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:

Canada House from the National Gallery

Here’s a quick sketch of Canada House on Trafalgar Square, seen though the modern windows of the National Gallery Sainsbury wing.

While I sketched, I overheard fragments of conversations: “I was dating a Chinese girl, and she was taller than me…..”, and someone on a mobile phone: “It needs to be connected to the WiFi…yes…though why one would want the dishwasher… I don’t know!”

About 30mins pen and ink on location, colour added later.

Equestrian Statue of William III

This statue is in the centre of St James’ Square, SW1, London.

William III is William of Orange. He was King of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1688 to 1702. The statue was originally proposed in 1687. It was completed in 1807, which is the date on the plinth. There were a number of delays. The first commissioned sculptor, John Bacon Senior, died. The sculpture was eventually created by his son John Bacon junior.

As you see, the statue has green highlights. This is how it was. It is bronze, which is an alloy of copper and tin: tin 12% roughly. The green is verdigris: a mixture of copper compounds. Wikipedia is lyrical on the subject:

“Verdigris is a variable chemical mixture of compounds, complexes and water. The primary components are copper salts of acetate, carbonate, chloride, formate, hydroxide, and sulphate…..All the components are in an ever-changing and complex reaction equilibrium that is dependent on the ambient environment.”

Wikipedia entry for verdigris

This makes it sound like a 21st century environmental art project.

Written on the plinth is: GVLIELMUS. III. And on the other side:


The sketch took about half an hour. Colours are mostly Phthalo Green, Prussian Blue, and Perinone orange. In Jackson Watercolour sketchbook.

Post Office Tower (BT Tower)

Today we went up the Post Office Tower.

I have drawn the Post Office Tower from the outside.

For London “Open House” weekend the BT Tower runs a ballot (lottery) for tickets and chance had favoured us.

I drew the people.

Also I drew the view out of the window. The viewing platform rotates. So the view keeps shifting. Fast sketching required.



Here’s a link to to a previous post about the Post Office Tower:

The Post Office Tower from Lloyd Street WC1

In the footsteps of Nelson

Captain Horatio Nelson, painted by John Francis Rigaud in 1781, with Fort San Juan in the background.

For our Boxing Day walk, John researched places in London associated with Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson (29 September 1758 – 21 October 1805).

First we saw some houses of the period, and then went to the various places that Nelson lived or visited in London. My mission was to draw very quick pictures. We had a lot of places to visit, and I didn’t want to hold up the expedition. Here are my sketches, in the order of our visits.

We saw and named architectural details.  On 11 Cavendish Square we noted the “blocked vermiculated columns”
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“Vermiculated” means wormlike. It’s a really useful adjective. “I found it impossible to follow his vermiculated arguments.” ” After navigating the vermiculated back alleys, we emerged at last onto the main square.”

We saw ionic columns on Stratford House. These are the ones with scrolls at the top. Above the columns is the “metope” or frieze. On this there were “bucrania” which are bulls skulls.
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An “aedicule” is a house shape with columns each side. At 37 Dover Street we saw a window in an aedicule.

A window in 37 Dover Street, opposite Nelson’s House

Here is our route:

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It took us 5 hours and was 14km.

After the Georgian London visits in the West End, we walked to Trafalgar Square to see Nelson’s Column, and then along the Strand, where we saw the site of a silversmith he visited. Nelson went along the Strand in his carriage to receive his “Freedom of the City of London”. At Temple, the cheering crowds unhitched his horses and hauled his carriage themselves.

We arrived at St Paul’s Cathedral, where Nelson is interred.

I used Organics Studio arsenic gray ink, and a Lamy Safari pen with fine nib, from The Writing Desk. The book is a sketchbook from Seawhite of Brighton.