St Giles and Bastion House

Today Urban Sketchers London held a “sketch crawl” in the Barbican. So I joined them. An astonishing number and diversity of people assembled inside the entrance of the Barbican Centre at the appointed time of 11am. I counted about 35 and then another dozen or so joined. All shapes and sizes of people, tall, short, studious-looking or flamboyant, quiet or talkative, smart or windblown, old or young, all were there. I knew I was at the right place because everyone had a very obvious “drawing bag” or rucksack, and some were sporting a neat red Urban Sketch London badge.

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A few words and then off we all dispersed. To my surprise I found a good place very quickly. A wall, at ground level, looking over the Lakeside Terrace and St Giles. I liked the way St Giles was surrounded by Bastion House, and framed by the massive concrete of Gilbert Bridge. I also thought I would be sheltered from the wind. I was wrong about that. In fact, the location seemed to be at the bottleneck of a wind-funnel, and at times the wind was painful, as well as being very inconvenient for my drawing materials, which shifted about and jumped down off the wall.

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Another Urban Sketcher came up and elected to draw the same view. She had an interesting concertina type sketch book, which she said was her “collage sketchbook”. The wind very soon got under that and unravelled the concertina right across the walkway. She got it under control though, and finished her sketch. She was doing a number of sketches in different locations. I did just the one.

I finished it at 12:50. By that time I was thoroughly cold, and glad to go back inside the Barbican Centre. All the levels were by now densely populated with people participating in all sorts of events. The Urban Sketchers, by some alchemy, found each other again and we put up our sketch books for everyone to see.

Everyone’s sketches were of interest. People had done very different things. I suppose that’s obvious, but it was startling how different they were. One person had made very precise and delicate engineering drawings of brackets. Another had a wonderful atmospheric wash of the church. Someone else had done the fountains and their environment, in firm black lines against a shadowy orange background with white water. Others had outline drawings in crayon, or detailed drawings in sepia ink, and someone had done a sketch on their iPad.

One of the organisers made a panoramic film of the drawings so I look forward to seeing them on the Urban Sketch London website.

It was a good experience and I’ll aim to go to another later in the year.

Preachers Court in the snow

It has been snowing now for several days. Robin invited me to sketch The Charterhouse in the snow, and suggested a viewpoint from the second floor of the Infirmary.

March 1st 2018 (Preachers Court in the snow)

From here I could see all three of the Barbican Towers. Someone was clearing snow in the foreground, but they moved on before I could get them in the picture.

It was a good place to sketch, warm and quiet. I could hear the muffled sounds of the nurses moving about below, and of the Brothers who were in the infirmary. Sometimes they called out.

Here is what the picture looked like before the colour went on.

March 1st 2018 (Preachers Court in the snow)BW

This picture took about 2 hours: One hour for the pencil outline, half an hour for the pen, and half an hour for the colour – roughly. It took ages to get the proportions right. Especially in the snow, the eye sees detail in far-away objects, so the temptation is to draw them too big.

After I handed in my visitor’s badge at the gate, I went out into Charterhouse Square. I looked back at the Chapel. And did a quick pen sketch, standing in the snow.

March 1st 2018 (Chapel from Charterhouse Square)

This took about 10 minutes, coloured later on my desk at home.

Thank you to Robin, and to the Brothers, Master and staff at the Charterhouse for their hospitality.

 

Barbican Staircase 

This is the staircase from Podium Level down to the Lakeside. It’s a magnificent sculptural piece of architecture: it appears free floating, a mass of concrete in the air. 

Drawn in the sun after a lunch in the Barbican Kitchen. The wind kept shifting my art equipment around, and the shadows changed as the clouds came and went. 

About an hour and 15 minutes, drawn and coloured on location.