if wet) to look at drawings we have done and take group photographs.

After this, we will go to The Galvanisers Union pub, 2 Devas Street (near Bromley-by-Bow Underground station) for refreshments, chat and sketchbook sharing.

If we have bad weather: Three Mills Island has very little indoor or covered locations if the weather is wet. There is limited scope to draw from the café or from under nearby bridges. Guided tours of the House Mill are available, at £4. If the weather is wet, we will meet at Three Mills Island, as described here, from 11am to 1pm. If the afternoon is very wet, we may decide to move to the Museum of Childhood, in nearby Bethnal Green. We will decide this on the day at the 1pm meet-up.

Options for drawing

The historic House Mill, Clock Mill and Customs House

Three Mills Island by Steven Baker
Buildings in the surrounding area, including the Three Mills film studio exterior, the ornate Abbey Mills Pumping Mill (1865), modern housing and development sites, and buildings, some derelict, of the industrial past

Victorian gasometers of the Bromley-by-Bow gasworks (built 1870 to 1873)

Canals and rivers with lock gates, boats, bridges and waterside walks

Three Mills Green with landscaping, public art and canalside seating

Views towards the London Olympic Park including the Anish Kapoor ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture.


There have been watermills on this part of the River Lea since the eleventh century – the Doomsday Book of 1086 records eight mills. The River Lea flows into the Thames and is part of the same tidal system; tidal mills use the flow of water to power the grinding of wheat into flour, and other purposes. The name ‘Three Mills’ was in use by the twelfth century; the mills ground and sold bread flour to local bakers. Grain was brought to the mills by carts or by barge from farms in Suffolk, Essex and Hertfordshire. Standing by the mills, you can see the tramways in the ground used by the grain carts.

The House Mill we see today was built in 1776; the Miller’s House adjoining it was rebuilt in the 1990’s to the original 1763 design after damage from Second World War bombing. The Clock Mill was built in 1817, replacing a timber-built mill. The clocktower is retained from the 1750s; the clock and bell summoned the local people to work at the mills. These two mills have waterwheels under the buildings which would have driven the millstones. The buildings with conical roofs were used to dry grain.

In the eighteenth century, gin making developed here, using grain from the mills. What is now Three Mills film studio was a big distillery and bottling plant, making gin and bottling beer, sherry, wine and spirits. The Customs House next to the House Mill supervised the taxation of alcohol sales.

Many industries developed in the Stratford and West Ham area which used the canals and rivers for transport. For example, in records of 1832, the main goods being transported were coal, malt, grain, flour and gunpowder. Abbey Mills Pumping Station was designed in 1865 by Joseph Bazalgette, as part of the improvement of sewerage in London.

The House Mill was grinding grain until 1940, the Clock Mill until 1951. This is now a Conservation Area and the House Mills Trust plans to restore the mill to working order. At present, the remaining milling equipment and the watermills can be seen by taking a tour of the House Mill, which is kept open by volunteers, as detailed on the Trust’s website.

Practical information

The nearest Underground station is Bromley-by-Bow (District Line, and Hammersmith and City Line). The bus routes 488 and D8 also stop here. Leaving the Underground station, you face a view of dereliction, but don’t worry, it gets better. Turn left into the underpass under the busy A12, following the signs to Three Mills Lane. Follow Three Mills Lane passing around the left of a large Tesco store. Ahead you will see the Clock Mill on the other side of the canal.

There are limited facilities for food and drink at this location, so you could choose to bring something. Next to the House Mill is a small café run by volunteers (open 11am to 4pm). There is a pub, The Galvanisers Union on Devas Street near Bromley-by-Bow Underground station which offers Sunday roast lunches and drinks (open 12 noon to 10pm). Nearby is a Sainsbury’s Local shop (open 7am to 11pm) and there is a big Tesco (open 12 noon to 6pm) between the Underground station and Three Mills Island which also has take-away coffee at its petrol station. There are toilets at Tesco, one at the House Mill café (for customers), and at the pub.

This day is run by Martin Stone and Steven Baker. Photographs by Steven Baker, drawings by Martin Stone and Steven Baker.


Monday, 2 April 2018

Outside London's Facebook HQ

Facebook HQ, Rathbone Square, London

[By James Hobbs] I've been drawing the London offices of some of the companies involved with misusing our data to help bring about the rise of Donald Trump and the UK's departure from the European Union. You can find it here, on my blog.

The London's Urban Sketchers Facebook page, I should add, can be found here.


Sunday, 18 March 2018

Interesting...Urban Sketchers in The Guardian

From the 'In Pictures' section of The Guardian web site:
The artist capturing urban clutter
[John Webb]

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

We drew Leadenhall Market 10 March 2018

Sketch by Hannah Lee Miller

We met at the start of the day inside Leadenhall Market near the Lamb Tavern (which was a popular spot for some of our group to enjoy refreshments as they sketched). There were building works happening in the market and a nearby street was closed due to the filming of the Pokemon movie but this didn’t prevent our group from finding plenty of things to sketch.

Sketch by Joe Bean

Sketch by Gafung Wong

The weather was better than forecast, and many people sketched outside, although lots of sketchers opted to draw the wonderful interiors of the Market, including the silver dragons, which are a feature here and throughout the City.

Sketch by Dolores Kitchener

The nearby Lloyds and Leadenhall Buildings gave some sketchers an opportunity to contrast the old and new architecture, with others sketching the nearby churches of Great St Helen’s and St Dunstan in the East.

We met again inside the market at lunchtime to share our work from the morning and as always, it was interesting to see the wide range of styles and subjects.

We ended the day by sharing the rest of our sketches and taking a second group photo. Many sketchers commented that this place is worth coming back for more, since it would take longer than one day to really do this interesting area justice with our drawings.

Thank you to everyone who came along and we look forward to seeing you again, and welcoming more new faces at our next sketchcrawl on 28 April in Walthamstow.

Blog Post by Olga Mackness