Wednesday, June 25, 2008

London Sketches

Watercolour 17.5 x 24cm Canson sketch book

On a whim, last week, I brutally decided to leave HWEM at home with the dogs and accept my friend Jean's generous invitation to spend five days in London. Our base was, in my opinion, the sweetest address in town, within walking distance of my dream galleries, restaurants and art shops. Any of you who've visited Jean's blog will know she's a keen gardener here in Tuscany. In London, their courtyard boasts the only tree in the whole street. I sketched it (above) the morning I left. The watercolour was added later.

When I started making my 'Must See' list, I began with my blogging friend, Katherine Tyrrell of Making a Mark. Until now Katherine and I had never met face to face, so we exchanged a couple of candid photographs and arranged to meet outside the Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly. Katherine had offered me an incredible choice of itineraries for our day and we settled on visiting the Summer Exhibition, preceded by coffee and conversation in the Friend's Room at the Royal Academy and followed by lunch at Fortnum & Mason's across the road. We were chatting like very old friends from the moment we met.

Katherine has described every smashing, wonderful moment of our day on her second blog Travels with a Sketchbook in ... HERE. You can also read about every morsel of the gorgeous lunch she treated me to, which I hoed into while she sketched.

Since Katherine has been my sketching inspiration and mentor since I met her through WetCanvas, it was impossible to concentrate on a sketch of my own while I had the opportunity to watch her technique. I'm hoping when she visits Tuscany the lessons will be resumed!

Since Katherine had already seen the Summer Exhibition, I couldn't have wished for a better guide. It was so exciting and stimulating to see such a feast of contemporary art in one place. There was also quite a lot of gentle prodding about directions I could take with my own painting.

Statue of Sir Joshua Reynolds at Burlington House home of the Royal Academy

While I waited for Katherine in the RA courtyard I sketched St. George's Horse. (To my shame I don't know the artist's name and to the Royal Academy's shame I can't find any reference to this beautiful work on their website. If anyone can help, please let me know so I can credit the sculptor). Thanks to Katherine this has now been corrected.

2B mechanical pencil - Canson sketch book

St George's Horse - fibreglass Michael Sandle RA

When I realised I wasn't going to finish my sketch before Katherine arrived, I took a couple of photos. At the time I didn't spot that other sketcher at work in the background.

View from the Portrait Restaurant
(I hoed in yet again instead of sketching!)

Our artist friend Jani joined us from Italy on Tuesday and became my companion for the rest of the London galleries. We were grateful for Katherine pointing us both to the BP Portrait Awards and the Portrait Restaurant atop the National Portrait Gallery.

In spite of an unplanned throat infection, I also managed to visit the Tait Britain (with it's wonderful Turner collection and room dedicated to his experiments with Colour & Line) and the National Gallery where I finally saw Turner's sublime Fighting Temeraire.

As well as a blissful visit to Waterstone's art book department with Katherine, I also hoed into two art shops - Cass Art (Charing Cross Rd), with a fantastic range and great prices and my old favourite, Green & Stone of Chelsea, where I couldn't resist a sheet of handmade Turner Blue watercolour paper.

I'm ashamed to say I returned with only two sketches. A lot of time was taken up eating fantastic food, culminating in Jean treating Jani and me to a delightful lunch at Mosimann's in Knightsbridge. Feeling a tad guilty about HWEM stuck at home with Snowy and Dermott, I did buy him a copy of Mosimann's latest recipe book. Some of you may put this down to self-interest since HWEM does most of the cooking and I, most of the eating!

So that was it - five days - three wonderful friends. Bliss!

18 comments:

Joan said...

Robyn, I love the London sketch!!! The touch of color is perfect. How wonderful that you got to meet cyber pals there!! I understand that it's difficult to see so many museums and galleries, talk, and try to do your own sketches all at the same time. It sounds like a fun trip!

Lin said...

What a fabulous sketch and a most incredible restive, fun, inspirational time!!!! WOWOW!!!!! LOVE it for you, Robyn!

Robyn said...

Joan - Thank you. I would have been a lot happier had I managed to finish the London sketches on site. I'm just too slow! The cheering thing was that there was an artist at work in the National Gallery painting a still life by one of the Dutch masters. She had a little note on her easel requesting she not be disturbed with (stupid) questions. On the note she answered mine:

Q: How long do you expect this painting to take?

A: About a year.

Ah, a woman after my own heart! ;)

Lin - Thank you too. You'd have loved being there.

africantapestry said...

you had a glorious 5 day break robyn! That top sketch is SO London, right down to the colour and tree in front! and yes, it's not easy doingsketches when there is so much to take in with ALL senses, so you can feel very happy with your two great sketches! I think it is much easier to plan a sketching trip nad decide beforehand that it is ONLY what you are going to do. Oh, and I have one of Mosimanns books...wonderful eating!
Ronell

dinahmow said...

