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"!


No comments:

Post a Comment

I always check identities and ALL links in comments for spam.

Due to excessive attempts to introduce spam via comments on this blog, I've introduced a regime where all comments with links in the ID or text to the websites of hotels/resorts/tourist destinations will NOT be approved and are deleted. The websites of repeat spammers are also reported to Google.

Nice, sensible people who are not new to blogging probably don't need to read my Comments Policy