Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lunch for one at the National Dining Rooms

This the lunch I had recently after I visited the new exhibition at the National Gallery - see Review: Facing the Modern - The Portrait in Vienna 1900.  I came out of the exhibition - in the basement of the Sainsbury Wing - found the lift and went up two floors to the National Dining Rooms

I sorted out my notes from the press preview and started my sketches of my Table d'Hote lunch. See National Dining Rooms menu [External website].  It came with a very nice glass of red wine.

Each is sketched fast in en and ink, then I colour fast using coloured pencils and finally I do a bit of finishing off at home - but it's not a lot.  The bulk is sketched in situ. For some reason I can't get the colour quite right on the first course and the background page colour is off.

Sweet Cured Devon Trout, Summer Beets, Wild watercress, Elderberry Vinegar
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Borders Grouse, Scottish Girolles, Stornaway Black Pudding, (Straw Fries and Liver Toast)
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Kentish Plums, Lavender Cream, Cobnuts and Wissey Honey
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

My tip for sketching meals

Don't try to include all of the plate.  There's no rule that says you can't crop plates out of the picture plane!

Monday, September 09, 2013

Sissinghurst Castle Garden in August

We paid a visit to Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent on a warm afternoon  in late August. Everything was set off by the brilliant blue skies.

I'm posting sketches in reverse order - because I like the one I finished last the best.  This is a coloured pencil sketch of the Rose Garden in the afternoon - with a contre jour aspect to the sunlight.  The colour was touched in while I was there and then I completed this part of the sketch at home.

You can see the very fast pen and ink sketch done in the garden below the colour sketch.

Sissinghurst Rose Garden - an afternoon in August
pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook, 8" x 10"
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
I was sketching very much "contre jour" so I was keen to get down the areas of darkest tone and the outlines of the shapes of the plants and flowers.

The original very fast sketch in pen and sepia ink on Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
This is the sketch I did as we sat and ate our lunch before going into the garden.

The entrance to Sissinghurst Castle Garden 27 August 2013
pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook, 8" x 10"
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
You can see a lot more sketches of Sissinghurst on this blog - click Sissinghurst

It's amazing how many overseas visitors this garden gets.  I lost count of the languages I heard.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Sketching nature by the lake in Kew Gardens

Last Friday we went to Kew Gardens for the day - and spent the whole afternoon experiencing very warm weather and saying "It's going to rain soon" - but it didn't (until later that night)!

Kew Gardens - sketching nature by the lake
pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils, 8" x 10" in Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Good weather for birds though!

We have a favourite spot next to the lake where there are some benches and you can see all the birdlife as well as the plants which grow on the water margins.  The coot wanted to be in the sketch!

I've got an artwork planned and wanted some 'in situ' sketches of a plant - hence the above.


    Monday, August 26, 2013

    Summer in the Rose Garden, Sissinghurst

    Last month I posted my Step by step sketch of the Rose Garden, Sissinghurst, but I completely forgot to post the finished version - completed at home.  Until yesterday - when we started making plans for our next visit.

    So here's the final version of Summer in the Rose Garden at Sissinghurst.

    Summer in the Rose Garden, Sissinghurst (24 July 2013)
    pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook, 16" x 11"
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell
    A lot of what's done at home is about strengthening colours as opposed to identifying them. Sometimes I need to build up a few layers to get proper darks.  My preference is for using complementary colours to get an optical dark green - and I find the colours red and orange come in very useful for toning down the blue of greens!

    I also find other tricky bits are getting the blooms to "come out" of all the foliage and finding differences in the greens so it doesn't look like one massive green splodge!

    See more of my sketches and drawings of gardens on my website - Pastels and Pencils - Houses & Gardens - sketches and drawings by Katherine Tyrrell or in Pastels and Pencils Katherine Tyrrell travels with a sketchbook - in England

    If you'd like to get inspired to sketch, draw or paint gardens check out my website Gardens in Art - Resources for Artists. This is for artists who enjoy drawing or painting your own garden or gardens you visit. Its contents cover gardens in art and how to draw and paint gardens.

    Find out more about Sissinghurst - see Sissinghurst Castle Garden - a great garden

    Thursday, August 22, 2013

    Sea Bream at the Portrait Restaurant

    Lunch at Portrait Restaurant at the National Portrait Gallery - Main Course - July 2013
    pen and ink and coloured pencils, 8" x 10"
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell
    These are a couple of sketches from a recent visit to the Portrait Restaurant at the National Portrait Gallery for lunch.  Sketching was VERY rapid!  Food was very good.  Exhibition was very good - see my Review: Laura Knight Portraits

    • Starter (below): Air dried ham, figs, goats cheese, rocket salad and balsamic dressing
    • Main Course (above): Sea Bream, Creamy Mash, Chorizo, Spinach, Confit Tomatoes
    Lunch at Portrait Restaurant at the National Portrait Gallery
    Starter - July 2013

    pen and ink and coloured pencils, 8" x 10"
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell
    The Portrait Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner (2 courses £25) - and breakfast and afternoon tea - and has a fabulous view across the top of the National Gallery to the London Eye, Whitehall, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben!

    Tuesday, July 30, 2013

    Sketching High Tea at Fortnum & Mason with Liz Steel

    Yesterday I spent a hugely enjoyable afternoon with my friend and fellow urban sketcher Liz Steel ( Liz and BorrominiSketching Architecture ) in a very small area of Piccadilly in London.  It involved:
    • a visit to one of my favourite book shops Hatchards
    • a visit to the the 245th Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts which Liz had never been to before. It provided an interesting comparison to the shows she sees in Sydney, Australia.
    • finished off by a walk back across the road to Fortnum & Mason and the real purpose of out get-together - a major chinwag and sketching session while having tea and cakes in the the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon.  We arrived at 4.15pm and left shortly before 9pm!

    My Lobster Omelette Victoria with Lobster Bisque and Shaved Truffle
     and Liz's paintbox
    Pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in a small Moleskine Sketchbook
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell
    Above and below you'll see the sketches we made while enjoying our cup of tea and a few morsels!  There are bigger versions of the photo on my Making A Mark Facebook Page and in Liz Steel is in London and sketching High Tea! on Making A Mark.


    We started at Hatchards in Piccadilly where we found the Tea and Cake London book which had been recommended to Liz.  It looked very interesting - but since they only had one copy I'm going to have to order a copy.  I'm very partial to a spot of tea and cake in nice tearooms and cafes!

    Royal Academy of Arts

    The exhibition was busy and it was a joy for me to see again the tapestries A Vanity of Small Differences by Grayson Perry See 10 reasons to visit the RA Summer Exhibition 2013. I'm more impressed every time I see them.

    Etchings by Norman Ackroyd were also much admired!

    On the left is my photograph of the RA with its gates shut which I took as we left F&M.  You don't often see those huge gates closed.

    The Tea Menu
    Single estate leaf and classic blends

    The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon  

    We had a lovely High Tea and discussed all manner of things within our areas of experience and expertise. We are both inveterate "I'll just make a note of that at the back of my sketchbook" people!

    However back to the foodie aspect.

    There are two menus - one for the food and the other for the tea.  It's like a wine list - but it's just tea which I think this makes the Diamond Tea Salon the equivalent of tea drinkers heaven.  (Did I mention that you get refills throughout as well?)
    • First course:  
      • I had a the Lobster Omelette Victoria with Lobster Bisque and Shaved Truffle - which was divine - I got halfway through the omelette and then stopped and sketched it (see above).
      • Liz had the Tempura Courgette Flower with Whipped Peroche Goat's Cheese and Truffle Honey.  
    • Then we sketched the cream tea and patisserie (see below) - although scones kept disappearing as I sketched....
    • Then we got stuck into the cream tea - and more cups of tea!  Two scones each, plus clotted cream and lime curd and wild bilberry jam!
    High tea at the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon
    Pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in a small Moleskine Sketchbook
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell
    • We sketched the patisseries twice - in their original location at the top of the cake stand and then again lower down so we got a top down perspective.  For the record, I numbered them and then wrote down the descriptions.....

    Patisserie in the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, Fortnum & MasonPen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in a small Moleskine Sketchbook
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    At 7.30pm we took a photo of the table, art media and sketches - and "the still life" which were still uneaten!  Such is the discipline of urban sketchers who put sketching before eating!

    Our table at 7.30pm - after three hours of eating, talking, sketching, eating, sketching etc
    I'd started three separate sketches while Liz worked her way across a big double spread.
    Finally, we decided the patisserie needed to be bagged for later and we finished with a slice of "proper cake" - in this case a Coconut and Lime Cake with Raspberries and a raspberry Mascarpone Cheese Cream.

    Coconut and Lime Cake with Raspberry Mascarpone Cream - it was pale lime colour!
    Pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in a small Moleskine Sketchbook
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    So all in all a good time was had by both of us and I look forward to Liz's next visit to London - and more tea and cakes and sketching!


    1. A visit to the Tea salon is not cheap - however the food is good, the staff and service are excellent and there's no rush to leave your table.  Neither Liz nor I had any lunch beforehand and I didn't have dinner when I got home. So if you think of it a bit like a meal out at somewhere decent the cost starts to look much more reasonable.  More details on their menu.
    2. When I got home I whipped out my Luminance coloured pencil which is the same shade as the Fortnum & Mason colour for its china and strengthened the colour you can see in the photographs.

    Thursday, July 25, 2013

    Step by step sketch of the Rose Garden, Sissinghurst

    Here's a photo montage of my sketching the Rose Garden at Sissinghurst yesterday.  We were there yesterday and this time I sketched the view I sketched in April - after a very cold spring - on a very hot day in July.

    My sketch of the Rose Garden at Sissinghurst 24 July 2013
    pencil and coloured pencils in large (A4) Moleskine Sketchbook
    all images copyright Katherine Tyrrell
    Above you can the arm of "he who must not be bored while I sketch" who was asked to hold the sketchbook up against the subject matter while I took a photo.  It's not finished but we'd agreed 4.00pm was tea time and this was as far as I'd got!  I'll post the finished version when I've strengthened some of the colours.

    Below are the stages of sketching

    First the pencil sketch

    Initial pencil sketch of the Rose Garden, Sissinghurst from the Lutyens Bench
    Then I start to add hatching with coloured pencil.  I work all round the image so that I have a sense of the colour relationships and also so that I use the same colour throughout the drawing - which adds unity to the picture

    When I'm working on a large sketch I very often create small patches which are the 'finished' colour but wait until I get home to do all the layers which get large amounts of paper to the same level.  I often leave off finishing the sky until I get home.

    I'll post the finished version tomorrow.

    Starting to add coloured pencils
    ...and this is where I was sat - under an absolutely glorious clematis called Clematis 'Perle d'Azur'.  I lost count of the people who photographed it while I was sat doing my sketch.

    Clematis 'Perle d'Azure' and the Lutyens Bench I sat on for this sketch
    - and the one I did of the same scene back in April

    Below are more blog posts about sketching at Sissinghurst.

    An Index of posts about sketching at Sissinghurst

    • The Rose Garden at Sissinghurst - late Spring 28 Apr 2013 Sketch of the Rose Garden and photos of Sissinghurst Castle Garden April 2013.
    • Sissinghurst - from 3rd hottest to 2nd coldest! 26 Apr 2013 Sketch and photos of Sissinghurst Castle Garden and Farm April 2013 plus discussion of weather and impact on plants.
    • Vita Sackville West's Tower at Sissinghurst Castle Garden 01 Sep 2012 A sketch of the writing tower used by Vita Sackville West at Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent.
    • Sissinghurst Moat and Orchard in Spring sunshine 1 Apr 2012 Sketch of the moat plus photos of the orchard on a sunny Spring day at Sissinghurst in March 2012.
    • Sketching the Herb Garden at Sissinghurst 24 Sep 2011 Yesterday we went to Sissinghurst. I left "he who must not bored while I sketch" reading The Economist and his latest book about The Eagles, while sat in the Chair in the Cottage Garden while I sketched down in The Herb Garden
    • The Gazebo at Sissinghurst 17 Sep 2009 The Memorial Gazebo at Sissinghurst, built of Kentish weatherboard, was dedicated in 1969 to Sir Harold Nicolson (husband of Vita Sackville-West) by their sons, Ben and Nigel.
    • Sissinghurst - and tips for time limited sketches 08 Sep 2009 This particular sketch was done right at the end of a trip to Sissinghurst in August. "He who must not be bored while I sketch" read his book sat in the chair outside the cottage while I sat on the doorstep.
    • Sissinghurst and the BBC4 documentary 15 Mar 2009 This is a view I love every time I visit Sissinghurst - of the fields seen through the arches of the great Elizabethan Farm.
    • Spring fields from Sissinghurst 16 May 2008 This was my sketch from the windows of the Barn Restaurant at Sissinghurst on Monday afternoon which I did while I drank my afternoon cup of tea
    • Spring at Sissinghurst 15 May 2008 Here's my latest sketch of the garden at Sissinghurst.
    • The White Garden, Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent 11 Sep 2007 We went to Sissinghurst Gardens in Kent on Friday and I produced the above sketch while sat in the corner of the White Garden. The White Garden only contains flowers which are white and rather a lot of 'silver/grey foliage
    • Autumn at Sissinghurst 13 Sep 2007 Sissinghurst can be very limiting as to set-ups because they won't allow a lot of things (easels/tripods/chairs) into the gardens because of health and safety concerns as the gardens are so popular.
    • More sketching at Sissinghurst and a salutary tale 07 Sep 2007 (of a sketch done in 2005) This sketch was a bit of a challenge in terms of placement and perspective, although, to be honest the only perspective I was interested in was whether the trees forms had recession - despite being different in type, shape and colour!

    Wednesday, July 17, 2013

    A step by step sketch of the Long Border at Great Dixter

    We visited the wonderful garden at Great Dixter yesterday.  The garden was full of tourists from Europe who'd come specially to see the garden - which was looking very full of flowers and plants and absolutely splendid as usual.

    My sketch of the Long Border at Great Dixter
    pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Large Moleskine Sketchbook
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell
    Below are step by step photos of how I got to the above (unfinished) sketch which I did while sat on the seat at the end of the Long Border.  I thought people who've not seen one of my step by steps before might find it interesting.

    Media used are as follows.  Links go to either my website Pastels and Pencils - Art Materials or to the Sketching Toolkit module within my website Travel Sketching: How to sketch the places you see

    Here's the sketches one by one

    Sketch #1:  Mapping a pencil outline and guides

    This was a complicated sketch, both in terms of subject matter, zones, and perspective.  So, as I knew I was going to be drawing with pen and ink I decided to give myself a little bit of help.

    I first took a photo.  That's something I very often do to work out what to make the four lines around the edge of the sketch - what to leave in and what to leave out.

    I looked at my photo and used it to map out some very rough guidelines quickly in pencil.  This took me no more than two minutes.  I was mentally looking for halves, quarters and thirds relative to the picture format as I found my guidelines.

    I added in a bit of shading afterwards just to remind myself where the darks are - it's help to locate places within the picture when doing a complicated sketch.

    Pencil guidelines and a bit of pencil hatching re darker tones
    mechanical pencil in Large Moleskine Sketchbook
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    2. Starting to draw with pen and sepia ink

    This photo was taken after I started to draw in the lines I wanted for my sketch. I highlight shapes - both large and small, squiggley edges of plants, edges of tonal areas, important lines and edges which guide in and around the sketch eg edge of the path, roofline.

    I also started to add in hints of the colours as I find this helps me with the drawing.  Saves time trying to work out which bit is which!

    Starting the pen and ink drawing for the sketch
    pen and sepia ink in Large Moleskine Sketchbook
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    3. Starting to add Coloured Pencil

    Initial layers of coloured pencil are focused on the things I need to resolve the distances involved.  I find if I get the foreground, middle ground and background issues resolved I then find it easier to find my way around a complicated sketch.

    At this stage there are lots of "notes to me" in this sketch - of things that need to further developed and finished later.  For example, I'm using ink to hatch in the beginnings of what will become darker areas.  Plus I'm locating the colours of specific flowers in the border.

    Starting to add coloured pencils
    pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Large Moleskine Sketchbook
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    4. More Coloured Pencil

    One of the main things I do when using coloured pencils is to mix colours and tones on the page.  I don't want the 2D flatness that you get when you use just one colour for an area of colour.

    For example, there's about six colours in that roof and about four shades of green in the strip of grass alongside the path.

    I'm also constantly tying in colours laid down in one place to colours used elswhere - which adds unity to the development of the sketch

    Starting to think about darker tones and variation within 'one colour' areas
    pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Large Moleskine Sketchbook
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    5. Where I've got to

    The sketch as it stands at the moment (see top) is where I got before "he who must not be bored while I sketch" decided it was time for tea!

    It needs finishing.  Everything is a little bit too light.  The light areas need more darks so they'll start to pop. The main thing is that I needed more greens to complete the trees and the hedges.

    I'll post the proper sketch when I've finished it.

    UPDATE:  Here's the movie of a slideshow of the sketches!

    This is how it was made - Sketching slideshow - iPhoto to slideshow to Quicktime Movie

    More sketches of Great Dixter

    Below there are more sketches of Great Dixter - ordered chronologically.  There's even another sketch of the Long Border!

    More about Great Dixter and gardens

    These are some more links which you may find interesting if you like gardens

    Tuesday, July 02, 2013

    Bali - paddy fields and palm trees

    Palm trees and paddy fields in Bali
    28 April 1997
    Neocolor II in Daler Rowney Sketchbook
    I had paddy fields right outside the window of where I stayed in Bali.

    However we saw some some pretty spectacular views of paddy fields on the hillsides of Bali as we travelled around the island.

    One afternoon we stopped at a point where it's possible to draw the rice fields.

    This was my sketch for working out what I wanted to do with my plein air pastel.  Sadly the latter never happened because:
    • it took a long time to work out how to represent the palm trees and the paddy fields.  Never under estimate how much time you need to get your eye trained to draw new objects!
    • it started to cloud over and then began to rain and pastel and rain do not mix!
    I really feel like I didn't do the view justice - but it was overwhelming!

    I still have the photographs I took while trying to work out the best angle for a drawing.

    However it's very evident to me that even though photographs are generally unable to provide a reliable colour reference that my neocolors did not provide the colours I needed for this sketch.  Everything is looking a bit too blue whereas the vegetation while lush leaned more towards apple / sap green end of the green spectrum - with some deep olives around the palm trees.

    Writing this post has made me want to have another go at capturing the scene and the colours.

    You can see below some of the photos I took.  The view was spectacular.

    Paddy fields in front of me - on so many different levels!
    This next one shows the level on which i sat - I was perched on a narrow ledge just in front of one of the hawker's huts (which is hidden by the very prominent palm tree at the front of the photo).

    I was sat on a ledge just in front (to the right in this photo)
    of the Hawker's Huts
    The spot where we stopped was obviously a regular tourist stop judging by the hawkers' stalls and sheds.  One of the hawkers provided a very entertaining sideshow for our expedition.  He was very adept at splitting coconuts for drinks and nibbles!  Plus modelled three hats at once to show how stable they were on one's head!

    The most entertaining hawker
    three hats on his head and ready to split a coconut at our command!
    This last photo shows one of my fellow painters sat in front of the vista of paddy fields and palm trees.  Not a place for easels!

    First take a big sheet of paper.........
    From here we went to Petalu - a small village north of Ubud - to see the white herons (kokocan)  of Petalu coming home to roost in the trees along the road to the temple.  They arrive from all over Bali.

    This is a video of the White Herons of Petalu by a couple called Hans and Fifi which gives you a good sense of the sights and sounds of Bali villages but doesn't quite capture the moments just as dusk falls when wave after wave of white herons arrive and land in the huge trees lining the road to the temple.  Magical!  (This site has some good photos of a celebration associated with the herons and the village - and provide some commentary on what has happened at the village in the past).


    Sunday, June 30, 2013

    46 Ananda Cottages at dusk

    46 Ananda Cottages (dusk - 4 May 1997)
    pencil in sketchbook
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    In 1997 I went on my second painting holiday to Bali. I first stayed in Bali in 1992 on a painting holiday organised by Spencer Scott for The Artist magazine

    We were so impressed with the place that five years later, the artist and his wife arranged another painting holiday as part of the overseas painting holidays they offer (details at end).

    We stayed again at Ananda Cottages on the northern outskirts of Ubud. It's located in the rice paddies and is far enough outside Ubud (about 25 minutes walk) to be very quiet and peaceful.

    This is a pencil sketch of my room done just as dusk was starting to fall. There's no glass in the windows - just split cane blinds. Outside the rooms is the most amazing lush vegetation.

    I remember being quite jealous of other painters who were on the ground floor with the open air bathrooms! It's a very memorable place to stay and still seems to be very popular with its guests

    Bali Accommodation

    Sunday, June 09, 2013

    Ary's Warung in Ubud, Bali

    I thought while I'm waiting for my new glasses, I could post some of my sketches from a long time ago.

     More to the point - I've never posted my sketches of Bali as a series!

    The Japanese waiting for a plane
    Ary's Warung, Ubud, Bali
    5 May 1997
    pencil in Daler Rowney hardback black sketchbook
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell
    I've still got my sketchbook notes of my stay in Bali in 1997 and this is in fact the last day and very nearly the last sketch.

    This was morning and lunch on the last day.
    5th May 1997 Taxi down to masseur (Metari). Bought shirt for J and T shirt for me. Changed money.  Thai calamari salad, lemon grass tea and white cocolate cheescake at Ary's Warung.  Sketched interior.  
    Venice has Harry's Bar and Ubud in Bali has Ary's Warung.

    Looking at what it's like today, I'm rather glad I visited it back in the 90s before it introduced chrome and the starched linen!  It looks as it's changed a lot.

    Back then it was cane, cane and rattan on the verandah which contrasted with the lush greens of vegetation outside where I sat, watching the world go by.  There was a constant stream of customers - although some waited rather longer than others such as the Japanese couple in the centre of this sketch who were obviously killing time before the journey to the airport.

    This is what I wrote when I first posted on Making A Mark about this place
    I sat in Ary's Warung on the main street in Ubud in Bali and started to draw some people while I had a pot of their lemon grass and ginger tea. And it just turned into one of those sketches where you order another pot of tea and then lunch as your sketch keeps creeping across the page until every last bit is filled. People came and went - which was a bit of a challenge - and the Japanese couple with their suitcases that I had started sketching originally finally left for the airport to catch their flight.MAKING A MARK: Ary's Warung 27 April 2006

    What I do remember - across the years - is the lemon grass tea.  I think it had a sliver of ginger in it as well.  When I think of Bali now I think of the lemon grass tea - and I've never been made able to make it the way I had it there.  Must be something to do with the freshness of the lemon grass....

