Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Skating on the Natural History Museum Ice Rink

Sketch of the skaters and Christmas Tree on the Christmas Skating Rink at the Natural History Museum - complete with penguin stability aids for the little ones

Wishing all regular readers of Travels with a Sketchbook
a Merry Christmas 
and Happy Sketching in the New Year

Skaters at the Natural History Museum, South Kensington
pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook, 8" x 10"
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
I've been saving these up since the beginning of the month when we visited the museums in south Kensington with London Urban Sketchers!

Christmas Skating Rink in front of the Natural History Museum, South Kensington
pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook, 11" x 16"
copyright Katherine Tyrrell 
Note the novice skaters clinging to the edge in the background.  The children had penguins to cling on to as they skated around - they seemed to work very well

Click this link for details of the skating rink at the Natural History Museum

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

ROI Art Event Evening at the Mall Galleries

Sketch of The Royal Institute of Oil Painters' Art Event Evening
at the Mall Galleries 17th December 2012

pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook, 11" x 16"
© Katherine Tyrrell
I drew this sketch last night during the annual Art Event Evening while the Royal Institute of Oil Painters hold during the Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries. It was done from my vantage point sat at the bottom of the stairs on the way into the West Gallery.  You can just see the lower legs and feet of the model on the left

Status of sketch at the third break.
Still got the floor and background to do!
The Gallery was absolutely full of easels and painters - most painting in oils but some painting in watercolours and some of us were just drawing.  I get bored drawing one person so I decided to do my view of the event! :)  We had a couple of hours with breaks to get something down.  All in all it was a very pleasurable event and much enjoyed by all I spoke to.  I can highly recommend it if you'd like to attend next year.

In the middle of the sketch are a couple of oil painters and art bloggers that I know.

Haidee-Jo Summers, portrait painting and model.
Haidee is using an Open Box M.
That apron looked green in the more subdued light!
You can see (and buy) the paintings in the Exhibition online.  The exhibition continues at the Mall Galleries on The Mall, London until 23rd December.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Urban Sketchers London - Sketchcrawl #3 in South Kensington

Today's the day of the third Urban Sketchers London Sketchcrawl - and everybody is welcome!  

Details are on the flyer below.
There are also opportunities to draw skaters on the ice rink outside the Natural History Museum - and below is the sketch I did last time I visited and sketched in Winter!

The nearest tube is South Kensington (Circle, District and Piccadilly Lines) which is right opposite both museums.  Couldn't be easier! (This is the map of the planned closures on the Underground this weekend)

PS If you're planning on sketching outside bring your thermals - it's cold!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chocolate cake at Kensington Palace Café

I have to report that the Chocolate Chip Muffins on offer at the Kensington Palace Café are the best chocolate muffins in London! Hugely chocolatey, with chunkie chips of chocolate on top and moist and runny in the middle.

I know you think this is a sketchbook blog - however I do entertain serious aspirations to being asked to sketch meals anywhere you care to mention! (see Foodie Drawings and my sketches of  Interior Landscapes on my portfolio website)

Chocolate Brownie and Chocolate Chip Muffin at the Kensington Palace Café
8" x 10", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
We visited Kensington Palace today - following its reopening earlier this year after a major refurbishment.  It's well worth a visit if you come to London.

We did the Kings State Apartments in the morning and the Queens State Apartments and Victoria Revealed in the afternoon.  My only real criticism is that the method of telling you what you're looking at is very much geared up to those with good eye-sight which I found disappointing.  Methinks Lucy Worsley needs a rethink on this one! However the Palace makes up for this by having some excellent room guides.  If you'rte not familiar with the background to the Kensington Palace and which members of the Royal Family have lived at the Palace, this is

After our visit to Hampton Court Palace, where the cafe was seriously below par, we weren't too hopeful about lunch today.  However the new Cafe is really excellent - great furniture, lovely food and well lit.  Plus the food is great!  We had lunch - and "he who must not be bored while I sketch" had to wait until I'd sketched his muffin before he could eat!.  Then having found out great the muffin was we had a tea break in the afternoon - and I seriously over indulged by trying out the Chocolate Chip Muffin as well - and I have to say it's by far the best chocolate muffin I've ever eaten in London!

Next summer a new part of the Palace will open to the public.  This will tell the story of the Modern Royals - Princess Margaret, Diana Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The East Lake in Autumn

I'm a complete sucker for drawing trees in Autumn next to water - I just can't get enough of the reflection of the colours. However having been a bit spoilt by Sheffield Park landscape garden, I now wish we had a few more trees planted in parks which provide a really colourful deep red and deep copper display.  Maybe a few more acers?

