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!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Flying Pictures - Venice

Watercolour, gesso, ink & gouache on grey paper (click for larger image)

Lindsay's Flying Pictures sketchbook is now in France with Casey. Since the theme of Lindsay's book is water, my contribution is Venice (above). It's the view from Piazza S. Marco across the lagoon. To the right, detail of some buildings on the Grand Canal.

Lindsay commenced her book with a beautiful and striking collage. I continued this theme, taking her little canoe through Tuscany and on to Venice. Will Casey be tempted to paddle the little canoe on through France? We'll have to wait and see.

You can follow the adventures of all seven books in the Flying Pictures Sketchbook Exchange here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fritillary in Coloured Pencil

Fritillary Snake's Head
Derwent Inktense Pencils on grey paper

It's a year since I've sketched anything in my little multicoloured Fabriano Artist's Journal. I had resolved to use it to record everything that bloomed in our garden. Well the garden's blooming away and I'm way, way behind! I have painted a few flowers since but usually in watercolour sketchbooks.

I bought a tin of 12 Derwent Inktense pencils quite a while ago because so many people love them. I've hardly touched them since because they always look so gaudy to me when I add water. I was so disappointed in the sketch above I was really regretting that it was in my garden journal. I think I've rescued it slightly by adding some touches of white gouache.

Does anyone else have reservations about these pencils, or is it just me?

Friday, June 06, 2008

Watercolour Poppy

The poppy I painted for my darling daughter's birthday.

Today I posted Lindsay's Flying Pictures Sketchbook on to Casey. Below is a peep at what I got up to.

You can follow the adventures of all seven traveling sketchbooks here.

Editors Note: Since a lot of people seem to have the idea that I came up with this clever collage concept in Lindsay's book I had better explain.

You will see from my previous post that all congratulations are due to Lindsay. She created the collage of the little canoes traveling along a mountain river and then left me half a page with some river, a sun and half a canoe. As a transition to the two pages I was adding, I simply added a Tuscan flavour with a couple of pieces of paper Lindsay had left over.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Flying Pictures First Sketchbook Exchange

Lindsay's sketchbook has arrived in Tuscany. I thought it was going to take forever as most of our incoming mail does. Lindsay resisted the temptation to decorate the envelope so it couldn't be termed 'package' and end up in that Poste Italiane black hole in Milan.

What a surprise to find not only a beautiful collage by Lindsay but an envelope full of treasures for my own artistic adventure.

I love the little canoes passing through the mountains of beautiful Japanese printed paper.

Lindsay's Cover

Now I have to carry on Lindsay's water theme into the two pages I will add to her book before sending it on to Casey.

You can follow the journey of all seven handmade Flying Pictures sketchbooks HERE.
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