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


  1. I love the shadows in that tree, Katherine. A color swatch for trees sounds very useful. Do they let people up in the tower, now?


    1. Yes Annie - you can walk up a narrow spiral staircase with a rope for support - past the fabulous Venetian glass they have in the windows which catches the light - up to a landing where you can view the room Vita Sackville West used to work in.

      Then on up again to the roof where you can walk on top of the tower and look down into the garden rooms. It's one of the best parts of going to Sissinghurst. I was up there once when the late Nigel Nicholson (Harold and Vita's son) came up to adjust the flag they always have flying on top of the tower.

      My feet have to be in top notch form for me to try climbing up these days - but I got up there last year when it was quiet at the end of the day.

    2. I greatly admire Vita and Harold and also Nigel. The gardens (though I've only seen photos and your sketches)... and Vita's ALL PASSIONS SPENT and travel books... Nigel's life of Virginia Woolf and his autobiography. I plan to read Harold's books, too, one of these days. Have ordered Vita's and Virginia Woolf's letters...

      Can't stop looking at your trees, here. Repeating myself. But stunning...


  2. I really enjoy and become inspired by your art. Ed

  3. Very creative and inspiring arts collection. I like the color very much. Thanks a lot for sharing. I'll visit your blog again.

  4. I'm enjoying your elegant pencil over water colour sketch style! Nice.


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