A quick sketch of St Giles Church

Here is St Giles Church from the Lakeside Terrace of the Barbican. While I drew this, three men were shovelling mud from the bottom of the lake. The mud is black and viscous and the men were remarkably cheerful in their task. They would have made good subjects for a drawing too. But for now, here’s the church:

IMG_3106

The church features in some of my “Tower” sketches:

St Giles’ and Cromwell Tower

St Giles’ Church and Shakespeare Tower
 
From Lauderdale Place: Eastern Cluster

From the Rooftop at Morelands

This was an event organised by RIBA* and Phil Dean a.k.a “Shoreditch Sketcher”.  Morelands is a modern office block on Old St.

I looked south, and drew Cromwell Tower and Great Arthur House. This sketch took about 45 minutes, as darkness fell.

IMG_3073

The “brise soleil” on top of Great Arthur House must be one of the most difficult things to draw. That, and the dome of St Pauls. Because it’s curved, and the curve needs to be right.

Earlier, I did a sketch of the “brise soleil” on its own. I had not noticed before that there is a sort of balcony.

IMG_3074

I’ve sketched Great Arthur House before:

Great Arthur House from the Barbican Podium

Welsh Church and Great Arthur House

Eglwys Jewin from Fortune Park

Update: Later, the Shoreditch Sketcher posted on Instagram. I think that might be me in the middle…..

*Royal Institute of British Architects

More views of Mountjoy House

Today I found another view of the view under Mountjoy. This is from the high walk that goes north from the Museum of London, looking East.IMG_3087

Under the Mountjoy Highwalk there are a number of “framed” pictures. The old London Wall fortification is visible. The sun reflected from the lake and threw patterns onto the old stone. I couldn’t get all that in the picture so you have to take my word for it.

A group of tourists stopped on the “Wallside” highwalk. You can see them in the centre right of the picture.

IMG_3087 copy

These “windows” will all be obliterated by the proposed City of London School for Girls expansion.

Effect of CLSG extension (view from West)

This view is from the place where the north bound highwalk turns abruptly left (click map to expand it).

This picture took about an hour. I tried hard not to overdo it.

At the top of the picture are the flats of Mountjoy House, with their impressive window boxes.

 

Under Mountjoy House, Barbican

This is the view that will be lost if the City of London School for Girls expansion proposal goes ahead.

IMG_3054
The view that will be lost if the CLSG expansion goes ahead. See “SOSBarbican.com”

I spent time today paying attention to this view, because that is what I need to do, to draw it. The pillars are reflected in the water. The enormous flight of steps is like that in a fairy story, so wide and grand. There’s a massive three-dimensional sculpture of concrete, of light and dark.  Flat spaces and lines don’t quite join up but are nonetheless connected, like rhythmic music. Framed by the 20th century brutalist columns you see an older more ornamented building, and trees. You can even see right through to the other side of Aldersgate.  This is a magnificent view.

The current proposal to extend the Girls’ School will eradicate this view, which is Grade II* listed.  The proposal is being resisted by Barbican residents. See the website “SOSBarbican”. Please consider signing our petition.

The interesting blotchy effect on the pillars is rain falling on the picture. I started this picture at 09:30. Then it started to rain. The fine rain speckled my picture. Bigger drops diluted the paint in the palette and made the paints shift about. Then it started pouring down with menace. I scrabbled my things together and dashed into St Giles’ Church which was behind me. Inside the church, people moved purposefully about, and all was calm. And it was dry. I took a deep breath and kept my drawing horizontal. There was a table next to the door. A woman looked at me over the table.  I felt the need to explain. “I’m sheltering from the rain,” I told her.

Her response was calm and logical, “Would you like a cup of coffee?”

“I would,” I said. Her companion at the table offered me a biscuit. Grateful to the Royal Society of Organists for their hospitality, I sat on a wooden bench and let my drawing dry off. Experimental short tunes from the organ floated quizzically in the air.

Then I went out again. I wanted to finish my picture.  I stood in the porch of the church and looked at the rain. “Every decision is a moral decision.” I believe that. Should I pack up the drawing and go home? I could use the time before the Planning Meeting to do the supermarket shop, deal with the plumbing problem, and process the sourdough.

Or should I continue the drawing?

What principles are at stake here? I finish drawings that I start. I don’t mind the rain. My ink and watercolour does mind the rain, though. So I’ll draw the picture under an umbrella.

IMG_3049This was surprisingly effective. I managed to get all the ink drawn before 10:45, when I packed up again, to go to the Planning Meeting. During this time I was approached by a flustered gentleman in a smart suit, who wanted to “get across the lake”. He was hopelessly disoriented, pointing South-West, when he should have been heading North-East. I re-directed him and he dashed off towards the Barbican Hall.

The Planning Committee Meeting at 11am was the City of London Planning and Transportation Committee. This was their July meeting. In their September meeting, if things go according to the plan put forward by the School, this same Committee is due to approve a plan for a building which will totally block out the view I have drawn. The proposed new structure would cover the steps, build round the pillars, and put in an industrial kitchen. Residents in Mountjoy House, directly above my picture, are understandably dismayed. The Barbican Association, representing Barbican residents, is leading a campaign to prevent to save the view, and stop the expansion. Here is their postcard/flyer.

