Thursday, March 05, 2015

Meet me and get 'Sketching 365' signed at the Mall Galleries TODAY!

I've only just realised I have completely forgotten to highlight on this blog that I've got my "meet the author and get your book signed" event at the bookshop in the Mall Galleries this afternoon (5th March)

You've got a few hours to get up to the Mall in London and catch James Hobbs and me, see our sketchbooks and get your copies of Sketching 365 and Sketch Your World signed by us!

There is even a reduced price deal for anyone buying both books before 4pm today.
We're also very happy to answer any questions you may have about sketching and how you are getting on with your own sketches.

We'll be around until 7pm after which I think we might be joining the Pastel Society's Art Event evening.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

A Cheshire Garden on St David's Day 2015

A Cheshire Garden on 1 March 2015
pencil and coloured pencils in a Stillman and Birn Zeta sketchbook  12" x 16"
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
I've been drawing my mother's garden in Cheshire for some years. I sit next to the French window into the garden and have the benefit of armchair, warmth and cups of tea while I draw the scene outside the window.

Sunday, 1 March 2015 - St David's Day - is nominally the first day of Spring in the Meteorological calendar - or so the BBC weatherman informed us!

The the weather was very good in the morning and very dim and grey in the afternoon!  Of course, the major benefit of staying in one place is that I can get up the next day and continue a morning sketch from where I left off the previous day. However, by midday, as we travelled to catch my train from Crewe, the weather had turned to sleet!

This isn't finished and I might tweak it a little bit more - but I'm loath to do too much now I'm back in London and don't have the garden in front of me.

You can see more sketches of the same garden - at different times of the year - on this blog. See:
If you're wondering about the size of the bird table it moves around depending on the season and weather. In the winter months it's always very close to the door into the garden so Mother can feed the birds easily.

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


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