Monday, 31 December 2012

Next Sketchcrawl - January 19th 2013

Hi everyone,
A number of people have been asking about when and where the next Sketchcrawl will be – well, the date of the 38th Worldwide Sketchcrawl is fast approaching, and we will be a part of it too, on Saturday 19th January.

We'll be meeting at the Tate Modern, at 12 noon, in the big entranceway (the Turbine Hall).

As with the last venue, there's plenty to draw inside and out: the Millennium Bridge, the Globe, St Pauls, the crowds of tourists, the Thames, as well as the fascinating space that is the Tate Modern itself of course.

There's already a Facebook event page, started by Gillian Reid; and Tom from Drawing London on Location has set up a Meetup event.

Meeting point: at the top of this ramp, by the doors

Thanks to James Hobbs for the picture for the flyer.
Look out for details of further sketchcrawls coming up soon.
Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012


Merry Christmas everyone!
Did anyone get any good London based urban sketching related presents this year?
I was surprised with "Hugh Casson's London", first published in 1983, which I can thoroughly recommend as a wonderful collection of watercolours true to the spirit of the urban sketching manifesto.

I've been looking to snap up a cheapish copy of Ronald Searle's amazing "Looking at London" (1953) for a while now, I discovered the books of David Gentleman this year, and I also want to check out Geoffrey Fletcher's London.
But I'd be interested to know if anyone can recommend any other books by artists whose focus is on location drawings of London? I haven't seen too many books that are comprised entirely of this, and I'm always excited to discover them.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

New Oxford street

New Oxford Street, London
A sketch of the corner of New Oxford street and Tottenham court road. I rested my sketchbook on the handrailing next to the pedestrian crossing.
I was staying in the St. Giles hotel, just a block away, and went there before breakfast to draw this. On the left you see the Dominion theatre, which features the "we will rock you" (Queen) musical.


Monday, 10 December 2012

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but when the day came, as the rain drove down in biting winds, our booking of a November cruise along the river seemed a bit daft. It was supposed to be an architectural cruise, with a guide pointing out sites of architectural interest. The commentary was indeed informative, but the weather meant all our views were through steamed-up windows.
The  mulled wine was barely warm and the  mince pies were cold... I only managed 2 drawings. Curiously both of them include a view of ther appalling new tower that has gone up at St George's wharf, Vauxhall. Not the best day out.
Towards Vauxhall from Westminster.  Dilute inks

Approaching Vauxhall Bridge. Pencil


Saturday, 8 December 2012

Peering into display cases

One of the reasons I particularly enjoyed the third Urban Sketchers London sketchcrawl at the Natural History Museum and V&A was because I found myself drawing things I don't usually draw, and this can't be a bad thing, surely? I found the stuffed birds in glass display cases strangely attractive to draw, if distasteful, an example of things that would not happen now. I don't think any bird expert would be able to tell one of my drawn hummingbirds from another, but I liked their shape and flow. A swallow-winged flycatcher caught my attention too.

I also liked the way the statue of Charles Darwin sits halfway up the stairs considering the goings-on in the central hall of the museum. A steady trail of people came to have their photograph taken next to the statue. I drew his shoes, which seemed rather stylish, I thought.

Well done to Nathan again for organising the sketchcrawl, and it was great to meet new people and see their sketchbooks. I'm looking forward to the next one – watch this website for news.


Sunday, 2 December 2012

South Kensington Sketchcrawl on December 1st

Yesterday was the third Urban Sketchers London sketchcrawl, which took place inside both the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, it being a little cold for a full day's worth of sketching outdoors. We had another good turnout, so thank you to everyone who came, and there were some great drawings that came out of it at the end of the day, as you can see below.

I think it might've been helpful to have a bit more structure to the day, as it was very busy, especially at the NHM, and so it wasn't always easy to meet everyone as they went their separate ways, it would've been fun to spend time in specific rooms as a group or groups, so perhaps a missed opportunity on my part there, but hopefully people still got to mingle and see all the art going on during the day! We had a wonderful array of styles and subjects being displayed in all the different sketchbooks.

Museums are great for people-watching, and so I decided to focus mainly on the visitors, but couldn't help getting sucked in to drawing a few impressive exhibits too:

I also braved the cold just long enough to draw the ice skaters outside the Natural History Museum, London's most popular Christmas ice skating venue. I didn't bother sketching it out with a pencil first, (too cold to faff around with that as I would normally do), I just launched straight into it with a pen, which was quite satisfying.

Thanks again to everyone for coming, I hope to see you all again soon. Watch out for further announcements about sketchcrawls in the coming months!


Thursday, 29 November 2012


British museum: mummy

British Museum, the Egyptian department. Above a real mummy on display. It's awkward to realise that this was a person real and alive about 3000 years ago. And now thousands of people, coming from countries he never knew existed, come to look at his remains.
I also sketched a nice model of the gifts the ancient Egypts buried in their graves, two beautiful and intricately detailed models of riverboats. The realistic pose and detailing of the boatsmen is stunning.
British museum: egypt


Thursday, 22 November 2012

Oil Sketching at night in London

This year I tried out something really weird, I tried oil sketching at night, I had done this in Bath and done a sketch of Tower Bridge at night with watercolours but I hadn't done them in oils. All these were done on  location with oils on board. The size of the board is 10" x 8". I use a head lamp and I always make sure there is a Street lamp or artificial light from somewhere around before I can make a set up at a particular Scene. It's really great painting at night as the light doesn't change. One has to be a great risk taker with the colours as they sometimes appear different when taken indoors under a different light source.

Royal Court Theatre At Night, Oil on Board, 10" x 8", 2012

Royal Court Theatre At Night-Adebanji at work

Royal Court Theatre At Night-The Scene and the set-up

Trafalgar Square at Night during the Olympics, 20" x 8", Oil on Board, 2012

Trafalgar Square at Night during the Olympics-Adebanji at work

Trafalgar Square at Night during the Olympics-The Scene and the set-up


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Tower bridge

Tower Bridge, London
I just returned home to the Netherlands from a lovely weekend in London. Our daughter presently studies for her Master at the Imperial College London, and we took the opportunity to visit her and the city as well.
I drew this sitting in front of the large windows of the 1st floor lobby of our hotel (hotel the Tower). I could rest my sore feet and have a nice Guinness while drawing this scene. Sometimes you have to make your luck.

Unfortunately the perfect weekend had a nasty ending: on our journey back in Brussels our backpack with all my travel sketching gear and one of my sketchbooks was stolen. This one is the only drawing left of the trip, it was packed in our suitcase.
Infuriating, it took years to assemble a comfortable sketching set, and now it's all gone.


Thursday, 8 November 2012

Urban Sketchers London - Sketchcrawl 3

Come and sketch with us! We'll be taking in the sights of the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, and, weather permitting, the surrounding area. The Natural History Museum has an ice rink in the winter months, so should provide something different to draw, while the exterior of the museums themselves have fascinating architecture, not to mention the endless stream of tourists that even the cold can't keep away.
The nearest tube is South Kensington, and we're starting at 11am, inside the main entrance of the Natural History Museum - the big, grand Central Hall (the one with the big dinosaur skeleton). Don't forget your pencils!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Blues dancing in Hackney

I was booked recently to play music for a group of blues dancers at the Hackney Picturehouse. Before the set, the dancers strutted their stuff to a selection of great tracks played by a DJ. Their was just time for me to draw on a double page of my sketchbook. A glass of Sngiovese provided refreshment and a handy way to get the Inktense pencil to give up some strong black tone

Blues dancers - Inktense pencil and  wine A3                         


Thursday, 20 September 2012

Royal Observatory, Greenwich: west meets east

James Hobbs, Royal Observatory, Greenwich, London

It was a good day at Greenwich on Saturday for the latest London sketchcrawl, excellently organised by Nathan to the extent that even the weather was perfect (how did he do that?). Old friends, new friends and plenty to draw: a great combination. 

James Hobbs, Astronomy Centre, Greenwich, London

I headed up the hill in the park, past the Olympic equestrian stadium, which still stands for now, to the Observatory. The view, as drawn by Katherine Tyrrell and many of the others, was remarkable in its clarity, but I turned to the closer architectural features of the astronomical buildings, old and new.

James Hobbs, Peter Harrison Planetarium, Greenwich, London

I'm going to be back to Greenwich soon with the family. Drawing this planetarium and not going in was a struggle — I was keen to get down to the bottom of the hill to see the work of the other artists. You can see more at the London Urban Sketchers Flickr group.


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Down By The River - Greenwich Sketchcrawl

Sketchers at the start point on Saturday morning

If you passed through the Cutty Sark DLR station at 11a.m. on Saturday, you would have been hard pressed to miss the large group of sketchers gathered there for the start of the 2nd Urban Sketchers London sketchcrawl. All in all, over 50 people showed up to draw Greenwich on a beautiful sunny day. I should say thanks to the Drawing London on Location group on for helping spread the word. It was very inspiring meeting so many talented artists with so many diverse styles and approaches, and I'm only sorry I didn't get to see more of other people's work and watch everyone in action. 

Although I love Greenwich Park, and am excited to see it open again (at least, most of it is) after the Olympics, I knew I'd be spending most of my time around the waterfront - with both the Greenwich Foot Tunnel and the Cutty Sark ship recently being unveiled from beneath the scaffolding and boards they've been shrouded in for the past year or two, this area feels quite fresh and new to me, and I was keen to get acquainted with it.
I managed the above and started on a view of the Foot Tunnel before lunch came - fortunately I didn't have far to go, our midway point was right where I was sitting!

Sketchers gather for lunch and to see each other's work

By the time I finished this drawing I realised I was running out of time, so I hurriedly made my way past Greenwich Pier and into the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College, where the sight of this tree attracted me. Because I felt I had to be quicker with this one, I deliberately cropped my sketch to this narrow column, which actually proved fun - I think I may experiment with more oddly shaped compositions in future rather than the usual 'picture frame' shape.