A lovely break for you, Robyn. And a wonderful nostalgic trip for me!So, thank you very much.

df said...

sounds fantastic. What a great experience. Beautiful watercolor too!

laureline said...

The first sketch is such a quintessentially London scene---and, of course, so well done. I'm glad you had such a fun and stimulating (maybe a bit too stimulating!) time. Welcome home.

Joan said...

That's such a funny story about the note on the easel. I can't imagine working on a painting for that long, but I do have one that I started over a year ago and it is still sitting unfinished. That's rare for me.

caseytoussaint said...

Sounds like a great visit - thanks for letting us tag along! How lucky you are to go sketching with Katherine - I'd never have the nerve to draw while she was around! I loved seeing the view from the Portrait Gallery restaurant - it's one of our favorite places for lunch in London. And finally - the two sketches you did are excellent - I'll take quality over quantity any day.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

The sculpture is "St George's Horse" (fibreglass) by Michael Sandle RA. It's an edition of 4 and each is a total snip at £225,000 each! ;)

On the sketching front - like I said - you can never sketch until you become familiar with a place. It takes lots of looking first then you sketch! Which I think means you've got to come back!

I have a plan which involves sitting down in the Portrait Restaurant at 10.00am and drawing the view............and then stopping on for lunch! :D

Gentle prodding folks involved relaying back to Robyn what she was telling me about what appealed to her as we went round the exhibition. There were some incredibly clear themes. It was all very educational - and I'll be looking forward to seeing how all of that evolves in your work. No rush! ;)

....and if HWEM can cook me Mosimann as well - I'll be over there in a trice!

I hope your throat infection has all cleared up and that Jean liked her book.

Dermott said...

Yeah yeah, I'm an edition of ONE and I'm a total snip at €2 worth of brisket bones and someone to tickle my tum-tum.

That stupid horse isn't Art. Doesn't have any eyes.

Robyn said...

Katherine - Now I have the taste for it I can't imagine not getting back to London. So, 10am sketching at the Portrait Restaurant it is - I'd better start practising because, like
CASEY, I lack the nerve to sketch with you around.

Many thanks for the Michael Sandle link.

I think you are more likely to get food in the style of Anna Del Conte from HWEM. I think Mosimann is way too healthy. Of course we could always drop in on Ronell.

Laura - LOL - yes, it was pretty stimulating!

Dinah & df - thank you :)

Ronell - I did pack my sketching kit with good intent. I think I probably need to be alone to sketch in a foreign place. And there is never enough time.

vivien said...

what a great trip and a lovely place to stay that you caught beautifully. It's a really lovely sketch :>)

Lindsay said...

Robyn, great post and welcome home! I love your trip drawing and that horse is amazing.( I left a comment earlier but it did not show up!)

Robyn said...

Vivien - Thank you. :) Such a shame I wasn't able to meet you as well. Maybe next time, after all we do have a sketchbook exchange to share war stories about now. ;)

Lindsay - Many thanks. I'm sorry you earlier comment got lost. It's happening with me a lot lately. I commented on one of Vivien's lovely charcoal water ways and I noticed that disappeared as well. It's Blogger's fault I think.

Anyway, I'm about to put your latest Flying Pictures pages up here. Bit late, I'm sorry. I've been spending quite a lot of time trying to come up with my own contribution to Ronell's book.

Toni said...

What a wonderful trip! I love meeting bloggers face to face.

I also sketch slow. I don't know how some people do it. I suppose practice, practice.

Stacy said...

Robyn, I loved hearing about your trip to London. And that first sketch is exactly what I picture London homes to be like. But even better for me, your mention of Katherine set off the light bulb in my head. The family and I are heading to London later this summer for a quick 3 day visit before traveling on to Germany. And thanks to you, I now have an email full of fabulous itinerary suggestions from Katherine. It even includes artsy things I can do while the children are otherwise entertained!

Since we are staying with friends who live outside of London, I had already decided that I probably wouldn't get much sketching done there. But I was hoping to get a lot done while in Germany. Now I'm not so sure... But either way, I will definitely come home with many, many photos!!

mARTa said...

Oh I can imagine the fun! I know how much I enjoyed my blustery day with you in Florence....minus the art store...LOL. I love your London sketch, looks a bit like the B&B we stayed in when visiting. How wonderful to have a great tour guide too! I saw the Turner exhibit also and loved it. Thanks for sharing such a fun filled mini vacation!

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