Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Sketching and quotations from the NEAC Exhibition

I sketched at the Annual Open exhibition of the New English Art Club yesterday. What follows are some very quick sketches plus one longer sketch of the panel for the drawing discussions interspersed by various quotable quotes.

I invite you to picture me, during the guided tour with past president Ken Howard with my Daler Rowney hardback sketchbook in hand, writing down comments in pen at the back and sketching in pencil at the front of the same sketchbook! ;)

This is KH on what painting should be about.
"A painting should be about revelation, communication and celebration"

"In general, people see what they expect to see, what they know is there. An artist shows you what is there.

"Paintings are about form and content"

Ken Howard, Past President of NEAC

He said things which would have resonance with the art students in the audience.
"When I'm looking at an exhibition by amateur painters I'm looking for people who have a love of the language of painting"

"You've got to move away from a photo otherwise you might as well show that."

"I've never known a good painter who cannot draw, but not all good draughtsmen can paint."

"If you buy somebody's work, you need to love it enough to buy it from the gallery"

Ken Howard, Past President of NEAC

KH and his audience #2
8" x 11", pencil in sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

KH on the subject of intent and integrity
"If you can explain a painting in words then why bother to paint it"

"A painting works whichever way round you look at it because it should work as an abstract composition"

"If I had my time again, I'd take one subject and paint it again and again all my life - every time you paint it, it's new."

"San Marco is different every hour, every day, every week, every season, every year" (see website and Light Triptych entry to RA Summer exhibition)

"Good painters don't compromise"

Ken Howard, Past President of NEAC
Drawing - a discussion
8.5" x 11.5", pencil in sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Members of the Panel for the Discussion on Drawing from left to right in the sketch above are: Bill Packer, Jason Bowyer, Andrew Wilton, Charles Williams, Arthur Neal, and Karn Holly.
"Drawing is about looking and looking hard"

"Observational drawing has gone out of fashion"

"Drawing is a fantastic excuse to get people sitting in front of things for hours and hours and hours"

"The process of creativity is taken care of through the process of trying to understand your subject"

"Drawing is a lightweight violin - it exercises the muscle in your head which needs nutrition"

"People in this country are hung up about what the subject of a painting is rather than its content"

Members of the Drawing Discussion Panel

And afterwards....a cup of tea
pencil in sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Exhibitions and guided tours are really good places to practice drawing people in groups - especially as they don't stay still! All of the sketches, except for the one of the Panel took about a couple of minutes or so. Plus KH's head in KH and his audience #2 took a little longer.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Moreton in Marsh - galleries, cakes and tarts

The Marshmallow's cake display at Moreton in Marsh
8" x 11", pencil and coloured pencil in sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

This is the sort of sketch I tend to end up doing when visiting galleries on a rainy afternoon in December - the cake and tart display in the local teashop!

Vivien Blackburn (Painting, Prints and Stuff) and I visited Moreton in Marsh, in the Cotswolds, yesterday for a Private View of the opening exhibition of The John Davies Gallery which has recently relocated from Stow on the Wold to Moreton in Marsh - just up the road and on the London Paddington to Worcester main line.

In doing so the Gallery has gained an awful lot of space and good parking for its customers. The relocated gallery is in an Old Dairy in a former industrial area which is now reconfigured as an area for antique dealers and art galleries - enterprises which both benefit from space to show their wares to best effect. Such space is not normally available in 'shop' venues on a street. Plus the Gallery has a well established client list and new clients are unlikely to be 'passing trade' so the location makes jolly good sense.

We did think about doing a sketch of the gallery ("Tate Modern meets the Cotswolds") but the rain which was bucketing down made that decision very easy!

I really liked some of the work by the artists featured in the exhibition for the opening collection. (see this post on Making A Mark for highlights).

It was also great to see some of David Prentice's oil paintings of the Malverns and to also meet him. David Prentice is a long time painting 'hero' of both Vivien and myself. See Vivien's blogpost about the day for some commentary on DP's work and his own sketching and sketchbook habits. I was very pleased to get a recommendation as to the ink he used for the reed pen and ink and watercolour drawing of roofs in Paris which I saw at the Lynn Painter-Stainers exhibition last week and to have it confirmed that I'd guessed right as to the location of this view of Paris. It was also very interesting to find out that 'Paris Roofscape' started off as a sketch done in a small sketchbook.