The last picture I did was a quick sketch of Goddard's Pie & Mash shop. I was fond of the original, which I have also sketched in the past, although the site is now Gourmet Burger Kitchen; earlier this year they reopened in a different location, and I felt I should try and draw this new establishment too.

For lunch I bought a takeaway single pie and mash here, however I didn't get to enjoy it as it was pilfered by an ambitious pigeon when my back was turned. 
There was just time to get to the end point for 4pm at the park gates where we had a group photo taken by Osman, a photographer for local paper the News Shopper.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to have a good look at everyone's artwork when it was laid out, as it was pretty crowded, so I hope I get to see more on the Flickr group for those who feel like posting their work (there's already a lot of great stuff up there!). I always find it hugely inspiring to see the different ways in which people tackle the same or similar subjects.

Thank you to everyone who came along for making it a success, I look forward to meeting you all again on future crawls!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Sketchcrawling in Greenwich

What a great turnout for the 2nd London Sketchcrawl! I was only able to stay for the morining, but I saw lots of exciting work shared at lunchtime.

I spent the morning in the park, by the Observatory, looking out across the river at the Isle of Dogs

Isle of Dogs from Greenwich Park - pencil 29 x21 cm

I wanted to use the morning to try some location drawing using a monotype technique that I've been playing with this summer, so I made a drawing from the same location, using acrylic paint on plastic. Later, at home I 'printed' this acrylic image onto paper - hence reversing the image

Isle of Dogs from Greenwich Park - acrylic monotype 32 x 30 cm

Time for just one more drawing - I turned my attention back up the hill behind me, where the statue of Wolfe looms over the tourist crowds, and the urban sketchers were busy with their drawings. I added colour to this monotype as an experiment when I got home

Greenwich statue - acrylic monotype 32 x 30 cm

If anyone is interested in this monotype technique, try googling 'Golden acrylics dry monotype' and you'll find something about it I'm sure. There's a YouTube video produced by the Golden Acrylics company that explains the basics - after that it's down to you to experiment!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Let's Draw Greenwich - 2nd Urban London Sketchers Sketchcrawl

Yesterday we had a fine and very sunny day in Greenwich for the 2nd Urban London Sketchers Sketchcrawl.

The view from the top of Greenwich Hill - from the Prime Meridian
Left on horizon: City of London
Background:  Canary Wharf on the Isle of Dogs
Right on Horizon: Olympic Stadium and O2/North Greenwich Arena
Middle Ground:  The Old Naval College and Arena for Olympic/Paralympic Equestrian Events
Foreground right - An Urban Sketcher sat on Greenwich Hill

We'll be posting our sketches in the next few days - but to get us started here are a few photos from the day which was very ably organised by Nathan Brenville.

Professor Shorthair sketching
Sketching the view from the top of the hill

End of the Day: some of the sketches from the Sketchcrawl at Greenwich

We'll also be posting larger versions of the above to the Urban Sketchers London  Flickr Group

If you were on the Sketchcrawl, please also post sketches and photos of the day to the Urban Sketchers London  Flickr Group - but you need to be a member of the group first.

If you're not already a member please ask to join the group (click "Join this group" in the menu at the top of the Group page).

We'll be posting in the near future about the process of how to join Urban Sketchers London as a correspondent on this blog - but please bear in mind we'll need to see your sketching and writing online first.

(Note for aspiring correspondents - we met Nathan for the first time on the First Sketchcrawl!)

Friday, 14 September 2012

REMINDER: 2nd Urban Sketchers London Sketchcrawl 15th September 2012

Let's Draw Greenwich!

Tomorrow we meet at the Cutty Sark DLR Station in Greenwich for the 2nd Urban Sketchers London Sketchcrawl.  It starts at 11am and finishes at 4pm.  There's no set route and there's lots and lots of places to sketch!

This sketchcrawl has been organised by Nathan Brenville who we met on the 1st Sketchcrawl around Fleet Street and Temple!  Contact him for more information - see above for email details.

At the moment we're expecting about 50 people to turn up - so why not come along and meet up with people who like sketching!

Katherine has also done a post on her blog about the places which you can see and sketch in Greenwich - see Urban Sketchers London SKETCHCRAWL in Greenwich tomorrow

If you're wondering what a sketchcrawl looks like and what people do - here are the posts about the last Urban Sketchcrawl - which includes lots of photos and sketches


Friday, 7 September 2012

St Paul's Cathedral from Tate Modern

The City of London, St Paul's Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge
from the Members Room, Tate Modern

11.5" x 16", pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
The Members' Room at Tate Modern is on the sixth floor and provides stunning views of the City of London and the River Thames

You can see what I mean via this virtual tour of the Members Room At Tate Modern - complete view views

This sketch was done sat at one of the tables next to the windows looking out at the view. In the background is the dome and structure of St Paul's Cathedral. In the foreground is the City of London School and the Millennium Bridge.

One of the other attractive features of sketching from a position which is so high up is that you also get a brilliant perspective on some great clouds.