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).