Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Trinity Buoy Wharf

I've only just realised that I forgot to post my sketches from the Urban Sketchers London sketchcrawl at Trinity Buoy Wharf on 16 November 2014.

The prow of the red Lighthouse Ship at Trinity Buoy Wharf
- next to where the River Lea enters the River Thames
- with the Emirates Cable Cars in the background
As always the prospect of trying to scan an A3 spread across two pages in an A4 sketchbook has me thinking twice before doing so. In the end I tried photographing with my new iPhone instead - which wasn't perfect but has the merit of at least getting these sketches to appear here with minimum fuss!

The above sketch was done from inside Fatboys Diner - while Suzanne du Toit and James Hobbs sat the other side of the table. It was drizzling outside and a number of us took refuge inside the Diner!

Suzanne du Toit and James Hobbs sketching opposite me in Fatboys Diner
In the morning I was drawing Fatboys Diner - and the other end of the red lightship while testing my new Faber Castell Albrecht Durer watercolour pencils in my Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook (ie smooth surface and amenable to water washes).

This was the result - it's sadly unfinished due to the drizzle which started. I can cope with drizzle and have sat and sketched under an umbrella before now while using ordinary coloured pencils - but it's a bit fatal with watercolour pencils - they have a very unpredictable impact!

Fatboys Diner and the big red lightship - at Trinity Buoy Wharf
- I've used water on the red on the diner
- but the rest of the sketch is watercolour pencils untouched by water

Two things I learned:
  • the Albrecht Durers work well with the Zeta Sketchbook when dry
  • when the pencils are wetted, the saturation of colour is very good.
I need to try them again on a subject where there is more scope for colour mixing on the paper.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sketching a lighthouse and lightships in London (Urban Sketchers London Sketchcrawl 16th November)

Tomorrow lunchtime I'm going to go to a place not far from me to see a lighthouse I never knew existed. It is in fact the only lighthouse in London - and it's at Trinity Buoy Wharf in East London, which is situated at the confluence of the River Lee and the River Thames.

Plus there's

  • a couple of lighthouses , 
  • a pier with a good view of the O2, a container city and 
  • an American Diner - a painting of which won the Sunday Times Watercolour competition this year.

Annotated aerial view of Trinity Buoy Wharf and sketching opportunities
If you want to find out more about the Sketchcrawl and other events which form part of the Recording Britain events tomorrow - see What to see and sketch on Sunday at Trinity Buoy Wharf on the Urban Sketchers London blog

What: Sketchcrawl
Where: at Trinity Buoy Wharf. Meet at The Electrician's Shop Gallery, Trinity Buoy Wharf, 64 Orchard Place, London E14 0JY
When: 12 noon - 4pm on Sunday 16th November
How to get there: it's not difficult - see the blog post for details or the TBW website

Thursday, September 04, 2014

VIDEO: Sketching trees in pen and ink

A new video for you - of me sketching trees in pen and sepia ink. I'm actually drawing looking over the top of iPad Mini which was used to film this video while I was sat in the shade. This is my "normal" way of drawing ie this is how fast I draw.

I'm using a Pilot G-Tec-C4 pen with sepia ink which has a very fine point plus a Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook. The latter is designed for pen and ink and line drawings and is great for this purpose.

This is the view I was drawing. I like this sketchbook a lot for pen and ink work - but I'm not so enamoured with its performance when using coloured pencils. It's got more tooth than I normally like.  The paper is a heavy weight (100lb / 150gsm) natural white paper with a plate surface.

Sketching the lake and trees at Chartwell
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
I don't find the coloured pencil is as receptive on this surface.  It's difficult to get any depth of colour.
I think I need to focus on using this sketchbook just for pen and ink drawings.
and the photo of the same view taken yesterday afternoon after I dropped off my drawings for the Florum exhibition at the Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve (the exhibition is open 6th-13th September).

The view from where I was sat - with departing art group walking up the hill
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
One of the odd/interesting things about yesterday was that there was an art group painting around the lake. I was chatting to one of them and when we introduced ourselves she knew who I was and all about Making A Mark!

More about the great plein air painting chairs they were using in tomorrow's post.

Links: Pen and Ink - Resources for Artists

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sketch of a Potager in Provence

This is for Ruth - I've just read on Facebook that she feels she no longer has enough time for her garden in Provence due to all her other commitments and is thinking of giving it up.

