Shakespeare Tower, Barbican EC2

Here is a view of the east face of Shakespeare Tower, Barbican, from Defoe Place, near the Barbican Centre. You can see the main entrance to the tower. On the right is Cromwell Highwalk, and Ben Jonson House beyond. On the left you can just see the stairs that go down into Defoe Place from the highwalk.

Shakespeare Tower from Defoe Place, 12″ x 9″ [commission]
Preliminary sketch

I wanted this picture to give an impression of what it is like to walk around the Barbican. There are different depths, and sharp contrasts of dark and light, and large open spaces. Workers from the library looked out of their windows, saw me drawing and came to look at the picture. This was drawn in February, but still there were some flowers in the planters, even though this particular planter was in a shaded and windy place. The smell, however, was not of flowers but cigarette ends. People evidently use the area under the stairs as a smoking area, and drop their butts. So that’s the Barbican: people who talk to you, soaring towers, great perspective views, wide open spaces and a certain shabbiness around the edges.

Here is the pen-and-ink compared with the colour:

Before and after the colour went on

This was a commission. I am grateful to my client for the prompt to examine the Tower from this unusual angle. And also for sending me this photo of the framed watercolour:

Framed watercolour. Photo credit: NM

A collection of my drawings of the Barbican is here:

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A house in South-West London

I was commissioned to paint a picture of this lovely house.

House in South West London , 12″ x 9″ on Arches 300gsm paper, [commission]

This interesting commission took me to a part of London I had not previously explored. Many thanks to the new owner of this painting for allowing me to post it online.

One of the delights of these houses is the chimneys. They sit up there like chess pieces, or individual characters in a play. I tried to show their personalities.

I painted this in November. It was cold, but there were still leaves on the trees. They blew around in the wind and scattered on the road. A road sweeper, a café proprietor, and a woman with a pram all came over at different times to look at my work. I made a preliminary sketch on brown paper to understand how to compose the picture, how the perspective worked and where the light and dark should be. The next stage is the pencil underdrawing, then the pen, then watercolour.

Here you see the difference the colour makes:

“before” and “after” the colour went on: move the slider.

The colours are: Buff Titanium, Perylene Maroon, Prussian Blue, Hansa Yellow Mid, Burnt Umber, Fired Gold Ochre. Fired Gold Ochre is “granulating” – it dries unevenly into a pattern of dots. You can see the effect in the brick texture of the house nearest us. The chimneys are Fired Gold Ochre with some Transparent Pyrrol Orange. The greys and black are mixed from Prussian Blue and Perylene Maroon. All the watercolours are Daniel Smith.

The ink I use is De Atramentis Document Ink, Black, which is waterproof, supplied by The Writing Desk. The paper is Arches Aquarelle 300gsm cold-pressed, in a block 12″ x 9″. All paints and paper are from Jacksons Art.

Here is the picture being wrapped ready to go to its new home.

A House in West London

I sketched these lovely houses in West London:

Houses in West London, 12″ x 9″ on Arches Aquarelle CP, [sold]

I enjoyed the television aerials, which look like runes or calligraphy, above the formal lines of the terrace of houses. The street was not as empty as I have drawn it. There were delivery vans coming and going, building work in progress, children being led to school, all manner of arrivals and departures.

I made a preliminary sketch, to make sure I’d understood the perspective. Here are photos of work in progress:

Burrastow and the bay

Here’s a view of Burrastow House, Walls, Shetland, as you enter the drive.

Burrastow and the bay, Picture 1, July 7th 2021

There was a lively wind. Those clouds looked like that, and kept changing. The small island on the right is the Holm of Burrastow. The hills behind it are the island of Vaila. Here is work in progress.

Then I drew another view, from higher up, on a mound above the road.

Burrastow and the bay, Picture 2, July 8th 2021 [SOLD]

Here is work in progress and a view of my sketching location for picture 2: a chair perched on a hill.

Both pictures on a block of Saunders Waterford 300gsm watercolour paper, “hot pressed”, 12 inches by 9inches. The yellow edging you see on the work-in-progress is masking tape. I put it round the edges for several reasons:

  • It enables me to hold the picture safely without leaving thumb-marks
  • I can write annotation on it, specifically “eye-line” and the heights of things.
  • When the picture is complete, I peel it off and it leaves a nice white border, which makes the picture easier to frame.

To see the comparison between the pen-and-ink and the colour, use the slider in the image below:

Compare the “before” and “after” on Picture 1

Citypoint from London Wall Place

Here is CityPoint, seen from the highwalk next to 2 London Wall Place.

Citypoint from London Wall Place. 12″ x 9″ [original SOLD]

On the left is the south side of Willoughby House, Barbican. Down in the street you see the gate which closes Moor Lane at certain times, and also various lamp posts, bollards and a pole holding three CCTV cameras. Beyond that, on the right, is a construction site on top of the Moorgate Crossrail station.

Here is a map and an annotated sketch to identify the buildings.

To draw this, I was standing above street level, on a public walkway next to a new office development, 1 and 2 London Wall Place. This walkway has walls with plants. The plants are doing really well.

As you see from those photos, the walkway was also empty and calm. The security guard came past, once in one direction, and once back. He smiled and greeted me politely. I was also watched by less friendly security: a CCTV camera, right over my head. I wonder what they made of my sketch?

CityPoint, 1 Ropemaker St, London EC2Y 9HT, was originally called “Britannic House”. The original architect was F. Milton Cashmore & Partners. It has 36 floors above ground. The website “www.emporis.com” tells me:

The building was built in 1967 as Brittanic House, a 122m (399ft) headquarters for British Petroleum. An extensive refurbishment, designed by Sheppard Robson International and completed in 2000, increased the floorplates and added height to the top floor. Britannic House was then renamed CityPoint.

Here are some photos of this drawing in progress. I did a preliminary sketch. The perspectives were fiendish. That “WeWork” building on the right has a weird sloping balcony and a strange sort of tilt in its orientation.

This drawing was a commission. It is the first of two. The next one will show Willoughby House.

A Townhouse in Shoreditch

This house is in a lovely row of Georgian houses in Shoreditch, London N1

A Townhouse in Stoke Newington, Hackney, N1. 9″ x12″ [SOLD]

The drawing was done for the people who live in the house.

I made the drawing from sketches on location, photographs, and memory. Here is work in progress:

Here is a juxtaposition of the “ink” image with the “colour” image. Move the slider to compare the two. The yellow frame round the ink image is masking tape, which I use to protect the edges of the picture while I am working.

The colours used in this sketch are: Mars Yellow, Buff Titanium, Phthalo Turquoise (W&N), Perylene Maroon, Prussian Blue, Lavender, and Fired Gold Ochre. All colours are Daniel Smith except the Phthalo Turquoise which is Winsor and Newton. The ink is De Atramentis Document Ink Black, which is waterproof, applied with a Sailor fountain pen (pictured). The brushes I used were:

  • Rosemary Brushes Series 302 size 2, which is a small flat brush, useful for windows,
  • Rosemary Brushes “Rose of England” series 201 size 12 which is a large synthetic round brush. It goes to a fine point as well, so it’s incredibly useful.
  • I did the railings and other small details with a Winsor and Newton Series 7 size 2 sable round brush.

The paper is Arches 300gsm cold-pressed (“NOT”) 9″ x 12″ in a block.

Thank you to @ministry_of_junk for the commission!

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