Category Archives: London

Sketching Mum’s favourite London

I have almost finished scanning and uploading my three UK holiday sketchbooks to my flickr website. Every sketch holds a memory of a time and place and I feel like I want to show you them all. These blogs have been more of a ‘holiday snaps’ than art talk. I did not know where to start and stop sharing my English holiday sketches on my blog.

However, my mother (and travelling companion) has recently mentioned a few places and events that express what London means to her.  I have taken her suggestions to form the basis of my blog this week.

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Mum & I in Regents Park, London

I have taken Mum’s words and added my sketch

5aug2016-bloomsbury

  •  the green spaces, so many lovely squares. We were using our Oyster Card just like all the locals and other tourists – Russell Square, King’s Cross, Jubilee Line, Westminster!!!!

7aug2016-british-museum2

10aug2016-british-museum

the places to visit like British Museum and Library

 

 

 

6aug2016-regents-park

  • then there is beautiful Regents Park, an oasis in the busy streets around Baker Street. Pity we had a little trouble finding our way back to Bloomsbury

12aug2016-holborn-post-box

  • London is the red buses, telephone boxes and post boxes

12aug2016-st-clement-danes

  • not forgetting that time we sat eating lunch after hearing the ‘Bells of St. Clements’

12aug2016-royal-courts-of-justice

  • and looking down the street at the Royal Courts of Justice.

London is all that and more……………

 

 

Return from UK holiday – catching up

I have just returned from 3 weeks holiday in England, which involved a lot of sketching. Slighty jet-legged, I am sorting out, catching up, reliving wonderful holiday memories and planning ahead. The sketches on this page are a few that I have scanned today.

27Jul2016 Manchester Town Hall rooftop

I travelled to Manchester for the Urban Sketching Symposium and then to York and then to London.27Jul2016 Symposium opening event

The holiday was wonderful and very special. I was overwhelmed with the history that surrounded me and the architecture of these three cities. I travelled with my very very patient mother, who understood and accommodated my sketching as we travelled – it is so easy to get distracted and ‘need’ to sketch something as you pass by it.

1Aug2016 York The Shambles

1Aug2016 York Micklegate Bar

I filled almost three sketchbooks (Moleskine 13 x 19 cm) with travel sketches in those three weeks. I now have the long task of scanning them. But before I can do that, many of the pages need to be ‘finished’ . This usually involves adding the date, heading, transcribing my scribbled pencil notes into the page in pen. Sometimes I want to find out more information about the place I have sketched and look online for details. I usually don’t add anymore to the sketch that I did on location, unless it is to add a bit more colour, or intensity to some areas.

5Aug2016 London Russell Square 5Aug2016 London Trafalgar Square

 

 

Once scanned, I will add them all into an Album on my flickr site, and a few on this blog.

Many people have been sharing their sketches and summaries and videos of their Symposium experiences on facebook and their blogs. I am looking forward to spending time looking through these one day.

I had decided not to blog, scan or try and keep up with any social media while I was away. I wanted to spend my time experiencing the sights, meeting people and sketching. However I did end up posting one drawing a day to Instagram. I am alissaduke1 if you want to see them. I also shared these to my facebook page Alissa Duke Art.

travel countdown drawings

In six weeks my mother &  I will be on a plane to England.

Once a week I write a letter to her (a real letter, on paper,  in an envelope, in the post) and draw something related to our holiday. It is a way of building the excitement and also being aware of how the weeks are flying by,

Last holiday, three years ago, I drew on the envelopes that I mailed each week in a ten  week countdown . This year I have only managed one original drawing on an envelope. 20May2015 squirrel envelope

This year, life  is a lot busier, so I am using the drawings from one of my other projects, which neatly fits into the holiday. My exhibition for Melbourne Rare Book Week title “You Can’t Draw in Books?” involves me drawing in old (about to be discarded) books, illustrating the words on one of the open pages. One of the books is an old A-Z London Street directory . I am drawing images of iconic images of London or something that reflects the place on the page.

I then cut and paste my final saved and drawn image into an envelope to mail to my mother. That means that this year she is not getting ‘an original’ on the envelope – but still gets a surprise each week !

I have completed (or started) five drawings on pages so far and identified another few pages with potential, including Regents Park (draw a squirrel) , Kew Gardens (a flower) , Battersea (Power station), Greenwich ( something to do with time OR the Cutty Sark ), Hampton Court (the palace) ….

5jun16 paddington 3May16 telephone boxA-Z london bus London A-Z Womblesharrods

sketchbook travel journal : the reality

On Thursday, October 11, 2012 I wrote my thoughts on creating a travel sketchbook for KateJohnson’s wonderful Artist’s Journal Workshop blog. (If you are not familiar with it and the book you should read it !)

I reposted my original post on my blog in August this year.

I had written that blogpost to gather my thoughts “on paper” on how I would approach my own travel sketchbook. I had entered the 2013 Sketchbook Project and chose the theme : Travelogue. At the time I decided to revisit my 2007 holiday to Paris, as if I was there, drawing as much then as I do now ! My sketchbook is based on my diaries, photographs I took and where I thought I would have drawn at the time, as well as souvenirs I bought. Although this is created in retrospect, all the time I thought how would approach future travel sketchbooks.

The journal can be viewed here
Travelogue Paris 2007. Over the 18 double pages of the Sketchbook Project I experimented with composition, lettering, maps and came to some  conclusions about what and how I wanted to try and capture in my travel sketchbook journal.

In July this year I had three weeks holiday travelling to London and Barcelona, where I had the opportunity to put all of my thoughts and ideas in practice. I filled two Moleskine watercolour sketchbooks. This post is to review what worked (most things) and what didn’t (a few things) in reality. I knew what I wanted to try and achieve and what was important to me on my holiday in my journal.
 
I am so incredibly proud of my holiday sketchbook journals  (see them on flickr: London and Barcelona) and each time I look at them (for example, to write this,) I relive my holiday and it gives me immense joy to see the pages. They are a unique holiday souvenir that will be with me for a long time.

Below are my original theories from the Sketchbook Project  and then the reality of how it worked when I was actually travelling, with examples

· it will be a combination of on the quick on the spot sketching and more detailed drawings

This worked so well – and gave life and an individual feel to my sketchbook.



on the plane Sydney to Hong Kong. a very quick sketch of people queuing for the toilets after a meal. A drawing of my dessert (a delicious ice cream bar) . I drew the ice cream for a while then as it began to melt, I ate it, making sure I opened the packet in an inconspicuous section. I then kept it after the attendant cleared the meals away and finished drawing it then
 

I use watercolour pencils and Lamy Safari Joy ink pen. I can combine these and have a few different styles of drawing that suit different opportunities, the time and place or my mood. The above sketch shows the two extremes.

 
 

· leave first page or two of each day blank – at end of day I could draw maps, streets walked that day, rail/metro routes caught.

I wish I remembered to do that each day . I often forgot to leave the first page blank and would not remember until I had started the first sketch . I would then leave the rest of the page free. Next time I will turn to the next blank page the night before and write in pencil on the page LEAVE BLANK. Two pages could easily be left for this

· draw objects such as tickets, souvenirs, food, headings also at the end of the day in my hotel room. There is time and space to draw. If there is a good view from the room, I can draw it everyday



view inside the hotel room and also looking out the window. This was drawn over two or three sessions, just a bit at a time

 




the leaf and seed were picked up in Hyde Park on this day. I sketched Royal Albert Hall on the spot and then left the space and drew a rough outline of the size and placement of the leaf and drew if at the hotel over the next day or two before it wilted



I stood across the street to sketch the printshop and then drew the books on the plane on the way home.


I had the feathers for a week and then realized that we were flying home the next day and could not take them back to Australia. Three feathers in one night !
   

I drew objects A LOT less than I thought I would, especially since that is a style of drawing I do a lot at home and get a lot of enjoyment out of. In reality, if I was working (that is the wrong word !) on my sketchbook in the evening, it was adding my notes, finishing off sketches by adding a bit more colour or line.

I was travelling with my mother and she was very patient with my sketching, and also appreciated quiet time for herself, while I sketched.


