Sketching in Norwich

Norwich describes itself as “A Fine City”. Indeed it is. The city centre streets are clean, car-free, and lined with a huge variety of shops, restaurants, and service providers such as key-cutters and barbers. All very interesting. And there’s a lovely river too.

The City of Norwich website tells me: “On 17 July 1967, London Street became the first shopping street in the UK to be pedestrianised. It started a revolution that saw people given priority over traffic in city centres.”

This building stands in London Street, at the junction with St Andrews Hill. It was designed by FCR Palmer for the National Provincial Bank, and was completed in 1925 [1]. The National Provincial became NatWest after a series of mergers and takeovers. NatWest moved out in 2017.

“Cosy Club” 45-51 London St, Norwich NR2 1AG, 19th June 2022 12:15, in Sketchbook 12

I also sketched Norwich Cathedral, from the Cathedral Close.

Certainly a fine city, and one to which I hope to return.

Note 1: History of the London Street bank building from the Norwich Society website: https://www.thenorwichsociety.org.uk/explore-norwich/natwest-building-on-london-street

Spitalfields E1 from ChristChurch

I joined a sketching friend for a stroll around Spitalfields. We had coffee at the Cafe in the Crypt of Christchurch Spitalfields, and then sat at the tables outside and sketched the view.

Here is my sketch:

Spitalfields Market E1 from ChristChurch, 7″ square in Sketchbook 12. 1st June 2022

Behind the red-bricked buildings of the Market, you can see the office and residential tower blocks along Bishopsgate. “Principal Tower” in the one to the right.

Here are some on-location photos and a picture of the sketchbook.

Thankyou to the talented artist LA for your company and inspiration on this expedition. It’s fun to sketch together!

Urban watercolour studies

Usually, I use the “pen-and-wash” technique. I draw an urban scene in waterproof pen and then add the wash. This method is fast, and useful for outdoor work on location. Most of my urban sketching work uses this technique. Here’s are example:

I wanted to try a “straight-to-watercolour” method. This involves looking at the scene differently. To go straight to watercolour I need to learn to see “shapes” rather than “lines”. I practised this with these three watercolours:

I worked learning from demonstrations by Matthew White . I hope to incorporate elements of this practice into my own work.

Bristol – view from Nova Scotia Place BS1

Wandering in a warm Bristol evening I rounded the harbour and found myself in Nova Scotia Place. This is a secluded domain, enclosed by water, and main roads. There is a pub, the Nova Scotia Hotel. People occupied the outdoor tables, with pints and conversation. I walked onto the small promontory and looked at the little cottages opposite.

Sketching at Nova Scotia Place, 22nd March 2022, 6pm

The warm evening became rather cooler. I packed up when I’d done the pen sketch. The bench that I had been using was a memorial bench:

In memory of Alan Helliwell (German) remembered by family, freinds and work colleagues of Underfall Yard who died too early. 7/2/1961 – 03/10/2009 after several near misses.

Later I put on some colour:

“TS Adventure Sea Cadets” cottages seen from Nova Scotia Place

Two boys

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

Two boys, etching, image size about 5inches by 3inches

I wanted to show how concentrated these people were, immersed in what they were doing, sitting on the wall.

It is printed on Fabriano Unica paper, using Charbonnel F66 traditional etching ink. Here is the copper plate:

The plate is made with hard ground lines, soft ground patterns, and three aquatint sessions.

I made some variations of this print. Here is one, using chine-collé.

Two boys, warm brown chine-collé

Sometimes in the printing process, magic happens. As I was packing for this print session, searching for paper, tissues, gloves, and other printing essentials, I encountered a thick envelope labelled “Old Prints”. I pulled out one of those, a street scene, with a vague idea of overprinting it. It is a drypoint I made years ago. The vague idea turned into a plan, and then a print. Here it is. I was really pleased with how it came out. The chine-collé is also a leftover from another project.

Two boys and street, combined image size about A5. Etching, drypoint and chine-collé.

Boston Arms – relief print

This image is a by-product of the packaging print plate of the Boston Arms.

After I had cut out the packaging print plate of the Boston Arms, I was left with the “negative”: the top part of the plate. As it was on its way to the bin, I realised that I could use this to make another picture. So I retrieved it, and made this plate:

Relief plate*: top half is made of a biscuit packet. The bottom half of the biscuit packet was used to make the packaging print – see this post

I added a few people. This is a pub, so these are some people on their way to the pub.

I used this cardboard plate to make some prints. I painted it with shellac, to make it stronger.

Here are the prints, made on the Albion press at East London Printmakers. The prints are”collographs”: relief* prints.

I made the prints on top of some experimental monoprints made last year.

*A “relief” plate is one in which the ink is rolled onto the raised part of the plate. The raised parts print dark. A potato print, a lino print, woodcut or an ordinary rubber stamp is a relief print. This is by contrast to an “intaglio” print, in which the ink is wiped into the indentations and into engraved lines on the plate. The raised parts print light, and the lower parts print dark. My etchings and packaging prints are intaglio prints.

39 Clerkenwell Road, EC1

Here is a row of shops on the Clerkenwell Road.

Roni’s Café, 39 Clerkenwell Road, 15th Feb 2022, 10″ x 8″ in Sketchbook 11

In the centre of the picture is Roni’s Café, where I sheltered to finish my drawing of 84 Clerkenwell Road.

My idea was to draw the view looking West along the Clerkenwell Road, from number 84. By the time I reached the spot, the rain was falling heavily. I spotted a large window. The people inside kindly agreed to host me for 45 minutes while I sketched my lines. Then I went out into the rain. I finished the picture at my desk.

Colours are: Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Umber, Transparent Pyrrol Orange.

Windmill Walk, SE1

Here is a view of the tower of former London Television Centre building, seen from Windmill Walk, off Roupell Street near Waterloo Station.

LWT Building from Windmill Walk, 7th Feb 2022, in sketchbook 11
Bollard with stars.

I enjoyed all the wires and aerials! The swooping wire from the top right is a telephone wire or electrical cable. It’s unusual to see them above ground in London. Note also the marvellous bollards, which are mentioned in the Conservation Area Statement (Note 1).

Here you see layers of London development. In the foreground is Windmill Walk, part of the Roupell Street residential area built around 1824, and still residential. The paler building in the mid-distance is on Theed Street. It is a converted factory. It now contains some residential properties which I found listed on a holiday lettings site, and some offices listed on an estate agents’ site. Different accounts list it as a Violin Factory and/or a “Komptulicon Works”. Komptulicon was a sort of floor covering made of cork and rubber.

On the skyline is the London Television Centre, 1972, which I have drawn previously:

London Television Centre SE1

Here is a view of the London Television Centre, 60-72 Upper Ground, SE1. It is on the South Bank of the river Thames, a little to the East of the National Theatre and the Royal Festival Hall. It was completed in 1972 to the design of…

Click to read more

Here are some maps and work in progress on the drawing:

A London Inheritance article provides a carefully researched and fascinating history of the area:

[Roupell] street was laid out and construction started around 1824….. Roupell had built the street for what were described as “artisan workers” and the 1841 census provides a view of the professions of what must have been some of the first people living in the street. This included; painters, labourers, clerks, printers, bakers, carpenters, bricklayers, compositors, paper hanger, hatter, an excise officer, lighterman, warehouseman – all the typical jobs that you expect to find in such a street in 1840s London.(A London Inheritance)

Note 1: Conservation Area Statement

“Roupell Street Conservation Area” statement by Lambeth Council, 2007, describes the streets and details what can and cannot be done in modifications to the houses. It also mentions the “Komptulicon Works”, north of Windmill Walk.

Anchor Brewhouse, Horselydown Old Stairs, SE1

I am trying an experimental monoprint technique. The idea is to use packaging material to make intaglio “plates” which are then printed using an etching press. This is the first one. I printed it yesterday on the Henderson Press at East London Printmakers.

Anchor Brewhouse and Horselydown Old Steps, Monoprint. Image size 10″ x 6″

This is a real building, a former brewery, just to the South and East of Tower Bridge. That’s the river Thames you see on the left of the picture.

The “plates” are fragile, so I could only make 6 prints before the plate started deteriorating and the contrast started to go. Here is a picture of the plate, front and back. It is made out of a box of soup. I made the picture on the shiny, metallic-looking side, which is the former inside of the soup box.

The parts which print dark are made by cutting out the metallic coating of the soup box, leaving the rough cardboard underneath. I painted the plate with button varnish (shellac in alcohol) to make it a bit stiffer and more durable. Here’s what the plate looked like before printing:

Plate before printing, with annotations

Here is one of the prints peeling off the plate:

I tried making a video, but it was too difficult to hold the plate, the paper and the phone all at once. And there’s ink everywhere which I was trying to avoid getting on my phone. Next time I’ll see if I can get a fellow printmaker to hold the phone.

Ink: “JS”carbon black

The ink is traditional black etching ink from Intaglio Printmaker in Southwark. The paper is Zhao Zhe Chinese paper ref 11369 from Great Art on the Kingsland Road. The red seal on the finished print is made with a Japanese stone seal with red ink gifted to me by my friend and mentor Katsuhisa Toda 戸田勝久.

This printmaking technique is inspired by the work of Karen Wicks, @iacartroom on instagram.

The wonderful London Inheritance site has more about Horselydown steps here: https://alondoninheritance.com/the-thames/horselydown-old-stairs/

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