Monday, 28 March 2022

Let’s draw St James’s Park – Saturday 23 April 2022


Daffs in St James's Park
Sketch by Mike Flynn

[By Jimmy Lu and Sasala Wickramasinghe]

In April we draw St James’s Park in the Royal Borough of Westminster

St James’s Park is one of the Royal Parks of London, which are owned by The Crown and operated by the Royal Parks charity, rather than by the Greater London Authority or the local authority in which they are located. It is Grade I listed on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

Trees and paths of St James's Park
Sketch by Cynthia Barlow Marrs

April is an ideal time of the year to draw the park because a variety of flowers will be in full bloom. The park is home to a wide range of birds, including pelicans (introduced in the 17th century), herons, and 15 species of waterfowl.

Photograph by Jimmy Lu

The day is free of charge, no need to book, just turn up with your artist’s materials.

Key times and meeting points

Meeting points and local landmarks are shown on our location map at the end of this blog post.

11 AM

Meet at the Marlborough Gate on the north side of the park. It is located on the Mall, roughly halfway between Buckingham Palace and Admiralty Arch, and is recognisable by its ornate stone and wrought iron fence. In the case of rain, we will meet at St James’s Café located north-east of the lake. 

1 PM

Meet again at the Marlborough Gate for the lunchtime throwdown. (Wet weather option: St James’sCafé)

3:30 PM

Meet at the same place for the final throwdown. (Wet weather option: St James’s Café)


For those who would like to linger after our final meeting of the day, join us at the traditional pub  Feathers at 18-20 Broadway, opposite St James’s Park station – see our location map below. 

Options for drawing

 The park has plenty of interesting features and views to choose from, including:

Photograph by Jimmy Lu

In addition to St James’s Park itself, nearby drawing options include:

  • The Mall -- it is closed to traffic on weekends, and offers perspectives towards Buckingham Palace and Admiralty Arch
  • The Mall Galleries (£5 entrance fee)
  • Waterloo Place, the Duke of York Monument and the Duke of York Steps with views overlooking the park
  • St James’s Palace
  • The Horse Guards Building, HMTreasury, and AdmiraltyArch
  • Buckingham Palace (note: the changing of the guard usually does not take place on Saturdays)
  • Trafalgar Square
  • Green Park.

    Trafalgar Square by Isabel Carmona

    Wet weather options: The tall trees in the park should provide some amount of shelter. For more protection, indoor sketching options include:

  • St James’s Cafe
  • The Mall Gallery
  • Admiralty Arch.

    History of St James’s Park

    The park owes its name to a leper hospital dedicated to St James the Less that was located in the vicinity. It was a marshy area irrigated by the River Tyburn when the land was purchased by Henry VIII as a deer park in the sixteenth century. In the next centuries his successors oversaw drainage improvements, its transformation into a garden, and its opening to the public.

    The current appearance of the park is largely due to its early 19th century remodelling by John Nash, who created the lake and redesigned it in a “romantic” style with winding pathways and more natural-looking features. It was around this period that various prestigious buildings were constructed in the area, including Buckingham Palace.

    Fun fact: St James’s Park Underground station has had various spellings. Before the 1930s it was labelled 'St. James' Park' on Tube maps, then ‘St. James Park,' 'St. James's Park' and finally 'St James’s Park' without the full stop after the “St.” The roundels on the platform still bear traces of that spelling evolution. 

    Practical information

    The nearest Tube stations are St James’s Park (Circle, District) and Green Park (Jubilee, Piccadilly, Victoria). The Park is also within walking distance from Westminster (Circle, District, Jubilee), Charing Cross (Bakerloo, Northern), and Victoria Station (National Rail, Victoria, District, Circle).

    St James’s Café inside the park is run by Benugo and offers a large array of food and drink options. There are also a few food kiosks inside the park. The Mall Gallery Café is another option. Farther afield, the areas around the Green Park and St James’s Park stations offer a wider variety of places to eat.

    The park has two public toilets: one near Marlborough Gate (wheelchair-accessible) and the other one near Horse Guards Parade. 

    A map of St James’s Park with all the practical information can be found on the park’s website.

    COVID-19 visit information

    Since COVID-19 and its variants remain, even though restrictions have been lifted, it's sensible to take all necessary precautions to keep ourselves and fellow sketchers safe throughout the event. The risk of infection for outdoor events is low, but basic guidance still applies:

    • Please do not attend if you feel unwell
    • Wear a face covering when you're close to others
    • Give people space, and
    • Practice good hand hygiene.

     There is also the option of self-testing before the event.


    See you at St James’s Park! 

    The event is run by Jimmy Lu and Sasala Wickramasinghe.

    Location map

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    Draw London with us in May, June, and July!

    We'll be sketching in Camden and Twickenham in the coming months. Find out more at Let's draw London in 2022. Most importantly, keep an eye on for more details on our 10-year anniversary events in July!

