sketching jack’s london, part 4: micro-sketchbook

sketching jack's london cover sm

sketching jack's london p1 smAt the ‘Sketching Jack’s London‘ sketchcrawl last month I gave every participant a small eight-page micro-sketchbook that I had made myself, only 3″x4″ big, to use to sketch London when they need to, with quick micro-sketches. The paper was either just regular Canson or Strathmore drawing paper (I had made it with whatever I had in the cupboard), bound in construction paper, and numbered – I got No. 1, and used it for some super-quick sketches, mostly of other sketchers later at the pub. I did finish the book though, and here are presented all of the very small pages…

sketching jack's london p2-3 sm
“Rebel Dry Cleaners” is a great name. I imagine Mon Mothma and Nien Numb and all the rest in there, running out the back when the stormtroopers walk past, etc.

sketching jack's london p4-5 sm
Urban Sketcher James Hobbs, who’s a really nice guy, I got see look through his excellent sketchbook. On the right is Joan who I was friends with at school and who went off to become an artist, she also came on last year’s London sketchcrawl whch was only the second time I’d seen her since we left school, so it was great to catch up.

sketching jack's london p6-7 sm

Dave from New Zealand on the left, I had met him in Barcelona so it was nice to chat with him again in London, and I always have to sketch a beard. Also, Denia, an artist friend of Joan’s who is from Greece and New York but lives in London.

sketching jack's london p8-9 sm

Finally Ana from Bilbao in the Basque Country, and on the red page is Roshan, my best friend who came down for the post-sketchcrawl drink. I’ve not sketched him much before so this was not a bad attempt!

And that is it! I do enjoy sketchcrawling in London, there really are so many interesting artists to meet and I really enjoyed this one. I already have another one in mind for next time…”Sketching Wren’s London“, from the Monument to the Old Bell, an exploration of the City of Christopher Wren…see you in 2014!

sketching jack’s london, part 3: the end

christ church spitalfields
The last sketch I did in my Moleskine (not counting the little ones done in my micro-sketchbook, whcih I will post next) was of course Christ Church Spitalfields. I couldn’t not sketch it. Built by Nicholas Hawksmoor in the English baroque style it was completed in 1729 (so definitely a big part of Jack’s London). I did have to rush through it a little though; the end was nigh, people were gathering, time to down pens and down pints, as it were. The ending group was rather different to the startning group; some earlier sketchers had to leave before the end, while we were joined by several after-work sketchers. It’s always like that even on a daytime sketchcrawl, and that’s the beauty of it, you can just sketch for as long as you like. This being July, the London evening was still light and still pretty warm, and the company was great. Here are some of the evening sketchers, gathering in Spitalfields…
P1130208
P1130201P1130205P1130204P1130215P1130211
And here is the final group! In total, early group and late group combined we had about thurty-five people, and it was excellent meeting all of you! I asked not to do the ‘sketchbooks on the ground’ thing, preferring the showing each other our books individually, in a more personal manner. That whole thing of laying the books on the pavement means that both sketcher and observer are detached from the book, and the sketchbooks are, you know, on the floor. Much nicer to flick through them, and see them as they are.
Sketching Jack's London

And afterwards, a few of us headed over to the Ten Bells pub. This sketchcrawl was for sure a highlight of my trip and I really enjoyed meeting everybody. Good job folks! I don’t know if we found Jack the Ripper’s London, but it was great to explore the area through the eyes and sketchbooks of others.

Hey the next USk London sketchcrawl will be from the Tate to the Tate (organized by Nate – Nathan Brenville) THIS FRIDAY August 16. It’s also an afternoon-evening’ one, starting at Tate Modern and ending at Tate Britain in Pimlico (they’ve got a lovely gallery). If you’re in London, the information can be found here: http://urbansketchers-london.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/tate-to-tate-sketchcrawl-august-16th.html

Anyway, more a few more “Jack’s London” sketches still to come from me…

sketching jack’s london…part 1

Whitechapel map with names
And finally time to report on the sketchcrawl in London last month! “Sketching Jack’s London“… I had decided, after reading ‘From Hell’ (the graphic novel by Alan Moore, not the terrible movie upon which it is based) that I wanted to do some sketching around Whitechapel, an area of London I had not been to in more than a decade, but which I used to go frequently in mySketching Jacks London: sketchcrawl, July 17 student days for curry. So I announced a sketchcrawl; while the London of Jack the Ripper is mostly gone, some things remain, so it would be fun to try to look for old Whitechapel in the guise of a sketchcrawl. Now, this sketchcrawl was a bit different, as it was midweek and started at 3:00pm, to go on until the evening. It was a hot and sticky day, perhaps the hottest yet, and my journey on the tube to Whitechapel was squashed and uncomfortable. A good group of us gathered outside Whitechapel tube station, several sketchers I had met before and many I was meeting from the first time. Among the global urban sketchers were Alissa Duke visiting from Sydney and Sue Pownall who lives in Oman, both of whom I met for the first time a few days before in Barcelona. I was also meeting London Urban Sketcher James Hobbs for the first time. My superbly talented cousin Dawn Painter was there too. Too many great sketchers to name! Here’s a photo of the starting group:
Sketching Jack's London July 17, 2013

Everybody got a hand-drawn map and guide made by myself, as well as a small micro-sketchbook that I also made. I introduced the sketchcrawl; I’m not much of a Ripperologist (though I do get the online journal, an one of my sketches appeared in it once) but I love a bit of urban history, especially exploring it with a sketchbook. As I said in the guide, if you don’t want to look for the Ripper’s city, you can always just sketch the hipsters. As the sketchers all dispersed, making a slow exploration towards Christ Church Spitalfields, I stuck around the tube station to greet any latecomers and sketched the entrance to the tube station. I don’t imagine Jack the Ripper coming by tube, but the station dates back to the 1870s so it’s not impossible. I wonder how he would have felt about the extortionate ticket prices. “What a Rip-off” probably.

whitechapel station

I mooched around Whitechapel, which was busy and not massively different from how I remember it, and eventually made it down to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Established in 1570, this is in fact the oldest registered manufacturing company in Britain – or the world, as the various bike tour guides passing by would say. Still, they have a magnificent history (see their website) – this is where the Liberty Bell was cast (though it broke, of course), as well as the bells of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the bell from the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, and perhaps the most famous bell of all, Big Ben, a bell so famous that most people think it’s a clock. Big Ben is also the biggest bell they ever cast here. I didn’t go in, but sat in the shade of a tree outside while locals stopped and said, oh wow man, and offered to give me cold drinks.

whitechapel bell foundry

I must admit, I love this type of sketch probably more than any other, a bit of old brick and history. This is such a London sketch, a London palette and London lines, quickly made.

P1130190

More Jack’s London sketchery to come!

Sketching Jack’s London: July 17

Sketching Jacks London: sketchcrawl, July 17
London! Here is a sketching event just for you, a midweek, afternoon-evening sketchcrawl around the old neighbourhood of that notorious elusive villain, Jack the Ripper.

Join us as we sketch around Whitechapel, in search of its past. We will begin at 3:00pm meeting outside Whitechapel tube station, and then sketch individually or in groups. This event is FREE and open to anybody with an interest in sketching, all you need to bring is something to draw with and something to draw on (although I have made some very special micro-sketchbooks for all participants… see photo below).

As with last year’s sketchcrawl around Temple and Fleet Street, I will provide hand-drawn maps with some interesting information (and it will include the locations of the Ripper’s ‘canonical five’ murders). We will finish up outside Christ Church Spitalfields at 8:00pm. There we will check out each other’s sketchbooks, and then maybe pop across the road to the Ten Bells for a pint in the Ripper’s very own local.

Whitechapel map with names

Of course, the London of Jack the Ripper is gone. Thankfully, one might add. The slums were cleared, the squalor washed up. The twentieth century happened. The Blitz happened. History happened. Hipsters happened. Yet traces of Jack’s London still remain, some invisible, some ignored, and some pretty hard to miss. In this sketchcrawl, let’s look for the old East End, the smog-chipped bricks, the weather-worn cobbles, the winding streets, the smell of old pubs, the sudden towering steeples, the London that the nineteenth century left behind. Whitechapel, Aldgate, Brick Lane, Spitalfields, the edge of the City. The Elephant Man. The Krays. Jack Sheppard. Ashley Cole. Er, Jack London stayed here for a while. Even Big Ben and the Liberty Bell were born here. Jack the Ripper is gone, a legend for the tourists, but old London is still there, hiding in the modern world, AND WE ARE GOING TO SKETCH IT!!
(or of course, you can just sketch the hipsters…)

sketching jack's london micro sketchbooks

specially made ‘sketching jack’s london’ micro-sketchbooks!!!

Hope to see you there!

Facebook event page

For more info, please leave a comment or contact me privately using the following contact form: