Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Ecology Park Pond in December

The Ecology Park Pond - 26th December 2008
8.5" x 11.5" pencil and coloured pencils
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

We went out yesterday for our Boxing Day Constitutional along the Regents Canal to Victoria Park - expecting to find lots of people also out walking - but we saw very few people. Maybe they had all gone to to the 70% discount sales?

This is the Ecology Park Pond which I sketched when I was reviewing the Derwent Safai Journal. Except yesterday the sky was an intense blue overhead - as was the pond - and the pollarded willows didn't have any leaves. The low afternoon sun in a very clear blue sky created a brilliant mix of complementary colours. I have to confess that it was so cold that the coloured pencil got added when I got home!

I'm thinking about maybe drawing this pond and its trees every month in 2009..........(see Reflections on a Pond)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The NEAC Discussion Panel 2008

NEAC Discussion Panel - Can you teach art or drawing?
(L to R) Alex Fowler, Francis Bowyer, Charles Williams and William Packer
8" x 11", pencil and coloured pencils in sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Last week, the New English Art Club arranged a Discussion Panel at its Annual Exhibition in the Mall Galleries - on the topic of "Can you teach drawing or painting?"

I'd drawn the panel at the discussion at last year's exhibition and wanted to do the same again so made sure I got there in good time and had a good view. Nobody on the Panel sat still of course so the sketch was completed in snatched moments as people settled for short periods - and I was darting back and forth between people all the time I sketched.

I find that the most difficult thing when sketching people like this is trying to guess which is the 'comfy' pose - the one an individual will always return to whenever they move.

I should have posted about the discussion last week as, although interesting, I can't now remember some of the points made in the debate. I do remember there was a long discussion about the various models of teaching drawing and painting which have been used over time - in particular comparing how people were taught themselves in the past and how they have to teach now - within whatever context.

Having qualified as a teacher myself in the dim and distant past, I do remember thinking I was less interested in how drawing and painting can be taught and more interested in how people learn to draw and paint in an effective manner (ie going beyond achieving a likeness).

In my view, in order for teaching to be effective the approach used does need to be based in an understanding of how people learn at different stages of their development as an artist. Sometimes you need to learn how to do and sometimes you need to be left to get on with trying to find what you can do with what you've learned. It did strike me me that maybe some of the approaches employed over time haven't always factored in how learning works - and that some approaches will have too structured and constrained for some and too vague and loose for others. I guess the question is a good one - even if it's not always easy to answer!

Note: NEAC has a Drawing School called, unsurprisingly, the New English School of Drawing. The information on the website is somewhat out of date but does provide a contact email for latest courses.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sunday Papers at Somerset House

I went sketching at Somerset House with the Friends of the Bankside Gallery/RWS three weeks ago. These are the remaining sketches from that trip.

I should explain that it drizzled virtually non-stop all the time. I tried working outside but my sketchbook hates water and started to ripple so virtually all of what I did was done from indoors!

Sunday Papers at Somerset House
11" x 8", pencil and coloured pencils in sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

This sketch is of people sat in the foyer in between the Courtyard and the Terrace at the back which looks out over the Thames. They just sat very still reading their papers - and I couldn't resist drawing them against the fabulous windows and columns and the coloured greys of a late autumnal day.

The sketch below was done from the rear terrace - which is huge. At one end I could see the three of the tallest buildings in the City of London above the trees which were turning colour but were still holding on to a great deal of leaves.

From left to right the buildings in front of my fellow sketcher are:
  • St Paul's Cathedral (1677) - which features in quite a few of my sketches around and about the City of London
  • Tower 42 - the former NatWest Tower (1980) which used to be the tallest building in the UK until One Canada Square was built at Canary Wharf in 1990.
  • 30 St Mary Axe (2003) - also known as The Gherkhin
The view from Somerset House Terrace (in drizzle!)
8" x 11",
pencil and coloured pencils in sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

See also my sketch of the ice rink in Anyone for skating?

Somerset House is a great location for people who wanting somewhere to sketch in London as it offers lots of opportunities in all weathers terms of both interiors and outside locations plus it has good refreshment facilities and conveniences. Always a boon if you're staying in one place for any length of time!

Somerset House

Somerset House is inbetween the Strand and the the River Thames - just below the Aldwych. It has a very long and complicated history and was once one of the Royal Palaces. It was built in 1547 and was subsequently altered and added to by both Christopher Wren and Inigo Jones.

Queen Elizabeth I lived there when her sister Mary was the Queen and Oliver Cromwell lay in state here before his funeral. The Royal Academy of Arts had its first home here and for very many years it was the home of the Royal Society, the Navy Board, the Inland Revenue and the Stamp Office and was the place where all the details of births marriages and deaths were lodged.

Latterly it's become a centre for the visual arts, music and film. The Courtauld Institute of Art, including the Courtauld Gallery, now occupy space here plus there are workshops and learning ppportunities.

There is also a gallery in the Terrace Rooms which currently has an exhibition of Richard Bryant’s Photographic Celebration of a City until 8 March 2009. It's open daily 10.00-18.00, Thursday lates till 21.00 except 27 November till 18.00. Terrace Rooms, free entry. It's well worth a look if you are in the area


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Anyone for skating?

Somerset House Ice Rink
pencil and coloured pencils in sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I visited Somerset House a little while as they were setting up the outdoor ice rink. It wasn't yet open but it had some people skating nevertheless. Unfortunately I found it completely impossible to find anywhere you could see what was going on while outside - so retreated back inside Somerset House and found a staircase with a window which let me look down on the rink and the skaters. However it did mean I had to sketch standing up which severely limits my sketching time so I think I need to get out and see a few more rinks!

Judging by the photograph on the Somerset House Ice Rink website I maybe ought to try going back after dark!

The best rink in London for looking down on skaters is the one at the Natural History Museum as it has a great viewing platform.

The other one I can get to easily is the ice rink at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich - but that's not taking place this year for some reason - which is a pity as it's a good one for seeing skaters up close. See Boxing Day ice skating at Greenwich

Monday, December 01, 2008

A new blog called Watermarks

Baga Beach, Goa
Pencil and watercolour in sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Watermarks is a new team blog for a small community of artists who create art from water - and I'm one of them! This blog is going to be linked to it as this is the blog in which I post most of my sketches and drawings of water.

We're a group of nine artists who like to sketch, draw and/or paint all forms of water - the sea, the coastline, beaches, rivers, streams, waterfalls, fountains - in all styles, genres and media. The people involved are
  • Vivien Blackburn - who loves painting at the coast and who came up with the bright idea for the blog
  • Laura Frankstone - who this year has been developing a project all about water
  • Gesa Helms - who does seascapes and see studies
  • Jeanette Jobson - who has the Atlantic providing a backdrop to her everyday life in Newfoundland
  • Tina Mammoser - who continues to develop her English Coastlines project
  • Lindsay Olson - who has been working on a waterways project
  • Sarah Wimperis - who moved to Cornwall this year and is painting the Helford River and its boats as well as parts of the coastline of Cornwall
  • Ronell van Wyk - who lives right next to the River Loire in France
  • and me - and I live very close to the Thames and sketch it often, plus I'm very partial to a nice lake or canal!
In the next week, there will a series of posts on the blog introducing all the members of the team. It's actually very interesting how many of us either live near to a major mass of water or have lived very close to water in the past.

Our main aims are to use our brand new group blog to:
  • display our works in progress as well as art as it is completed
  • highlight other artists (past and present) whose art involves water
  • highlight exhibitions of relevant artwork and
  • discuss media matters and tips and techniques for creating art out of water
You can see photos and drawings of the members in Welcome to Watermarks. You'll also find links to all our individual blogs in the sidebar plus links to various drawing and painting projects and series we've undertaken in the past.

What do you think of the idea and the new blog? Do come and visit and tell us what you think.

[Note: One December morning a long time ago I did the sketch at the top while sitting on Baga Beach in Goa. It's one of a few of the watercolour sketches that I've ever done in the past which I like! ]