Here’s a corner of Clerkenwell. Drawn from photo reference.
There was fog on the Thames.
The Houses of Parliament rose out of the mist.
I used this image to experiment with paper and brushes.
There are some wonderful railway arches near Waterloo. They are architectural marvels, with striking mathematical curves and uncountable numbers of bricks. Here is a view from underneath one such arch, on Carlisle Lane, looking North towards Waterloo.
The building on the left of the picture is “Canterbury House” on Royal Street, built 1959-1960. The greenery at the front is part of gardens and allotments, adjacent to Archbishop’s Park.
The white notice below the “No Entry” sign says “Except cycles”.
Here is a close up of the picture. The parts marked with arrows show where I lifted the wet paint off the paper to make a white mark.
The main colours are Phthalo Turquoise, Fired Red Ochre and Mars Yellow, with a bit of Transparent Pyrrol Orange for the traffic sign. This is on a sheet of Jackson’s watercolour paper, 12″ x 10″.
This is the South Bank of the Thames, near Blackfriars Bridge, seen from the North Bank.
This was part of my experimentation with Jackson’s watercolour paper. Jacksons Art Supplies sent me a pack of 50 sheets, and asked for an honest review. 50 sheets is a lot of paper, and so I’ve felt able to experiment. I’ve enjoyed using it. Here is another version of the same scene.
Jackson’s also sent a few brushes, one of which was an enormous “Raven” mop brush. This has a soft furry head. It is great fun to use as it holds so much paint.
Here is the Raven brush in action. Although it is huge, it comes to a small point, so I can make little dots, or add a small amount of colour to a wash, as here.
The paper is capable of taking “layers” of paint, as you see here. The grey and the orange overlap without becoming a muddy mess. I was painting indoors, so I could allow each layer to dry, which is important in order to avoid a mush.
Here is work in progress. I taped the paper to a piece of corrugated cardboard from a delivery box. The white strips down the edges are to give me somewhere to try out the colours.
Last year, before the first lockdown, I drew this view in a sketchbook on location:
Here’s the South Bank seen from the Victoria Embankment on the North Bank. Here you see the modern blocks, with the older wharves in front. The low red building towards the right is Oxo Tower Wharf, formerly a factory making OXO cubes, now a place with workshops for jewellers, a restaurant and various cafés. The … Continue reading “South Bank, London”
This is a view of the front of St Benet’s Hall, in St Giles, Oxford, looking South.
I drew this as a commission, for Ken Craig of Canongate Design. It will form the front cover of a publication.
The challenge was to fit the view onto a sheet with A4 aspect ratio, in such a way that the façade of St Benet’s Hall is on the right. The front door had to be to the right of the centre line. Because the timescales were short, and the country was in Covid-related restrictions, I worked from photos, memory and imagination.
Janet Smart kindly provided photo references, including pictures of the architectural details.
Thankyou to Ken Craig for the commission, and for providing the scanned image of my drawing at the head of this post.
The colours are Buff Titanium, Green Gold, Phthalo Turquoise, Mars Yellow, Burnt Umber and some Perylene Maroon to make the greys. I drew it on a paper block of Arches 300gsm NOT watercolour paper, 9″ x 12″.
I’ve done quite a few sketches in Oxford.
