Collage/postcard: a corner of the flat

Here is a postcard from indoors:

It shows a corner of the flat. You see the sun outside, and birds, and the city. You see parks, rivers and the great outdoors. But mostly, you see the sun on the carpet.

Looking South to St Giles’

I drew St Giles’ Cripplegate, as seen from the window of the flat.

St Giles Cripplegate, from the North

The church is surrounded by the buildings of the Barbican estate. To the right of the church is the City of London School for Girls. Behind it in the picture you see a representation of the Barbican block called “Wallside”, and then behind that, are the office blocks of the City. In the foreground is Frobisher Crescent.

St Giles’ was damaged by enemy action in the 1939-45 conflict. Artists showed the damage. I was particularly struck by the work of Sam Carter, and William Coldstream, shown by the East London Group in their excellent and informative Twitter stream (@EastLondonGroup) – their tweets are embedded below, if you scroll down. Here’s the picture by William Coldstream, 1946:

St Giles Cripplegate (1946) by William Coldstream, in the Arts Council Collection. Thanks to @EastLondonGroup twitter stream for showing this work.

As you see in the picture above by William Coldstream, in 1946 the church itself was damaged, and it was surrounded by rubble. This picture must have been painted from the current location of the Museum of London. The damage was done in a bombing raid in about 1940. The plants have had 6 years to grow.

The Barbican was built on the area destroyed by bombing. St Giles was rebuilt.

Here is my view and my drawing in progress.

I have drawn St Giles before:

St Giles and Bastion House

Today Urban Sketchers London held a “sketch crawl” in the Barbican. So I joined them. An astonishing number and diversity of people assembled inside the entrance of the Barbican Centre at the appointed time of 11am. I counted about 35 and then another dozen or so joined. All shapes and sizes of people, tall, short, … Continue reading “St Giles and Bastion House”

St Giles’ and Cromwell Tower

Here is today’s sketch showing: London Wall – 2nd century AD Barber-Surgeons Hall – current building 1969, first hall, on this site 1441 St Giles Church – current building 1966, first church on this site by 1090 Barbican, Cromwell Tower,  Wallside and Arts Centre – 1965-82 Braithwaite House – completed around 1963 White Collar Factory … Continue reading “St Giles’ and Cromwell Tower”

Here are the tweets from the East London Group:

Ben Jonson House

Sketching from the window, here is Ben Jonson, part of the Barbican estate.

The people who live on the top floor of Ben Jonson have sunlit roof gardens. You can see one person enjoying his garden. He sits just at the bottom of the blue fire escape ladder.

There is also an interesting void space shown in the lower right of the picture. It was empty when I was drawing, but sometimes someone’s legs are visible, using the space for sunbathing. Sometimes they set up a table and chairs there.

Here is work in progress. I used colours: Mars Yellow, Burnt Umber, Prussian Blue and a bit of Perinine Orange.

Online life drawing – Adrian

“London Drawing” run Life Drawing sessions in libraries and various other locations in London. Right now, they can’t. So in an imaginative and entrepreneurial move, they are running life drawing session online. Yesterday I mastered the technology and had a go.

Here’s the result. The model is Adrian (@modbodadrian).

How is drawing a life model online different from just copying a photo?

Well, there’s the time factor. The model can only hold the pose for a limited time, and so I have to draw quickly. The shortest pose was 2 minutes and the longest about 20 mins.

Then there’s the fact that the model is making an effort: he’s there and he’s doing his best to create a striking pose and keep still. So I want to honour his effort and do my best also. That creates a useful dynamic to concentrate.

And there’s the fact that each of these pictures records a moment in time: the person was there, in their space, and the rest of us were dispersed about the country (and some in the USA!) all drawing the same model at the same time. So this is my record of the event.

It was a good experience and I am grateful to London Drawing for organising this and to the model for his good humour, experience and professionalism.

The session was conducted over “Zoom”, with about 20 people drawing, and two online organisers and the model.

Sun on the Podium

The view looking west:

This is looking down on the Barbican Podium.

The tower in the foreground is part of Frobisher Crescent. Frobisher Crescent itself is on the left. Ben Jonson House is on the right. On the horizon you can see Centrepoint, and the Post Office Tower.

This took 2 hours. The sun moved, of course.

Colours: Mars Yellow, Perylene Maroon, Prussian Blue, all Daniel Smith watercolours.

Industrial scene: exercise in perspective

This started off as a series of rectangles.

