Hampstead on a Sunday Morning

Hampstead High St

It was Sunday morning, and my restless nature meant I had to get out of the house and onto the tube. I decided to get off at Hampstead, one of my favourite hill-based places for a little bit of sketching and shop-going. I love Hampstead in the morning. People going out for breakfast, a tour guide bellowing history to a group of Americans outside the tube station, the little lanes off the High Street filled with cute houses. One of my life’s ambitions was that if I ever got rich I’d live in Hampstead, but you have to be really quite rich to do that nowadays I think. The other ambitions are still a place in Highgate and a place in the South of France, along with California of course, and I have at least lived in those places at some point along the way. I stood across the street from the station, putting my uphill perspective games to good use, not quite believing my good weather luck. Another of my ambitions, which I think would make a good book, is to location-draw every single station on the Northern Line, from Edgware to Morden and back up to High Barnet. Hampstead tube station, the deep red glossy ox-blood tiled building on the corner above, is London’s deepest station, regularly publishing philosophy, attending jazz poetry nights, and having meaningfully long walks along the beach. There are no long escalators here, no, you must use the elevators, or ‘lifts’ as we prefer to call them. After all this time away from England my mind’s vocabulary is slowly starting to flip Stateside – only now do I see the ‘Way Out’ signs on the Underground and think, Hahaha, it’s ‘Exit’, you Hippies. After sketching I went to the EE phone store to try and figure out why my unlimited texts plan was given me so far zero texts, only to find that the EE Store was closed on Sundays, because the Dark Ages. (I ended up finding an open EE store in Edgware, but they couldn’t figure out my texting issue, which is another story I won’t go into here, because it’s not interesting). I did get to go to Waterstones and spend money on books, because I can’t help it, and also go the Cass Arts and spend money on Seawhite of Brighton sketchbooks, because I can’t help myself.

The Flask, Hampstead

I did have to get back home though (via an unproductive pitstop at the EE store in Edgware – so I have an unlocked iPhone 8, and I could call and use data, and text other iPhones through iMessage, but for some reason could not send any texts to other non-iPhone phones, even with EE’s unlimited texts plan. I was unable to solve this the entire time I was back. I tried all sorts of settings on the phone, and the EE man in the store also could not figure it out. I didn’t have this problem with my older Nokia last time I was back.) I had to get back to meet my newest family member, my baby great-niece Frances, for the first time. However I did have some time to do a very quick sketch of the Flask pub in Flask Walk. Last time I came here I was ghost-hunting with my son a few years ago. Didn’t find any ghosts (what with the laws of thermodynamics pretty much disproving their existence – thanks a lot, thermodynamic party-poopers). I didn’t sketch much as you can see, and decided to leave it in the completely unfinished state rather than go back and do more, or finish off from a photo – this was too unfinished to do that. Besides, you get just enough with a sketch like this. That easel at the end of the lane, that was an oil-painting artist who I presume didn’t have to go and sort out his EE unlimited texting plan nor meet a new baby. He is unseen though, like a ghost. Also unseen, the ghosts of late morning brunchers, brunching away, many of them lined up outside the cafe to my right, a popular choice for the Hampstead brunching set, which if my ambitions are ever realized I will be one of them, brunching with a little dog at my heels, still sweaty from my jog across the Heath. Can you still afford brunch if you live in Hampstead? Is the existence of brunchers disproved by the laws of thermodynamics? Well they don’t appear in the sketch so you’ll have to make your own mind up. Brunching makes you feel good.

Hampstead Map

I drew a little map in my sketchbook. The colour scheme implies this is all fields, but of course it isn’t. To the north-west is Holly Hill. Up there somewhere among the ghosts and brunchers is the Holly Bush pub, which I have never been to, though I’ve always wanted to, both to have a drink and also to sketch. I’ll save that ambition for some future trip.

true it’s a dream, mixed with nostalgia

hampstead pond houses

After the sketchcrawlery of last Saturday, I rested my pens for a few days before taking up another version of the houses at Hampstead Ponds, which I’ve drawn several times now. It’s therapeutic, drawing all of those windows, from the comfort of my living room. The older versions drawn last year can be seen here and here. I’ve mentioned before, it would be my dream to live here, the Hampstead Village of Keats. We used to live not far from here, in Highgate, it’s just the perfect part of London. I do prefer Highgate, on the other side of the Heath, but Hampstead would be more convenient for getting to family in Burnt Oak and to the pubs in Camden (and I wouldn’t have to look down on Arsenal’s admittedly nice looking stadium). It’s damper there though, than here; in Davis this week we’ve had five days where it’s been about 100-105 F, and dry. The pubs are better here, but I prefer the beer in the Pacific US.

Anyway… if you are interested in seeing the steps of how this was done, the graphic (well, animated gif) below shows you how, though each step is but a second long.


On another note, I am thinking of starting an Etsy shop to make some originals and some prints available to buy; I might be listing this, so I’ll keep you posted. It’s 5″x7″, if you’re interested. In the meantime, if you should find yourself in Hampstead, pop over to the Heath and check this view out. It’s a lovely place.

hampstead revisited

hampstead houses

Another drawing of those houses by Hampstead ponds, this one done on bristol paper (no, that’s not one of sarah palin’s offspring); these buildings have a very hundertwasser quality, and I’m sure are very expensive (although possibly less expensive right now than before).

The last one I did, in my moleskine with a brown wash, is below. I’m leaving this one washless.

houses by hampstead heath ponds

life across the pond

houses by hampstead heath ponds

I love that part of Hampstead Heath by the big ponds, especially those big multi-windowed brown brick houses clustered along the edge. That’ll be them above. Not sure I’d like the famous night-time entertainment though; all those politicians out looking for votes, as it were.

Did this drawing over a couple of evenings (interrupted by baby-feeding). Below is the work-in-progress.
hampstead pond houses (unfinished)

morning in hampstead

outside hampstead tube

A sketching morning in Hampstead, with Si, starting at the tube station, wandering about the high Street and its alleys, then off to the Flask for a good pint of Deuchars. And it didn’t even rain!

phone box on hampstead high street back lane, hampstead