Turks Head Café Wapping

Here is the marvellous Turks Head Café, Wapping, rescued from demolition by local residents in the 1980s.

The Turks Head Cafe, in front of St John’s Tower

Inside, I found warmth, quiet tables, and the gentle murmur of conversations: people actually talking to each other. I felt welcome here. The food was marvellous. Next time I’m going to have the Blueberry Tart. I only noticed it after I’d already had the substantial Chicken and Avocado Sandwich.

Inside the Turks Head Café

I went to pay my bill. When I returned to my table, there was a little group of people admiring the sketch (above). I chatted to a man called Mark, who, it turns out, runs the website “lovewapping.org“. We exchanged anecdotes about the representation or otherwise of residents’ views on local councils. His group grapples with Tower Hamlets Council.

Then I went outside to draw the café.

The tower in the background is St Johns Tower. The tower is “all that remains of the parish church of St Johns circa 1756 … the surrounding ground was rebuilt as flats in the 1990s to an attractive design reflecting the previous building on the site” says the Knight Frank website (an estate agent).

This drawing took 1hour 15 mins, done from the pavement by a huge brick wall. The colours are Perinone Orange, Phthalo Turquoise, Mars Yellow and Hansa Yellow Mid. As you see, the front of the cafe faces West, and caught the setting sun.

Here is the wall next to where I was standing.

London Bricks in Wapping.

A story book

I made a story book for a young friend. It describes an evening we spent together back in December. Here are some of the illustrations:

I made the illustrations by cutting shapes out of the coloured parts of magazines. Magazine pages are suitably strong and luxuriously glossy. Sometimes the pictures have textures which are helpful to the theme. The figures are about an inch high or less. It was very fiddly.

I decided to give the book a hard cover. Out there in the wild, it would need some protection. I’d not done a hard cover binding before. I examined several hardback books and had a go. Here are some pictures of the construction process:

It worked well! It remains to be seen how it fares. It’s out there now, being read and enjoyed by one of the characters in the story.

Sketching in Cambridge

Here’s the view from a café in King Street, Cambridge.

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All Saints Church Jesus Lane.  Drawn in Jackson’s Watercolour Sketchbook.

This café used to be called “Clowns”. There were two Italian sisters downstairs. Now it is called “The Locker”, and the staff are different. Much to my relief, they have not messed it up. It is still a tranquil place. The coffee is excellent. There is no intrusive background music. People read books upstairs. I drew this picture looking out of the upstairs window. Behind me, on a low sofa, a man was reading two books alternately and monitoring his laptop screen. Both books were by Jorge Luis Borges.

At an adjacent table three women were making design decisions for the website of a charitable organisation.  This sub-page, that on the main menu, shall we include video? They discussed titles, and the placing of punctuation marks. I was concentrating on my drawing and only heard the odd word. Then one of the women described a conversation she’d had on a previous job, for a college. A fragment drifted over to me. She had quite a loud voice. “I told them it was “Porters’ Lodge”, and not “Porter’s” apostrophe “s”, because there was more than one porter.  But they told me I was American and didn’t know anything. “

Here is a drawing of a chimney on the houses on Mill Road, drawn from a café called “Tom’s Cakes”

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Chimney in Mill Road. Drawn in Jackson’s Watercolour Sketchbook.

On the bench by the window, a man was completing the cross word, or engaged in some other puzzle that required his total concentration. This made him a good subject for a quick sketch.

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Quick sketch in Vintage Paper Company Katazome Sketchbook, on vintage watercolour paper.

 

 

#Inktober 2019

I did Inktober for the first time this year. This is a drawing challenge, described on the Inktober web page. The idea is to draw a picture, in ink,  each day of October.

“Inktober is about the constraint of medium. You must draw with ink. When you sit down to do the challenge you don’t have to decide what colors you’re going to use, whether you’ll be rendering in pencil or watercolor. The challenge has stripped away all of these variables that can get you sidetracked or frustrated, allowing your creative energy to be focused straight into your drawing.” Jake Parker

I followed the official prompts:

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Here are my pictures. They are all done in black ink on white paper. The reason they appear in different tints and tones is that they were photographed in different light, depending on where I was at the time.

 

I used De Atramentis document ink (waterproof) and a Sailor Fountain pen with EF nib. For the tones, I diluted the ink with water.

Here’s what I learned from Inktober:

  1. I could do it. It was fun to do, and an achievement.
  2. The drawings are mostly small, 2½” square. “15” and “16” are 8″ square. If I do it again, I’ll use a bigger sketchbook.
  3. I used a sketchbook with quite soft, low quality paper. Next time: use smooth watercolour-quality paper, which will take the ink better and not buckle.
  4. I started doing drawings of any size. These get cut to a square when posted on Instagram. If I do it again, I’ll do all square drawings.
  5. It was a good idea to write “#inktober” and the day on the drawing.

Sketching in Crete 2019

The air in Crete was warm and damp. This affected the paper. See how the ink has spread in this pen and ink sketch at the airport:

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This is De Atramentis Black document ink on high quality watercolour paper, Saunders Waterford, in a small book 6″ by 4″ from the Vintage Paper Company.

After that, I used pencil and watercolour only. Here is a view of the Akrotori peninsula. The warship is lurking in the NATO base.

We lived with insects. At a hand movement, other movements occurred, in the air, on the kitchen surfaces, on the floor. Ants made their way across the breadboard, collecting crumbs or notifying HQ of the location of the honey drip. Beetles arrived suddenly, folded their wings and inspected the floor. I tried drawing them.

Two geckos made their miraculous appearance some evenings and early mornings. They emitted small squeaks.

These are images made on “sun print” paper, using plants, and cut-out paper shapes. The geckos are a species of nocturnal reptile: Hemidactylus turcicus or Mediterranean House Gecko. They are insectivorous, eating, amongst other things, moths. I wondered if they would like to live in the Barbican ducts. It must be quite warm in there, and they would be entirely welcome to devour the moths.

They stick to the walls not with suckers but with hairs on their feet. The feet of geckos are subject of intense scientific interest, I read, since these hairs are so configured that they get close to the wall on an atomic scale (10 nanometers or so). At this distance the molecules of the feet attract, rather than repel, the molecules of the wall. There is a whole compendium of physics effects which make this possible: quantum mechanical, electrostatic, surface tension.  There could be an entire undergraduate course on the feet of the Gecko.

Outdoors there is landscape…

…and a garden.

I am learning to draw clouds. There were a lot of them.

I am learning to draw quickly. Here are some very quick sketches from cafés.

The grass was cut around the lower buildings in ancient Aptera, revealing arches.

Arches make poetry in the Agia Triada monastery: a pre-departure pause….

…before the airport.

Technical details

Pictures done in sketchbooks:

Using Watercolour box 1:

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Sun print paper was from Cowling and Wilcox on the Kingsland Road. It is called “Sunography”. I printed it on both sides.

Strange Landscapes from Wood (2)

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Here’s a print I made at East London Printmakers yesterday.

It’s a continuation of the project “Strange Landscapes from Wood”, which I started in November 2018, before work for the exhibition and New Year Cards took over.

This print shows a dialogue, or perhaps an exploration. Are they perhaps looking down a tunnel? Or watching a sunset?

This is a chine collé print from a copper etched plate. The paper is thin Japanese paper brought to me by kind friends directly from “Paper Nao” in Tokyo. You can see how the plate was made on this link: Strange landscapes from wood

The plain print, with no chine collé, looks like this:

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The coloured bits are placed on top of the plate, glue side up. I’ve described the process on this link: The chine collé process

Here is work in progress:

A concert at St Bartholomew the Great

Here is a post-card sized sketch of people listening to the concert. It felt as though the stones were listening too.

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Pen and ink in small Seawhite journal, about 20 mins.

Suffolk sketches

Here is a view of the lighthouse at Southwold. While I was drawing it, standing on the path by the sea, a woman came up and told me I was very gifted. I said thank you. Her husband said he’d told her to say that, because she’d seen me on the way down, and not said anything. He said she should express her feelings.

He had a pit bull dog. Because his mother was pure Romany. I was not sure of the connection. He said this was Kensington-and-Chelsea-on-Sea. He said that people here told him “you don’t have a London accent”. That’s because he’s not from Kensington and Chelsea, but from a different part of London.

This is the picture:

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Here’s a drawing from Southwold pier:

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This is a sketch from a bird hide in Minsmere. The two ducks on the right are Shovellers.

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This is the sunset at Walberswick:

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It was misty. I drew the Church, St Andrews. There is a ruined part, from 1493, on the right. And a more modern 18th Century part on the left.

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I drew the view up the river. Here it is in the mist.

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Here it is in the dark.

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We went home by train. I sketched the people waiting.

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Exercises – quick sketches

Here are some very quick pencil sketches.

It’s a challenge to try to make a drawing in 45 seconds – but somehow liberating. The artist has to loosen up and concentrate, both at the same time. As does the Model.