    I'll see if I can get my sketches about Bali posted before I get my new post-operative glasses at the beginning of next month - at which time sketching can return to normal.

    Address: Ary's Warung, Jl. Raya Ubud Kedewatan, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
    Contemporary Reviews of Ary's Warung on: Trip Adviser | Lonely Planet | Frommers.

    You can see other sketches from this particular travel sketchbook on my website at:
    You can also see other sketches from different places in the Travels with a Sketchbook galleries on my website "Pastels and Pencils".

    Thursday, June 06, 2013

    Cheese and biscuits at Fortnum & Mason

    Yesterday I went to the Royal Academy of Arts for the press view of the Summer Exhibition - which opens to the Friends' Private Views tomorrow and to the Public on Saturday.

    Cropwell Bishop Stilton with Chutney And Fortnum’s Cheese Crackers
    pen and ink and coloured pencils, 8" x 10" in Moleskine Sketchbook
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell
     I have an annual tradition of crossing the road to Fortnum & Mason for a bite to eat after the exhibition.  One of the things I love about the Gallery Restaurant is it never matters what time you turn up - they have a menu for it!  (see the end for information about opening times and links to menus).

    I had their Table d'Hote Lunch which gave me a breather between the Summer Exhibition and the Wildlife Artist of the Year Exhibition run by the David Shepherd Foundation.  It turned into a bit of an investigation of eyesight and sketching.

    Sketching as eyesight testing!

    I think I overloaded my eyes with visual information in the morning because I found it very difficult to sketch over lunch.  I started four but couldn't make much progress.  However I did learn something which will be helpful when it comes to prescription glasses.

    First I think my eyes were crying out for a rest from looking!  I'm thinking it must be quite a lot for the brain to adjust to when you change vision very quickly (see Day surgery sketching at Moorfields Eye Hospital and Postoperative checkup at Moorfields Eye Clinic). 

     When I sketched at the post-op clinic last week, it was in the morning and I'd not been "looking" beforehand and my eyes were more rested - and as a result there were few problems sketching.  This time I'd spent a long time looking at lots of art in a fairly intent way during the morning and my eyes would have been very tired in any case - even if they hadn't had a recent operation.  Constant switching of focal length is very tiring even if your eyesight is perfect. However my experience yesterday was worse than usual (see a comparable lunch post Summer Exhibition)

    Second, I know I was having problems with switching between  viewing the art on the walls and reading my catalogue with the "make do" magnifiers  I'm using while I wait for proper prescription glasses.  That problem will be resolved by having the right prescription - round about the beginning of July.

    The view from my table
    Gallery Restaurant, Fortnum & Mason 5 June 2013

    pen and ink and coloured pencils, 8" x 10" in Moleskine Sketchbook
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell
    I found it much easier to sketch the cheese and biscuits than I did the scene in the restaurant.  You can see that sketch on the right.  I think it's very "sketchy" but not in a good way!

    The cheese and biscuits were probably much easier because the sketchbook was parked in front of the plate of cheese and biscuits and my eyes didn't have to adjust constantly for different distances

    In the end I decided the problem with the sketching in Fortnum & Mason was probably down to:

    • having to constantly switch between distance vision for viewing and near vision for reading during the morning and 
    • not yet having the correct prescription glasses for the right distance.

    It did also make me wonder whether reading glasses or computer glasses would be best option for sketching.

    As a result I've decided I'm going to take my sketchbook with me when I go to get my eyes examined for my new prescription glasses!  Then we can measure out the length between eyes and sketchbook!

    A cheeseboard
    from a previous visit

    Links to previous sketches at Fortnum and Mason:

    NOTES re. Venues

    Royal Academy 245th Summer Exhibition 10 June — 18 August 2013
    In the Main Galleries, Burlington House, Piccadilly
    Sponsored by Insight Investment

    Fortnum and Mason: The Gallery Restaurant, Ground Floor (overlooks Food Hall)  - entrance via Food Hall
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    Thursday, May 30, 2013

    Postoperative checkup at Moorfields Eye Clinic

    Today I went for my check-up at Moorfields Eye Clinic at Mile End, one week after my second Phacoemulsification of cataract with intraocular lens implantation #2

    That's medical terminology for removing a cataract and implanting a new permanent lens. (see also Day surgery sketching at Moorfields Eye Hospital).