I was also very tired at the end of each day. It is part of being a tourist, walking and seeing a lot. We had 28 degrees in London each day and long summertime hours

 


· MAPS.
If I colour the roads or areas between the road on a map I can match them with other colours I have used on the page, bringing it all together. 




the blue and green of the land and river on the map, matching the sky
 
 
The lettering on the page matching the blue of the Serpentine

 
 

just the basics

 




I am really happy with this combination
 

I have never been comfortable with maps I tried to add – too many streets, too messy  looking. But I do want to include maps of my travels. I experimented with a few different alternatives in my Paris Sketchbook project. In the end I have a basic mud map. I have included  the streets we walked down and different types of transport. I did not do a map for everyday – probably only eight in the whole book, but I was pleased with those that I did. They are a gentle reminder of how we get where we went

·  leave lots of white space – I can always fill it in later if it looks too sparse.

as mentioned  , I did not do enough of this .

·   write commentary about how I feel, think, react to things, smells, places but not too much. I will probably keep a separate diary.
 

I want to write too much and have to make decisions about what to include. Often the sketch tells the story and only a few other notes were added.

I feel as though I did not write enough on the moment of thoughts and feelings. It was not often the right time and place. Often I scribbled some thoughts in pencil on the page and left a block of space around it to expand on it later (in the evening at the hotel).

I still want to include something of the history or description of the place I am. But where to stop? In the end, my sketchbook journal is for me, not a history lesson, so I just need reminders of it’s place and importance in history. And there is SO much history in London. I was overwhelmed by it.


· buildings and vistas

I know how I draw at the moment. I am at ease drawing objects, food, paper. I am not so good at buildings and vistas. But architecture is an important feature of a city or town and so I want to include it , the trees, roads, sky. I have been considering how it is best for me to capture a scene with these in it. I want to create a little vignette., with a little character and insight, but not too much

-just try an draw a section

-leave the top, bottom or sides unfinished.- lines drifting off

– only colour some parts  

· don’t try and fill the page – only use part of the page


I filled the page in the vast majority of the time -so much to draw !!!


don’t try and get caught up in the detail and try and leave this to a ” close up ” drawing later if I get the chance

 

Writing this has helped me think about what I have learned about my sketching and myself when travelling. I know that sketching brings me do much pleasure. I hardly took any photographs and when I did they were of people (and then there are those 20 photos of squirrels for reference photos for drawing at a later date).

My art is growing and slowing evolving as I meet other sketchers, go to workshops. These travel sketchbooks seem to be the culmination of a series of events . It is an exciting journey in itself.

If you are in Sydney. I am talking about my travel sketchbooks at Erin Hill Sketching  sketchclass on Oct 26 . Book in and I will see you there !

 

 

I sketched with London Urban Sketchers!

 Another highlight of my London holiday (and there were so many) was sketching with the London Urban Sketchers on Wednesday 17 July . It was an event organized by Pete Scully with a  Jack the Ripper theme.
 
 Mum & I had been to the British Museum in the morning and were taking a day trip from London the next day, so this was a perfect way to spend a Wednesday afternoon in London .We later found out it was the hottest day we were London, at 31 degrees – just like Sydney weather. Just slightly more unexpected !
We met at Whitechapel station at 3pm. I immediately saw a few familiar faces, Sue Pownall (from Oman) and Pete Scully who I met in Barcelona. Mum & I quickly met other friendly London sketchers – Margaret  and Dawn and others ( who I didn’t get their names) . We were given a  Map with history of Jack the Ripper and the area – we could choose where to go, all splitting off to explore and draw different areas . Much like a Sydney Sketchcrawl. Below are our sketches and photos (and thanks to Dawn Painter too for photos)
 
 
 
 
We were each given an exclusive  Pete Scully mini sketchbook. Who needs to buy souvenirs when you have this! By the end of the day I only drew on a few pages. I had already discovered that I find it hard to multi-sketch-book
I decided to sketch old places – the older the better – there is history everywhere in London. And yet the area is so modern busy and hectic, right on a main road.
by alissa
 
 
by Lola
 
 
 
Mum & I & ?  sketching. we did not last long in the hot sunshine
 
 We started to sketch sketched with a few others at The Blind Beggar Pub(1894) , but it was in open sun at 3.30 pm very hot and intense.
 
by Lola




 
Whitechapel Bell Foundry and Palace on Pillars art installation by Alissa

 

We then moved onto the Whitechapel Bell Foundry (est 1570) (the yellow building in my drawing) and then down Whitechapel Road to Aldgate High Street

 
  
 I sketched with three guys (not sure who they were)  in the cool of Pret A Manger café, looking out over the street. The Gerkin, The Shard and other modern London buildings were on the skyline.  I was fascinated  by the modern building/art installation opposite us Palace on Pillars by StudioWeave (in my sketch above) .
 
 
in Pete’s book
 
 
 
 

 

I then walked across the road with Mum and we sketched in  St Botolph’s without-Aldersgate Church (1744)    This was my favourite. St Botolph’s  is the Patron Saint of Travellers ! that’s us.How could I not feel a connection to this building

 
 We then quickly walked to final meeting spot at Christ Church Spitalfields. Lots of other London Urban Sketchers had already gathered. We talked and sketched more
 
by Alissa

sketching sketchers in my Pete Scully mini sketchbook

by Lola

sketching sketchers in my Pete Scully mini sketchbook

 

 
 



by Lola


 
 
 
By 8pm we were tired and caught the tube home
 
 

travel sketchbook journalling

On Thursday, October 11, 2012 I wrote the following blogpost for KateJohnson’s wonderful Artist’s Journal Workshop blog. If you are not familiar with it and the book you should read it !

I am reposting this now as I have just returned from three weeks of travelling to London and Barcelona , where I have put all of my thoughts and ideas in practice. In the next few weeks I will let you (and Artist Journal Workshop) know what worked (most things ) and what didn’t (a few things) in reality.

I am also going to share my thoughts and travel journals with Erin Hill’s Sketching Class this Saturday, so they may be interested in reading it too

Travel sketchbook thoughts : Alissa Duke

Thoughts on creating myTravel Sketchbook

I have had these thoughts going through my head for a while and I wanted to put them in an organised version on paper. The catalyst has been the Sketchbook Project that I am working on this year (more about that later) and wanting to share my learning experience anyone else who is interested.

Looking back, I always enjoyed reading books that were illustrated travel journals and sketchbooks. I enjoyed them for their illustrations as well as reading about other people’s travels, They are always more interesting if they are about a city or country I want to or have visited, especially the United Kingdom ( I am in Australia) .

This interest began many years ago with books such as David Gentleman’s Britain (and many others in the series) and Fabrice Moireau sketchbooks, to more recently Taking a Line for a Walk by Christopher Lambert, An Eye on the Hebrides by Mairi Hedderwick and Lorette E Roberts Singapore. Secrets of the Lion City. (and many many more books) . (I am looking forward to Danny Gregory’s upcoming book “An Illustrated Journey”).This is all pre-internet/self publishing era. But these are usually edited, formatted, composed, cleaned up, lovely small font with commentary, they are quite lengthy and published after the journey. Now I have many online favourites, .

 
I realised that I wanted to create my own sketchbooks in my drawing style when I travel.. They would be a narrative, day to day, capturing my travels, whether local, interstate or overseas.. As the sketchbooks would be created as I travel, I won’t have the luxury of all of the above editing factors. But I do have the luxury of being able to have an approach in my mind, a concept of how to approach a page composition and what works for me. That is the stage I am at now.

For the past few years I have been drawing everyday in a Moleskine watercolour sketchbook, using watercolour pencils and/or ink. I draw at home, on buses, in queues, sitting on stairs, at cafes,. So I am comfortable with how and when where to draw.

I also know how I draw at the moment. I am at ease drawing objects, food, paper. I am not so good at buildings and vistas. But architecture is an important feature of a city or town and so I want to include it , the trees, roads, sky. I have been considering how it is best for me to capture a scene with these in it. And people – people are the life of the city, so I must include them too.

Sketchbook travel Journals

I currently draw my pre trip preparation – drawing my packed bag, or things in preparation – my sketch-kit, passport, currency. I also always draw at the airport, and on the airplane.( a good way to pass the time) So I am comfortable with the first few pages of my travel sketchbook.


I am entering the 2013 Sketchbook Project and have chosen the theme : Travelogue.Paris 2007. I am revisiting my 2007 holiday to Paris, as if I was there, drawing as much then as I do now ! ..My sketchbook is based on my diaries, photographs I took and where I thought I would have drawn at the time, as well as souvenirs I bought. Although this is created in retrospect, all the time I thought how would approach future travel sketchbooks. I still have a few pages to complete, as it is not due to be sent away until January 2013.

The journal can be viewed here Travelogue Paris 2007

My Travel Sketchbook :my thoughts
 
Over the 18 double pages of the Sketchbook Project I have experimented with composition, lettering, maps., It is different paper and size of my usual sketchbook and I have had to squeeze five days into a limited amount of pages. have come to the following conclusions 
 
  • it will be a combination of on the quick on the spot sketching and more detailed drawings

  • leave first page or two of each day blank – at end of day I could draw maps, streets walked that day, rail/metro routes caught.
 
  • draw objects such as tickets, souvenirs, food, headings also at the end of the day in my hotel room. There is time and space to draw. If there is a good view from the room, I can draw it everyday
 
  • MAPS. If I colour the roads or areas between the road on a map I can match them with other colours I have used on the page, bringing it all together. Below are examples of maps and date experiments
 
 
 
 

 

 


 
 
  • leave lots of white space – I can always fill it in later if it looks too sparse.
 
  •   write commentary about how I feel, think, react to things, smells, places but not too much. I will probably keep a separate diary. I have read a very good book by Dave Fox called “Globejotting : how to write extraordinary travel journals”. I am not a writer, but it had some great hints.

  • Re: buildings and vistas

-just try an draw a section

-leave the top, bottom or sides unfinished.- lines drifting off
  • only colour some parts  
  • don’t try and fill the page – only use part of the page
 
it is like a little vignette., with a little character and insight, but not too much
 
don’t try and get caught up in the detail and try and leave this to a ” close up ” drawing later if I get the chance
 
 
Reading over what I have written it seems a little pedantic in places but it has been a very valuable creative experiment.
 
 

Of course this is all very well in writing,

Drawing on Envelopes 2 weeks to go

In two weeks we fly from Australia to London for a holiday. I am also going to Barcelona for a few days for the Urban Sketchers Symposium, where I have signed up for five Urban Sketching Workshops on the streets of Barcelona – learning about perspective, putting people and context in my sketches.
 
However the last 10 weeks of travel envelopes and travel journaling postings on my blog have all had a specifically LONDON theme This is because my travelling companion , who lives interstate, is staying to holiday in the UK while I am in Barcelona. All of our time together is in London. Hence, the London themes and scenes that I have been drawing in this set of blog posts . Our excitement levels are VERY high
 
This week I am getting really specific and very coordinated. (I just realised this as I wrote this). I have drawn a London Underground sign and an London Underground Travel card. We will see these quite often as we are staying in South Kensington for the first week.  We will be travelling on the Tube when we are not walking around.
 
 
Oyster card for use on the Tube – tap on tap off
 
 
 
and here it is as a Work in Progress. I wish I has scanned it from when it first started the sketch. This is just to give you an idea of how my watercolour pencil drawings progress


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Drawing on envelopes 3 weeks to go and INK

 
It is three weeks until we leave for London on holidays. And here is this weeks envelope to my interstate travelling companion.. Only two more envelopes to go !!! 
 
 
Trafalgar Square



Travelling with ink – the adventure so far….For the past two years I have used a Lamy Joy Safari ink pen. And I love it ! It suits my current drawing style so well. Previously I used PITT , Microns, and other ink pens, in the Fine range. I would be happy with them for a while and then they would get scratchy and my drawing would be uncomfortable and they just wouldn’t feel right. I think (my interpretation) was because of the hard flat edge of the ink pen as opposed to the flexible smooth nib of Lamy Safari Joy pen (introduced to me by Liz Steel – thank you Liz !) 

I use Noodlers Bullet Proof ink – it is waterproof, so once I draw the pen lines on, I can go over them with my watercolour pencils and then the waterbrush (after giving it a little time to dry). Noodlers have a huge range of ink colours, but not in the Bullet Proof range. I  have the Black. and have a Polar Brown as well.
 
MY DILEMMA  – I will be away for three weeks of constant drawing . I will need to refill my ink cartridge . So I will take ink. So far, (touch wood) I have never spilt my ink when refilling. This was a major concern, as I can see it happening and ink going all over the cream carpet in my (rented) apartment ! I can also envisage my ink leaking through my luggage. So after much discussion and advice , I have plan.
 
Instead of the glass ink bottle I have a small used plastic bottle from a hotel bathroom. (from Milan!!)  I am going to bubble wrap it,  put in another plastic jar  – all well sealed. and put it in my luggage in the hold of the plane.
 
BUT … along the way… I rinsed the bottle and then as a final wash, I poured boiling water into it. It immediately crumpled and twisted. At first I was dismayed, but then realised how very Gaudi -like it was. If you are not familiar with Gaudi have a look at this link and you will see why . Since I will be visiting Barcelona for the Urban Sketchers Symposium , the city of Gaudi architecture and design it then seemed inspired, and the lid still seals , So I am still going to use it ! 
and so I drew it !
Gaudi inspired travelling ink bottle
 

my Lamy Safari in action – always in my hand ! Eat and sketch

Drawing on envelopes – 4 weeks to go (and other travel sketches)

It is only four weeks until we leave for London on holidays. And here is this weeks envelope to my interstate travelling companion.
Royal  Albert Hall .This is just around the corner from where we are staying in London, so we may see it often – Very exciting ! This is drawn in watercolour pencil on a heavy cream envelope. You can see the texture of the paper in the scan
And my travel drawing this week .
A little bit of tweaking to the perfect sketching shoulder bag . I bought my Hedgren bag just over a month ago and wrote about it and sketched it  
I have been wearing and using my bag daily, and kept getting confused as to which of the front two pockets held my pencil roll and which holds my Moleskine sketchbook. As there are only two pocket on the outside, you would think it would be hard to get that confused !- and I need both for the sketch anyway .  But I often want to grab my sketchkit quickly as I see an opportunity to sketch , and want the sketchbook and only one pencil.
Any way all problems solved today – I attached a very used pencil to the zip pull of the pocket that holds the pencils .
I got this idea from my pencil brooches. I have been using watercolour pencils for about 6 years and have not thrown any of the used stubs away. They have been on so many adventures with me! In the last year I have been making brooches and magnets  from my used pencils. At the moment they are just for me to wear (which Is why I am not turning them into any other sort of jewelry) But I am getting together a bit a collection now and may sell them one day …..I wear the brooches to any sketching event or when I am out on weekends. The brooches are a great talking point too. People are fascinated that they are the real thing and were actually used to draw.
 

Drawing on envelopes 5 weeks to go (and other travel drawings)

 
The weeks will begin to fly by now – only a few envelopes left to draw on and mail before I am drawing the real thing. I thought of this concept again this week as I drew these ravens from the Tower of London from a photo in a travel book.
 

Why ravens?

The ravens of the Tower of London are a group of seven captive Common Ravens which live in the Tower of London. The presence of the ravens is traditionally believed to protect the Crown and the Tower; a superstition holds that If the Tower of London ravens are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it .

I hope that I get the opportunity to see these amazing birds close up – I wonder if I can get close and will they will stay still enough? I am used to drawing birds that move around – seagulls and ibis as they move . Once you start sketching an object over and over again, you become familiar with it.

 
 
If I start sketching a seagull and it moves away, there will be one nearby that is sitting in a similar position or one will fly in soon  or look at another bird to continue to see how the legs stand or long they are. I  draw with the coloured pencil that is the main colour of the bird and make notes if it is a colourful bird, such as a rainbow lorikeet. There is not enough time to be swapping coloured pencils when drawing a bird (unless it is asleep)  Hopefully the ravens will cooperate – if not I am looking forward to having some scratchy black ink crows on my page.

 
And this weeks travel drawing is of my London travel guide and my pencils. The page did not seem complete without them