East Lake, Victoria Park in Autumn
8" x 10", pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Links to other autumn colour:

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Birch, Witch Hazel, Acer Palmatum, Fir - at Sheffield Park

This week we went to Sheffield Park, near Uckfield in West Sussex, for our annual trip to admire the colours of the Autumn landscape.  It was a very grey day - which of course is the very best sort of day for seeing the colours!

It's always a bit of a challenge to get a sketch done here as the landscape garden is not over-endowed with seats - which is very odd as people are always giving seats to other gardens!

However we did manage to nab the seat to the left of the Cascade Bridge from where I did this sketch.  I had planned to do more but it was one of those damp days where it's best to keep moving before I seize up!

Silver Birch, Witch Hazel, Acer Palmatum, Fir - at Sheffield Park 25 October 2012
pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in small Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
I'd not heard of the American Witch Hazel before but it was certainly putting on a good show with a variety of shades running from lemon through orange, coral pink and red.  According to the RHS its correct name is Mountain Wych Alder (Fothergilla major AGM) and it's a member of the Hamamelidaceae (the witch-hazel family).

I forget which type of Acer it was - but it's one of those deep plummy purple red ones and in all probility it's an Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum' (Purple Japanese Maple).

One thing I do know - it's incredibly difficult to reproduce the colours seen on the trees in coloured pencils!

We also spotted what was left of the second largest tree in the garden - the Giant Redwood (Sequoia) which exploded after a lightning strike in January.  If you've ever wondered what the inside of a redwood looks like - see below!

After the lightning strike - Giant Redwood at Sheffield Park
Here are some photos of the trees in colour - and some links to last year's sketches of Autumn at Sheffield Park.

Links to last year's sketches:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Restaurant Nausicaa, Boulogne sur Mer - my last meal in France

Two sketches from my trip to France last year - and my final french meal!  I'm trying to fill in the gaps where I've missed out posting places I went to and sketches I did on my Painting in Provence trip last summer.

Today I'm posting my lunch at the Restaurant Nausicaa in Boulogne sur Mer and the view from the window.  This was the "get as close to the tunnel as you can and then stop and have a meal" meal!  The idea was that I'd leave myself with half an hour's journey to the Tunnel and I wouldn't need to have a big meal when I got back home which would be quite late.  Plus it was the last chance to indulge in French cuisine!

Lunch at the Restaurant Nausicaa, Boulogne sur Mer - 4th July 2011
11" x 16", pen and ink and coloured pencils
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
This meal continued to endorse my theory about the colour palette of chefs and the notion that chefs cook the food in the colours that they like! The dishes on the menu in my sketch are:
  • L'Entree top left - Oyster, whelk and celery soup and croutons Soupe huitres et des bulots, veloute de celeri vert, petis croutons 
  • Las Plat right - Grilled large prawns with a paella like creamy risotto and red pepper sauce Gambas grilles, coulis de poivrons rouges risotto crémeux au chorizo façon paëlla
  • Le Dessert bottom left - Half-cooked chocolate cake Mi-cuit au chocolat

They were delicious!  I have a policy of eating one new thing every time I eat out in another country! Which is how I came to add a new food to my list of things I've eaten over the years - whelks (although I thought at the time that they were winkles).

I checked the menu and only the sauce with the main dish is what's on offer on the menu today!  Always good to see a restaurant that changes it's menu on a regular basis!

I switched between drawing the dishes as they arrived and then drawing the scene out the window as I waited for them to arrive.

My view from my table - the beach at Boulogne sur Mer
11" x 16", pen and ink and coloured pencils
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
I was sat high up next to a big glass window looking out on to the promenade and beach to the rear of the Nausicaa Centre - which is Boulogne's huge aquarium.  Small wonder that fresh fish and sea food featured on the menu!

The restaurant is actually independent of the Centre and I highly recommend it as a stopping off place to eat in the Pas de Calais for anybody facing a long journey when they get back to Folkstone. It serves excellent food and does not keep normal restaurant hours.

For the record the journey to the EuroTunnel was not straightforward as the satnav didn't understand the port and I missed the turning and then couldn't work out how to get back to the place where cars need to go to enter the Tunnel!  Calais could do with some better sign posts!

However it was nice to get back home and reach the end of my journey and a very long drive from Provence to London.

You can see

  • more of my sketches from my trip to Provence and my drive there and back through France in the page at the top of this blog marked Provence Sketchbook 2011
  • more of my sketches of meals by clicking on the labels:


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Caer Caradoc Hill in Shropshire

At the end of September I spent a weekend with my extended family in Shropshire to celebrate the Australian contingent being in the country and my cousin's 40th wedding anniversary of "the best wedding ever" on 30th September 1972!

A house had been rented just outside All Stretton which had a wonderful view of the hills nearby.

Caer Caradoc Hill from The Oaks
pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook, 11" x 16"
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
This is my sketch of Caer Caradoc Hill which I did late Saturday afternoon after my cousin's husband had climbed to the top in the morning.