We also visited the contemporary gallery in the London Road belonging to Astley Fine Art. They were having an exhibition of "The Thames" by Charles Neal. Unfortunately their website www.contemporaryart-uk.com doesn't appear to be working properly. Neal is an oil painter and yet another artist who has found a varied range of subjects suitable for both his interests and style while painting along the banks of the River Thames. A third gallery Grime House Arts has a very useful, if very small, art supplies section with some nice goodies and stuff which is difficult to find elsewhere. For those who like it, it also has a very fine collection of cranberry glass. I found one item which looked very like my grandmother's cranberry glass sweetmeat glass - and now have an idea of its value!

Moreton in Marsh was a victim of the floods on 20 July this year as this BBC photo shows. Nearly everybody we spoke to had a tale to tell about they much they had been affected by the floods. Some were waist deep and some found that the water stopped at their step and didn't come in at all. We thought that the name of the village suggested that maybe floods were not uncommon but apparently it isn't the case at all - nobody could remember ever being flooded before!

I have to assure you that Vivien and I were definitely not responsible for demolishing that chocolate tart - note only one slice left. No - we went for the white chocolate and raspeberry roulade as dessert following a very nice hot meal at lunchtime! Then we were back in 'The Marshmallow' at teatime for a cup of tea (me) and hot chocolate (Vivien) plus cake before facing the long drive back to London and Leicester respectively in the dark - and that's when I did this sketch. A lot of the day was spent on chat of an art nature - it's so nice to be able to get together with one's internet and blogging chums - and I do recommend making the effort if you've never done it before.

We've decided we definitely need to go back for David Prentice's next exhibition - New City Paintings - at the John Davies Gallery in March 2008. Judging by the example I've seen it looks like look like we're in for a treat with a number of large and atmospheric oil paintings of 21st century London. We talked a little bit about his locations and I think some of the paintings may well be from the top of Greenwich Hill where I did my sketchcrawl sketch recently although I know he didn't get the weather he wanted.

I think that next time we may well try and find somewhere to stay over night so we can spend more time there relative to the travelling time and get some plein air work done while we're there.

Notes on Moreton in the Marsh

Moreton in Marsh dates back to the thirteenth century and is one of the main towns on the Fosse Way (
a Roman road that linked Exeter to Lincoln in the East Midlands, via Ilchester (Lindinis), Bath (Aquae Sulis), Cirencester (Corinium) and Leicester (Ratae Corieltauvorum). As an old coaching town it developed a lot of places to eat and drink as such places tend to do and quite a few are still there. Its high street is very wide and buildings are traditional - a sixteenth century curfew tower at one end dominates the high street and modernity is kept firmly under control by the local council. Importantly for those who love visiting/painting gardens there are lots of really good ones nearby!


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Earn lots of money or get lots of grief?

Very lazy people should take some time out to note that every time you take my short feed - including the bit which says 'copyright Katherine Tyrrell' and decorate it every which way with Google AdSense adverts on a spam blog you are reported to Google AdSense for abusing my copyright which infringes your agreement with Google. If you took the time to read rather than steal my blog posts then you'd note that my detailed copyright notice says that all spam bloggers will be reported. Keep at it and I'll also start writing to your domain host and domain name registrar.

Next could Google AdSense please note that every time I have to go through this exercise I also notify some of the people who are using Google AdSense adverts - which are being used for fraudulent purposes.

I'm being defrauded, the advertisers are being defrauded and Google AdSense, the website hosts and the domain name registrars get a lot of e-mail and reports of abuses.

And for all the normal readers of this blog.........I'm now waiting to see whether this particular posts starts to decorate the particular spam blog which is currently systematically ripping off all this blog's posts - and which has been repeatedly reported to Google AdSense who seem to be 'treating' the problem on a post by post basis at the moment as opposed to withdrawing all Google AdSense adverts from what it is a very blatent spam blog. Shame on you Google!

I am also alerting people to any theft I see of their posts - as I did yesterday. If it happens to you do let me know and I'll tell you what to do and also tell you how to find out if it is happening to you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Drawing, tea and DVDs at the National Portrait Gallery

Tea at the National Portrait Gallery
11" x 8" pen and ink and coloured pencil in Daler Rowney sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

This is a shorter version of a post which was first seen on Making A Mark on 13th January 2007.