    I'm very pleased to say I'm infection free, inflammation free and the 19 eye drops  a day have now been reduced to 12!  Plus I can now read easily to the second to bottom line on the eye chart and today I drove again for the first time in weeks and weeks.  Big mistake - I totally forgot about the dilating drops and had to get "he who must not be bored while I sketch" to come to where I'd parked the car and drive me and the car back home again!

    Subject to my check-up at the end of June, I should be able to get new glasses for reading and the computer and get back to normal activities   At the moment I'm having to limit the use of my eyes for reading/computer use.  Instead I'm watching rather a lot of television with my brand new better than normal eyesight for longer distances!  Come July, everything will be back to normal - as in normal about 25 years ago!

    Moorfields outreach service at Mile End Hospital - Waiting in reception
    8" x 10", pen and ink and coloured pencils
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell
    The above sketch was done while sat waiting to be called for my eye tests this morning.  Drawn on site with colouring added when I got back home.

    My clinic is held at a local surgical centre on the Mile End Hospital site.  It's just one of the 19 outreach sites Moorfields Eye Hospital has around London.  These enable people living all over London to get treatment and monitoring and follow-up care without having to travel to the main hospital on City Road.

    I have to say this has been one of the very best experiences of NHS care I've ever had.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised as it is a postgraduate teaching hospital! I certainly wasn't in the least bit surprised to see from the website that the hospital has just had an excellent report after a surprise inspection by the Care Quality Commission.

    If you live in London (or elsewhere in the UK if you have an uncommon eye condition) and need your eyes sorted out see if you can get your GP to refer you to Moorfields!

    Friday, May 24, 2013

    Day surgery sketching at Moorfields Eye Hospital

    Yesterday I had my second day surgery to remove my cataract and implant a new lens (see
    Phacoemulsification of cataract with intraocular lens implantation #2 - which means super new sketching eyes!  Plus I'll be able to get back to proper artwork having had severe difficulties seeing proper colour, tonal values and detail for the last 18 months or so.

    I was the last operation of the day so had some hours to while away - and there's nothing like a spot of sketching for passing the time and keeping you calm!

    I arrived at 11.30 and after initial check-ups for blood pressure and temperature and the insertion of my dilating drops I got stuck into my first sketch.  The theatre gown in the foreground was for me later in the day.

    The patient in the bed opposite - with the ubiquitous post surgery eye dressing
    8" x 10" pen and ink and coloured pencils
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell
    When you come back from theatre, those who have had a general anaesthetic get to rest up in bed.  I was more than ready for my chicken sandwich and big pot of tea when I got back to my bed at 5.30pm having had nothing since 7am!

    While I was waiting earlier in the afternoon, I drew the nurses station but didn't try drawing the nurses as they were always busy and came and went too quickly.

    Nurses' station in Sedgwick Ward, Moorfields Eye Hospital
    8" x 10" pen and ink and coloured pencils
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell
    I felt great after the operation and after post surgery examination and tests was back at the bus stop for the journey home two hours after I left the operating theatre!

    Thanks to everybody who helped me get my eyesight back!

    Postscript:  The sketches were much admired by staff - as always seems to happen when I sketch while in hospital.  However one of the interesting aspects of this particular operation is I might have earned myself a commission from one of the doctors.  I now have an email to follow up on!

    I've added in a module to the side column to say how you can commission a sketch from me.

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

    The green at Ide Hill

    We visited the village of Ide Hill in Kent the day after the early May Day Bank Holiday.  This sketch was done late afternoon while sat in the sun on a bench on the edge of the lovely village green.

    The Village Green in evening sun at Ide Hill
    pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell
    I assumed they hadn't got round to taking down the bunting for the May Day celebrations however it turns out The Ide Hill May Fair is on the second May Bank Holiday.

    This village is a little way from Emmetts Garden.  It has the same name as the hill on which it stands.  Apparently the name of Ide Hill was first recorded in 1250 as Edythehelle and is meant to denote 'Edith's hill' - which makes it an eponymic name ie derived from the name of a person.

    Which is interesting as the area is normally associated with Octavia Hill who was one of the three founders of the National Trust.  She was a a social reformer, philanthropist, artist and writer, who campaigned for open spaces for  poor people.  One of the things she did was saved Mariners Hill, Toys Hill and Ide Hill from development and these three hills became part of the Green Belt around London which has stopped urban sprawl.  Last year to celebrate the centenary of her birth, the National Trust created the Octavia Hill Centenary Trail East and the Octavia Hill Centenary Trail West

    According to the National Trust
    Ide Hill is 33.5 acres of semi-natural woodland that lies on the side of the Greensand Ridge. The area is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its abundant wildlife.
    People may remember the woodland which suffered very badly in the Great Storm of 1987 - that was on Ide Hill.  It lost 70% of its trees.  Emmetts Garden lost 95% of its trees and virtually everything we see today has grown since 1987.  So basically - all those trees you see in the background have grown since 1987!