The hill is made of Pre-Cambrian rock (see page 3 of the link) and has a whaleback shape.  It's approximately 459 metres or 1500 feet above sea level. From the top you can look north to The Wrekin, a hill in east Shropshire, look east to Wenlock Edge, a limstone escarpment just outside Much Wenlock and south west to the Long Mynd situated a little way down the road just past Church Stretton.

On top of the hill are the remains of an Iron Age Hill Fort (see aerial view plus you can read more about the Iron Age in Shropshire).

The hill is associated with Battle of Caer Caradoc in 50 AD.  King Caractacus was a first century British chieftain of the Catuvellauni tribe who became King of the Britons between 43-50AD and led the British resistance to the Roman conquest. There are many legends associated with King Caractacus - also known as Caradoc - and one of them is that he made a last stand with his followers on this hill - which is now known as Caer Caradoc. He was defeated and Caractacus was taken, as a prisoner, to Rome.  There he pleaded for his life in front of the Emperor Claudius - and got drawn by nineteenth century artists for his efforts!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Hampton Court Palace and its 300 year old Yew Trees

We recently visited Hampton Court Palace next to the River Thames in Surrey.  I'd never realised before how easy it is to get to (via a train from Waterloo) or how huge it is in terms of the Palace and Grounds.  We only covered about half of it in the time we were there and, since they're only closed on the 24, 25 and 26 December, I expect we'll be going back to visit again sometime soon!

Hampton Court Palace East Front and the Yews, October 2012 copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Hampton Court Palace East Front and the Yews, October 2012
pen and ink and coloured pencils, 8" x 10" in Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
As we entered the gardens (this is a map of Hampton Court Gardens) I was absolutely stunned to see the simply amazing size and shape of the Yew Trees in the Great Fountain Garden.  Apparently some of them are 300 years old having been planted around about 1707 in the time of Queen Anne.

I gather the original idea was they should be kept tightly clipped but somehow over the years they just grew and grew until we have the amazing conical shapes we see today.

Yews at Hampton Court Palace, October 2012 copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Yews at Hampton Court Palace, October 2012
pen and ink and coloured pencils, 8" x 10" in Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
In this post you can see the two sketches I did while sat on one of the broad avenues bordered by the Yews which lead up to the Long Water - looking first one way and then the other.

I've since seen other images of them and I'm already thinking about better drawings I can make in the future!

Plus what I want to sketch in the rest of the Garden!

Monday, October 08, 2012

A conversation

Sometimes I'm riveted and intrigued by the people I see in art galleries and museums when I'm sketching.  This was a very fast sketch - and it made me want to try and work out who they are and what they were talking about.

A conversation - August 2012
pen and sepia ink in Moleskine Sketchbook, 8" x 10"
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Of course they could just be discussing which train to catch!

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Greenwich Heritage, Canary Wharf and the O2 Dome

Following on from Sailing ships and the City of London from Greenwich Park, here are two more double page spreads which made up my Greenwich Park Panorama

The middle section looks:
  • over the Equestrian Arena in Greenwich Park constructed for the Olympics and 
  • past the Queens House and the Old Royal Naval College which form an important part of "Maritime Greenwich" (the Royal Borough of Greenwich's UNESCO approved World Heritage Site)
  • across the River Thames (past the Thames Sailing Barge with its rust red sails)  
  • to the Isle of Dogs and the new business centre at Canary Wharf.  
If you keep going past the tall office buildings at Canary Wharf you'd come to where I live in East London!

Greenwich panorama sketch towards Canary Wharf11 x 16" pen and ink and coloured pencils
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
You can also see this sketch on Flickr where I've annotated it with the names of seven structures,  places and objects in the sketch.  You have to love your cursor over the picture to see the white line boxes which relate to each item which has been annotated.

The Eastern 'downstream' section of my panoramic sketch is below.  It's looking over North Greenwich and Stratford on the other side of the Thames.

Greenwich panorama sketch towards O2 Arena (former Millennium Dome)11 x 16" pen and ink and coloured pencils
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Ditto - the sketch on Flickr hows you what you can see - including the Olympic Stadium in Stratford.  Move your cursor around the Flickr Version to see the annotations explaining the buildings - and see if you can find the Olympic Stadium!

If you want to visit Greenwich and also sketch this view see the map of Greenwich Park (pdf file).  I was sat at the end of Blackheath Avenue just to the right of the Royal Observatory

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sailing ships and the City of London from Greenwich Park

This is the first of the sketches from the Greenwich Park Panorama - my 48 inch wide panoramic sketch of the view from the top of the hill in Greenwich Park.