Here is a view looking south down Walton Street, from The Jericho Café, Oxford. It was raining outside. People peered in through the windows. One person actually came inside the café to look at my picture. Or maybe it was to escape temporarily from the rain. They looked at the picture, in any case, and … Continue reading “Phoenix Picture House, Oxford”
What is the purpose of a museum? The previous evening, I’d been to a lecture by Tim Reeve, Deputy Director of the V&A. He had described, with great conviction, a new building they plan for East London, in “Here East” on the former Olympic Park. It will open up the V&A storage and logistics centre … Continue reading “Sketching in the Ashmolean Museum”
This little building to the right (South) of the Pitt Rivers Museum has often intrigued me. It has four chimneys. one in each corner. After I’d drawn it, I went to try to find out what it is. It appears to be connected to the Pitt Rivers Museum, but has no special name itself, and … Continue reading “Oxford: Pitt Rivers annex and Merton Chapel”
As the daylight faded, I made this sketch from outside 37 St Giles, Estagun House. St Giles is the name of the road going North out of Oxford, and also of the Church, which where the road starts. There has been a “St Giles” church near Oxford from at least 1120. “St Giles is supposed … Continue reading “Oxford, St Giles”
Here is the corner of Catte Street. On the left is the Kings Arms, a Youngs pub. The marvellous turret on the right is part of the Oxford Martin School. This building was originally the “Indian Institute”. It was designed by Basil Champneys in 1884. The weathercock is an elephant. It now houses the Oxford … Continue reading “Two sketches in Oxford”
A sketch done in the Science Park. Here’s a sketch showing the Nuclear Physics building.
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.
Some time ago, I was given a Japanese sketchbook, which was in the form of a concertina of doubled paper. In the last few days I drew the world outside, as seen from the windows of this flat. It’s about a 270 degree view, mostly over West and North London.
During these days of indoor confinement, the weather outside has been beautiful. Stunning blue skies. So I put that in using Phthalocyanine Turquoise watercolour.
Then I made a videos. The first one, with the pointer, has an audio commentary. It’s quite quiet, you may need to turn the sound up. The second one is silent. This is the first time I’ve put videos on this site. Let me know if it works.
I added written captions also, as you see in the second video.
Here are still pictures from the panorama with captions.
In the streets of Basel, you can hear your own footsteps.
There are fountains.
In the hour and half that it took me to draw this picture, people made use of the fountain. Someone came out of one of the adjacent houses and filled a watering can. A woman helped a child to stand on the white marble edge and then to walk cautiously on the iron bars across the water. The child dipped her hands in the flowing water and drank. She played with the water that came from the spouts. Then the woman and the child returned to their bicycles, and continued their ascent of the hill. Elderly people, climbing the hill, paused here to rest. A runner lent over the water and sluiced his face, before pacing on up the slope towards me.
This part of town is very old. Basel has the fine custom of telling you a little about each street, on the street sign. The one for Gemsberg says:
“Zum Gemsberg, 1661 erstmals erwähnter Hausname”
So this street was named after a house which stood here in 1661. [German speakers reading this: please correct me if I got that wrong!]
The house on the right has an inscription in magnificent script. My German-speaking consultant enables me to state with some confidence that this reads as “In 1563 [this house was created] by joining together two houses: “To the Fridberg” and “To the Slifstein”, both mentioned in 1300-1322″
“Fridberg” might mean “Tranquil mountain” and “Slifstein” might mean polishing stone, or polished stone. Perhaps these were people’s names. I learned at the Basel Paper Mill that in those times smooth stones were used to polish paper, so may be Herr or Frau Slifstein was a paper polisher. But that’s just surmise.
Here’s work in progress on the drawing.
Later I tackled a tough assignment: Basel Cathedral, “Basler Münster”.
This is a magnificent medieval construction, the present building dates from about 1500. It is a real challenge for the Urban Sketcher. Each edge is decorated. Each corner hosts a saint, or often two. Every planar surface has decoration, low relief, a statue. Not content with simply a sundial, they added also a clock. And on top of all this, the two towers are by no means identical. They each support a forest of spires, some octagonal. The main spire on the right seems to have curving edges, unless that was a cunning optical illusion. Even the roof is decorated with a pleasing coloured diamond pattern in tiles. I did my best, but those medieval stonemasons got the better of me.
To the left of the door is St George and the Dragon, a very realistic statue which I had to put in. St George’s horse prances on firm plinth. St George himself wields a real metal lance, copper or some copper-containing alloy, since it is green. The dragon, some distance away, balancing on a precarious shelf, is clearly endangered by the thrust of the lance. It’s a dynamic and three dimensional scene.
Here is work in progress.
I made more sketches around the city:
On the long journey home, I sketched the people, and my luggage.