A potager in Provence
6 ½” x 12” / 29cm x 42cm, pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in
Moleskine A3 size Folio Sketchbook
This is my sketch of her wonderful potager (a kitchen garden) at Couguieux with Mont Ventoux in the background. I never got round to posting it on this blog although it was posted to Four Go Painting In Provence.

I absolutely adore kitchen gardens and can always be found wandering around them very slowly whenever I come across one!  It was therefore a real joy to have one to look after and sketch during our stay in the Postcard from Provence house.

I liked the fact that one had to walk a little way down the road to visit the potager - as we did every evening to water the vegetables.  All the water had to be transported using a hose and/or watering can so it is no little effort to maintain such a garden under the hot Provencal sun.

I sketched this potager just over three years ago. It was too hot to finish it and I really should have a go at doing a proper drawing of it as the view was wonderful.

It was one of my first sketches using the very large A3 size Moleskine sketchbook which means I can do large sketches with no binding line down the middle of a double page spread! If you're interested in the sketchbook you can find out more here - The Largest Ever Moleskine Sketchbook!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sketching three Wren Churches in the City of London

Earlier this month, on Saturday 2nd August, I spent the afternoon drawing three Wren churches as part of the Sketching Wren's London Sketchcrawl, organised by Pete Scully for Urban Sketchers London.

The area I covered was very familiar being located very close to the Puddle Dock Offices in Victoria Street where I used to work when I was a management consultant at KPMG in the 90s.

St Andrew by the Wardrobe, Queen Victoria Street
pen and ink and coloured pencil in Stillman and Birn Epsilon ringbound sketchbook, 9" x 12"
© Katherine Tyrrell
St Andrew by the Wardrobe is the last church designed by Sir Christopher Wren for the City of London.
Christopher Wren by Godfrey Kneller 1711
Sir Chrisopher Wren
Image: Portrait by Sir Godfrey Kneller
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
  • The original church (no longer standing) dates back to the 13th century and was associated with Baynard’s Castle, which used to be located where the Mermaid Theatre is now.  The church was located close by to the place known as the The Great Wardrobe - where the state robes and other associated materials were stored.
  • It was the parish church of Shakespeare when he worked at the nearby Blackfriars Theatre - which was also located just to the north of the church
  • The church was burned down in the Great Fire of London - hence Wren's involvement
  • It was then damaged in the Blitz - it completely lost its interior - but has subsequently been restored.
I've been sent some of the Stillman & Birn sketchbooks to review and this was the first time I'd taken out their Epsilon sketchbook (9 x 12" / 22.9cm x 30.5cm - ring bound / 100 pages).

I'll be publishing a review when I've used it bit more - I'm only just getting back into sketching having spent most of the year writing my book about drawing and sketching!

I really liked the paper which is heavy weight paper designed for pen and ink (100 lb. / 150 gsm - with a plate surface) and it certainly is an excellent surface for that.  The other big advantage is that the pen and ink does not show through the paper so you can work both sides without causing a problem when it comes to scanning. It also worked really well with coloured pencil as well and smudged beautifully when I used a tissue to blue the colours in the dark clouds behind the church.

I'm much less keen on the ring binding as it causes a problem when it comes to scanning.  I also need to remember that the sheets are 9" x 12" which means they're very slightly bigger in both dimensions than the A4 size permitted by my scanner.

I then walked up the road and swopped to a pen and ink sketch of The Guild Church of St Benet, Paul's Wharf on a double page spread in my trusty Moleskine Sketchbook.  This was drawn using an unusual 'portrait' format. I tried to get it all in but in the end lost the top of the tower.

This is the Welsh Anglican Church in the City of London and has a Baroque style.  It was originally located just to the east of the watergate of Baynard's Castle - and both castle and church burned down in the Great Fire of London.

This 'new' church was designed by Wren and built between 1677 to 1685. This is the English Heritage listing for it. See if you can spot what they're referencing in my sketch (it's not all theer!). I was located to the north of the church - looking south towards the River Thames - which means west is on the right and east is on the left.
Square compartment of 3 bays with north aisle and short west aisle to south of west tower. Exterior of red brick with modest dressings of painted stone and richly carved festoons above windows. Modillion eaves-cornice of timber. Hipped, tiled roof, in 3 sections to north aisle. Blind panel to centre of east front. Pedimented doorcase at south end of west aisle. Simple tower in 3 main stages with quoins, circular and round-arched windows and stone frames, simply mullioned belfry openings. Timber cornice capped by lead-covered cupola with lantern and weathervane. Flat ceiled interior has order of Corinthian pilasters and colonnades screening aisles, their high pedestals supporting galleries with carved fronts. Vestry (formerly entrance vestibule) beneath west gallery. Entrance now under tower. Fine, carved reredos communion table and rails, pulpit, west door, marble font with corner etc. Modest sword-rest. Wall tablets. Marble paving. Inscribed slabs. One of the least altered of Wren's churches.
The Guild Church of St Benet, Paul's Wharf, Queen Victoria Street
pen and sepia ink in Moleskine sketchbook, 10" x 8"

© Katherine Tyrrell
View of the steeple of
St Augustine, Watling Street
The last church I sketched - St Augustine, Watling Street  - was one that doesn't actually exist any more. It's located to the east of St Paul's cathedral (visible in the photo on the right) in what used to be the cathedral's churchyard.

I also sketched it while sat in a Cafe Rouge which had windows which opened up on to the scene (see right)

The original church - located immediately to the east of St Paul's cathedral - dated back to the 12th century with the earliest recorded reference being in 1148. At the time it was 61 feet long.

The church was destroyed by the Great Fire of London. It was then rebuilt to a design by Wren in 1682-1695.

It was then destroyed again in the Blitz.

All that was left after the Blitz was the tower and the steeple. This time rather than restoring what was damaged, it was left. Subsequently, starting in 1965, the tower and steeple were incorporated into the buildings which comprise the St Paul's Cathedral School - for the choir of boys who sing in the cathedral.

I reverted to the Epsilon sketchbook for this last sketch - using it in portrait format - and this time I only lost a tiny bit of the spire of the church.  This time it was a pen and ink sketch using my much loved Pilot G-TEC-C4 gel ink rollerball (sepia ink). The plate surface makes this sketchbook an absolute natural for sketching in pen and ink

The tower and steeple of St Augustine, Watling Street
pen and sepia ink in Stillman and Birn Epsilon ringbound sketchbook, 12" x 9"
© Katherine Tyrrell
This time I located the drawing of the Church's tower and steeple againt the more modern architecture which surrounds it. Immediately behind is One New Change - a new shopping complex. Beyond that is Richard Seifert's Tower 42 (which I still call the NatWest Tower), 30 St Mary Axe - better known as "the Gherkin" and 122 Leadehall Street aka the "Cheesegrater"

You wonder whether these designs would get built if the architects and those commissioning the buildings had any idea what they might become known as!


  • St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe Parish Church, St Andrew's Hill & Queen Victoria Street, London EC4V 5DE
  • The Church of St Benet Paul's Wharf, Bennet's Hill, City of London, EC4V
  • St Augustine, Watling Street - St Paul's Cathedral School, 2 New Change, London EC4M 9AD

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Guess where I'm sketching #1?

I think I'm going to start posting some photos of places where I have sat and sketched and see if people can work out where they are. To be followed by sketch done while sat in said place.

Here's the first one - this is where I was last Sunday. There is a clue in the picture. "He who must not be bored while I sketch" and the Sunday Times occupied the sketch to my left (your right)

The bench was very comfortable, had a good view and had the added advantage of giving me somewhere flat within easy reach on which to put my Pencil Art Bin, pencil cases, rest my camera, leave my bag etc.

If you know where it is see if you can work out precisely where it is! :)

Guess where #1?
Lying on the bench is my new Stillman and Birn Zeta sketchbook with extra heavy weight paper in Natural White (kindly supplied for review by Stillman and Birn via Jacksons Art Materials). I have to say I am liking it more and more with each use. It likes pencil, it's likes pen and ink a lot and it's absolutely fine for use with coloured pencils. Plus it lies absolutely flat when opened up - I really could not work with any sketchbook that didn't.

A slideshow of the sketch I was doing will follow in the next post.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

20 years ago in Belcastel

While going through my sketchbooks for the book, I came across a sketch in a very old sketchbook that I'd never posted before.

This is a sketch of Belcastel in the Aveyron done 20 years ago in July 1994.  I'm looking up at the Château de Belcastel from the banks of the River L'Aveyron right next to the bridge over the river (here on the map). It's one of my favourite parts of France.

Belcastel in the Aveyron
This has 'status' in terms of me still being in the very early stages of using coloured pencils.  I remember I used mainly pastels on that trip which involved staying in a very nice house in Cougousse.

One of the interesting things about sketches is the way they take you back. I vividly remember drawing the angles of the houses and roofs of the houses very carefully. Plus being intrigued about how to capture the light under the bridge and its reflection in the river.

I think I'll mentally file this away as a 'need to think about working up' folder.

Maybe I need to post some more of my old sketches from 20 years ago?

Saturday, June 07, 2014

VIDEO: Sketching with coloured pencils #1

..and finally - we have a video of me sketching! Watch it here - or for the big HD version click the link and go to YouTube where you can view it on my YouTube Channel. Below you can also view some photographs from my day out at Great Dixter yesterday.

Making a video of me sketching!

I can't remember how many years it's been since I started thinking about making a video of me sketching. Last year I did get as far as making a slideshow of a step by step - see © Katherine Tyrrell Sketching the Long Border, Great Dixter (July 2013)

I've long said I'm going to produce a video of me sketching - and years have gone by during which time I have bought tripods etc and never ever done anything about it. We then come to the advent of the mini iPad and I've again begun to think about videos of sketching.  Yesterday quite spontaneously I finally did it!

...and finally - this is it!

This comes with about 15 seconds of thought and preparation and starts with me taking the mini iPad back into my own hands from "he who must not be bored while I sketch" - who was supposed to be filming me - just as he has yet another hay fever attack.

That's when I discovered I could actually hold the iPad Mini and sketch by looking at the sketchbook through my iPad!  For those of you with iPad Minis why don't you try it?

You might be interested in how I hold a pencil....... however my pudgy hands distress me - they come courtesy of both age and disability!

Other than that take a look at my first go at iPad videos of me sketching.  Like I said - this is spontaneous - and you get the usual features associated with sketching (something falls over , the sketchbook goes skew whiff etc).

More about my day out and photos of the sketching set-up

Who would have thought that writing a book about drawing and sketching would have led to a drought in terms of plein air sketching - and blogging about my sketching? My visual capacity in my brain has been completed filled with selecting and gathering in images (and copyright forms), rescanning and photographing over 100 images of my own plus creating lots of diagrams to explain points.

It was absolutely idyllic yesterday to sit in a very English Garden and enjoy the humming of the mower, the singing of the birds and the shade of a barn on a very hot day in East Sussex - and to also enjoy getting back into my plein air sketching!

The view

Here's the view of The Topiary Lawn at Great Dixter with its edge/fence of ash trees that I was sketching.

The trees reminded me of both Sisley (long slim tree trunks) Hockney (tree surgery!). I liked the people on the big bench as it added life into the garden - and of course show me yew topiary and I'm itching to get my sketchbook out - all those nice big shapes!

This shows you how far away I was actually sat - in the old cow shed which was lovely and cool (it was a very hot day yesterday!) - looking out across the wild flower meadow which surrounds the yew topiary! Listening to the grass paths being mown.

The set-up and kit

This is where I was sat

My sketching kit and where I was sat in the old cow shed
This is the pen and ink sketch - after a bit of judicious work in Photoshop - the photograph shows the white paper as actually being blue - as per the one above.
But you can retrieve blue sketches - see my blog posts about how to do colour corrections on Making A Mark

The pen and ink sketch I usually do some hatching to indicate shadows and form
particularly when it's a time of day when the sun is moving quite fast.

This is where I'd got to prior to the video. One of the aims of the day was a test of my new Stillman and Birn Zeta sketchbook with extra heavy weight paper in Natural White (kindly supplied for review by Stillman and Birn via Jacksons Art Materials). Plus a new pen - a Sakura Micron Pigment Ink - size 01 with archival ink. More about this on Making A Mark Reviews later.

The sketching kit in use - before I started the video
Stillman and Birn Zeta Sketchbook - the double page spread is 30cm x 42cm
the pen is a Sakura Micron 01 and
the coloured pencils are usual ecelectic assortment by Caran d'Ache Pablo, Lyra Rembrandt,
Faber Castell Polychromos and there's even an old Karisma Lime Green in there!
More of my sketches at Great Dixter can be found by clicking this link.

The wildflower meadows at Great Dixter

This is what the wildflower meadows are looking like at Great Dixter at the moment. I have never ever seen so many orchids in one place! The meadows are part of The Weald Meadows Initiative developed by the Wild Meadows Partnership. Great Dixter is supporting the High Weald Landscape Trust's campaign to double the number of wildflower rich grasslands in the High Weald by 2015. Now is the time to see them!

One of the Wild Flower Meadows at Great Dixter

There are thousands of common Spotted Orchids 
in the Great Dixter Wildflower Meadows.

Visit Great Dixter

If you want to visit Great Dixter, I suggest you take a look at a few facts

Saturday, April 05, 2014

An invitation to a Private View and a Sketchcrawl

Next Thursday evening, the Private View for the third exhibition of drawings by Urban Sketchers London takes place at Timberyard's Old Street branch on the evening of Thursday 10 April.

All those fellow sketchers who know me and can get to it are invited! I'll be there on the night sketchbook in hand! Leave a comment below if the date fits your diary (sorry for the short notice!)

Timberyard, 61-67 Old Street, London EC1V 9HW

Drawings by (top) Katherine Tyrrell
(bottom Jhih-Ren Shih
In addition to an opportunity to meet the artists - and maybe sketch with them - there will be live jazz from students at the nearby Guildhall School of Music.
The work of the six artists, Thomas Corrie, James Hobbs, Isabelle Laliberté, Jhih-Ren Shih, Katherine Tyrrell and Zhenia Vasiliev, ranges across everything that makes London the beautiful city it is: architecture, parks, its inhabitants, its iconic views and the forgotten and often overlooked corners of the city that stopping to draw can often bring into focus. The exhibits range in styles and approaches, but are all drawn from observation.
"Drawing in a sketchbook makes you slow down and look at your surroundings in a more reflective and inquiring way," says James Hobbs, an advisory board member of Urban Sketchers and the author of the newly published book Sketch Your World. "And cafes like Timberyard are popular places to relax, draw and share those images through social media."

Thomas Corrie and his friend relax
after hanging his artwork
Exhibitors include:
  • Architects Thomas Corrie and Isabelle Laliberté
  • James Hobbs, freelance editor and author of Sketch Your World
  • Katherine Tyrrell, who has a book about drawing published later this year
  • Digital designer Zhenia Vasiliev
  • Graphic designer Jhih-Ren Shih
Private View: 10th April 2014 (evening) at Timberyard www.timberyardlondon.com
61-67 Old Street, London EC1V 9HW

Exhibition: The show continues until 30 June and follows the second exhibition by different members of London's Urban Sketchers at the Seven Dials brand of Timberyard branch earlier this year. 

See the video taken during the hanging of the exhibition.

Sketchcrawl (date to be announced): There's also going to be a Sketchcrawl - using Timberyards as a base - in the near future but we've still to agree a date! Everyone is welcome to the event – the date is to be announced on social media shortly. The cafe will be the starting point for a planned sketchcrawl – a relaxed gathering of artists of all backgrounds, ages and abilities – that will work its way, around Old Street and the Barbican, stopping to draw on the way.

Urban Sketchers London: The group is part of a growing worldwide community of blogging artists – www.urbansketchers.org – who draw on location in and around the cities and towns where they live and visit. For more information about the show and London's Urban Sketchers visit urbansketchers-london.blogspot.com or follow @urbsketchlondon on Twitter

Urban Sketchers: Urban Sketchers was started by the Seattle-based reportage artist Gabriel Campanario in 2007, and now has regional blogs in more than 30 cities, an annual symposium and more than 32,000 Facebook followers, and it raises funds for artists grants and scholarships.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Urban Sketchers London - new exhibition at Timberyard (Old Street)

Urban Sketchers London has a new exhibition - its third - at Timberyard (Old Street) which is one of those very trendy coffee shops with great food and even better coffee.

Thomas Corrie, Isabelle Laliberté, James Hobbs and Jhih-Ren Shih
The six members of Urban Sketchers London who made the trek to Clerkenwell this morning to hang their sketches are:
Most of the sketches have been hung in the basement. They're a great range of styles - as you can see from the video (below) and include those of three people who will be featuring in my new book about drawing and sketching! I've included short profiles of them below - with some photos which are looking awful because I adjusted a setting - and forgot to change it back!

There's going to be a private view sometime very soon for those in London who follow my sketches and those of other urban sketchers - I'll let you know the date as soon as it's confirmed.

In the meantime here's my pics of some of the work

Thomas Corrie produces some stunning pen and ink drawings of architectural features which take his fancy.
I am an architect and I draw to help me see and understand buildings and cities. Every year I take part in 28 Drawings Later, a challenge to draw something for every day in February. To keep focused I decided to use entrances as a theme for my sketches and I travelled to every location on my bicycle, usually in the morning before starting work. I sought out places I had not previously visited as well as going to some familiar sights.
Thomas Corrie with his drawings produced using pigment ink liners in a 200mm sketchbook
Jhih-Ren Shih (a.k.a. Lion Ren on Flickr) is an MA student from Wimbledon College of Art who had a very nifty app on his iPhone for testing out whether he had got his frames level!
I started sketching around five years ago. I saw a book talk about the urban sketch that evokes me to depicting my daily life. As a foreigner from Taiwan, I’m very exciting when I came to London, the exotic atmosphere intrigue me to drawing more and more sketches here. I like to explore to city with my sketches, especially when I found some scenes interesting or special. It not only just record my daily life in UK, also help me to communicate with the places I been to. 
Works by Isabelle Laliberté
Isabelle is an architect.
I have always drawn and painted a little, but joining Urban Sketchers in 2008 really freed my practice.  Sketching allows me to have richer memories of my travels.  Unlike a photograph, which is done in an instant, a sketch allows me to absorb more 'meta-data': the weather, the sounds, the smells, the light and the people are all embedded into a sketch.  As an architect, I have a natural tendency to draw the built environment - not only do I love buildings, but they tend not to move around so much...
James Hobbs is the ex-Editor of Artists & Illustrators, the current Editor of Discover Art and the author or Sketch Your World - which has now been published in the UK, USA and Asia.
Drawing in a sketchbook can change your view of the world. I usually carry an A6 and A5 sketchbook around with me, along with a small selection of permanent marker pens. The urban landscape, particularly that of my adopted home of London, is for me an endlessly diverting and energising subject. I sometimes use these drawings to make colour digital prints, which I sell in limited editions. 
Zhenia Vasiliev and Naomi Hobbs were a fabulous support in hanging my work. (I fall over too easily these days!). Unfortunately my photograph of his work is too bad to show.
For me, as both a graphic designer and illustrator, artistic practice is about a process of thinking rather than producing a finished piece. I love to think about the visual appearance of things - and drawing helps me with this, so sketching is a big part of my profession
my sketches of Syon Vista and Syon Reach

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Tea plus muffin and a video - at Lynn Painter Stainers

Tea and a Lemon and White Chocolate Muffin.....

at the Mall Galleries - viewing the Lynn Painter-Stainers Exhibition

Want to see more?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A new place to sketch at the RA

The Shenkman Bar in the Keepers House at the RA
pen and sepia ink in Moleskine Sketchbook © Katherine Tyrrell

I've been sketching in the Friends Room at the Royal Academy of Arts for years - but the experience of trying to get in and get a seat had become more and more tortuous as the pressure on space from the 90k Friends became more intense.

In recent times, I've more often walked in, gasped at the queue and then walked straight out again and gone straight across the road to various options at Fortnum & Mason so I could contemplate whether an Annual Friends Membership (£90) is really worth it without access to the black leather sofas.

The Friends Room now has a new name and its own website page - the Sir Hugh Casson Room and the Belle Shenkman lounge on the new Friends website.

They've now removed the much beloved black leather Chesterfields and made it into a cafe with tables and hard seating which is open to the public after 4pm. (Mental note: Make sure I go to exhibitions in the morning in future!)

I think the RA have completely forgotten that rather a lot of the Friends are middle aged and older and very appreciative of a comfy place to sit down and have a cup of tea - and a quiet snooze before tackling the train home. It's a triumph of form over function! Lots of hard seats keep the Friends moving through fast. I suspect that those of us who with more than a few aches and pains who always appreciated the comfy seats may well continue to head across the road to the comfort of F&M as the sofas are very definitely no more.

However the RA have recently introduced a restaurant and bar in the basement of the Former Keepers House. The latter was where I sat and sketched on the more comfortable banquettes on Thursday night as I waited for the start of the Bloggers' Evening Preview of "Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined" (for images and more about this see my blog post on Making A Mark later today).

The bar is comfortable and serves tea as well as cocktails!

I then had dinner with Ilaria Rosselli del Turco (Ilaria Rosselli Del Turco - News) - who'd I'd invited to come with me to the Bloggers Preview - in the very nice Restaurant, in the basement of the Keepers House. (see the menu) There I was introduced to Fregola with girolles in a broth with a soft poached egg. It's like a large couscous. Yum!

I'll definitely be returning to the restaurant - maybe for lunch next time.