The City of London and the River Thames from Greenwich Park
11 x 16" pen and ink and coloured pencils
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Sailing Ships and Maritime History

While people looking at this view typically pick out all the tall buildings around and about the City of London, few realise that they are also looking at a place which has played a huge part in British Maritime History.

Here are the site of the Prime Meridian - which helped sailors navigate; the place where the Royal Dockyards were located for 350 years; the place were Brunel built enormous steam sailing ships in the ninteenth century and finally the home of the Cutty Sark - one of the fastest tea clippers ever built,

What's in the sketch

Looking left from the hill - past the trees and bushes which populate the slope below the Royal Observatory at Greenwich you can see a variety of buildings which I've annotated on the Flickr version of this sketch.  Hold your cursor over the image in Flickr to see where all the places and buildings are located.

You can see - from left to right
  • The path up to the Royal Observatory and the marker site for the Prime Meridian zero degrees longitude aka the Greenwich Meridian (just off to the left and out of frame)
  • The 34 storey tower at Guy's Hospital - the tallest hospital building in the world
  • The Shard - the tallest building in the UK and Europe at 309.6 metres / 1,016 feet high
  • the area in Deptford which used to be the Royal Naval Dockyards - building sailing ships for war and exploration for 350 years - after it was commissioned by King Henry VIII in 1513 (see image below).  It built and refitted many famous ships in British maritime history.
Deptford Dockyards by Joseph Farrington
  • St Paul's Cathedral - now a rather smaller landmark in the City of London when compared to......
  • Three tall buildings in the City of London
    • the former NatWest Tower
    • the Gherkin at 30 St Mary Axe
    • Heron Tower - now the tallest building in the City of London
  • In front of these is the Wharf in Millwall on the western shoreline of the Isle of Dogs where Isambard Kingdon Brunel built the steam sailing ship the SS Great Eastern which was the largest ship in the world when it was launched from Millwall in 1853.  This is also where the famous photo of Brunel was taken - against the background of the chains used to launch the Great Eastern
  • Peeping above the trees in the middle ground are the two masts of the Cutty Sark - the tea clipper which has recently reopened after the massive refurbishment project
  • On the right and in the foreground are the Equestrian Arena and other buildings built for the  London 2012 Olympics
The sketch was the first to be drawn on 15th September when I drew the panorama of the view from the top of Greenwich Hill during the course of the 2nd Sketchcrawl hosted by Urban Sketchers London.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Greenwich Park Panorama

This is my very big sketch of the panoramic view from the top of the hill in Greenwich Park on the day of the Urban Sketchers had their 2nd Sketchcrawl.

The panoramic view from the top of the hill in Greenwich Park
- complete with Equestrian Arena for the Olympics 2012
pen and ink and coloured pencils,
11" x 48" (3 double page spreads in Moleskine Sketchboook)
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
It was sketched in three double page spreads.  I'll start unpicking the panorama tomorrow and then  I can show you the constituent parts!  It includes:
  • the Shard, St Paul's Cathedral and the City of London
  • Canary Wharf, the Old Royal Naval College and the Equestrian Event Arena used for the Olympics and Paralympics
  • the O2 (formerly the Millennium Dome)
For the record I was also sat about 30 feet east of the Prime Meridian ie 0 degrees longitude!

I got it all drawn out while I was there and most of the colour down.  However as always it takes a little longer to get the dark values reinforced which I've been picking away at last week when i had a moment.

I only saw this for the first time myself about 10 minutes ago!  Up to now I've been hoping three double page spreads would join up!

I'm thinking I maybe need to return with a roll of drawing paper so I can draw the landscape the way they used to be drawn in the past.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Urban Sketchers London SKETCHCRAWL in Greenwich tomorrow

Many of you will have seen Greenwich Park and some of the heritage and very historic buildings to be found in Royal Greenwich while watching the Olympics and Paralympics.

Tomorrow you can sketch them with Urban Sketchers London.  You are invited to join us in Greenwich for a day of sketching around and about.

This is a link to the Cutty Sark DLR Station where people will be meeting up.  Use the TfL Journey Planner to get to the station - and remember to make sure that the DLR option is enabled.

What to sketch in Greenwich

There are masses of places to sketch in Greenwich.  The problem is working out where to start and how much you can fit in on the day!

Below are details about some of the things you can see.  (Why not bookmark this post for tomorrow?)

  • Links in the address are to a map of where this is located. The aerial view on the Royal Museums website for Greenwich gives an excellent view of the location of the different museums and what Greenwich has to offer.
  • Links in the names of the places are to the website for that place

The Cutty Sark

  • Address: Cutty Sark Clipper Ship, King William Walk, Greenwich, London SE10 9HT - 
  • Opening hours: Monday–Sunday 10.00–17.00, last admission 16.00.  Note that entry to the ship is by time ticket only
  • Did you know that you can now go on board and go beneath the vessel? The rehabilitation of this very famous tea clipper has resulted in vastly improved viewing facilities
The Royal Observatory 

  • Address: Blackheath Ave, London SE10 8XJ
  • Transport: road | tube & rail | cycle | busriver
  • open daily between 10.00–17.00, last admission 16.30 
  • This is at right at the top of the hill in Greenwich Park.  This is also.....
  • ... the home of the Prime Meridian aka the Greenwich Meridian
Greenwich Park
  • this was used for the equestrian events in the Olympics.  
  • There's a stunning view of London from the hill.   
  • You can download a detailed map of the Park
  • Public access to Greenwich Park this summer is the official statement about which parts of the Park will have been reopened by 15th September. 
    • From 14 September the areas of the park which will not be immediately accessible to the public include area in front and to the west of the Queen's Field and an area behind The Children's Playground, near Maze Hill Gate.
    • Public vehicles will be permitted in the park from 14 September with vehicle access to Blackheath Avenue and parking possible from this date.
The National Maritime Museum

  • Address: Park Row, Greenwich London SE10 9NF Located at the bottom of the hill and south of Romney Road.
  • Transport: road | tube & rail | cycle | busriver
  • open daily between 10.00–17.00, last admission 16.30 

  • This is a site map
  • Painted Hall - a good place to go if it's wet - but always worth seeing whatever the weather.
  • this provides the classic Canaletto view - but you have to go north of the river to see this! (Or to my blog post - A Canaletto View).  This is not impossible as you can use the Greenwich Foot Tunnel to walk under the Thames.  I've not done this for years but my recollection is that this is only for those who like steps.  To check the current status of the foot tunnel, you can call 020 8921 8334 during office hours or 020 8854 8888 after hours. However the website says this 
The Greenwich Foot Tunnel is now accessible on both sides by stairs and lift 24 hours a day. The stairs in the Greenwich tunnel may need to be closed on a short-term basis during parts of the works, but the lifts will remain open.
A Canaletto View (2nd June 2007)
(the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich from Island Gardens on the Isle of Dogs)
8" x 10", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencil in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
The Queen's House is closed until 22 September.

Greenwich Market provides lots of opportunities for sketching for those who like markets - but can get a bit crowded

Views of the River Thames - from the walkway next to the Thames.
NOTE:  This is the Meetup page for this Sketchcrawl.  You can register if you intend to come on this Sketchcrawl

Monday, September 10, 2012

View from the Chartwell swimming pool

On Sunday we went to Sir Winston Churchill's home at Chartwell and I did a sketch I've been meaning to do for some time.

It's of Sir Winston Churchill's swimming pool - and the pool and wood beyond.  I gather Sir Winston was rather fond of damning and channeling water to create streams and pools.  I certainly did this one listening to the water running down the hillside beside me

View from Chartwell swmming pool
View from Chartwell Swimming Pool
11" x 16" pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Saturday, September 08, 2012

The view from Standen

Standen is a Arts and Crafts National Trust property in Sussex with interiors influenced by architect Phillip Webb and designer William Morris.  It's immaculate.

We visited when thwarted by the M25 gridlock from getting to where we planned to go and we looked around for another place to visit instead.  We were very pleasantly surprised by our choice and plan to go back again soon!

This is the view from the long grass terrace which overlooks the view down to the High Weald and the Weir Wood Reservoir (the light blue strip in the middle).

The view from the long terrace at Standen
11" x 16", pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
If you'd like to see some of the Arts and Crafts gems which are inside the house you can browse the database for the collection online - highlights from the Standen Collection - then click the link on the page to see more

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Vita Sackville West's Tower at Sissinghurst Castle Garden

We went to Sissinghurst Castle Garden last month and I had a second attempt at sketching the tower where Vita Sackville West used to write her novels and gardening columns.  I love it!

Vita Sackville West's Tower at Sissinghurst Castle Garden copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Vita Sackville West's Tower at Sissinghurst Castle Garden
pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook, 11" x 14"
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Here's my photo of the sketch at the point at which I was umming and aahing about adding in garden to the right - which in the end I decided to do as the sun came out!

Time out to have an internal debate as to whether to use two pages!
My second sketch was actually done first - and while we had eat our sandwiches and completed the crossword of "he who must not be bored".  I'm allowed to have a go at the clues he can't get!

In front is the great grass lawn which we had learned earlier this year actually covers the remains of the French soldiers who were buried there when the Castle was used as a prisoner of war camp during the Seven Years' War.

The main challenge with this one was not so much the drawing as the very dark values which inevitably had to be worked on when I got home.  It takes time to get a good intense dark! Here's where I got to on site

I then spent a very long time when I got home developing the intense dark greens which you get when looking at a big tree on a sunny day.  There is a huge amount of crimson in that tree!  It's started to make me think about developing some swatches for tree colours which I can carry round with me when drawing trees.

Sissinghurst Castle Garden - The Front from the former French Graveyard
pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook, 11" x 16"
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Sissinghurst is a wondeful garden to visit between March and October - it changes all the time and the compartment gardens are always fascinating.  If you'd like to know more about the garden check out Sissinghurst Castle Garden - a great garden

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How to sketch The Shard

I've been having difficulties with The Shard - in terms of finding a way to draw it which makes for an interesting sketch as opposed to here is a VERY BIG building and here are tiny little buildings next to it down the bottom of the page.

Last week I discovered the trick is to get away from it and to draw it from the riverside.  Mind you I'm not entirely sure I got the scale right - but "I'm getting there".

Here's a panorama I did last Friday of the River Thames and the South Bank of the Thames at Bankside and is that rare thing - an annotated sketch by me.  As a result I've loaded a large image which you can only see if you click the sketch and then open in a new tab

Panorama of the Thames and the South Bank at Banksideright click to see big version
8 x 10*, pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Featured in the sketch from left to right are: Tower Bridge, Millennium Bridge, No. 1 London Bridge (the building with a bit missing - home of PWC), a riverboat stop (at Bankside Pier), City Hall - headquarters of the Great London Authority, The Shard, Guy's Hospital Tower (I've stood literally on the top of that building!) and Shakespeare's Globe.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Leaning Dome of St. Paul's Cathedral

It wasn't until I got home that I realised that I'd drawn that well known new tourist attraction The Leaning Dome of St Paul's Cathedral while sketching the spectacular views from the roof terrace of One New Change on Friday.

The "Leaning" Dome of St Paul's Cathedral
11" x 8", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
I really should learn to repeatedly check my verticals because I know I've got a tendency to lean one way when it comes to verticals!

I used to draw the interior of St Paul's Cathedral and always started by drawing a vertical line right down the centre of my page so I could keep track of the verticals as I looked up and down!

See my website for more drawings of the interior of St Paul's and the view of St Paul's from the South Bank of the River Thames

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pavilion Cafe, Victoria Park

This is quickie " cup of tea" sketch - on my way back from yesterday afternoon's appointment with the Osteopath.

Pavilion Cafe, Victoria Park - August 2012
8" x 10" pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
This is the Pavilion Cafe in Victoria Park just to the west of the Olympic Park.  A lot of my sketches of this lake are done from the jetty which sticks out into the lake which has high stools and a ledge just big enough for a cup of tea and a sketchbook.  In the summer, the awnings go up and the tables and benches all come outside.

Just as I was about to sit down on the park bench with my cup of "Builder's Tea" (£1), the Coots did what I always think of "playing jets landing on an aircraft carrier" - landing and skidded to a halt on the surface of the lake.

I held the image in my head until I could get my sketchy birds and their wake down in the sketchbook.

Sketches of the Pavlion Cafe: 
Sketches from the Pavilion Cafe:
Pavilion Cafe: Crown Gate West, Victoria Park, Old Ford Road, London E3

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mansion Pond at Wakehurst Place

Wakehurst Place is Kew Gardens in the country - down in Sussex.  We visited recently and this is my sketch of the Mansion Pond.

Mansion Pond, Wakehurst Place, West Sussex
pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils
copyright Katherine Tyrrell - all rights reserved
We have a new sketching routine - he does his crossword while I sketch.  Periodically "he who must not be bored while I sketch" asks me for answers to clues.  So far it's working well and I'm getting longer periods of sketching!

About Sketching Trees

I find I have a tendency when sketching plein air to do the big shapes and I sometimes end up losing the sky holes in the trees - plus the edges which indicate the depth and recession.  Plus the changing sky behind the trees does tend to mix things up a bit - first it's white cloud and then it's blue sky!

This is where photography does come in handy for restating those sky holes!  I go round with my battery powered eraser when I get home and pick out the holes again.

Plus my photos help to remind me what was in front of what in places where there's just a big morass of mixed up greens.  Mostly I don't need to be too specific but in this sketch there were a couple of areas where restating the relative values of the foreground and the background helped with the overall structure of the greenery.

I've also started using a Rembrandt Carbon 308/3 Pencil to reinforce darks and I find this very useful for the dark values which you can get with very large pines!

About Wakehurst Place

Interestingly I've got two passes for free admission as I'm a Friend of Kew and a member of the National Trust and Wakehurst allows free access to members of the National Trust within the UK.

The garden has 465 acres of ornamental gardens and woodland comprising temperate zone trees.  There are ponds, lakes and streams in the garden plus lots of shrubs and trees and not a lot of flowers - although it does have a magnificent iris garden and a heather garden.

It is wheelchair accessible in part but also has some very steep inclines which limits the scope for walking for people with limited mobility.  That includes me because when my dodgy feet start to rebel and give up I have to hold on to somebody to walk up steep slopes.

The different status of the paths are usefully indicated on a map when you get there - but this is not obvious from the websites of both Kew Gardens and the National Trust.  However the Kew Gardens/Wakehurst Place does have a downloadable pdf file of a map of the garden at Wakehurst Place - if you spot it.  In my opinion, it's very good - and the paths are well waymarked as per the map - however the map could do with being in a much more prominent place on the website so that people can check out the nature of the garden and its suitability for visitors before visiting.

Map of garden at Wakehurst Place - available as a pdf file
Red marks the very steep paths, yellow marks flattish paths suitable for wheelchairs
Wakehurst Place is also the home of Kew's Millennium Seed Bank which I have still to visit.  The botanical/nature fans will probably like their Seed Bank Blog
The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership is the largest ex situ plant conservation project in the world. Our focus is on global plant life faced with the threat of extinction and plants of most use for the future. The seeds we save are conserved outside their native habitat.
Address: The address for Wakehurst Place is: Ardingly, West Sussex, RH17 6TN.

Opening Times: From 10am every day except Christmas Eve Christmas Day.  Closing times vary with the season.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Two views across the Millennium Bridge & 'Tales from the Bridge' Soundscape

Yesterday I sat adjacent to the Millennium Bridge and its new soundscape and created two pen and ink sketches of the view looking across the Thames from opposite viewpoints - before and after visiting the Damien Hirst exhibition at Tate Modern

The first one was done while sat on the Thames Pathway in the City of London - facing Tate Modern and adjacent to the Millennium Bridge.  Office workers sat next to me eating their lunch and telling stories of how to get on in the City.  People ran up and down the Thames Pathway during their lunch hour and I enjoyed the warmth of the sun while I sketched

Sketch of Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge in pen and ink
Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge from the Thames Pathway
11.5" x 16", pen and ink and coloured pencils
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
The interesting thing about this sketch is I drew to the sound of Tales from the Bridge -  a sound installation on the Millennium Bridge.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'From Saxon times to Londinium and Shakespeare's city to our present day metropolis, London's story is one of dynamic change. With the magnificent Thames as the constant that flows through that great history, Tales from the Bridge provides an evocative soundtrack to the sights, the sounds and the people that have passed through these streets. With a wonderful poem and amazing invisible choir, it will be an inspirational part of the celebrations we are hosting across the city throughout the summer.'
It's both interesting and soothing - particularly when the chorus starts singing - click the link to see a video about it.
London’s Millennium Bridge (has been transformed) into a giant 3D soundscape. Tales From The Bridge went live the morning of the opening ceremony, and will run daily from 8am to 10pm during the Olympics.

It is the largest 3D soundscape in the world, using 3DAudioScape software (developed by Ware’s company Future of Sound, in collaboration with Vince Clarke) to position spoken elements written by poet Mario Petrucci and voiced by Mia Austen and Steven Alexander within a soundfield that runs the entire length of the bridge. In addition, at the start of each hour, an astounding invisible 3,746-voice strong choir from 73 countries – Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir – will perform Water Night, written by Grammy-winning composer, Eric Whitacre.

Largest 3D soundfield on Millennium Bridge during Olympics
The other sketch is of the City of London - including St Paul's Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge  - done while sat having a pot of Lemongrass and Ginger tea in the Members Room on the sixth floor of Tate Modern.  It's a great place to take a break and avoid the hordes in the museum cafes.

Click this link for a virtual tour of the Members Room and see its wonderful view.

Sketch of City of London, St Paul's cathedral andMillennium Bridge in pen and ink
The City of London, St Paul's Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge from the Members Room, Tate Modern
11.5" x 16", pen and ink and coloured pencils
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
This is what was behind me while I sat and sketched Tate Modern!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Rowing Frenzy in Victoria Park

Ever since GB Rowing Team won their medals, something of a "Rowing Frenzy" seems to have erupted on the West Lake in Victoria Park in East London - located across the River Lea  to the west of the Olympic Stadium in the Olympic Park

Rowing boats in Victoria Park
pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook
I sat sketching this scene on Wednesday while drinking a cup of tea on the deck extension at the Pavilion Cafe next to the West Lake, following my visit for treatment at the Osteopath.

There were an awful lot of teenage boys and families keen to get on to the lake and demonstrate their rowing ability - although precious few demonstrated any ability at all!  I think rather a lot people underestimated how much skill is needed to row a boat - and to row one fast!

The only one who seemed to be any good was a small girl who actually understood that the blade of the oar actually needs to be pulled through the water as opposed to dabbed in and out and splashed around!  Various boats were going round and round in circles with varying degrees of shouts and screams from their occupants!  The pedalos looked to be a much safer option!

