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.

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.

Horizon panorama

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.

Basel, February 2020

In the streets of Basel, you can hear your own footsteps.

There are fountains.

Gemsberg, Basel Old Town

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.

Caption beneath a reproduction of a glazing hammer, Basel Paper Mill.

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.