Monday, November 29, 2010

Looking at the Turners in the National Gallery

Looking at the Turners
11" x 17", pencil and coloured pencils in large Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
This is a sketch I did on Friday evening while sat in Room 34 in the National Gallery - which comprises British paintings completed between 1750-1850

The sketch is of people looking at the paintings by JMW Turner - plus a couple of guards who are looking after the paintings in this very large room.  They include:
Turner was of course born a very short distance away in Maiden Lane.  This is inbetween Covent Garden Piazza (where I sketched in the morning - see previous post) and the Strand.
Turner was born near Covent Garden in London and entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1789. His earliest works form part of the 18th-century topographical tradition. He was soon inspired by 17th-century Dutch artists such as Willem van der Velde, and by the Italianate landscapes of Claude and Richard Wilson.

He exhibited watercolours at the Royal Academy from 1790, and oils from 1796. In 1840 he met the critic John Ruskin, who became the great champion of his work.
Turner became interested in contemporary technology, as can be seen from 'The Fighting Temeraire' and 'Rain, Steam and Speed'. At the time his free, expressive treatment of these subjects was criticised, but it is now widely appreciated.
The bulk of his work - which was bequeathed to the nation on his death - is looked after by Tate Britain.  However a few of the most famous paintings hang in the National Gallery - and this room forms part of my high speed tour of the National Gallery for visitors to London.

Room 34 also contains paintings by John Constable, Gainsborough and Reynolds.  Click the link to read more about it.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Giant red nosed reindeer in Covent Garden!

Giant Red Nosed Reindeer outside Covent Garden Market
8" x 10", pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Yesterday was the last outing of 2010 with the Drawing London group.  We went to Covent Garden for the morning before having a lovely Christmas lunch.

The big surprise for me was finding that an extremely large red nosed reindeer had landed in the Covent Garden Piazza!  This one was really big and green!

It was too cold to stay still for long so this sketch only took me about 15 minutes.  However I think it gives the stong sense of just how big this reindeer actually is (see right for photograph of it).

I couldn't work out what it was made from but it seems to be some sort of articificial foliage wrapped around a skeletal structure which was most impressive.

Apparently real life reindeer petting for kids is taking place every Saturday in Covent Garden Piazza!

Covent Garden

Covent Garden is the site of the former fruit and vegetable market in central London which has featured in many paintings over the years (see Townscape: Covent Garden Market).

Here are some facts about Covent Garden:
  • 600 AD:  the land was and settled and became the heart of the Anglo-Saxon trading town of Lundenwic.  Excavations show that the settlement covered about 600,000 square metres, stretching from the present-day National Gallery site in the west to Aldwych in the east, and was laid out on a grid pattern. 
Lundenwic in the early eighth century was described by the Venerable Bede as "a trading centre for many nations who visit it by land and sea". 
  • 830 AD onwards:  The Vikings invaded and raided the settlement and apparently it was subsequently abandoned by the Saxons.
  • 886: captured by the forces of King Alfred the Great of Wessex and reincorporated into Mercia.   This was the point at which the main focus of the City of London moved east.  The old settlement of Lundenwic became known as the ealdwic or "old settlement", a name which survives today as Aldwych.
  • 1200: enclosed and used as arable land and orchards by Westminster Abbey for many years
  • 1515: first use of the term "Covent Garden" in a lease
  • 1540: following the dissolution of the monasteries, Henry VIII took the land belonging to Westminster Abbey, including the garden and seven acres to the north called Long Acre;
  • Inigo Jones (1573 – 1652) was commissioned to design fine houses on the north and east side as well as St Paul's, Covent Garden on the west (1631-1637) (only the church is left)
  • 1654:  a small open air fruit and vegetable market starts on the south side of the fashionable square
  • 18th century:  Covent Garden now known as a red-light district
  • 1830:  the market building was erected to cover and help organise the market
  • 1974:  Covent Garden Market relocated to New Covent Garden Market at Nine Elms.
  • 1980:  the old market building was reopened as a shopping centre

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tornados and Travel Sketchbooks

Sometimes you realise you haven't seen somebody's blog in a while.  I've got my blogrolls set up so that they show the top five or top ten of those I have listed in a category.  Which means if you don't post in a while I have to remember that I should be seeing your blog posts - but they're not there.

I was really shocked to find out this week that the reason that Debbie Kotter Caspari's sketchbook blog Drawing the Motmot hasn't been showing up recently, in my blogroll over in the nature section on Making A Mark, is that her home was blown away by an EF4 tornado in May.  Quite literally.

These blog posts record the event - and how Debbie found her sketchbooks from her travels.
My reason for posting this here?  I can't do any better than quote Debbie from her last post.
"I swear I heard angels singing when my sketchbooks were found"
From Debbie's post Nature is a moody Muse
It reminded me of one of the reasons why I'm glad I blog about my travels and the sketches I do.  Computers may come and go - but once the images are on my blog they are there forever.

See Debbie Kitter Caspari's sketches from her travels with her sketchbook:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Liz Steel and Borromini at Kew Palace

This is a long overdue post about meeting up with Liz Steel (Liz and Borromini) and Alison Staite (Art Journey) at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in September.  Of course Borrowmini - as you can see below - was also there as well.

Liz and I sketched Kew Palace while Alison took photos!

Borromini inspects Liz's watercolour sketch of Kew Palace
photo by Katherine Tyrrell
Here's my sketch of Kew Palace

Kew Palace
11 x 17", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Large Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
We talked non-stop from when Liz arrived, all through the visit to the Waterlily House, all through the sketching, through our very late lunch in the Orangerie and didn't stop until I had to leave to go and get ready for the Threadneedle Dinner that evening.

Well if somebody is only over from Australia once in a while you don't want to waste any time!

Here's an action shot of Liz sketching lunch - see the crockery and the sketch in the same shot!  I loved her sweatband/brush wiper - that's a new one on me.

Liz sketches lunch - note the neat brush wiper!

I do so enjoy meeting up with people I've got to know online.  So often they are exactly as I expect them to be.  It was great meeting up and I hope we get to do it again sometime.  Maybe next time in Australia!

Kew Palace

Kew Palace is looked after by the Historic Royal Palaces Trust.  It was reopened to the public not that long ago after a very long and throrough restoration which took some 10 years.

Kew Palace is the oldest building at Kew Gardens and used to be known as the Dutch House.   It was used royal monarchs and their family between 1728 and 1898.
  • Queen Caroline leased several parcels of land and buildings in the hamlet of Kew which included Kew Palace while her husband King George II worked on extending Richmond Gardens.
  • Their son's wife Princess Augusta established the botanic gardens at Kew
  • Her son, King George III lived in various properties at Kew.  He bought Kew Palace in 1781 as a family home. 
  • In 1818, Kew Palace was closed after the death of George III's widow, Queen Charlotte
  • In December 1896, Queen Victoria agreed to Kew's acquisition of the Palace, providing there was no alteration to the room in which Queen Charlotte died. 
  • In 1898, the Kew's Department of Works acquired the Palace and it was opened to the public.
At the rear is the Queen's Garden.  This has been developed in the style of a seventeenth century garden and has only plants associated with the period.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Leadenhall Market - Hanging the Christmas Tree Lights

Leadenhall Market Christmas Tree - hanging the lights 14.11.10.
pen and ink and coloured pencils in Large Moleskine Sketchbook, 11" x 11"
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Today, the RWS Sketching Group were out and about in the City of London on a day which progressed from spots of rain to drizzle to heavy rain.

So I opted for sketching in Leadenhall Market where they were putting up the Christmas Tree outside the Brokers Wine Bar where one of my exhibitions was in March this year.  Apparently this week is the Winter Festival in the Market and the Lord Mayor of London is due to formally light up the lights on Friday 19th November at 5pm.

This sketch is of the lights being hung.  It was quite intriguing watching three blokes work out where they all needed to go!

I think I may well return and do a late afternoon/early evening one of the lights on.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

An exercise in posture and floor polish

Watching people: Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition, Mall Galleries
pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Molsekine Sketchbook, 8" ax 10"
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
I went to see the Annual Exhibition 2010 of the Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition which was back at the Mall Galleries last week - for one week only.  The last day is today so you need to get your skates on if you want to catch it before it closes

A review will follow on Making A Mark however this is about my sketch done as I watched people looking at the paintings.

The above sketch, across double page spread in my small Moleskine, is an exercise in drawing people and trying to capture their postures in just a few seconds.  In other words, how real can I make people look when there is no time at all and they're not posing for me.  It made me glad I've done life drawing classes with warm up exercises of a few seconds for each pose! 

It also reminded me of the tip which I first read about in a Charles Reid book of making sure that you go for the big shape when drawing groups of people.  You know they're separate people but often the lighting doesn't separate them effectively.  Thus trying to draw them as separate people can make them look a little unreal - while joined up they look perfectly normal! 

The people are not all there at the same time.  I did them one by one and filled in gaps as people came and went.  The trick was to make sure I got the height right.  

Towards the end of the sketch I got very distracted by the highly polished floor - its colours and the shadows from the people as they moved around the room.  It soon became clear to me that what would make the sketch 'real' would be to try and capture the multi-colour and diffuse nature of the coloured shadow shapes on the floor.  What do you think?

That floor was fascinating - I could really get into drawing shiny floors!