a few more from London

CL final + jetlag

Here are a few more random sketches from London, quick ones done in the small Miquelrius ‘Lapin’ sketchbook. This first one was drawn while seriously sleep-deprived and jetlagged, having wobbled from the plane hours earlier, and stretched out on the couch in my mum’s living room to watch the Champions League Final (Bayern vs Chelsea). Chelsea parked the bus and Bayern lost on penalties, giving Chelsea the trophy – the upshot of which my wn team Spurs don’t make the Champions League next year. Not good. Sleep was much better.

Leo playing football

Next day I went to see my brother, and stuck around with him while my nephew went to a football tournament at Whetstone FC (which by the way is miles and miles from the actual Whetstone; I didn’t know this! North-West London is really huge, and all looks the same after a while) There was a lot of time before the torunament began, so I sketched the lads practising. My nephew Leo has suddenly sprouted up (he is twelve and a half) so he towers above most of his team now. I got to see one game before I had to go; I needed a SIM card for my phone because my old one had finally given up the ghost. Nice to see Leo play though, it’s been a few years. They grow so quickly don’t they!


I really would love to spend a day sketching at the Natural History Museum, it’s one of my absolute favourite places, but this was all I could manage, a quick sketch of a triceratops while my son and co sat down for a minute. We had gone down there with my wife and my older sister, who used to take me there herself when I was my son’s age (and back then I knew everything, everything about dinosaurs). My son enjoyed it, for the most part, but was quite nervous all the same. he loves dinosaurs, and is a big fan of T-Rex (not the band), but we had to line up to see the large animatronic tyrannosaur model, and it was dark, and we could hear roaring. Well, he got scared (as I would have, back then; remember the Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tussauds, c.1982? That’s another story), so my wife said, don’t worry its not real, it;s just a Robot T-Rex. A ROBOT T-REX?!! Even I got scared at that thought, imagining a huge godzilla-esque lazer-eyed monster tearing down South Ken.

orange tree
Ah now this is sat outside the Orange Tree in Totteridge Lane. that’s a pub, well more of a restaurant now, that I used to pass by on the bus every day to Barnet College, but have never been to. Apparently Sean Bean is a regular. My friend and I were driving around London and he said he fancied going there for a quick drink, nice old pub, village quick trafalgar square sketchesfeel, sit outside. his is the half-pint in that tall thin glass. It was nice, and the food was good, but inside it was just too clean, too modern, too shiny. No old pub feel at all. I couldn’t really do a proper drawing of the building without sitting far away from it (in the pond for example) so jsut sketched what I could, from behind my beer.

On the right, another few quick sketches, made while having a sandwich with my family in Trafalgar Square. We had gone to Buckingham Palace to see the Changing of the Guard, as seen in my son’s Paddington book, and I can assure you I won’t feel the need to go and do that again. Standing around for ages (with a four year old in my arms so he can see through the gates at guards who aren’t doing all that much changing to be honest – can’t they at least juggle or tell jokes?), with loads of other equally bewildered people snapping away with their cameras. It was a struggle let me tell you, so in the end we went down to St.James’s Park, and en route the guards marched past us, back to the barracks. While in the park itself, we were taking a photo on the bridge when a troop of royal Scots guards suddenyl appeared out of nowhere and nearly marched all over us, certainly the surprise attack, all we heard was “OI!!!” We stood aside and they marched onwards without missing a beat. That was funny. So off we went and had some Tesco sandwiches in the Square, the Olympic Clock counting down the days until the craziness begins. I told my son about Admiral Nelson, the famous “I see no ships” story, and the legend of the bronze lions getting up and dancing if Big Ben should strike thirteen.

Fleet Street

Finally here is the last one I did on the sketchcrawl, which I tried to scan when I first posted but couldn’t (my scanner broke). I have a new scanner now, so here it is, Fleet Street looking towards St.Paul’s, one of my favourite views in all of London. I think that’s it for London sketches; oh no I have another one from the Jubilee Street Party but that’s for another post.

where the creek is green

mrak & king halls

Since coming back from London (and I still have a few more sketches to post) I have done very little sketching. Next to none, in fact, bar the odd thing here or there. I realised however that it was high time to get back out there, now that the weather is not in the ‘phew-what-a-scorcher’s, and went out at lunchtime yesterday to sketch a familiar scene. I sketch this view every summer at around this time, since 2007, and the view changes every year. When I first sketched it in 2007 the building at the front, King Hall, was not even there, and you could see all of Mrak Hall in the distance without interuption. Preparation for the law school extension began a year later, followed by slow construction, and I charted its progress until last year’s sketch showed completion. Now there is no change from last year to this, so this may be the last time I sketch the view. Still, it’s a peaceful little spot, right beside Putah Creek, which is increasingly green at this time of year.

angels and bus-stops

angel inn highgate

Another north London pub, sketched quickly before meeting up with a friend. This is the Angel Inn on Highgate Hill, a pub I’ve been to many times before (it used to be my local, though when I lived there I went once every few months or so at most, I wasn’t exactly Norm from Cheers). It’s a really nice pub though, warm and welcoming, and in a great location – home was always down hill. I lovegolders green Highgate Village. There are great views over london, nice little shops, intimate little restaurants and warm pubs, plus it’s near Hampstead Heath. Can someone please pay me loads and loads of money to just draw around the world, so I can move the family back there? Cheers.

Anyway, my bus got there fifteen minutes early so this was what I got, not a bad capture for quaretr of an hour. An example of ‘draw what you have time for’. Know what’s possible in a certain amount of time and do what you can. On the way there, I got off the tube at Golders Green to catch the 210 bus, and had eight minutes to spare, so I also drew the sketch on the right, a rooftop opposite the bus-stop. How did i know I had eight minutes? The nice little LED display at the bus-stop told me so, and it was pretty accurate. That is very handy. I remember it not being too long ago that waiting for a bus in London was a case of ‘anyone’s guess’, but it’s not too bad these days.

I keep meaning to do a big detailed pub interior sketch inside the Angel Inn. Next time, perhaps I will.

down camden

Hawley Arms, Camden
While back in London I wanted to get at least one in-bar sketch done, and I usually find it harder to draw at the bar when I’m busy talking to non-sketching friends. So one night I met up with a mate at the Hawley Arms in Camden Town, so I got there a bit early, got a pint (not cheap in London, much dearer than in Hawley Arms exteriornorthern CA), and drew from a little table at the end of the bar. It took about twenty minutes. You can see my reflection if you look hard. I do like drawing bars, there are all the usuals, the beer-taps, the bottles, the little shower things that dispense sodas, and of course the black straws. All bar drawings I do have to have a big stack of those black straws that just seem to get in the way of everything else in the sketch. I don’t see that many people using them, but they always keep them right there.

This was a nice pub, popular with famous musicians I guess (well known for one in particular), though I had never actually been here before, in all the nights I have been out in Camden. I used to go to Camden quite a lot back in the old days – the Mixer, the Dublin Castle, NW1 (in the reverse order of appearance) – so always have to go there at least once on any return trip.


the anchor by the thames

the anchor, southwark
And so on I went down the South Bank, until I came to the Anchor pub, decked out for the Jubilee. It was surrounded by a large horde of shaven-headed lager-drinking chain-smoking England football fans, getting a few in before hitting the tube to Wembley for a pre-Euro 2012 warm-up match against Belgium. All good natured, of course, and enjoying the day with all the tourists and Jubilee celebratories. As I sat down in a nice quiet spot to sketch the historic riverside pub, they all moved off, singing about being off to Wembley, leaving only the passing tourists. stoney st southwarkI didn’t drawn any of those, they kept moving, so I focused on the building itself. To be fair most people who milled were milling away from this spot and in the pub’s beer garden to the right. I sat for almost an hour and sketched (I did finish some detailing later, but chose not to colour it). One young lady came up and asked if she could ask a wierd question. Depends on how wierd, I replied. How wierd could it be? Not very wierd in fact. “How do you find time to draw?” She was an artist herself it seemed but never seemed to have time for it. I had struggled to find time to do all the drawing I wanted to do on the trip (you wouldn’t believe it) but still managed to get a lot done, because it is really important to me to have drawing time. I get grumpy if I don’t (quite grumpy indeed) so I make sure I find the time for it, even when I’m ridiculously busy. I told her about Urban Sketchers, and the Drawing London groups, and said that by seeing how other people busier even than me manage to somehow fit art into their lives inspires me.

With this sketch of the Anchor, I wanted to sit and do something detailed and old and full of bricks. With this other sketch on the right, Stoney Street in Southwark (near Borough Market), my time was running low so I did a quick about-ten-minute sketch to capture the scene. When time is short, think what you might be able to get in with that time, and be ok with it. I hate watsing time, even though I do it often, when I could be sketching already something else. I went on to the market and had the most amazing grilled halloumi sandwich, right by London bridge. Even thinking of the smell makes me ravenous for more – I’ll say it again, I love coming to this part of London.

sketching south of the river

southwark bridge

‘Bunting’ is a word which, sure I had heard of, but had completely forgotten. It’s not a verb, not that I know of, it’s the stuff you hang up all over the place with the coloured triangles, to decorate in times of celebration. Not a word I hear very often, I don’t think it’s used in America. Anyway, the bunting was blowing wildly in the wind on this day, while I was sketching beside Southwark Bridge on the south bank of the Thames. It was the first day of the Jubilee weekend, the Jubilee stewards were already out keeping an eye on things (one kept coming over to see what I was sketching, but in an interested way not an ‘oi what you doin’ way), and people and tourists (who are people too) strolled this way and that. A rather terrible street band played in the underpass behind me, correctly thinking that the tunnel would amplify their music. Nonetheless, the general mood was upbeat, and I rather enjoy sketching this part of London.

cardinals wharf

Here is another sketch drawn by the river – it is a pretty looking house right in between Shakespeare’s Globe theatre and Tate Modern. I was drawn to the red door, though workmen kept coming in and out, busy preparing for some big event it would seem. When I was done, I went and read the little stone plaque beside the door. It turns out that none other than Sir Christopher Wren lived here during the construction of St.Paul’s Cathedral, which is directly opposite across the river! For those who are not familiar with London’s architectural history, Wren designed and built many amazing churches in London after the Great Fire of 1666, but St.Paul’s is his masterpiece and greatest legacy. Pretty convenient location then, you may think, well they didn’t have Millennium Bridge in those days, or even Southwark Bridge, so he would probably have had to take the ferry across. I’m actually a little surprised he didn’t think to be a bridge builder as well (actually, he did design a bridge built in Cambridge).

More London sketches to come…

camping by the river

thames jubilee campers

As some of you may have been aware, this year is the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – celebrating 60 years on the throne. It’s only the second time in the history of the country that a monarch has reached that milestone, the previous one of course being Queen Victoria. Long live our noble Queens, eh. On Sunday June 3 (59 years and 1 day since the actual coronation) a huge and historic River Pageant was planned, taking the royal party down the Thames followed by a large flotilla of boats. I was going to a street party in my old road so was unable to stand by the Thames in the rain with thousands of others (ah well, next time), so I went down to the river on the Saturday (June 2nd, 59 years since the coronation!) and sketched some of the people who would be braving the elements to see the Queen. This was down by Tate Modern, and the weather, while overcast, was very pleasant. The folks setting up camp had come from all over the UK, and the atmosphere was very happy. I think they were even looking forward to Sunday’s impending rain – nothing like a brolly, a cup of tea, a nice bit of cake and the Queen sailing by, Rule Britannia. Fair play to them. I sketched, and then moved on down the Thames to sketch some more.
sketching the jubilee campers