Utah 5: Moab and Salt Lake

Utah hiking trip

This was my ‘journal’ page in the sketchbook where I wrote a bit about the trip. I always mean to do things like that in my sketchbooks as I go along when I travel but sometimes forget, or I draw it with stupid cartoony Petes doing stuff badly, but I liked the tone of this in pencil, and it kept with the pencil and paint theme of my sketching in the parks. I always worry that the pencil will smudge as I used my book (one of the reasons I don’t draw much in pencil, though when covered in watercolour it doesn’t seem to happen as much). On the last day in Moab I went for a walkabout; Moab reminded me a lot of Radiator Springs, the town from the movie Cars (which we watched about 7000 times when my son was younger); the backdrop mostly, but some of the shops too. So it was quite funny to see one of the auto repair shops had converted a truck into Lightning McQueen’s buddy Mater (full name “Tow Mater”). I had to draw him! There were a lot of vehicles in Moab I could have drawn, and by that I mean (1) Jeeps and (2) ATVs. So many ATVs. ATVs are all-terrain vehicles are those funny looking buggy things, and they look like they are only driven by people who would not like them being called “funny looking buggy things”. But my descriptive skills are tired from all the hiking. You see? That sentence doesn’t even make sense. Well dad-gum, as Mater would say.

Tow Mater in Moab

We left Moab for the long drive back to California, which would take two days, across mountains and deserts, through snowstorms and sunshine, but boy were there snowstorms across the Great Salt Lake Desert. We stopped off in Salt Lake City once again, so we could get some more delicious waffles and frites from the little Belgian place we discovered, Bruges Bistro. This place was amazing, and I had a nice chat with the Flemish guy who ran the place. I had once more a huge waffle covered in s’mores (a nice mix of the Belgian and American), with sauce andalouse to go with my frites. This is the place below (I drew that after I got home).

Bruges Belgian Bistro SLC

After lunch we headed off to Temple Square to see the Tabernacle and the historic Salt Lake Temple. You can’t go inside the buildings (and the Temple is undergoing a major renovation, it looked like the foundations of the church itself were being completely updated) (that’s not a metaphor by the way, I mean the building itself). You’ll know of course that Salt Lake City is the epicentre of the Mormon church (real name The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) (which is a long official name; I like long official names, like “Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club”, “El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles” (the real name for L.A. though not really the official name) and of course “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” (still correct at the the time of writing but check back again soon)). They usually go by “LDS” but are mostly known as Mormons. It was interesting to learn that the streets in Salt Lake City all emanate out from Temple Square. I did a very quick sketch of the Temple while we explored the square, which is permanently walled off but still open to visitors. there were many friendly guides about to give information, but we didn’t stay long. It was interesting. Surrounding the square were a great number of large and very corporate buildings for all of the church’s global administration. The city itself was surround an most sides by mountains capped with snow; I forgot that would be the case, but they did have the Winter Olympics here many years ago. The Great Salt Lake is just to the north, and we drove past that on the way back towards Nevada. 

Salt Lake City Temple Square

I didn’t draw on the rest of the journey; we listened to podcasts, and an audio book (Neil Gaiman’s “An Ocean At the End of the Lane”; appropriate as there was a Great Salt Lake at the end of the road), stopped in Elko again and eventually made it home. A long road trip. Next time we go we will fly, but it was fun to see a bit more of America.  

old vedanta temple

old vedanta temple San Francisco
At the corner of Filbert and Webster in San Francisco’s Cow hollow neighbourhood is a very peculiar looking building. I noticed it on a previous trip to the city and wanted to go back and draw it. This building is the Old Vendanta Temple, topped with exotic domes and adorned with fanciful windows, yet still retaining that sense of old San Francisco. Well, this is old San Francisco – built more than a century ago, it was said to be the first Hindu temple in the Western hemisphere (according to this interesting piece on sfcityguides.org). I sat acros the street behind a telegraph pole (my only shade) and sketched from the domes down, which was fun, but by the time I was messing about with the windows I was getting a bit antsy and wanted to stop. I prefer the unfinished look of the sketch though, it tells more of a story and leaves details to be filled in by the brain. Plus it gave me time to go looking around the shops on Union Street. After the morning at the Tenderloin, Cow Hollow with its flash cars and fine heels and fancy bistros where it is brunch all day is the exact direct opposite.

a tale of one city

Temple Station
And so here are the drawings I did on the London sketchcrawl. I started off by doing a quick sketch outside Temple station before everyone turned up; I must admit I was pretty nervous about the day!
Embankment

After everybody had dispersed to sketch this and that, I sat by the Thames catching up with my cousins and drawing the view from the Embankment. The big pointy building in the distance is the Shard, Europe’s brand-new tallest building, ingeniously designed to burst any incoming alien balloon. That’ll show ’em.
Essex StPrince Henry Room
Here are a couple of sketches I did after that, the one on the right being up a quiet street in the Temple, and the other being on the less quiet Fleet Street, the Prince Henry Room. The gateway around it is actually a feature of the building, around the gate which on weekdays is open and leads to Temple Church, but on this day was shut to the public. I really should have known. So I sketched the building itself in my beloved brown pen. The London 2012 stamp is one I picked up at Paperchase.
sketching Fleet Street
This one above, a smaller quicker sketch of the famous view down Fleet Street, was done at the end of the ‘crawl on the way down to the meeting point. My scanner broke before I could scan it however so I can only post the photo.

And this last one, this was of the Cheshire Cheese pub – no, not that one, a different one on Milford Lane near the Temple. When I heard about it I just had to draw it. Old pub drawing – check. It took a bit of a while, about an hour and a half, and I had to add the colour later on, but it was a fun one to draw.Cheshire Cheese

That really was a great sketchcrawl. I still have plenty more London (and Paris) sketches to post…I just need to get a new scanner!

urban sketching london!

A couple of weeks ago I organized a sketchcrawl in London (“Let’s Draw London!”) around the Temple and Fleet Street parts of London, one of my favourite areas. It was organized alongside the recently launched Urban Sketchers London, and was also picked up by members of the Meetup group ‘Drawing London on Location’. My hope was that a fair few London sketchers would come out and come together, and boy did that happen!

Let's Draw London May 26, 2012: start

Above is part of the group that met at 10:30 outside Temple station. I passed around sign-in sheets, and all in all we had more than 50 sketchers on this sketchcrawl, and we all set off in groups or individually to draw London. What a sunny day it was too! I met several of the London Urban Sketchers, including Katherine Tyrell who thankfully took some great photos to record the day – you can see them on this post on USk London.

I printed out fliers for everyone (I had just enough!), and provided a little hand-drawn map with interesting sketchable spots, though really anywhere is interesting. Here it is:

It was great to walk around and see so many Londoners out sketching, and also to identify each other by those carrying the little fliers I made. Below are some of my photos, taken at the end meeting at Gough Square. I wanted to meet up at the statue of Dr.Johnson’s (Samuel not Boris) cat, Hodge. We decided to do the now common laying-down of the sketchbooks on the ground, all around the cat, for everyone to admire. I found this common at the USk Symposia, and while it’s a good and fun way to display them all, it’s also very humbling (and a little scary) seeing my little drawings beside so many great pieces of art! I still prefer the one on one sketchbook exchanges at the end of a sketchcrawl, and it was nice to do some of that with people. Many of us reconvened into the Olde Cheshire Cheese for a pint, some sketchbook viewing and lots of sketching talk! I’ll post my sketches in the next post, but in the meantime…

Let's Draw London May 26, 2012Let's Draw London May 26, 2012Let's Draw London May 26, 2012Let's Draw London May 26, 2012Let's Draw London May 26, 2012Let's Draw London May 26, 2012

To all who came, THANKS for coming! I did meet some truly fantastic London sketchers whose work I have followed for years (especially nice to meet Olha Pryymak, her work is beautiful), met many more whose work I will now eagerly follow, but missed meeting some others whose work I love. Not enough time! Even an old schoolfriend, Joan, from my art class 20 years ago came – I had only seen her once since leaving school so it was nice to catch up. And excitingly, I was joined by my two long-lost (and Facebook-found) cousins Claire and Dawn, who are both superb artists. We haven’t seen each other since we were kids but have grown up with an avid love of drawing, so what a great way to reconnect at last. Everyone I spoke to had a great day, and some others on the sketchcrawl are returning this Saturday to follow the same route again (wish I could join them!). In the meantime, if you’re London based or nearby, you may wish to keep an eye on the regular meetings of…

And finally, check out the newly set-up Urban Sketchers London flickr group, which any London based sketcher can join and where many great sketches and photos from the sketchcrawl are posted.

…I really must do this again!

let’s draw london!

Lets Draw London!

Next month I will be back in my home town of London, to see the people I miss so much, and also to do a bit of drawing. I will be a guest blogger on the recently launched Urban Sketchers London website, and so I am pleased to be organizing a sketchcrawl on Saturday May 26 around the historic Temple and Fleet Street areas. Why not join in? Let’s draw London!

The sketchcrawl will begin at 10:30am, meeting outside Temple tube station. All you need is something to draw with and something to draw on, and this event is free and open to everyone, artists and sketchers of all levels. What better way to explore the hidden nooks of your city than with a sketchbook? It’s only half about the drawing, it’s also about the looking, the act of observation through which you build a relationship with your surroundings. Plus it’s great fun to sketch with others!

There will be a midway point at 1:00pm outside Temple Church for those who come late or leave early, and the sketchcrawl will finish at 4:00pm in Gough Square, by the statue of Dr.Johnson’s cat. It’s just off of Fleet Street, but like a scavenger hunt you’ll enjoy finding it! There we will look at each others’ sketchbooks, and then maybe pop into the old Cheshire Cheese for a pint.

I hope to see you there!

‘Let’s Draw London’ Facebook event page