Thursday, 14 January 2016

2015 - a great year of Urban Sketching - Part 3 - England

St Paul's Cathedral, London. Pencil and watercolour,
Moleskine A4 watercolour sketchbook

April 2015

I took the train from Paris to London, where it was lovely to meet up with my friend Judith from Singapore who is now back home in London. I really wanted to sketch St Paul's Cathedral - I did a tour of this building when I was last in London five years ago in the depths of Winter so this time I walked all around it until I found my spot. It was still cold, but I set myself up in a quiet square and sketched the dome, alternatively with leather gloves and off. I do need to find some good fingerless gloves! We are so lucky in Australia to be able to sketch en plein air all year. By 3.30 it was just too cold to continue. I'm happy with the 'unfinished' look with this one though.

Here I opted for an indoor challenge to keep out of the cold, so I explored the V&A museum. I came across the gorgeous terracotta sculpture of a peasant woman feeding her baby. I had not seen the work of Dalou before. I found another lovely one in Cambridge. I decided to wash in a watercolour background and draw in water-soluble carbon pencils for this study of his 1873 sculpture. I also drew a sculpture of Jason. It is a very different experience to sit and sketch anywhere while travelling rather than racing around trying to see all you can. You see less, but remember it more fully. I found the beautiful expression on this mother's face simply mesmerising.

The crowds moving off after The Boat Race.

A monument near Temple Bar.
One of the highlights of my trip was to meeting up with my daughter and watching the Oxford Cambridge Boat races. I watched the Cambridge lightweights win their races at Henley, and then watched the heavyweights get beaten on the Thames :-(

Putney Bridge, London. A5 Moleskine watercolour sketchbook.

I had plenty of time to sketch some of the many bridges of London while waiting for the races. It was really fun watching the helicopters during The Boat Race - most of the time we couldn't see the Eights but we knew where they were as the helicopters followed the river from Putney Bridge through to the end.
The Hammersmith Bridge, London. A5 watercolour Moleskine sketchbook.

Peta and I explored the banks of the Thames again and I sketched the tower bridge from London bridge, and Marble Arch.
The Tower Bridge, London. A5 Moleskine watercolour sketchbook.
The Marble Arch, London.
A5 Moleskine watercolour sketchbook.
The Minster, York.
A small section of the York Minster.
A5 Moleskine watercolour sketchbook.
City Hall, Sheffield.
A5 Moleskine watercolour sketchbook.

I spent a few days with my friend David, the maker of an extraordinary range of brass watercolour palettes, two of which I now own and love. We went out sketching in Sheffield, York, Clumber Park and a beautiful historical house had a wonderful time chatting about pigments and palette making as we sat and sketched the architecture.

Clumber Park, pencil and watercolour.
A5 Moleskine watercolour sketchbook.

The whole building at Clumber Park - now public gardens

York - the Shambles. Pen and watercolour.
A5 Moleskine watercolour sketchbook.
York - one of the gorgeous old gateways.
A5 Moleskine watercolour sketchbook.
York - ancient ruins. Watersoluble graphite and watercolour. A5 Moleskine watercolour sketchbook.
In Cambridge with my daughter, we rented some bikes and rode to Grant Chester, a charming little village, and also caught a train to Ely.
A charming church in Grant Chester.
A5 Moleskine watercolour sketchbook.
Inside a pub in Cambridge. A5 Moleskine watercolour sketchbook.
A small section of the beautiful college.
A5 Moleskine watercolour sketchbook.
I spent a lot of time walking about and exploring the colleges, and it was still too cold to be sitting sketching that much so many of these will need to be finished off another time. We caught the train to Paris for a couple of days (see Part 2) and then I returned to Hong Kong (see part 1) and home to Sydney.

Many of my sketches from this trip, and in fact going back over thirty years, can be seen on my website

Next up - Singapore in July.


  1. Your artwork is so amazing!!! I love it!

  2. I love seeing your view of England, Jane. And I really like the unfinished quality of some of your sketches. They look like they're meant to be that way!

    1. My preference it to always finish the sketch on location, but it isn't always possible. There are times when I am happy to leave my location sketches with as much done as I could manage, so unfinished but enough suggested that I am happy with them. However there are other times when I may have had to stop before I was ready - too cold or too wet - and then to finish them I need to work from a photo. Some people complete sketches from memory but I am too much of realist to want to do that. A few of these are a bit too unfinished for my liking and may get touched up at some stage, though scanning them a bit darker might have helped ;-)