    Here's a view of the church in Ide Green (to my immediate left from where I was sitting) from the most easterly point of the Bluebell Wood in Emmetts Garden.  It's the highest church in Kent - and there's a pun in there somewhere ;)

    The Highest Church in Kent
    St.  Mary's Church at Ide Hill from Emmetts Garden
    photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    Links to posts about Emmetts Garden:

    Tuesday, May 14, 2013

    The view of the Weald from Emmetts Garden

    Every year, in Spring, we go to Emmetts Garden in Kent to see the bluebells in the woods.  This is by far the best place I know to see bluebells. I've included a couple of photos at the end of this post.

    However the garden is located in one of the highest points in Kent - on top of a 600m sandstone ridge - which provides splendid views of the Weald of Kent if you know where to look and where to sit.  I confess we re-engineered the seating arrangement for this sketch with a bench moved about three feet to the right!

    The view of the Weald from Emmetts Garden (May 2013)
    pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook, 8" x 10"
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell
    The water in the distance is (I think) bough Beech Reservoir - I've spent years wondering and finally got the map out and worked it out!

    Believe it or not if you want to find out about the garden, you're best off going to Wikipedia as the new National Trust website tells you virtually nothing!  See Wikipedia - Emmetts Garden

    The garden is mainly an arboretum and has some splendid examples of magnolias which grow to an enormous size - very Himalayas!

    One of the Giant Magnolias at Emmetts Garden
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell
    However it is famed for its Bluebells which carpet the woodland.

    Bluebells in the woods at Emmetts Garden
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    Bluebells in the woods at Emmetts Garden
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell
    Near the Rose Garden, there is a new 'natural' planting of tulips and very young cherry trees which looked splendid against the fields in the background.

    a new planting of tulips and cherry trees
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    Sunday, April 28, 2013

    The Rose Garden at Sissinghurst - late Spring

    Let me provide a caveat for the title of this post - this is the Rose Garden at Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent in April after an exceptionally late Spring (see Sissinghurst - from 3rd hottest to 2nd coldest!)  Which means there was very little to sketch in terms of flowers.

    So I went for the big shapes instead!

    The Rose Garden at Sissinghurst Castle Garden (22 April 2013)
    11" x 16", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell
    Normally "he who must not be bored while I sketch" sit next to me on a bench and he reads his book while I sketch the scene.

    However HWMNBB has got himself a new camera!  So this time you get a photo of the sketcher sketching the view as well!  He climbed all the way up the top of the tower to take this one.  Could this be a sign of things to come?  However I still retain editorial control - which is why you're not seeing the one which has provided an imperative to diet!

    Katherine Tyrrell sketching the Rose Garden at Sissinghurst
    Copyright: He who must not be bored while I sketch.
    Here's some more photos of the gardens.

    There wasn't  a lot going on in The White Garden although the absence of foliage pointed up the geometry nicely.

    The White Garden, Sissinghurst Castle Garden - April 2013
    Not a lot going on in The White Garden, Sissinghurst Castle Garden 
    (22 April 2013)
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    Here's the view of the White Garden from the other way on

    The view of the White Garden from the Lower Courtyard 
    (22 April 2013)
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell

    In fact, one of the advantages of the visit is that it emphasised the lines of sight and views between the garden rooms which had been deliberately designed into the overall plan for the garden.

    The Rose Garden Statue from the Lower Courtyard
    (this is the same statue as the one which can be seen at the end of the vista in my sketch)
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell
    For those of you who have a National Trust Calendar for 2013, compare the April page of the calendar with this view of the same corner of the Cottage Garden - that's how far behind everything is because of the cold weather!

    View of the Moat Walk from a very "late" Cottage Garden 
    (22 April 2013)
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell
    The one area which was holding its head up high was The Nuttery where the spring flowers were rampant - I guess because they've had some shelter during the cold weather.

    The Nuttery - note the Trilliums in the foreground
    (22 April 2013)
    copyright Katherine Tyrrell
    We'll be back again when the weather is better!

    Note:  The Rose Garden in Summer is amazing.  Rose growers might be interested in an old newspaper article I found about how roses are grown at Sissinghurst - see Growing roses, the Sissinghurst way