I've never visited an Osteopath before but I have to say the problems in my neck and shoulder did feel very much better the next day.  It's still not solved the horrendous pains and pins and needles in my arm - but they definitely seem to be linked to this area.  I'm becoming quite an expert on the anatomy of the radial nerve and how it malfunctions!


Sunday, August 05, 2012

Tea at the Orangery, Kew Gardens

We visited Kew Gardens at the end of July.  It's a great option when we don't want to drive but do fancy a long walk.

Given my current problem with my pinched radial nerve, driving any significant distance isn't to be contemplated as 'himself' has to drive both ways.  Instead we had fun when the new NSAID medication I'm taking for the nerve failed to deal with my dysfunctional feet and the right one decided to throw a full-on diva tantrum at the far end of the gardens and demanded both a lie down (as in elevate and take up a whole seat!) and a long rest before I could walk!  If I could trade in all my limbs for newer models I'd do it like a shot!  In the meantime next week I investigate the delights of Osteopathy to see if a mechanical solution will help with the pinched nerve!

Anyway, the right hand was still working and I did this sketch when we had tea on the terrace at the Orangery.  We didn't want to miss any sun or blue sky after the dismal summer we'd had up until that point!

Tea at the Orangery, Kew Gardens 26 July 2012
8" x 10", pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook
© Katherine Tyrrell
I've gone back to using my smaller Moleskine Sketchbook - which still delivers an 8 x 10 inches sketch across the double page spread.

I've drawn people having tea on the terrace a few times previously. Previous posts and sketches about taking tea at the Orangery include the following - which also record the progression of the sunshades on the terrace.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Audley End

We visited Audley End near Saffron Walden in Essex in early July.  It used to be the home of Thomas Audley, Lord Chancellor to Henry VIII in the mid 16th century

Tea garden at Audley End
11 x 16", pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
I spent most of the time on a 'full on' sketch of the house which I haven't finished and which I'm not posting here as I'd like to try and finish it first.

Here instead are a quickie sketch (after the one that's not being shown) of the bridge in the garden and another of the tea garden with the house in the background (see top).

The bridge over the River pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

The house is an amazing Jacobean Mansion on the site of a much bigger Tudor mansion. (More about the house) which in turn was located on the site of a Benedictine monastery.

Apart from the grandeur of the main house, it's a house to visit if you enjoy looking at the kitchen, laundry etc as it has a particularly good services wing (More about the Services Wing in the 1880s) and stable yard (More about the stable yard) which has been described as the the "grandest surviving stables of the early 17th century"

I particularly enjoyed the walk around the gardens and the visit to the walled kitchen garden.

Website: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/audley-end-house-and-gardens/
TwitterL https://twitter.com/EHaudleyend
Opening Times and Directions

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Veduta Sketch of London on a sunny day

We're having a novelty week this week - hot sunny weather, blue skies and very little cloud.  It makes a change.

It is of course all due to end on Friday in time for the Olympics Opening Ceremony!

In the meanwhile, here's the view over the rooftops of the National Portrait Gallery and National Gallery last Sunday afternoon from the Portrait Restaurant on the Third Floor of the National Portrait Gallery.  I'd just attended a "Next Generation" session with teenagers and was in need of a cup of Earl Grey!

View from Portrait Restaurant 22 July 2012 3.30pm
pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook
In this "veduta" sketch you can see - from the left:
Note:  A veduta is a view painting which were popularised by Canaletto and others.  I'm particularly partial to drawing views and vistas and hence I'm going to use "veduta sketch" to indicate a sketch of a complex view.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sketching the Olympic Park

It's less than week to the opening of the Olympics and I thought it was about time I sketched the view of the Olympic Park from the 3rd floor Gallery overlooking the Park in the John Lewis Store at Westfield Stratford.

The Olympic Park from the Third floor Gallery in John Lewis Westfield Stratford
(left to right: The Entrance to the Park; The Aquatics Centre, the Orbit and the Olympic Stadium)
pen and ink and coloured pencils in NPG Seawhite Sketchbook
Yes, that is a big black cloud up above and yes, I did get wet on the way home! What's new?

The skies are very difficult to draw this summer.  They're either incredibly grey and uninteresting or it's raining cats and dogs and you don't want to be out sketching!

I'm trying out a new sketchbook.  This one is slightly bigger than a Moleskine and the paper has more of a tooth although still smoother than most.  It's made for the National Portrait Gallery by Seawhite of Brighton and I think the paper is a heavyweight cartridge paper.  It looks very similar to this one.

It took pen and ink and coloured pencil fine - however I still prefer the Moleskine paper.  I think this one would be better for those wanting to use watercolour.