St John Bar and Restaurant EC1

St John Bar and Restaurant EC1, 20 May 2021, 5pm. 8″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10.
A photo on location in the rain.

Yesterday I went out for a walk with my sketchbook. I sat on the edge of a low stone wall and started drawing St John Bar and Restaurant. Then the fine rain came. It was blustery and I thought it would blow over. It did not blow over. It became a maritime wind-blown spray. I protected my drawing as best I could with a screen made from a bag I was carrying. It didn’t protect it very well.

The ink I use is waterproof ink. This means that once dry, it does not run if water is added. The key phrase here is “once dry”. In the fine rain the ink didn’t have a chance to get dry. It was diluted as I put it on the paper, so my lines became a rather subtle grey, and somewhat blotchy.

…lines became a rather subtle grey, and somewhat blotchy…
…like drawing on blotting paper…

The paper I use is Arches Aquarelle. It is what is called “heavily sized”, which means it has substances added to make it partly water resistant. This is so that watercolours stay on the surface. This sizing has the useful consequence that rainwater beads on the surface, at least initially. This is not advertised in the description of the paper, but is useful for those of us who try to paint outdoors in the UK. After a while, however, it yielded. The rain penetrated. The paper became soft and absorbent, and the lines from my pen became blotchy, like drawing on blotting paper: possible, but you get some unwanted effects. It also became rather hard to see what I was doing. My glasses were wet with raindrops and are not equipped with windscreen wipers. So at that point I stood up and packed up. Rainwater fell off me in rivulets, dangerously close to the place where the sketchbook sheltered under the rucksack. This sketchbook contains earlier drawings done in watercolour. I had visions of the previous drawings becoming blotchy abstracts.

At home I laid everything out carefully on the floor to dry out. The paper admirably remained flat. The previous drawings were not damaged.

I dried out. Everything dried out. Then I added the colour.

This picture took 45 minutes on location, colour took another 45 mins at my desk. The colours are Phthalo Blue Turquoise, Perylene Maroon, Buff Titanium, Transparent Brown Oxide, Mars Yellow. For the tree leaves: Green Gold and Permanent Yellow Deep.

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