Friday, June 25, 2010

Sketching Antibes in the Courtauld

Sketch of "Antibes" 
by Claude Monet at the Courtauld Galley
11.5" x 8" in Large Moleskine Sketchbook, pencil and coloured pencils
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

In order to avoid the rush hour after my recent sketching trip to Robert Street and the Embankment, I finished the afternoon with a visit - with my sketchbook - to the Courtauld Gallery at Somerset House.

I really enjoy sketching paintings in galleries.  If you get the time right it can be a nice peaceful activity and the guards are generally very interested and supportive of your appreciation of the art they spend their working lives looking after.  The big bonus about using dry media (eg pencils and coloured pencils) is that I never present the galleries with a problem as I'm not going to make a mess or cause a problem.

Sketching and painting in the Gallery

You may use these materials in The Courtauld Gallery:
Fine-tipped pens; all pencils; wood or plastic encased pastels/charcoal or crayons.

These materials are not permitted in th Gallery:
Paint or other wet materials; charcoal; permanent markers; fixative spray; oil pastels not encased in wood or plastic.
Courtauld Gallery: Visitor Information - Photographing and Painting
My sketch is of a very famous painting of a tree at Antibes in the south of France.  It's one of my favourite paintings and I used to have a postcard of it on the wall of my college room in Cambridge.  Antibes was painted by Monet in 1888 and the Courtauld acquired it in 1948. 

It's really nice to be able to sketch it from "life" as it were!

Cortauld Gallery - Tips
  • There is very precise guidance as to what art materials you can bring into the gallery and use (see above)
  • The Courtauld Gallery does have sketching stools available if you ask which means you don't need to take your own.
  • You can also take photographs of the paintings in the Gallery   although you can't use a tripod or flash and you are not permitted to video
  • If you belong to the Art Fund, entrance is free.
  • Further details for visitors

Monday, June 14, 2010

St Mary Axe: The Gherkin and St Andrew Undershaft

This is 'hot from my sketchbook' having been completed while I sat this morning on the stone steps of the old facade fronting the Lloyds Building (home of Lloyds of London - the insurers).

The Gherkin and St Andrew Undershaft from Lloyds
10" x 8". pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I was in the City to pick up the one drawing which remained after two of my drawings sold at my drawing group's exhibition at the Brokers Wine Bar which is a hop, skip and a jump away.

This is where I was sat at  Lloyds old home at 12 Leadenhall Street - looking northeast over to St Mary Axe (a street) and St Andrew Undershaft - the very old chuch bottom right located on the corner of St Mary Axe and Leadenhall Street.

I particularly liked the juxtaposition of the old and new and the changes in scale over time for important buildings (which you see everywhere in the City of London).  Plus I really loved the reflection of the clouds in the plate glass of the building on the left.

When they build on the site behind the hoardings in the foreground you won't be able to see this view any more..........

The Gherkin

30 St Mary Axe is known as The Gherkin due to its shape.  It's 180 metres tall and, currently, is the second tallest building in the City of London.  It was designed by Sir Norman Foster and is the first ecological tall building in London.  It opened in May 2004.

On the Norman Foster website there is a slideshow about the building

The Gherkin stands on the site of the former Baltic Exchange which was very badly damaged by a Provisional IRA bomb in 1992.  I well remember the streets around and about after the bombing.  Masses and masses of paper absolutely everywhere and lots and lots of broken windows in all the tall buildings nearby.  I was working not far away at the time and suddenly began to see the point of the 'clear desk' policy and putting your paperwork away at night.

St Andrew Undershaft

The church located on the corner of St Mary Axe, right opposite the Lloyds Building, is St Andrew Undershaft.   It is one of those very rare churches in the City of London.  It escaped damage by the Great Fire of London in 1666 and was also undamaged by the bombing during the London Blitz of 1940-41.  The first church on the site was built in 1147 and the present church was bult in 1532.  It was designated a Grade I listed building in 1950.  It was fully restored after the bomb attacjed in 1992 and 1993.

A couple of rather special people are associated with the church.
  • Hans Holbein the Younger (1497–1543) - King's Painter to King Henry VIII - was a parishioner of the church during the time he lived in London
  • John Stow author of the Survey of London was buried here in 1605.  His Survey was published in 1598 and documents the buildings, social condition and customs of London in the time of Queen Elizabeth I.  I've got some engravings of his survey and he's always been one of my heroes!
The John Stow monument in the parish church of St. Andrew Undershaft

Notes and Links:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

3 Robert Street

 3 Robert Street, London
11.5" x 17", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Large Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
This is the building from which I drew the River Thames - see Storm clouds over Westminster.  I was in the room on the fourth floor (in the roof) on the left hand side.  This used to be JM Barrie's sitting room and study and which has a magnificent view of the Thames.

3 Robert Street is an original part of the Adelphi Terrace development designed and built between 1768 & 1774 on the banks of the Thames by the Adams Brothers led by Robert Adam.  Robert Street is in fact named after Robert Adam.  It's a listed building - and one I used to work in around about 20 years ago.

When designing the Adelphi, Robert Adam was reputedly influenced by a visit he made to the ruins of the palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro in Dalmatia.  The link is to a digitzed version of the book he compiled as a result. 

I had been trying to get all four floors plus a bit of pavement in - but ran out of space so the ground floor has been chopped off.  I find it much more difficult when having to look up at a building (and down and up and down and up) to judge distances!  Somehow it's a lot easier when you're looking straight ahead!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Embankment Pier and Thames at Charing Cross

Charing Cross Bridge & Parliament from Cleopatra's Needle, on the Embankment
11.5" x 17", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Large Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

My Drawing Group's latest expedition to draw London found us at the Victoria Embankment next to Charing Cross Station at the end of May.  It's an area I know extremely well and I've paced up and down it a few times trying to work out where Monet painted Parliament from.  

What you can see in the sketch are:
Where I was sat to draw this sketch

To draw this I was sat at the base of Cleopatra's Needle - which has a ledge which is just big enough to park a posterior.  The "A" marks the spot on this Google Map of the location of Cleopatra's Needle.

There's a terrace just below Cleopatra's Needle - but don't sit there if the tide is coming in as it comes all the way up the steps and floods the terrace.  A fellow sketcher had to move up the steps which come up from that terrace to the Embankment due to splashing from the wash of passing boats!

Cleopatra's Needle is a granite obelisk and was presented to the United Kingdom in 1819 by the ruler of Egypt and the Sudan in commemoration of the victories of Lord Nelson at the Battle of the Nil.  There are two other needles in New York and Paris. It is 68½ feet high, and weighs 180 tons.

Below is a description of the pair of Cleopatra's Needles in London and New York.
The pair are made of red granite, stand about 21 metres (68 ft) high, weigh about 224 tons and are inscribed with Egyptian hieroglyphs. They were originally erected in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis on the orders of Thutmose III, around 1450 BC. The material of which they were cut is granite, brought from the quarries of Aswan, near the first cataract of the Nile. The inscriptions were added about 200 years later by Ramesses II to commemorate his military victories. The obelisks were moved to Alexandria and set up in the Caesareum — a temple built by Cleopatra in honor of Mark Antony — by the Romans in 12 BC, during the reign of Augustus, but were toppled some time later. This had the fortuitous effect of burying their faces and so preserving most of the hieroglyphs from the effects of weathering.
Wikipedia - Cleopatra's Needle
You can see more of my sketches of London on the Travels with my Sketchbook in London page on my website.  London Sketchbook is a summary of all the blog posts about sketching in London.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Sketching at the RA - Friends Room #7

 Sketching at the RA - Friends Room #7
8" x 10", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I haven't been posting a lot of late - and it's not that I haven't been sketching but rather that I haven't been scanning my sketches!

Lots of things to do meant some activities had to take a place in the queue and get done if I had the time.  So now having completely omitted to post in May, I'm on catchup! 

I spent a very interesting afternoon back in April at the 25th London Original Print Fair at the Royal Academy of Arts.

 The 25th London Original Print Fair
8" x 10", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

No scope for photographs - but I did sketch in the exhibition halls and - as per usual - in the Friends Room where I enjoyed my cup of tea and had a nice sit down on one of the sofas after wending my way round the very many stands.

The Friends Room sketch joins the series which I've been developing through trying to sketch people and their surroundings every time I visit - you can find links to the others in Interior landscapes with food - a Sketchbook

I'm going to be back at the RA next week - visiting a Friends Preview of the Summer Exhibition which opens to the public on 14th June