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    Follow Urban Sketchers London on Instagram and use the hashtag #urbansketcherslondon to have your drawings featured


    Wednesday, 23 March 2022

    Save the date - Urban Sketchers London 10 Year Anniversary Celebration Weekend 22 - 24 July 2022

    Urban Sketchers London 10 Year Anniversary Celebration Weekend

    22-24 July 2022

    ● Workshops by international and local tutors

    Book launch for our 10 year anniversary book London by Urban Sketchers sponsored by da Vinci Artist Brushes, Derwent and Hahnemühle

    Free sketch walks led by London urban sketchers

    Drink & Draw

    Night sketching and more!

    Tickets on sale early April 2022

    We will announce the release date here on the blog. Join our mailing list to receive all the latest news on our blog straight to your email Inbox.

    See you at the celebration!

    #usklondon10years  #urbansketcherslondon


    Wednesday, 16 March 2022

    Vote for your favourite design! - The Urban Sketchers London logo competition

    Thank you to all those who sent a design for the 

    Urban Sketchers London logo competition.

    We were humbled by your response to receive more than 20 high quality designs. Out of those, the admin team has short listed three. Now you can decide which design will win.

    What is the deadline?

    Voting closes at midnight (GMT) on Friday 25 March 2022.

    When will the winning design be announced?

    The winning design will be announced as soon as practicable. We will contact the winner after the voting closes, and work with them to edit (if required) and/or convert the design to its final usable format. 

    The winner will be awarded a cash prize of £100 and a set of brushes from Rosemary & Co.

    Which designs were shortlisted? 

    These three designs made it onto our shortlist:   

    Entry A

    Entry B

    Entry C

    How do I vote?

    To vote for your favourite design, specify your choice of A, B or C by using our Google form

    ⬩ You must be an urban sketcher to vote. We therefore kindly request that you don't share the link externally. 

    ⬩ For purposes of fairness, only one vote is allowed per person.

    Thank you for voting!

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    Follow Urban Sketchers London on social media

    On Instagram use the hashtag #urbansketcherslondon to have your drawings featured!

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    Draw London with us in April, May and June

    We'll be sketching in St James's Park, Camden and Twickenham in the coming months. Find out more at Let's draw London in 2022.

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    To receive all our latest news and events in your email Inbox -- just sign up!


    Tuesday, 15 March 2022

    We drew Waterloo Station - Saturday 12 March 2022

    Sketchbooks aloft at Waterloo Station

    On 12 March a bumper crowd gathered under the clock at Waterloo Station, ready for the start of the March sketchcrawl. 

    Urban sketchers are not known for bureaucracy, but we were happy to follow the few rules set by station staff. Sketchers were invited to let us know if they wished to attend, and we had a list of names ready to tick off. It was actually great to find out the names of people we had seen sketching over the years, interesting to know we had some iconic folk among us, and cheery to greet new people.

    View from on high
    Sketch by Debby Au

    These first few post-lockdown events are poignant: people share big stories about the last two years. Among us were people venturing out for the first time, and others experiencing great loss. As ever, the positivity of the group was warming. We think that about 70 people were with us over the day, some from far afield. It’s good to see travellers back with us.

    Mike Whally sketching on the balcony
    Photo by Helen Hayhoe

    The station offered great variety and challenge – the architecture, the crowds and the surprising commemorative carvings offered rich material to sketch. The exterior of the building and the surrounding streets were equally attractive.

    Victory Arch at Waterloo Station
    Sketch by Paul Gadenne

    The day was mostly peaceful; rugby fans on the way to Twickenham provided cheer, and the ever-changing mass of people were safely observed from the balcony. We were glad when an unattended bag was claimed just as the area was being cleared by zealous staff (the owner was right there). Sunshine made for intermittent colour play in the translucent roof, and those sketching outside stayed just on the right side of chilly. 

    A carved stone cherub
    Sketch by Helen Hayhoe

    Each of the two throwdowns revealed a range of sketches, from full paintings to an evocative line. There is always a frisson of wishful thinking as we admire each others’ perception and technique. But in the end we celebrate the diversity and the joy in sketching together. We were pleased to have the opportunity of sketching at Waterloo. 

    Waiting at the new platforms
    Sketch by Sasala Wickramasinghe

    Our next sketchcrawl will be on Saturday 23 April at St James Park and surrounds. Do sign up to the blog to receive emails about all our events. 

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    Draw London with us in April, May and June!

    We'll be sketching in St James's Park, Camden and Twickenham in the coming months. Find out more at Let's draw London in 2022.

    Join the Urban Sketchers London mailing list for this blog

    Receive all our latest news and events in your email Inbox -- just sign up!

    Follow Urban Sketchers London on social media

    And on Instagram use the hashtag #urbansketcherslondon to have your drawings featured.

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    Wednesday, 2 March 2022

    Drawing Attention - March 2022

    Don't miss the March 2022 edition of Drawing Attention, the monthly zine from Urban Sketchers.

    In this issue London urban sketcher Adam Topór makes the news in 'Sketching through the graveyard shift'. Adam represented Great Britain in a 24 hour sketching marathon in Prague and was one of just three sketchers still standing at the end. Well done all!

    Sketching stamina stars Adam, Marta and Jan.

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    Follow Urban Sketchers London on Instagram and use the hashtag #urbansketcherslondon to have your drawings featured