Later in July, I am travelling to Amsterdam, to take part in the annual Urban Sketchers international meet-up. Of course, I am very excited to meet with hundreds of other sketchers and to draw scenes of Amsterdam. And when an English visitor thinks of Holland – tourist cliché alert – that includes windmills, doesn’t it? So, maybe some practice is in order.
Did you know we have windmills in London? My fellow sketcher, Lis Watkins (both of us are admins for Urban Sketchers London) and I set off to explore. We found and sketched three in South London, from left to right: in Wimbledon, Brixton, and Shirley, near Croydon.
The wonderful windmill sketches of Lis Watkins can be found on the international website of Urban Sketchers, where she is one of the London correspondents.
This weekend, 7 – 9 June 2019, I have been sketching Stoke-on-Trent, the historic home of the English ceramics industry, including Wedgewood, Spode and other pioneering firms. This was the location of the annual get-together of UK Urban Sketchers, and we spent the weekend exploring the city and sketching.
The drawings I have done are a continuous image in a concertina sketchbook, and I have scanned them two at a time here.
The subjects are: Stoke Minster, outside and inside, including a panel of memorial wall tiles by Minton, a display of modern ceramics at the Potteries Museum, the façade of the Wedgewood Institute, ceramics moulds at the Middleport Pottery, inside the bottle oven at Middleport, a building in the town centre of Hanley, a bottle kiln at Middleport, and a vase made by Josiah Wedgewood. Without planning this, I feel I am now a bit better informed about the history of this industry.
This week I had the challenge of drawing two Hindu temples, or mandirs, in North London, both of them buildings with extremely complex stone carvings. I needed to find ways of drawing these buildings in a fairly short space of time. The drawing above, and the photograph on the left, is the Shri Sanatan Mandir at Alperton, near Wembley.
The photograph on the right is of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden. Here is a second drawing of the Shri Sanatan Mandir, and one of the entrance to the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir.
Yesterday, I ran a sketchcrawl in Dulwich Village with Urban Sketchers London. I also found time to draw across four pages of my concertina sketchbook, and the results are shown below. The paper was initially prepared with torn paper collage, acrylic gesso and random marks with diluted indian ink. Then I drew on location with chinagraph pencil, which is a waxy, quite thick black pencil which encourages a bold approach. I am finding that the concertina format encourages a more flexible use of different images across the spread, developing a portrait of the place, in this case Dulwich Picture Gallery and its surrounds.
I recently spent a few days at West Dean College in Sussex, on a course called Drawing in the gardens – Pattern and place. One of the challenges we were set was ‘A figure in the landscape’. Here are a few drawings. The Victorian greenhouses in the West Dean gardens are under restoration, so scaffolding was also a feature.
A few weeks ago, I posted some sketches I had done on a visit to Morocco. Here is some work I have done subsequently from those quick location drawings. There are two works in soft pastel, two small watercolours, and a section from the experimental sketchbook I have been keeping, drawing onto a background of collage, ink and gesso. Although this seems an obvious thing to do, to keep a sketch book and then make more developed paintings later, in practice I have rarely done this. The sketches have not seemed ‘good enough’, I am more interested in working on location rather than make studio paintings. I feel it is progress that I have taken this further and it has helped to embed my recollections of this journey.
Above are the pastels, first a view of the gardens of the Mamounia Hotel, followed by a scene from the Majorelle Garden, which used to belong to Yves Saint Laurent, both in Marrakech.
Above are two watercolours, first one of Essaouira, and the second a view of the Kasbah above Imlil in the Atlas mountains. The two last images, below, and sketchbook pages which aim to give more general memories of some of the scenes of Morocco I remember from my trip.
For me, one advantage of still life drawing is the opportunity to focus on how different forms and textures are shown in a drawing. Three of these were drawn with chinagraph pencil, and the jug with flowers with oil pastels. The drawings were done at a workshop taught by Fabia Claris.