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)

A House in West London

I sketched these lovely houses in West London:

Houses in West London, 12″ x 9″ on Arches Aquarelle CP, [sold]

I enjoyed the television aerials, which look like runes or calligraphy, above the formal lines of the terrace of houses. The street was not as empty as I have drawn it. There were delivery vans coming and going, building work in progress, children being led to school, all manner of arrivals and departures.

I made a preliminary sketch, to make sure I’d understood the perspective. Here are photos of work in progress:

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.

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:

Willoughby House, Barbican EC2

A client asked for two pictures. The first was of CityPoint. Here is the second, Willoughby House.

Willoughby House from the highwalk by Andrewes. 9″ x 12″ [original SOLD]

This is a view from the public highwalk under Andrewes House. You see the waterfall into the Barbican Lake, and Speed Garden in the background. That marvellous tree is a feature of Speed Garden. It has white bark.

Willoughby House is a terrace block in the Barbican. The multi-storey flats inside have interesting intersecting shapes, and long views across the water. It was completed in 1971.

Here is work in progress on the drawing.

On the skyline the two towers are the Heron residential tower on the left and CityPoint on the right. City Point predates Willoughby House – it was completed in 1967, although it looked different then. The curved top is a 2000 addition. In the middle is Ropemaker Place. The Heron residential tower replaced the original Chamberlain, Powell and Bon utility building on the same site. This was a brutalist concrete building, matching the Barbican, which housed a Fire Station, registry office, coroners court and mortuary. Milton Court was integral to the Barbican, linked aesthetically and by highwalks. It was destroyed in 2008.

The Heron residential tower which replaced Milton Court was finished in 2013. It is 36 stories and 122 metres high. Its lower floors house the Guildhall School of Music and drama. The upper stories are luxury flats.

CityPoint (1967, refurbished 2000) is office space, with bars and coffee shops at ground level. It is 35 stories and 127 metres high. Ropemaker Place (2009) is 23 stores of office space. It looks smaller because it is further away. It has no bars, no coffee shops, just a straight cliff down to the street.

FloorsHeightContentsDate
Willoughby7 + podiumResidential1971
Citypoint35127mOffice space,
bars at ground level
1967,
and 2000
Ropemaker23127mOffice space2009
Heron36122mGuildhall School
and residential
2013
Fashion shoot

While I was drawing, a fashion shoot arrived. It was a jangling cavalcade of clothes rails, photographic equipment, and a music system on wheels. They set up camp a little way away and starting photographing the scenery, which included me. They turned their attention to the model who placed herself carefully against the concrete wall. Then they upped and went on towards Gilbert Bridge, their music and conversation fading into the perspective lines.

Here is the ink stage. You can compare with the colour by moving the slider.

The colours here are mostly Mars Yellow, Phthalo Blue Turquoise, and Perylene Maroon. The red dots are Transparent Pyrrol Orange. There’s a bit of Green Gold in there too. I started this on location and finished it at home.

A Townhouse in Shoreditch

This house is in a lovely row of Georgian houses in Shoreditch, London N1

A Townhouse in Stoke Newington, Hackney, N1. 9″ x12″ [SOLD]

The drawing was done for the people who live in the house.

I made the drawing from sketches on location, photographs, and memory. Here is work in progress:

Here is a juxtaposition of the “ink” image with the “colour” image. Move the slider to compare the two. The yellow frame round the ink image is masking tape, which I use to protect the edges of the picture while I am working.

The colours used in this sketch are: Mars Yellow, Buff Titanium, Phthalo Turquoise (W&N), Perylene Maroon, Prussian Blue, Lavender, and Fired Gold Ochre. All colours are Daniel Smith except the Phthalo Turquoise which is Winsor and Newton. The ink is De Atramentis Document Ink Black, which is waterproof, applied with a Sailor fountain pen (pictured). The brushes I used were:

  • Rosemary Brushes Series 302 size 2, which is a small flat brush, useful for windows,
  • Rosemary Brushes “Rose of England” series 201 size 12 which is a large synthetic round brush. It goes to a fine point as well, so it’s incredibly useful.
  • I did the railings and other small details with a Winsor and Newton Series 7 size 2 sable round brush.

The paper is Arches 300gsm cold-pressed (“NOT”) 9″ x 12″ in a block.

Thank you to @ministry_of_junk for the commission!

Cromwell Tower from the Podium

Here is Cromwell Tower, in the Barbican, with Frobisher Crescent to the right, sketched pre-lockdown, from the Podium.

Cromwell Tower from the Barbican podium, 1st January 2021, 10″x 12″

This was a very cold day, and it started to sleet. That pitted effect you see on the left? That’s not a clever artistic technique, that’s ice crystals dropping on the painting from the sky!

I finished off the tower indoors. I used Daniel Smith Iridescent Moonstone watercolour paint. See how it catches the light!

For the podium tiling I used an experimental effect: scratching. I was in a bit of a hurry (it was really cold) and it was hard to get the angle right as I was holding the painting and standing up. It created an interesting effect, not quite what I intended, but I liked it.

This is one of a series of drawings on Jackson’s watercolour sheets: 10″ x 12″ cold-pressed, 300gsm. The bone implement I used for scratching is from the Vintage Paper Company and is a “bone folder”, intended for folding paper. It is good because it is not entirely sharp, and it’s nice to hold.

The colours are Daniel Smith watercolours: Prussian Blue, Perylene Maroon, and Mars Yellow, with a bit of Green Apatite Genuine for the plants, and Iridescent Moonstone mixed in, especially for the tower.

I’ve drawn in and around the Barbican before. Here’s a collection: (click “load more posts” to see more posts of the Barbican.)

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Barbican at dusk

It was getting dark but I’d been indoors all day. I set off into the gloom with my drawing things.

Looking towards the Barbican from Golden Lane, 5th January 2021, 4:15pm (detail)

It also started raining. Or maybe it was sleet.

I continued my peregrination through the dim streets. I like this time of day. In this weather, it’s not the “violet hour” of Mediterranean sunsets, but more like an Indigo hour, as the colours fade and go into dark smudges. I enjoyed the squares of light, each a little theatre of activity.

Here’s the picture I drew. It was sketched quickly on my walk, with the colour completed at home.

Looking towards the Barbican from Golden Lane, 5th January 2021, 4:15pm

Here are the buildings:

In Wyvern sketchbook, on Arches paper, using Hansa Yellow mid (DS), and Transparent Pyrrol Orange (DS), with Perylene Maroon (DS) and Phthalo Blue Turquoise (W&N) for the sky and the darker greys. Fired Gold Ochre (DS) is in the mix for the Peabody Building.

I have drawn in and around the Barbican before. Here is a collection:

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Grove Lane, Camberwell, SE5

Here are houses on Grove Lane, Camberwell, London SE5.

Grove Lane, Camberwell. 12″ x 9″ watercolour on Arches paper. Drawn on location, 5th December 2020.

I drew this standing in the street. People passed to and fro with prams, dogs and delivery parcels. Although it was December, there were still a few roses out in the bushes behind the fences. The sky really was blue, as you see from the pictures below. It was very cold though, note the gloves. I finished the colour at home, as my hands were freezing.

Here is work in progress.

The main colours are Phthalo blue turquoise for the sky, Mars Yellow, Fired Gold Ochre, and Green Apatite Genuine. The paper is a block of Arches 300gsm Cold Pressed watercolour paper.

This was a commission! Thank you to my client for the commission, and for introducing me to this interesting area. I found a new cycle route through Elephant and Castle.

Bayer House – North and South

Here is Bayer House, on the Golden Lane Estate. This is the view from the South.

Bayer House, Golden Lane Estate, from the South, 9 inches by 12 inches [SOLD]

The building on the right is the Golden Lane Community Centre. It was in active use as I drew the picture. There is a food bank outside, and a lot of activity inside. For more information on the tree which is to the left of the picture, see this post. It was planted on the 9th December 1989.

I drew this picture from a position close to Great Arthur House. People from the Community Centre came and had a look at my drawing. One of them very kindly came and brought me a chair. If you look inside the community centre you can see those kind people behind the window.

The van.

I was a good way into the drawing when a van drew up, right in my line of sight. I finished the parts of the drawing at the top of the building, and to the sides of the building. A good hour had elapsed, but the van was still there. I really needed to draw that part of the building which was behind the van. The driver, dimly visible through the windscreen, was asleep, or may be just resting. Having carefully considered the pros and cons, and the social acceptability of asking a potentially exhausted van driver to move, and the likely consequences, I got up from my chair and walked over to the van in what I hoped was a polite and respectful manner. The van driver was awake, and immediately understood my request. “No problem!” he declared without hesitation, and with extraordinary consideration asked me “Where would you like me to park?”. I indicated an empty slot far over to the other side of the Community Centre. He climbed out of his van, and went into a door under Great Arthur House to confer with “The Office”. “The Office” having been brought onside, he jumped back into the van and made off into the middle distance waving cheerily. I wish all problems were solved so easily.

Here is work in progress:

This was a commission. For the same commission I also made a drawing of the North side of the same building.

Bayer House, North side, 12 inches by 9 inches [SOLD]

For more information about Bayer House, including maps, see this post.

Both drawings on Arches 300gsm watercolour paper block, 12 inches by 9 inches.

Here is a collection of my drawings of the Golden Lane Estate: