New Year 2022 – Bridges

Happy New Year! Here is my New Year Card for 2022.

“Bridges” – woodcut + watercolour, collage and printing

May 2022 be kind to us all.

In London there are many beautiful bridges.

One early morning I saw them all ranged out.

London Bridges at dawn, from the South Bank, looking West

I thought of them as images of hope: so many connections, so many different ways to get across, and that glow of the sunrise on the buildings beyond!.

Westminster Bridge was my model. It took many efforts to get the design to work as a woodcut.

It needed a bit of glow, to echo what I had seen in the sunrise. So I used iridescent watercolour, put on before the paper was printed.

Here is the wood block:

“Bridge” woodblock 10cm x 15cm

I did the printing at East London Printmakers, on a cast-iron press.

Then back at my desk I assembled the cards and sent them off.

"Composed on Westminster Bridge September 3, 1802 " 
by William Wordsworth

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendor, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! The very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

Previous New Year cards are here:

Orkney sketches

Here are some sketches of Orkney, made during a visit earlier this month.

This is Stromness:

The seascapes and light were magnificent.

St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall is awe-inspiring.

These drawings are in two sketchbooks:

  • PrintUrchin Sketchbook 3, with Arches Aquarelle paper, 10″ x 8″ (landscape)
  • A long thin sketchbook with Khadi Paper, 12″ x 5″ (landscape)

Haz St Pauls EC2

Here is the restaurant “Haz St Pauls“, 34 Foster Lane, London EC2.

“Haz St Pauls” Foster Lane, EC2, sketched from across the road, in Sketchbook 10, 11th August 2021

The restaurant has created a wonderful outside seating area on a part of the pavement. This corner has modern offices, the Haz restaurant, a coffee bar (Costa), and a church, St Vedast alias Foster. I sketched it from a new stone seat near St Pauls Underground station.

I have sketched St Vedast previously:

Here are some of my sketches of St Paul’s Cathedral, which was behind me as I sketched Haz.

Lerwick Lodberries

Here is a view of houses in Lerwick known as “lodberries”. They are built into the sea. Lerwick is one of the few capital cities in the world that has a beach. The other I know is Sydney Australia. The beach in Lerwick is somewhat smaller than Bondi beach, and is over the wall to the right of my picture.

I drew this picture sitting on a bench next to the aptly named “Water Lane”. I was just thinking how peaceful it was, how few people, and how unlike London, when a car came and parked directly in my line of sight, blocking my view of the part I had yet to draw. A small family emerged out of the car. Children ran around with buckets and spades, a woman corralled them down the steps and onto the beach. A man got out of the driver’s seat and saw me. He smiled. It was a sunny day. I smiled a mixed smile. Suddenly he saw that I was drawing. “Oh!” he said, “Shall I move the car?” I said yes, that would be very kind. Without any hesitation he jumped back into the driver’s seat, fired up the engine and parked in a space up the road. He waved to me as he walked to join his family down on the beach. I waved back.

Commercial Street, Lerwick. Lodberries. July 24th 2021, in Sketchbook P1 double spread: 14″ x 10″ approx. 1½ hours on location

Here is work in progress:

Here are some maps to show the location. I have also included maps showing where Shetland is, since people have asked. It is about 100 miles off the north coast of Scotland. From Aberdeen it is some 250 miles (400km) and takes 13 hours by ferry. Shetland is at a more Northerly latitude than Oslo and Stavanger, nearer Bergen than Aberdeen and nearer Copenhagen (590 miles) than London (600 miles).

Here is a view of the North Sea approaching Aberdeen. See the wind turbines.

Experiments on a journey

Here is another experiment with printed backgrounds. My first experiment was this drawing at Monument.

I thought the background was a bit bright, so I chose more muted colours for the next attempt.

Here are the cardboard cutouts I used for making the relief prints. I used a small square sketchbook made by “PrintUrchin” and pre-printed the pages using relief printing ink, diluted with extender and water so it wasn’t too bright (learning from last time). It still came out quite bright. Those printing inks are heavily pigmented.

I printed the pages first, then took the sketchbook with me on my journey, and made sketches on top of the prints.

Here are some of the sketches. They are done on the train, hence the rather shaky lines. It’s amazing how the printing, done in advance, seems to fit the subject.

Here is the octagonal building at Pocra Quay, drawn while on a walk round Aberdeen waiting for the ferry.

Octagonal building at Pocra Quay, Aberdeen, 25th June 2021, printed background, 20th June 2021.

This octagonal building was a Navigation Control Centre, operating up until 1966. It was built in around 1797-8, according to the leaflet from the Aberdeen Heritage trail. I sketched it from the shelter of the doorway to the “Silver Herring” restaurant, on a cold, windy and rainy day.

Grain silos at North Allerton, 25th June 2021

This is a really fun technique. I shall use it again.

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…

read more

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.

%d bloggers like this: