Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Postcard from my Walk - around the Mall Galleries

Outside the Mall Galleries in Spring
pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils on Mountboard, 9.25" x 4.75"
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
This was my Postcard from my Walk for April which was sent to Vivien Blackburn and got posted to the Postcard blog last week - see A postcard from London - the meeting place.

I've observed that when tackling these monthly postcards, an idea for where I should do a sketch comes into my head straight away.  With Vivien it had to be the Mall Galleries because that's where we always meet up when she's in London.  Also since I always walk to the Galleries from down by the river and then walk around exhibitions three times, that's got to count as a walk!

I've always loved the view down The Mall with the huge plane trees with the really interesting bark and the colours of the dappled sunshine.

Then, of course, it's also a good way of remembering that there was a rather big event which involved The Mall last month - on the way from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sketching the First Landscape

I went back to Tate Britain to get my small sketchbook and ended up doing more three more sketches as I walked around the galleries!

The first - the last page of my small sketchbook - was of Turner's self-portrait - see  Turner finished my sketchbook

The one below in my big sketchbook was generated by watching the BBC programme This Green and Pleasant Land  and generated this post yesterday A view of Box Hill, Surrey and English landscape painting  on The Art of the Landscape - about the landscape below. 

After George Lambert - A View of Box Hill, Surrey (1733) by George Lambert (1700 – 30 Nov. 1765)
pencil and coloured pencils in large Folio Sketchbook
It's thought to be one of the first if not the first paintings by an English painter of a pure landscape - just for the sake of the landscape.

After walking round the galleries (fascinating to find Damien Hirst has been consigned to the most inaccessible one!) I went for a cup of tea in the Friends Room.  I've never been very fond of the Friends Room at Tate Britain and I worked out why as I sat doing my last sketch of the day.

There are absolutely no pictures on the wall.  It's a total blank canvas of white washed walls and window.

There's no pictures on the walls of the Friends Room, Tate Britain
pen and sepia ink in Large Folio Moleskine Sketchbook, 11" x 16"
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
As always, there were people doing business and keeping up with their online world.  One of the things I've learned about sketching on my own is people seem to forget I can hear their conversations.  You learn all about all sorts of things as consultants educate their clients - fascinating stuff! :). 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Private View

Private View at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition 2011
pencil in Moleskine Sketchbook (8" x 10")
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
If you've missed all the excitement - see Lost and found - one sketchbook and Turner finished my sketchbook - these are some of the sketches which I very nearly lost as they'd not been scanned.

I attended the Private View of the Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters at the beginning of this month - see
Talking to June Mendoza
pen and sepia ink in Moleskine Sketchbook, (7" x 7")
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
These were the sketches I was doing over my cup of tea which got referenced in the second post
After touring the exhibition about three times, I was sat doing my usual sketches of people visiting the exhibition while having my cup of tea - only to find that I was being entertained by the mellifluous and unmistakable tones of Sir Donald Sinden sat immediately behind me - while I watched Rolf Harris and his wife work their way up the portraits on the wall in front of me!  Such is the nature of the Private View for this art society!
What was very nice was the bit I'd forgotten until I came to write this post.  One of the members of the Society was talking to Sir Donald and a member of their party asked to look at my larger sketchbook - and declared that he'd been a professional art dealer and he'd never seen such a nice sketchbook before!  I was very chuffed (as we say 'up north').

How to see the exhibition

The exhibition can be seen at the Mall Galleries every day until Friday 20th May between the hours of 10 and 5. Admission £2.50, £1.50 concessions, (Free to FBA Friends, Art Fund members, Westminster Res-card holders and under 16s).

Note:  June Mendoza is one of the illustrious members of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.  There was article by Valerie Grove - Put Me in the Picture in the Sunday Times Magazine on 1st May - about what it was like to sit for a portrait by June Mendoza AO OBE RP ROI HonSWA.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Travels with a Sketchbook - in the Touraine

Somehow or other I ran out of steam in 2009 when I was posting my sketches and writing up my last visit to France on this.  I'm now aiming to get all the remaining posts and sketches published on this blog BEFORE I go to Provence next month.

So, of course with that resolution in mind, Blogger decided to take a short holiday and absented itself for about 36 hours!  Anyway it's back now and this is the kick-off post. 

This post Travels with a sketchbook in France (2009) provides the overview of the trip and the links to the blog posts I wrote back in 2009.

Below is the outline of my trip to the Touraine - although I didn't realise that was what it was called until I got there.

It's a very old name and dates back to when a Gallic Tribe in Pre-Roman Gaul - called the Turones - were in charge of the area.  The town of Tours is named after them also. The old province was abolished in the French Revolution and the area I was visiting is now called the

A map of the Touraine
extracted from 1771 Bonne Map of Poitou, Touraine and Anjou, France

The Touraine is celebrated for its wine and its castles - and we saw a few!  Here is the missing itinerary - complete with lots of visits to Châteaux and some pretty spectacular gardens.
Monday 5th October - a visit to Château d'Azay-le-Rideau and two sketches of the gardens at Château de Villandry

Tuesday 6th October - a visit to Chinon - where there is a château which I skipped to do a sketch of people lunching in the sunshine under the trees in the town square in Dejeuner sous l'arbres. Followed by a visit to The Château d'Ussé which is the castle which apparently inspired Perrault's tale La Belle au Bois dormant (maybe better known as Sleeping Beauty)

Wednesday 7th October - a visit to market and medieval part of Tours in the morning, sketching over lunch with fellow Sketcherciser and Watermarks member Ronell van Wyk and another sketch of the chateau garden. You can read Ronell's post about this on her blog in Katherine in Touraine

Thursday 8th October - a sketch of the Château de Chenonceau
This is the area of our stay - right click the picture below to see a larger version
Chinon to Chenonceau - the valleys of the Loire and Cher
Friday 9th October - we travelled back to Paris, dropped off the car, my sister and niece headed off to L'aeroport Charles de Gaulle to go back to Australia and I took the Metro to La Mouette to visit the Musée Marmottan. Two sketches of Monet paintings of the water garden and one sketch while having a quick snack before boarding the Eurostar to come back to London - to be met by "he who must not be bored while I sketch"!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My first proper postcard sketch

This is a post about my first endeavours to create a proper postcard sketch.  By which I mean a sketch on a support which goes into the mail without an envelope and arrives on the other wide of the world without having suffered any undue wear and tear.

I've also been looking around for references on the web to the phenomenon of postcard sketching - or mail art as it's sometimes known.  You can see what I found at the end of this post.

My first proper postcard sketch

Sketch of "Terrasse a Vernon" by Pierre Bonnard
150mm x 120mm, coloured pencil and pen and ink on Mountboard - posted to Australia
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I often sketch in galleries but February was the first time I'd ever sketched in Christies Auction Rooms in London.  I've always had an aptitude for spotting the most expensive painting in the room! :) 
Terrasse à Vernon, an oil painting by Pierre Bonnard, sold the day after I sketched it for a new world record sum for a Bonnard - £6.4 million.  Which actually cost the purchaser £7,209,250 ($11,578,056)!  That made it the top lot for the Impressionist & Modern Evening Sale on February 9, 2011.

This is a link to a video of the auction of the Bonnard painting at Christies and this is the link to my post on Making A Mark about the experience of sketching at Christies After Bonnard

That particular day, the 8th February, I'd seen four exhibitions and walked a long way and stood for a lot longer looking at paintings.  Standing is absolutely guaranteed to foul up my awful foot with the torn ligments etc and it was perhaps unsurprising that I then had major problems with the foot for the next six weeks - which caused very great difficulties in walking.

As I was unable to get out and walk very far to do my postcard for the February round of A Postcard from my Walk I decided to try and reproduce the sketch I'd done of the painting in my sketchbook.

In the January round of the postcards, some people sent proper postcards (ie without envelopes) and I was keen to have a go.  So this time I tried using pen and ink and coloured pencils on Daler Rowney Mountboard - so that I could construct a proper postcard. 

Formats for postcards

First I had to work out what was the format for a postcard.  The reason for this is that it costs less to send a postcard compared to a letter.  So I can work bigger but I'd have to pay more for the postage - especially one which is going overseas!

As I'm used to working big and I was quite intrigued as to what would happen if I had to start working small.

After much research on the web, I found out what are the minimum and maximum dimensions for sending a postcard overseas.  These are:
  • minimum:  90mm x 120mm  (ie a 3:4 format)
  • maximum: 140mm x 235mm (ie a 1:1.67 format)
I used pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils - as per normal.  However when I finished I sealed both sides with fixative.
    My first postcard didn't quite conform to the postcard format as I had to reduce one dimension to keep to the dimensions of the painting.  However it went all the way to New South Wales in Australia - to the home of Liz Steel (Liz and Borromini).

    I've now sent  two more postcards off using the maximum format which gives a more panoramic landscape format - which I've decided I rather like.  You can see my second one here - Trees at Tate Modern - which went to Martin Stankewitz in Germany and the third has yet to reach its (to be revealed) destination so I can't post it yet.

    Trees at Tate Modern
    pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils on ivory coloured mountboard - posted to Germany
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell
    However I have now started cutting up mountboard so I've got lots of postcards to take with me to Provence!


    It seems to me that the weight and type of surface needs to be one that will stand up to movement thtough the post.  That's why I inclined towards trying to mountboard

    The mountboard also works very well with pen and ink and coloured pencil.  Not as nice as Moleskine sketchbook paper but then nothing is.......  It could however make a good support for any other surface I fixed to it (oh how I wish for sheets of Moleskine paper!)  I think the next thing to try is a textured surface - maybe using the Daniel Smith watercolour ground or gesso.

    If anybody else has used different supports successfully for sending postcards through the post without them getting damaged I'd be interested to hear as mail art is a very much a new endeavour for me

    Resources about postcard sketching

    It's evident that there are a few "Postcard from...." blogs around which tried to emulate Julian's "Postcard from Provence" project - however it looks like quite a few have departed from the postcard format and size.

    There's also the question of postcard sized and postcard format.  For me the latter means it can actually be a postcard and it can actually be sent in the mail as a postcard.  I guess the niceties as to where boundaries on this begin and end is something other people can tell me more about!

    There is of course the project I'm involved in A Postcard from My Walk where I think after some initial trepidation people are moving towards postcard formats for their sketches


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    • 4.25" x 5.6" (portrait) or 5.6" x 4.25" (landscape).
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    So the conclusion I'm coming to at the moment is that maybe there isn't a huge amount of mail art / postcard sketching going on at the moment.  There are lots of small works but rather less finds its way into the mailbox.

    If you know of any links to other projects, blogs, websites or any other resources please let me know.

      Sunday, May 08, 2011

      Kew Gardens in April

      The Sackler Crossing, Kew Gardens Lake - April 2011
      pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in large folio Moleskine
      copyright Katherine Tyrrell
      In the last week of April we visited the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.  We have a routine - set off mid-late morning on the tube, buy sandwiches and fruit at the Tescos outside Kew Station, get to the gardens and sit down and have lunch.

      Then we start walking round to see what there is to see.  It's always different depending on the time of year - but we do like one particular bench in the garden where the Order Beds are for lunch!

      We started off by surveying surveyed the new veggie patches started by this year's horticultural students.  I reckon you can tell who's going to do well during the year by how they've got their bed set up right at the beginning.  Some of them have really thought about the design and the construction and how the different elements inter-relate.  It's a bit like artists doing their prep work prior to creating a painting.

      I was very keen to get a good look at the Peonies which seemed about ready to burst - although a few had got going early.

      The beds in front of the Palm House were an absolute riot of colour with different varieties of tulips mixed in with other bedding plants.

      You can see more photographs curated by Kew on Flickr  from those entered into the 'Signs of Spring' Photo Challenge on the Kew website - here are the chosen few in Your Kew - Signs of Spring

      Then we set off to go and find the azaleas and rhododendrons which were coming into flower just as the magnolias and lilacs are coming to an end.Everywhere there were daffodils which had 'gone over' and were often horizontal as they died back.

      After admiring the beginning of the azalea blooms we went and sat on our favourite seat next to the lake - where we were entertained by an absolute cacophony of bird noises and wood munching by the gardeners.  (see The Lake and waterfowl at Kew Gardens).  This is where I sat and drew the sketch at the top and wished yet again that I'd sorted out my greens before I went. I had the acids but not the olives so when posting this time I've tweaked it to try and bring out the olive colours which I should have been using!

      After this it was a trek across the gardens for a cup of tea at what I I always refer to as the Pagoda Restaurant.  Passing the blossom on the trees outside the Temperate House on the way...

      It's actually called The Pavilion Restaurant.  Food and drink have much improved of late but it's not cheap - see the new Pavilion menu (pdf)

      Tea at the Pagoda Restaurant
      8" x 10", pen and ink and coloured pencils
      copyright Katherine Tyrrell
      I keep trying to do this sketch every time I come and never ever get it right.  I've yet to find a really satisfactory view from the tables outside the Pavilion Restaurant.  It's all a bit too enclosed for my liking and the view of the Pagoda is not at as good as it could be.  Pity.

      I actually managed to get through the shop on the way out without buying a book.  Not quite sure what went wrong there........

      Sunday, May 01, 2011

      A Cheshire Garden in Spring - and some new plants

      Last year I sketched my mother's garden in early August (see A Cheshire garden in summer and Cosmo weighs up the escape routes). This month I did two sketches.

       The first is of what the same garden looks like in Spring - sketched in the middle of April this year.

      Cosmo and the white cat - in A Cheshire Garden in Spring
      11.5" x 17", coloured pencils and pen and ink in Large Moleskine Sketchbook
      copyright Katherine Tyrrell
      From left to right the garden includes cherry blossom, red tulips, a magnolia, an early clematis plus iris starting in the foreground plus lots and lots of fresh green leaves.

      My cats as usual stake out their territory early on.  However Cosmo was rather nonplussed by a white cat who came in the garden and sat down.  Should he chase him off or make friends?  He just sat there and dithered - he's such a woos!

      This second sketch is about the plants I bought to go in her front garden which needed a bit of a makeover.  They're all lined up below in the shade waiting to be planted.

      I can never remember names - but I do know that there is now a very nice acer now sitting in a pot in the middle of the garden plus there are three David Austin Roses, some iris, a euphorbia and a cornus.  Lots of acid yellow green and red stems and pale yellow/cream/peachy blooms!  Plus some blue greens.  They do say that every green always goes with every other green!

      New plants for the front garden
      11" x 16", pen and sepia ink in Large Moleskine Sketchbook
      copyright Katherine Tyrrell