Thursday, January 03, 2008

Boxing Day ice skating at Greenwich

Boxing Day Skating at Greenwich Naval College #1
Boxing Day Skating at the Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich #1
8" x 11.5", pencil and coloured pencil in my sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

On Boxing Day, we went over the Thames to Greenwich for a breath of fresh air and a vigorous post Christmas walk through Greenwich Park, down the hill to the former Greenwich Hospital/Old Royal Naval College, along the path by the River Thames and back up the hill.

There were lots of people in Greenwich Park with pretty much the same idea as us. We walked round the gardens near the main gate and then took a long loop round and down to the bottom of the park, passing "Vanbrugh Castle" on Maze Hill on the edge of Greenwich Park, the house where John Vanbrugh - famous architect - used to live.

We then walked past the front of the old Greenwich Hospital (which became the Old Royal Naval College and is now part of the University of Greenwich), past Cutty Sark and the reconstruction site, down to Greenwich Pier and then along the walkway besides the Thames. I don't think I've ever seen the river quite as high as it was and I was rather glad that there was very little traffic on the Thames.
Boxing Day 2007 - high water at Greenwich

We then walked back to the skating and I did a couple of quick sketches.
I have an urge to try a 'proper' artwork with skaters and the architecture as the subject. In the first sketch at the top, the National Maritime Museum across the road is in the background. In the second sketch below, you can see the towers on the Isle of Dogs - the reverse view of what I see from my kitchen window (and is portrayed in Canary Wharf Skies on my gallery website)

As it was chilly (although not as cold as last year), I don't like to hang about too long or to test the patience of "he who must not be bored while I sketch" too much. So I aim to sketch very fast and add the colour later - although I do make a point of looking long and hard to get a good sense of the predominant colours in the overall scene. I decided I wasn't totally enamoured with the colour of their uniformly fluorescent orange skates so omitted that!

Boxing Day ice skating at Greenwich #2
Boxing Day Skating at the Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich #2
8" x 11.5", pencil and coloured pencil in my sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I learned last year that the trick to sketching skaters is to look at very big shapes and the things which make them distinctively skaters as opposed to walker. It's generally the way they lean or use their arms which makes a difference. Also there's lots of handholding and people supporting others in their bid to get round! The other main thing is to make sure that people overlap and that there is some sense of perspective - people can't be all the same size. Make them a different size and the sketch starts to have depth. I always try to get at least one larger person near the front. After that I'm drawing the head from one person hands from another and legs from another! When I've sorted the image posting problem I'll post some of the quick warm-up sketches I did as well.

After I finished sketching and taking my reference photos, we then walked back up the hill on the Crooms Hill side of the Park as the light disappeared fast - at 4.30ish and came back home and regretted the decision to ban hot mince pies!

This a link to the ice skating sketches I did last winter Skating and Sketching in London - I must transfer that post to this blog and update the links!

[Note: I'm having to load photos from Flickr as image upload isn't working for me. Is there any html trick to get the text to wrap around the photos?]


  1. Thanks for the link to my 'Holiday in France' in your blogroll (Travels in Europe) - I don't want to've put my surname as Grant and it's fairly similiar - Gatland, in fact! ;)
    I hope everything is alright with you and yours - haven't seen a new post for a while - highly unusual!

  2. Found you through Trumpetvine Travels. Your travel sketches are just lovely! I love to ice skate, so I really enjoyed your post about Boxing Day.


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