On the way back from the planning meeting, I went back to the view, and put the colour.

Spending time looking at this view, these pillars, these shapes, I realise how magnificent it is, and how talented the architects were. This view is worth fighting for.

Here is the effect that the extension will have, based on an architect’s drawing in the Architects Journal, 28 May 2019.

Drawing done in 3 attempts: 15 mins, 10mins, half an hour. In Jackson watercolour sketchbook, using watercolour box 3.

Here’s another sketch done from a different angle on a different day:

IMG_3082

I also did a drawing from the other side, see this post:

More views of Mountjoy House

 

Experiments with colour: sci-fi landscapes

Yesterday I was experimenting with Daniel Smith watercolours. The aim was to get a really good deep black with just two colours.

IMG_2980

The Perinone Orange with Prussian Blue is particularly magic. Two quite pale colours suddenly combine to a carbon black. It’s like watching a chemical process. Although it is, of course, a physical process. These two colours are complementary, and together they absorb all the visible spectrum. Impressive.

I did other experiments:

Then I had a lot of colours left in the mixing tray. I didn’t want to throw them away, they looked so lovely and jewel-like in the mixing tray. So I made some sci-fi landscapes.

The watercolour experiments were in a Khadi sketchbook. The Sci-fi landscapes in a Carnet de Voyages, by Arches.

Sketching in Sainte-Croix, Vaud, July 2019

I had been travelling since 5am. So I just rested. I looked out of the hotel window. I saw chimney pots.

IMG_2886

With the wind and snow in Switzerland, it’s worth a lot of effort on the part of the chimney pot designer to get it right. Clearly, though, much experimentation is required. Every one in this drawing is different.

Switzerland is the only place I know where copper is a construction material. The rest of us use it to make small domestic items, or jewellery. But here, the whole of the chimney pot stack with the cylindrical top, in the middle of the picture, is made of copper. Also copper is the guttering which runs across the middle foreground, and some of the down pipes.

Later, in a pause, I made another drawing, this time from the terrace of the Hôtel de France. This time I was tuned in to chimney pots. See the marvellous construction on the skyline! It is even furnished with a set of steps, so the chimney pot repairer is provided for. Or perhaps the chimney sweep.

IMG_2885

Another day I searched for chimney pots again, since this was becoming a theme. Here is the view from the same place, looking a slightly different direction.

IMG_2887

Here is the picture under construction.

The item in the middle of the base of the picture is a letter box. I posted a few postcards:

Pen and ink sketches are a good way to fill in the time waiting while travelling:

And I did some sketching at the breakfast table.

IMG_2957
Breakfast room, Hôtel de France, 11th July 2019

 

Shetland, July 2018

Shetland is a place of sky and water. I was working on reflections.

Here are reflections of rocks:

Here’s one that is almost abstract. Perhaps it reflects a mood.

IMG_2936

The rocks round Burrastow each have a skirt of yellow and brown seaweed. So does the pier. There are lobsters down there.

IMG_2933

I am using a new paintbox and experimenting with the colours.

IMG_2891

You see the brown seaweed on the shore.

The island of Foula is sometimes visible from nearby cliffs. It is about 20 miles away, so it floats on the horizon. Foula is a mysterious place.

IMG_2930

Here is another picture of Foula. The island disappeared while I was making these photos of my painting things.

I walked to Footabrough. Here’s the route, and some pictures of Footabrough.

On the way, there is a lagoon where the seals live. The arrow on the map shows the direction of the view in this drawing. The weird dots on the map are because I drew it on the left hand page of the sketchbook. I’d previously used that left-hand page to try out colours (see photo below). Note I am wearing gloves. This is July, in Shetland.

Here are the headlands north of Footabrough. They have marvellous names: Knowe of Banascord, The Hamar and West Stack, Gerdipaddle, Skerries of Watsness. The picture is from Braganess, south of Footabrough.

IMG_2910
Headlands north of Footabrough

This is a characteristic Shetland scene. It shows the remembered view across the Weisdale Voe.IMG_2909

As you see, there was a lot of wind and fine rain. Here are some local drawings around Burrastow (click to enlarge).

On the way to Burrastow I stayed in my favourite Shetland B&B: Hayhoull, in Bigton in South Mainland. It is right next to the amazing St Ninian’s Isle, which is connected to the Mainland by a strip of sand.

On this trip I also did quick sketches using pen and ink. Each of these takes about 10-20 minutes.

These pen sketches are done in the Travelers Company Sketchbook. The other sketchbook I used, shown in some of the photos in this article,  is the Seawhite Watercolour Journal. I also did some drawings on a thick spiral pad from Jacksons Art Supplies. All watercolours are Daniel Smith, from Watercolour Box 3, July 2019.

IMG_2908

Mostly I use just one brush, the marvellous L. Cornelissen 1855 Kolinsky No. 12.

IMG_2641
Cornelissen brush and water pot, on beach near St Ninian’s.

I stay in Burrastow, near Walls on the West Mainland.