and said goodbye to the circus

Piccadilly Circus

I’ve been away for a little while…but now I am back. Jetlagged, with lighter pockets. For just over three weeks I was back in my native city of London to see family and friends, and to feel like a tourist. I even organized a sketchcrawl. I did a LOT of sketching, so I will undoubtedly be scanning and posting for the next month or so, but it’s about time to get started already. On my first morning in London, I awoke bright and early (well it was not quite bright yet), did a panorama sketch of my old street from my old window (to scan and post later), and hopped on a train down to Piccadilly Circus, the crazy traffic and tourist filled pulse in the middle of London. I generally dislike Piccadilly Circus, especially now that there are no big record stores worth going there for, but they do have that big Waterstones bookstore a little further down Piccadilly, and of course they have Lillywhites. That is a huge sports store, to which I primarily go to look at the massive collection of football shirts (you may not know this, but I’m a football shirt nerd, oh you did know? Oh yeah, see all my previous posts this summer…). I got down there early, before it opened, and took a spot outside their big windows to sketch the Angel of Christian Charity, also known as the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, but known to Londoners and sign-posts as Eros. I usually avoid this spot due to overcrowding but at this time of the morning it was immeasurably more pleasant. I sketched in a large spiral-bound Stillman and Birn Alpha book, and stood looking towards Regent St and Shaftesbury Avenue. After a while, some police officers showed up, dressed in bright yellow overcoats. They were just hanging around, and then more came. Some photographers also started gathering, and then more police, and then two officers mounted on horseback, all in a jovial mood, all happy to pose with tourists. There must have been over forty police officers there, and they all stood together and said “cheese, guv” and had their photo taken in front of the statue (“Ello, ello, ello, what’s goin’ on Eros then?” I nearly quipped). I had alreayd drawn most of it by then but I did add a couple of coppers for good measure. A young woman from Germany, holidaying in London, stopped and watched me sketch for a while, even sitting down when I crouched over to add the paint. I was in a good mood for my first out-and-about sketch in London, and when I was done I said goodbye to the circus, popped into Lillywhites to look at all the new football shirts, and set off to sketch the narrow dusty streets of Soho. 

17 thoughts on “and said goodbye to the circus

  1. matthewmidgley says:

    Lovely work, Pete. How frustrating to realise I was over at Kew Gardens whilst your latest London jaunt was happening! I’d better pay closer attention to your blog posts – hopefully I’ll make it one of them sometime :) (Though, not the ones in Davis!)

  2. papict says:

    Piccadilly Circus was always too busy for my liking but I’m sure that level of activity made for a good sketching scene. May I ask what ink pens you use for drawing when sketching in the field? I use dip pens with ink and that would never be practical for outdoor drawing and I’ve been thinking I really ought to have a travel sketch book. I look forward to the rest of your posts on London.

    • pete scully says:

      I can’t stand Piccadilly Circus usually, because of the crowds, but going early in the morning was far better, when it’s less busy. Pens, I usually use the uniball signo um-151 pen in brown-black ink, but I also use the micron pigma. Both stay fast with a wash. I have so much to scan and post, but also a lot to finish off (add a bit of colour usually). I do all the penwork on location, and while I prefer colouring in on site usually I just do a bit and do the rest of the paint at home. It’s all about the drawing for me!

  3. redharparts says:

    Wonderful sketch. I’d just thought to myself that I’d not seen any posts from you in a while. Since it’s not a good idea to post one’s plans for being away, one never knows whether there is cause for concern (illness, injury) or just a good vacation! Glad it was the vacation and I look forward to your posts.

    • pete scully says:

      Thanks! Yes, exactly that, but I also like to wait until I’ve scanned my sketches before posting them. I did post a lot of photos mid-sketch while in London on my twitter though. I went to Ireland as well but only managed a single sketch there, a pub panorama in Dublin.

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