st clement dane

St Clement Dane
The last sketch from London. I was there for two weeks, but I didn’t sketch as much
as usual. Perhaps on my next trip I will get more done – the International Urban Sketching Symposium this year will be held in Manchester and I do hope I can go. Early-bird Registration opens on January 30 ($415 though, may have to sell a few drawings first!) If I do go, I will try to organize another themed sketchcrawl in London on the weekend before, maybe on the Sunday. We will see. London Urban Sketchers are holding one on the Saturday before (they like to set out the year’s “Let’s Draw…” sketchcrawls in advance), so I’ll try not to clash. I do like a themed sketchcrawl, and back in 2014 I did organize one called “Sketching Wren’s City”, which went from the Monument down to St. Paul’s, taking in as many of Christopher Wren’s buildings (mostly churches) as possible. I provided everyone with a hand-drawn map and lots of information; it was immense fun, and we topped it off with a visit to the Old Bell Tavern on Fleet Street – also designed by Wren.You can see the sketches I did, and find out more about the sketchcrawl here.

One Wren church we did not make it to (being just outside the City borders) is this one, St. Clement Dane. I used to pass by here every day when studying at King’s College, and it’s in an amazing location, on a traffic island at the intersection of Strand and Aldwych, just where the traffic turns to down towards Temple Station and the Embankment. Further down Strand behind me is another church on a traffic island, St. Mary-le-Strand, known to taxi-drivers as “Mary-in-the-way”. St. Clement Dane’s is more famous – its bells regularly play out the tune to “Oranges and Lemons”, after the nursery rhyme that mentions St. Clement’s, although it’s possible that the church in the rhyme is actually st. Clement Eastcheap. St. Clement Dane dates back to Anglo-Saxon times, and though the ‘Dane’ part of the name also dates back this far, it’s not exactly certain why, though this church was located at the very edge of the ‘Danelaw’, the large swathe of England ruled by the Danes. The current building, designed by Wren in the 1680s, was gutted by bombs in World War Two and restored in the 1950s. The large statue in front is William Ewart Gladstone, the former Prime Minister. Behind him are two more statues, of prominent Royal Air Force chiefs Hugh Dowding and Arthur “Bomber” Harris (unseen). This church has long had connections to the RAF, and contains many memorials to fallen airmen. Behind the church is a statue of Dr. Samuel Johnson, writer of the first English dictionary, who lived nearby off of Fleet Street. And just visible behind St. Clement’s are the Royal Courts of Justice.

I stood on the edge of the traffic island and sketched, as the day started drifting away. Days are so short in London winter-time, and I had to get back for dinner. Goodbye London, until next time.


final stretch of the year

C St panorama dec31 2013 sm

This was the very last bit of urban sketching I did in 2013. I went down to C Street and sketched this frat house, with the Davis Community Church on the corner of 4th St, in the very clear blue sky weather. Well, I say weather. This is the Land that Weather Forgot. The first New Year’s Eve I ever spent here, there was a massive rainstorm, and whole swathes of the local area were flooded. I remember cycling to the edge of town on New Year’s Day to look at what were effectively new lakes where fields used to be. I was so new to town I just expected it to always be like that. Well, it isn’t. It didn’t rain very much in 2013, barely at all. Lately the weather has just been well, nothing. Not even cloudy. It’s not like I want ice storms and tornadoes or anything, but it feels like whoever is in charge of weather here left it on one setting and then went missing. Anyway… 2013 is over, and here’s the last panorama. This frat house is new, built only recently. It replaces a very similar looking frat house, one much older that was demolished last year. That building was well known among former Davis students, a fairly grotty place by many accounts, but much loved and one of the oldest (perhaps the oldest) building in town. Well this one i here now, overlooking Central Park, and it catches the afternoon shadows in the same way so finally it’s in a Scully sketchbook. I like a panorama. Below are the two halves of it, larger so you can see them better.

C St panorama dec31 2013 LEFT
C St panorama dec31 2013 RIGHT

under dreaming spires

Barcelona Cathedral

This is Barcelona Cathedral. Not the Gaudí one you’ve all heard of (and not the Camp Nou, which is also a kind of cathedral, of sorts), but the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, built between the 13th and 15th centuries in the old town. The neo-Gothic façade wasn’t built until the 19th Century,  so all in all this makes the Sagrada Familia seem like a rush job. These sort of epic buildings take time. It’s all quite stunning. This was on a warm Saturday afternoon, and I was on my way to the final sketchcrawl meeting at the end of the Urban Sketching Symposium. This took me less than an hour of quite rapid sketching, which for all the details I was quite impressed with. I added the colour later on, as I had to get a move on. I do wish I’d had time to go inside, I understand the interior is quite lovely. I sat in the shade to sketch this. I love sketching a cathedral. Cathedrals, pubs and fire hydrants, that’s me.

all good things

newman chapel, davis
Unlike back home, Good Friday is not usually a day off for me here in the United States. Easter Monday continues not to be. But this year it was, because it also fell on Cesar Chavez Day, and for that equally good day, my stressfully busy week is shortened so I can sleep in a bit, pop to the shops to get frustrated at how little decent Easter chocolate there is, get my hair cut really short, and of course take the time to sit on the sidewalk for a couple of hours and draw something. This is Newman Chapel on 5th and C, Davis, which I have sketched before from different angles. I’m not a religious man as you know, but I like having Good Friday off. Any holiday that is on a Friday is good in my book.