I gave it smoke:

The idea was to experiment with layers of watercolour, laid on top of each other.

Industrial buildings in a desert landscape. Why are the people queuing? What is the industry? What disaster has occurred?

I don’t know the answers. It just came out like that.

Experiments with Daniel Smith watercolour paint on Saunders Watercolour paper, St Cuthbert’s Mill.

Home scenes

Here is the view from the sofa.

On the left is the fire door, and on the right you see the carpet sweep up in a glorious curve to the underside of the window. This is a Barbican Feature, which is a challenge to carpet fitters.

At the bottom of the far wall, to the right, is the important box fastened into a power socket. This is the power line device which extends the WiFi internet through the re-inforced concrete walls of the brutalist building.

The chairs are “utility furniture” made in the 1940s and 50s, to standard designs making the most of scarce timber. New furniture was rationed at that time. I bought them in about 1998 from a shop in Brighton, and they’ve travelled with me.

Here is another view from the sofa, looking the other way.

Here you see my knitting, together with associated paraphernalia: instruction books, a bag, scissors and bits on the table.

That little table came from my parents’ house. The knitting wool came from Shetland.

The sofa came from the shop on the Tottenham Court Road that used to be called Habitat, and perhaps still is. It is long enough to lie on, full length. That was my criterion.

Indoor drawing and gardening

Just before Christmas 2018, our neighbour arrived at our door with an orchid. He was going away, and didn’t want to discard the plant. He told us he didn’t need to have it back, and we shouldn’t worry if it died. It came from M&S. We took it in.

We are not great gardeners. We just left it and it grew. Our neighbour returned from his holiday and said no, he did not want it back. And it kept on growing. Now it is a flourishing plant with several stems and multiple leaves. It lives in a tiny flower pot, with hardly any soil.

It threw out various extra stems and strange root-like protuberances, which seemed to be seeking new lands. I’ve been meaning to see if it would propagate. So last week I carefully embedded these extra stems in soil, as you see.

When I say “embedded in soil”, I am not strictly accurate. We live in a flat in a tower block, and there is no soil up here. So the orchid is rooted in coffee grounds.

If anyone knows anything about orchids, and can provide advice, I would be glad to hear it. This seems to be a particularly robust specimen, and produces flowers all the time. It is a delight.

Here is work in progress on the drawing.

I’m drawing in a large Saunders Waterford sketchbook. I originally bought it for urban sketching, but it was too heavy to carry about. I also found the huge pages, 11″ by 10″, meant I did huge pictures, which took a long time, standing outdoors in the cold. The paper is also more absorbent than I am used to, which means that my washes don’t go very far and I have to keep refilling the brush. So now, being at home, I am using it to make sketches in the flat, where I can sit down and be warm.

This sketch took about 2 hours, including hanging up the laundry while paint dried (another advantage of working indoors).

Colours: Prussian Blue (DS), Perylene Maroon (DS), Mars Yellow (DS), Burnt Umber (Jacksons).

The queue for Waitrose

This is Whitecross Street. The people are in the well-managed queue for the Waitrose supermarket, which is underneath the building to the right.

In the foreground: Ben Jonson House, Barbican. On the left, behind Ben Jonson, in pink, is a children’s playground at first floor level, part of Prior Weston School.

Drawn looking out of the window, about an hour and a half including a phone call from a friend.

The friend called to tell me the answer to a crossword clue which had defeated me.

Colours: Mars Yellow (DS), Perylene Maroon (DS), Phthalo Turquoise (W&N)

Barbican Lakeside

A view from the residents’ gardens.

Barbican Lakeside

The building in the background is the Heron Building, luxury flats above the Milton Court Concert Hall, Guildhall School of Music and Dance. This building opened in September 2013. It replaced a public building, which was in the brutalist design of the Barbican and designed by Chamberlain Powell and Bon, It housed a fire station, Coroner’s Court, mortuary, office of weights and measures and a civil defence school, and was connected to the Barbican by a bridge at Podium level. This building was demolished in 2008, in the face of opposition from the Twentieth Century Society amongst others, and was replaced by the steel and glass tower. This new building has no bridge to the Barbican, which is a pity, in my view.

At the extreme right is City Point.

Here is work in progress:

This drawing took ages. I couldn’t get the steps right. After 30 minutes of drawing and rubbing out I restarted at 12:10 and finished 1hour30mins later.

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