Clock Tower, Caledonian Park

Here is a sketch of the marvellous Clock Tower, which is on the site of the former Metropolitan Market, now called Caledonian Park, N1.

Caledonian Park, Clock Tower. 9″ x 7″ in Sketchbook 9

We ran past this tower on a long run last weekend, and it was looking particularly splendid against the dark sky. I took a photo and later made this sketch.

This clock tower was the centre of the Metropolitan Cattle Market, opened in 1855. The tower was refurbished using a £2M lottery grant, in 2019, and was opened for public viewing.

The history of this market, park and tower are set out in the beautifully researched blog by “A London Inheritance”, in an article written in October 2015

Microsketching and memory

Here are some tiny sketches I made as a result of local walks. I have a small sketchbook, about 3½ inches by 5½ inches, the size of a big mobile phone. On my walks, I pause for a minute or so to notice a view, a detail. I make a few marks in the sketchbook, to remind me. Then when I get home, I make the sketch in watercolour, using the marks, and memory. I am trying to train my memory.

Here is the sketchbook:

It is from The Vintage Paper Company of Orkney. It was bound by Heather Dewick, @heatherthebookbinder on instagram. The paper is Saunders Waterford 200gsm Cold Pressed.

A nice small size for all occasions:

Colours are all Daniel Smith Watercolours. Pen is Sailor Reglus fountain pen with De Atramentis Black document ink (waterproof).

Cloud studies

“I’ve looked at clouds..”

Here is a collection of cloud studies. This is me experimenting with “wet on wet” watercolour technique, from my desk. Click the image to see it bigger.

This wet-on-wet technique is a learning curve. For one thing, it makes my desk where I’m working all wet. I’m not yet sure how I’m going to translate this technique into a method I can use on location. I’m working on it. It’s certainly fun to see how the watercolour flows. The technique is a bit unpredictable, like tie-dying, or sourdough baking or surfing. One has to learn to guide rather than control.

If you’d like one of these cloud studies please contact me. They are different sizes. The smallest is about postcard size and the largest is about A3. The sizes, in inches, are in the captions of the images*.

I’m learning this wet-on-wet technique from the talented watercolour artist Matthew White in a video I’ve been watching.

*NFS= “Not for sale”. All the others are available.

Carlisle Lane, Lambeth SE1

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.

Carlisle Lane, looking North. 12″ x 10″ From photo reference, 31st Dec 2020
Map showing location of drawing, (c) Open Street Map contributors. Click to enlarge.

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″.

South Bank view

This is the South Bank of the Thames, near Blackfriars Bridge, seen from the North Bank.

South Bank (1), from photo reference. 2nd Jan 2021. 12″ x10″ sheet.

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.

South Bank (2), from photo reference. 2nd Jan 2021, 12″ x10″ sheet

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:

South Bank, London

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”

St Giles, Oxford

This is a view of the front of St Benet’s Hall, in St Giles, Oxford, looking South.

St Giles, Oxford.

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″.

Work in progress.

I’ve done quite a few sketches in Oxford.

Oxford, St Giles

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”

Two sketches in Oxford

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”

Old Observatory, Oxford

A sketch done in the Science Park. Here’s a sketch showing the Nuclear Physics building.

Monoprints, the City (2)

I made some more monoprints this week at East London Printmakers.

These were made using the technique demonstrated by Fiona Fouhy, which I learned on a course in September. See this post.

Here are city views.

These are made by a “reduction process”. Each is a unique print (for sale!).

Here are some snapshots from the process.

Here are some “outtakes”: prints produced during the process. All are on cotton rag paper except one which is on newsprint.

Monoprints: the City (1)

I have long admired the work of Fiona Fouhy. Fiona makes monoprints of forests and landscapes, with amazing depth and atmospheric effects. My idea was to try to get those effects in urban landscapes. So when East London Printmakers announced that Fiona would be running a workshop, I signed up immediately. That was in January 2020. The course was in February and was of course postponed. It took place in August. Here is some of my work from that day.

Here is the city.

The City (1), Monoprint

Here’s another attempt. This time I made sloping roofs. I quite like the “snow” effect, representing a view through a dirty window, or pollution in the atmosphere.

The City (2), Monoprint

Here are two prints on newsprint, made as part of the process.

As you see, every print is different, but they are related.

Apart from the out-takes on newsprint, these are all monoprints on Fabriano printing paper, 20x24cm. All are for sale.