Monument EC3, on a hot day

Le Pain Quotidien at Monument was open on Sunday. I found a table in the shade and sketched.

Back at home I added tone and an experimental print background. What do you think?

Drawing: waterproof ink and watercolour Neutral Tint.

Print: Plate made from cut cardboard. Printed using Schmincke relief ink: “Aqua Linodruck #19210 permanent yellow”. Printed directly into the sketchbook.

31 Central Street, EC1

This house is on the corner of Central Street and Gee St, London EC1.

31 Central Street, EC1. Sketched 2nd June 2021 on location, 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10

It was a lovely sunny day. I enjoyed the shadows on the house. When I sat down on the wall and got myself organised to sketch I found I had some startling shadows on my page.

While I was drawing, two people came up and chatted to me at different times. A man came, whose young son is a gifted cartoonist and illustrator. We talked about different styles of drawing, and how his son might develop his talent. Later a woman stopped to talk. She used to be an artist herself. She was interested to know why I was drawing that particular house. These people both preserved a respectful distance, but still chatted and appreciated the drawing. I am happy that people are talking again.

Here are some snapshots of work in progress and the location where I was drawing:

This drawing took about 2 hours, sketched and coloured on location.

The colours are: Mars Yellow, Phthalo Blue Turquoise, Perylene Maroon, Pink Rhodenite Genuine, Transparent Brown Oxide. The trees have some Green Apatite Genuine and Permanent Yellow Deep. There’s a Permanent Yellow Deep splatter across the leaves.

Here’s a sketchmap of the location:

St John Bar and Restaurant EC1

St John Bar and Restaurant EC1, 20 May 2021, 5pm. 8″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10.
A photo on location in the rain.

Yesterday I went out for a walk with my sketchbook. I sat on the edge of a low stone wall and started drawing St John Bar and Restaurant. Then the fine rain came. It was blustery and I thought it would blow over. It did not blow over. It became a maritime wind-blown spray. I protected my drawing as best I could with a screen made from a bag I was carrying. It didn’t protect it very well.

The ink I use is waterproof ink. This means that once dry, it does not run if water is added. The key phrase here is “once dry”. In the fine rain the ink didn’t have a chance to get dry. It was diluted as I put it on the paper, so my lines became a rather subtle grey, and somewhat blotchy.

…lines became a rather subtle grey, and somewhat blotchy…
…like drawing on blotting paper…

The paper I use is Arches Aquarelle. It is what is called “heavily sized”, which means it has substances added to make it partly water resistant. This is so that watercolours stay on the surface. This sizing has the useful consequence that rainwater beads on the surface, at least initially. This is not advertised in the description of the paper, but is useful for those of us who try to paint outdoors in the UK. After a while, however, it yielded. The rain penetrated. The paper became soft and absorbent, and the lines from my pen became blotchy, like drawing on blotting paper: possible, but you get some unwanted effects. It also became rather hard to see what I was doing. My glasses were wet with raindrops and are not equipped with windscreen wipers. So at that point I stood up and packed up. Rainwater fell off me in rivulets, dangerously close to the place where the sketchbook sheltered under the rucksack. This sketchbook contains earlier drawings done in watercolour. I had visions of the previous drawings becoming blotchy abstracts.

At home I laid everything out carefully on the floor to dry out. The paper admirably remained flat. The previous drawings were not damaged.

I dried out. Everything dried out. Then I added the colour.

This picture took 45 minutes on location, colour took another 45 mins at my desk. The colours are Phthalo Blue Turquoise, Perylene Maroon, Buff Titanium, Transparent Brown Oxide, Mars Yellow. For the tree leaves: Green Gold and Permanent Yellow Deep.

Microsketching (2)

On my walks around the City, as lockdowns have eased, I carry a tiny sketchbook and make quick drawings. I’ve just finished microsketchbook number 2.

Here are some pictures from this sketchbook. Mostly I draw buildings.

Sometimes I draw people, especially if I’m in a waiting room.

Microsketching sketchbook number 2 is 6″ x 4″ and came from “Print Urchin Press and Bindery” . The paper is real watercolour paper: Bockingford. I use De Atramentis document ink, black, which is waterproof, in a Sailor fountain pen with a fine nib. Then I put a watercolour wash over.

Now I am starting microsketchbook number 3.

Microsketchbook number 3, from Print Urchin press and bindery.

My first Microsketchbook is here:

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…

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The Jugged Hare, from the Podium EC2

Here is the view looking North along Silk Street, from the Barbican Podium, next to Cromwell Tower.

The Jugged Hare from the Podium, 29 April 2021, 6pm, 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10

The buildings are, from left to right:

  • the operations centre of a bank, the building with the arch
  • The Jugged Hare, on the corner, with the pub sign
  • The Brewery, the red-brick building
  • Linklaters, a legal firm, on the right with the squarish windows.

On the sky line, the tall building is “HyLo” (or HiLo?) under construction on Bunhill Row, and the magnificent chimney of The Brewery.

In front of the chimney there is a whole superstructure on the roof of the Brewery which covers various industrial kitchen fans and ducts. These fans and ducts made a lot of noise, irritating neighbours. So last year they put a fence round, as you see in the picture in grey. Currently, both the Brewery and the Jugged Hare are closed, so it remains to be seen if the fence reduces the noise.

I drew this picture from the podium. Here is work in progress.

Here’s a rough sketch map, showing the viewpoint of the drawing.

City Place House

An email from an ever-vigilant neighbour alerted me to the Planning Application for City Place House and the adjacent tower, City Tower. This application is currently under consideration. I hastened to go and have a look at the buildings, before they get swathed in white plastic.

City Tower has been there since 1967. It is going to have its lower floors redeveloped but will remain standing. However the more recent City Place House, completed in 1992, is going to be demolished and replaced.

City Place House is a post-modern block of 10 storeys, 8 above ground. It currently houses 1750 workers in 176 600 sq ft. It is going to be replaced by a higher and wider building, which will more than double the capacity, housing 4000 workers in 320 000 sq ft, by more efficient servicing. This is according to the planning application: 21/00116/FULMAJ, “Statement of Community Involvement”. My neighbour comments, “The City’s unerring confidence that numbers of office workers will rebound back to and then exceed previous levels continues to amaze and baffle me given the growing pile of evidence to the contrary. However, that may just be me…”. I have to agree.

Here is what it looks like now:

City Place House from the podium level near the former “Jamies” restaurant. The building to the right, wrapped in plastic, is Brewers Hall.

Here’s a map, also from the planning application. London Wall Place is the building on the left hand side of my drawing.

The line of sight of my drawing is shown by the blue arrow.

City Tower is in the background of my drawing, It is interesting because it is one of the last two towers in a grand design. The other tower still standing is Bastion House. The post war development plan had six towers along London Wall:

“In 1954, frustrated at the contemporary efforts of largely piecemeal reconstruction, a group calling itself ‘The New Barbican Committee,’ headed by architect Sergei Kadleigh, unveiled a plan of comprehensive redevelopment on the long derelict site north of St Paul’s. The scheme proposed a vast network of interlocking hexagonal structures of towers and decks over the 40-acre site owned by the City Corporation. This utopian mega structure proved hugely influential and by 1955 a collaborative scheme of comprehensive redevelopment was unveiled by the City’s head of planning H.A. Mealand and the LCC’s Leslie Martin.”

“Six towers of identical proportion, sit at equal distance from one another at 45 degrees to the street on a raised pedestrian deck with lower slab blocks at right angles. It was a monumental scheme and owed much to Le Corbusier’s 1933 ‘La Ville Radieuse’ in its geometric vision. It was characterised by generous public spaces and the complete segregation of traffic and pedestrian flows of circulation. It was anticipated that these ‘ped-ways,’ would eventually be expanded to provide a City-wide network.” (SOURCE: ©2007 www.postwarbuildings.com)

The six towers, their original names, and their fates1:

LONDON WALL (NORTH-SIDE, WEST TO EAST)  

Bastion House, 140 London Wall, EC2 1976: Completed. Still standing: Now known as 140 London Wall.  

Lee House, 125 London Wall, EC2: 1962: Completed. 1988-92: Replaced by Alban Gate. Now known as 125 London Wall.  

St Alphage House, 2 Fore Street, EC2: 1962: Redeveloped as 1 and 2 London Wall Place

Moor House, 120 London Wall, EC2: 1961: Completed. 2002-05: Demolished in 2001 and replaced by a new Moor House.  

LONDON WALL (SOUTH-SIDE, WEST TO EAST)  

Royex House, 5 Aldermanbury Square, EC2: 1962: Completed. Replaced in 2008 by 5 Aldermanbury Square, EC2.  

Britannic House, 40 Basinghall Street, EC2: 1964: Completed. Still standing: Refurbished as City Tower in 1990.

The building which will replace City Place House will look like this. These are drawings from the planning application. City Tower is in the background, its shape is unchanged from now. There will be a new bridge across Basinghall Street. Demolition is due to start soon: 2022. The highwalk route will be out of service until 2025.

1Additional information from https://www.skyscrapercity.com/threads/various-london-wall.239763/page-17#post-12963051

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.

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