On Thursday afternoon I went back to the National Portrait Gallery for another look at the David Hockney Portraits exhibition which closes on 21st January. I arrived just after 1.30pm and left about 7.00pm (Thursdays and Fridays being late night opening). This must have been one of the most successful exhibitions that the NPG has ever had as it was busy all afternoon and was packed again after 5.00pm.

Drawing the work of other artists is a very well established tradition - and I'd love to show you what I did but I don't think I can as Mr Hockney is very much alive rather than dead for more than 70 years so copyright restrictions apply. I can justify 'fair use' for educational purposes - and I've now got a much better understanding of how he draws. None of my drawings are for commercial use and I'd show you all my sketchbooks if you were sat next to me - but on the internet I'm not so sure........... Anyway, I've written to the authorised website - so we shall see.

Instead you can see my sketch done in dim light sat in the Portrait Restaurant having a "Portrait Tea". My position gave me a good view of the roof of the National Gallery, Nelson's column (Nelson was just out of view) in Trafalfgar Square and the car lights and rain-soaked ground in Whitehall with Big Ben and the House of Parliament and the tower of Westminster Abbey visible in the background. I'm minded to try and draw this view as the seasons change and at different times of day as I find it endlessly fascinating.

(Note: I now have a conundrem as to whether the view looks better with or without people - see Sunday's post. I rather like the idea of the people 'weighting' the base and providing a counterbalance to all the geometric shapes. The values and colours in this one now look a bit 'off' to me having drawn it again. Maybe third time lucky? )

David Hockney Fifteen Sketchbooks 2002-2003

For those people who are Hockneyphiles (you know who you are!), I can confirm that the people providing support to the Hockney Pictures (which is the authorised website) are accepting orders for the DVD of "David Hockney Fifteen Sketchbooks 2002-2003". Use the contact form identified here to ask for a copy. Hockneyphiles in the USA have now managed to get a copy of the DVD through this route. (For an update on this and details of how to buy the DVD at the Hockney Pictures store see the original post.)

I've added a link to the shop below plus links to other posts about the Hockney exhibitions.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Interior landscapes with food - a Sketchbook

Lots of my sketches on my travels end up being done in restaurants, cafes and tea rooms. One day I may do a book.........

In the meantime, this summary post:

  • lists all the sketches by title, with their locations. I've organised it geographically in case anybody else fancies having a go at sketching the same view.
  • links to the locations in the title of the place

I'm also planning to post more of my sketches in various restaurants and other eateries which have already appeared on my other blog - see 'Making A Mark' - Interiors. While most of the sketches are of interiors (hence the title), a few involve facilities where the eating and drinking frequently takes place on a terrace outside eg Kew Gardens. Some are purely are of my view while I was taking refreshments.

Also ...... a post about my tips for people wanting to sketch in restaurants and other eateries.

10 "Dos and Don'ts" for how to draw people while eating

An Orangery Afternoon Tea
Kew Gardens

London (from west to east)

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew


Kensington Palace

Rex Whistler Restaurant 
Tate Britain, London

Tate Britain

Piccadilly - Royal Academy of Arts

St James Restaurant
Fortnum & Mason, London

Piccadilly - Fortnum and Masons

Mall Galleries

National Gallery

The National Cafe
National Gallery, London

National Portrait Gallery: Portrait Restaurant and Portrait Cafe

    Tate Modern

    "Fish! Restaurant, Borough Market
    Bankside, London


    City of London - Smithfield

    Northern England

    The Ferry Inn, Cookham
    Berkshire, England

    Southern England


    Menu du Terroir, La Grillade Gourmande, Épernay
    Auberge du Terroir
    Servon, Normandy



    Trattoria alla Madonna


    USA - California
    San Clemente, California

    USA - Arizona

    Cafe on Route 66
    Grants, New Mexico, USA

    USA- New Mexico

    USA Massachusetts

    Burdicks, Walpole,
    New Hampshire, USA

    USA - New Hampshire

    USA - Vermont

    USA - Maine

    In Good Company,
    Rockland, Maine

    More travel sketches 

    You can see more of my travels with a sketchbook on my website or by clicking the links to the summaries of blog posts for different areas in the right hand column. These are the links to my travels with a sketchbook in London; England; Venice and the USA.

    This post will be updated as new sketches are added to this blog.

    Sunday, November 25, 2007

    Westminster at night

    Study for Westminster Nocturne
    11.5" x 8", pencil in sketchbook
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    This sketch of Westminster at night is done from the 'light refreshments' end of the Portrait Restaurant which sits at the top of the Ondaatje wing of the National Portrait Gallery.

    Last Friday evening, after visiting the ING Discerning Eye exhibition at the Mall Galleries I decided to avoid doing battle with the evening rush hour and instead walked across Trafalgar Square to the National Portrait Gallery and had a quick look round the bookshop before ascending to the Portrait Restaurant.

    Before I got started on my other drawing, I did a very quick drawing on my bowl of olives and my drink (plus spot the pencil box at the back!).

    Rock Shandy and Olives
    11" x 8", pencil and coloured pencil in sketchbook

    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    My drink is called a "Rock Shandy" which means it contains lemonade, soda, bitters and 'London Sunset' - Pineapple, pink grapefruit and pomegranate juice.

    I'm convinced I'm going to do a more developed piece of the view from this restaurant and this is the second time I've sketched it at night. I'm practising as it'll be impossible to take photographs and get any decent information due to glass glare and just general problems of photography at night.

    From my table next to the window, I'm looking over the roof and roof lights of the National Gallery, across Trafalgar Square, past Nelson's Column, to the heart of British government - down Whitehall and Parliament Street to Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster, which houses the two houses of the United Kingdom Parliament.

    You can see a sketch map of it on the right and this is a map of the area on Google Maps. The arrow is where I'm sitting and the direction of the arrow indicates the direction I'm looking.

    I haven't included the colours of the various lights but am wondering whether you can make out the headlights and reare lights of the traffic at all?

    Overall I'm quite pleased with this mono study. It's really helping me to sort out how all the relative values work at night within the context of both natural and artificial lighting.


    Monday, November 05, 2007

    16th Worldwide Sketchcrawl - the result

    Prime Meridien - Study #1
    pencil and coloured pencil in Daler Rowney sketchbook

    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    Well! (You now know there's a story coming up....)

    I made up my mind late in the day that, for the 16th Worldwide Sketchcrawl, I would sketch the Prime Meridien at various points passing either side of the Thames. So I drove to Greenwich Park and got out of the car and then heard somebody saying to me "You've got a flat tyre".

    Just what I needed!

    So I had a little think (all the while having people stopping to advise me I'd got a flat tyre!!!) and decided that it looked like a slow puncture to me and that I could go and do at least one sketch while letting the tyre cool down. I would then try pumping it back up and driving home. If it pumped up I'd drive and if it didn't I'd call out Green Flag.

    Which is what I did - after first getting "he who must not bored while I sketch" on to standby mode to come and rescue me in case I ground to a bouncing halt anywhere scary like the approach road to the Blackwall Tunnel. Despite my breakdown cover, there's no way I'm staying on a road with speeding traffic any longer than I have to.

    As it happens, he wasn't required to don his armour for the dashing knight on a white charger routine and I got home again OK driving carefully at 30mph. Guess who's getting a slow puncture sorted today!

    However it did rather effectively kill the sketchcrawl. Although I still like the idea of sketching the Meridien and might try going out on another day and trying again.

    What you can see in the sketch at the top is the view from the top of the hill in Greenwich Park, I'm sat to the immediate right of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich and am looking right down the line of the Meridien. This slices straight through the left edge of the Dome which used to be known as "The Dome" (constructed to celebrate the Millenium) and has now been redeveloped as "The O2 Arena" which is home to concerts and rock and pop stars - including the London concert for the comeback tour of the Spice Girls next month and the new Tutankhamum exhibition!

    The River Thames and the Isle of Dogs/Canary Wharf are to the left and the autumn trees on the slopes of the hil Greenwich Park fill the bottom half of the drawing.

    You can see more sketches of views in and around the River Thames in my London Sketchbook on my website.


    Friday, November 02, 2007

    Eating in the Gallery Cafe at Manchester Art Gallery

    Gallery Cafe, Manchester Art Gallery
    8" x 11", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    Yet another one for the interior landscapes and eating themes which run throughout my sketchbooks, blog and website!

    This is quite a quick one , done while eating a tuna salad baguette and a flapjack for lunch prior to visiting the exhibition - Art Treasures in Manchester - 150 years on. The cafe is very light and airy and is a very pleasant place to have lunch.

    The food and drink in the Cafe is excellent and they are Fair Trade oriented (of which I heartily approve). This is a little twist on the previous emphasis within Manchester on 'free trade' which resulted in the Free Trade Hall - sadly no longer the home of the Halle orchestra and concerts and rebuilt as a hotel!!!

    I also did a quick sketch while in the exhibition of a Landseer painting of a bloodhound and a terrier - 'Dignity and Impudence' - otherwise known as Grafton and Scratch to their owner who commissioned the painting. (Guess which was which!) You can see the 'real thing' at the exhibition, in my MAM blog post about it and thereafter at Tate Britain.

    Sketch of Landseer's 'Dignity and Impudence'
    pen and sepia ink

    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    The Cafe and Art gallery are situated on Mosley Street and are an extended hop,skip and a jump away from another famous Manchester landmark - the circular Central Library - which is on the other side of the St Peter's Square tram stop. I've spent long hours pouring over historical records for a dissertation in that library!

    The Gallery and the Library are both institutions run by Manchester City Council which has its own landmark building in Alfred Waterhouse's Manchester Town Hall which is Grade 1 Listed. One of Waterhouse's other major Gothic revival works is the Victoria and Albert Museum and the two buildings are rather similar.


    Thursday, November 01, 2007

    Early morning light in Cheshire

    Sunrise from Jan's Study
    8" x 11", pencil and coloured pencils in Daler Rowney sketchbook

    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    One of the tips I remember being given a very long time ago is "never neglect a chance to sketch in early morning or early evening light" as the light, colours and shapes can be a lot more interesting. So if I'm occupying a bed away from home I always look out the window very early to see what the view looks like and lots of sketches over the years have been done before breakfast!

    I was staying at the home of my cousin and her husband in Cheshire earlier this week and found the clocks going back on Sunday meant I was getting up earlier than usual. So I took some time to sketch the views in very early morning light from rooms which look out from the front and rear of the house over gardens and fields. I even managed a sunrise!

    Sketching a sunrise is a tricky business - the light changes really fast and I had to draw even faster than usual, plus use my memory of what colours had been there. The nature of the tonal range and contrasts and the speed with which these changed were a real challenge as well. As I think I've explained before, I usually get some colour down fast and try and indicate its area very loosely without trying to get a more 'finished' sketch. That way I can finish the sketch after the light effects have changed.

    I'd like to have a go at working the sunrise one up. I've just had a peek at my camera card and I've got a couple of photos which provide me with good information about the cloud formation but of course the camera has then made everything else completely black - such is the way in which cameras cope with areas of dark values when faced with intense light! I guess I'll work something out....

    The view from 'bedroom 5'
    8" x 11", pencil and coloured pencils in Daler Rowney sketchbook

    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    This next one is a favourite view of my cousin's and I've been on a promise to try and produce a drawing of this for some time. The combination of the sunshine and colours of the early morning clouds juxtaposed with the autumn colours of the beech hedge and silver birch in the garden plus the other hedges and trees in the fields creates an attractive vista. Again, this is potentially one for working up but I think I maybe need to experiment with a different crop or format for this one.

    Have you ever tried sketching a sunrise?

    Monday, October 22, 2007

    Wisley in Autumn - and the National Fruit Show

    The little trees on the lake, Wisley
    coloured pencil in Daler Rowney sketchbook
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    I went to the RHS Garden at Wisley last Friday for the start of their Autumn Festival and National Fruit Show. Next to all the wonderful displays of apples and pears, they have lots of stalls with lovely tempting food. I resisted the charms of the slabs of organic chocolate with fruity bits at the Chocolate Alchemist but came away with a game pie, a bottle of Thai infused olive oil and stem ginger marmalade!

    Lest you think I only went for the food(!), I also took the opportunity to check out how the trees were doing in terms of changing colour. I don't know if it's my imagination or not but they seem to be staying greener and keeping leaves longer this year. I wonder if the deluge this summer has anything to do with that?

    One of the lakes had five very small trees whose leaves had already turned and they looked quite odd amongst so much greenery. They are however going to make some fabulous artwork for my series on drawings of gardens when I work out sizes and crops from the photos and the sketch I did.

    I also visited a really good exhibition of garden photography called "Gardens in Focus" in The Glasshouse Gallery. It finishes at the end of this month. When I see excellent work like that it always makes me want to go and spend a small fortune on a camera - before I remember just how heavy those cameras are to carry around! I've got a very nice new small rucksack which takes all my art kit plus new addition of a portfolio for loose paper much more easily than my 'old' small one and I'm not looking to add in yet more things to carry just yet!

    Wisley has various helpful sections on the RHS website about what is happening in different months of the year (see below for links).

    I haven't spotted the RHS Garden - Wisley blog before - that's new to me. They explain in Painting with Apples how they produced the splendid garden mural which I photographed. It's produced entirely from different varieties of apples. Note the age of the designer!
    This week the Fruit Department are painting…. with apples. For the last few years we’ve held a competition with schools to come up with a design that can be ‘painted’ using the restricted colour palette of apples. I’m always amazed by the imagination of children and the astonishing variety of ideas they come up with. This year’s winning design of a tractor is by 8 year old Jodie Francis from St Barnabas School, Market Lavington, near Devizes in Wiltshire.
    RHS Garden Wisley - Painting with Apples

    Sunday, October 21, 2007

    Lunch at the National Dining Rooms - and sketching at the National Gallery

    Eton Mess at the National Dining Rooms
    11" x 8", pencil and coloured pencil in Daler Rowney sketchbook

    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    On Wednesday last week, after my Diversity of Drawing Lecture by Prof. Petherbridge at the National Gallery, I took the lift upstairs and had lunch at the National Dining Rooms. This was purely in the interests of seeing what the vantage point was like for sketching Trafalgar Square and also as a possible venue for meeting people for a Christmas meal. Naturally I had to eat as well........

    Above is my sketch of Eton Mess - a strawberries, cream and meringue confection. Wikipedia provides a recipe but for Delia lovers this is Delia's version. For those who love looking at the menus here's the core menu - to which daily dishes are added. I also had the scrummy chicken liver pate and halibut with creamed spinach - which has made me just think it wasn't maybe the most calorie conscious meal I've had recently - but I enjoyed it very much nevertheless! ;) The National Dining Rooms recently won the 'Best British Restaurant' category in the Time Out Eating and Drinking Guide and you can read The National Dining Rooms write-up here.

    Sketching wise, there seems to be really only one table with a decent view of Trafalgar Square - and I managed to bag it. I'm not quite sure why the architects passed on providing a better view for more people but they did...

    The table enables a look across the profile of frontage of the National Gallery and the top terrace of Trafalgar Square, part of South Africa House and the road down to Charing Cross Station. You can also see St Martin in the Fields on the left behind the gallery all wrapped up in polythene sheeting plastic during its restoration.

    I did a very quick sketch to see if could work out a possible drawing and whether I liked it enough to do a big one - but I'm not sure I do. It seems to lack a focal point of interest - plus I'd have an awful lot of people and birds to draw as well! I've merely indicated a few to give scale.

    Looking across the Square, there is a view of one of the fountains an the plane trees around the edge of the Square which are currently changing colour - much more interesting! And then I saw what the people on the table next to me were having for dessert and that my attention was distracted..........

    Fountain in Trafalgar Square
    10" x 8", coloured pencil in Daler Rowney sketchbook
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    Nelson from the National Cafe
    pencil and coloured pencil in sketchbook
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    Later, after visiting the two exhibitions at Mall Galleries (see my blog entries for The Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers - Annual Exhibition and Celebrating the Sea with the Royal Society of Marine Artists), I returned to the National Gallery for a cup of tea in the National Cafe - and a sketch - prior to attempting my last sketch of the day - of one of the paintings in the galleries upstairs. Plus one more that was completely unplanned and very fast. Wednesday is late night opening at the National Gallery and that makes it a good day for a long day in town - which is another good reason for eating a decent meal at midday!

    The National Cafe sketch is of the view from one of the windows which looks out on to Trafalgar Square. I realised perched on my stool that I could just see the reaf of Nelson - and rather liked the graphic combination of statue and column and the woodwork architraves and panelling surrounding the very large window.

    Lake Keitele - after Gallen Kallela
    coloured pencil in sketchbook
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    I chose Finnish painter Gallen-Kallela's Lake Keitele for sketch of a painting. It's an oil painting on canvas and measures 53 x 66 cm. I love this work - and judging by the amount of gifts which bear its image in the National Gallery shop other people do too. I find it peaceful and mesmirising. The special page on the National Gallery explains its roots in myth and meaning.

    'Lake Keitele' is the only painting by a Finnish artist at the National Gallery. Its elegant atmosphere of cool tranquillity makes it one of the best-loved paintings in the collection.

    It was painted at a time when Finland was struggling to gain its own national identity and recapture its cultural roots. 'Lake Keitele' reflects the artist Gallen-Kallela's preoccupation with Finnish cultural history.
    National Gallery - Painting of the Month page for Lake Keitele

    Monet and the Women
    pen and ink and coloured pencil in sketchbook

    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    I had just packed up when I suddenly noticed a group of young women standing in the next door gallery engrossed in conversation. I whipped out the sketchbook and my pen and very quickly 'grabbed' a sketch in a couple of minutes of them talking before they moved off. That's two paintings of the Houses of Parliament by Monet on the wall behind them!

    I love doing groups like this - for poses rather than fatures of individuals. They're great practice and also make good references should I ever want a similar group in a work I'm developing. I added the coloured pencil when I got home having done my usual trick of naming colours to myself as I sketched.

    So an art history lecture about drawing, a lovely lunch, two annual art society exhibitions, a cup of tea and a visit to the post 1700 galleries and six sketches - now that's what I call a good day out for both activities and sketching!

    I then caught the tube home and got in just in time for the start of the final of "The Restaurant"!


    Monday, October 15, 2007

    Drawing Covent Garden Big Draw

    Drawing the crowd drawing spaces
    8"x11" pencil on HP paper
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    On Saturday I drew some of the participants in the Covent Garden Big Draw weekend (see above). This is part of the Big Draw which is a nationwide celebration of drawing held at over 1,000 events across the UK throughout October. It kicked off off on 30th September with Big Draw East which I wrote about in Sketching the Big Draw East.

    It's the first time the Big Draw has launched its nationwide day in the iconic Covent Garden Piazza designed by Inigo Jones and there was a a lot going on:
    • a marquee in which cartoonists helped people learn how to develop a cartoon trip and how to caricature from members of the Cartoonists Club of Great Britain. This is what a girl called Jasmine produced - I think it's a splendidly funny cartoon strip
    Sausage Dog! by Jasmine T
    a cartoon produced in the Cartooning Marquee of the Covent Garden Big Draw

    • easels and another marquee were set up in front of the portico of the church for 'Picture the Past' which involved both children and adults drawing models dressed in the costumes of different historic figures. I contributed a head of Nell Gwyn to a big sheet of paper.
    • workshops on drawing different modes of transport were being held in the Transport Museum - which is due to reopen in November.
    • the celebrity frame where artists, cartoonists, designers and others drew their drawings.
    Below are two small girls sat on the cobble stones in the Piazza watching Posy Simmonds draw a cartoon of the Owl and the Pussycat nursery rhyme. You may think they're drawing - whereas they are in fact tucking into waffles with what looked like chocolate sauce! Those of who are long-standing readers of the Guardian will remember Posy's cartoons of the middle class lives of three families in the 80s with huge affection.

    Two girls eating waffles
    8" x 11", pencil on HP paper
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    Meanwhile, I got a teeny bit fed up waiting for the Walk and Sketch Tour to get going and so sat myself down and started to draw people drawing - and their audience! (I loved the little girl with her sensible Ugg boots and pink frilly ballet skirt combination!)

    I came across the view at the top - and just found it amazing to see so many people - young and old - sat down on steps, and pavements and cobbles drawing architecture! What was interesting for me was to try and capture that look of intense drawing concentration and associated posture.

    I also tried out my new wheeze for drawing en plein air - using a Daler Rowny drawing portfolio with loose paper inside. It worked reasonably well but I remembered too late that I get very irritated by lots of tape to tie a bow. I think I'm going to have to invest in some robust wide elastic tape! Or maybe velcro?

    Two drawing
    4" x 8", pen and ink and coloured pencil in Moleskine
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell