Archives for posts with tag: London




Moleskine journal; background Gelli Plate printed with acrylic; Sharpie Ultra Fine pen, Pitt brush pen, Signo Uni-ball (UM-153) white gel pen; and sometimes I add a bit of color with Crayola markers.

I want to tell you all that I discovered the cure for the common cold while in London. First you have to figure out what kind of shop sells a normal box of tissues (not those little pocket packs), then you have to stick it in the soft cotton not-quite-a-backpack thingy in which you carry your markers, guide book and map, and, most importantly, you have to schlep it around as you walk miles and miles through the streets and in and out of museums and galleries. Lo and Behold! The cotton back carrying thingy is so light that you will forget what is in it and your nose will not drip or clog up once. This London cold was so Polite and Civilized that I will admit all the moaning, groaning and whining were just to add some Drama to the narrative.

It was a bit difficult getting out of bed (maybe all these museums have worn me out?) this morning but I felt a whole lot better after a Starbucks breakfast.

I walked back down to Somerset House to see the exhibition that was closed when I was there on Monday. Why? Don’t ask me. I had no clue who the artist was but I was taken with the pic on the internet and the postcard I picked up and just followed my feet. “Art & Life: The paintings of Beryl Bainbridge”. Oh my. I wish you all could see these paintings in person up close and far away. I wish my NYC peeps could see this exhibition. I’m not articulate or knowledgable enough to describe it adequately. Love at first sight. The kind of art that hurts my heart. Sigh.

On the walk towards Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery I ran into a massive taxi protest that stopped everything from moving. Zillions of cabs as far as the eye could see. Time for a coffee and sweet and a view of the action.

No way I could resist this lineup of teenage girls.

During the walk back to the hotel I discovered Chinatown (well, duh, I wonder how many times I walked past it before I noticed) so I made a bit of a detour to see what I could see. In my defense, usually I walked this way later in the evening and was not inclined to “explore” but it was only around 5pm. That’s my story.

And, later on, as I packed my suitcase, I made sure the big box of tissues, along with the markers and cotton back carry thingy, were in my official red proper carry-on backpack. Just in case.

Moleskine journal; background Gelli Plate printed with acrylic; Sharpie Ultra Fine pen, Pitt brush pen, Signo Uni-ball (UM-153) white gel pen; and sometimes I add a bit of color with Crayola markers.

In the morning I took “my” line, Picadilly, changed to the Victoria line and arrived at Tate Britain a few minutes before it opened at 10am. Finally, a museum with a nice clear straightforward map and no chance of getting lost. They have two versions – one, called BP Walk Through British Art, is superimposed in red on top of the complete map. As soon as I walked into the first gallery I realized that a lot of it was most definitely not my cup of tea so I decided to quickly follow the red highlighted rooms but also go into the others as I came to them. It figures. I stopped to copy two paintings that caught my eye.

At noon I found Francesca waiting for me outside the exhibition of British Folk Art that just opened that day. Her Magic Museum Card granted us entry. I enjoyed it, wished it was bigger and wondered why particular pieces were classified as “folk art”? Museum mysteries. Both of us sketched some elements from a wonderful quilt.

Next stop that day was Tate Modern, way way up the river, too far to walk. Well, too far to walk for us right then. But, there is a boat that takes you from one Tate to the other Tate and we wanted to be on that boat. The Magic Museum Card also includes a Tate boat discount. Boat ride and a discount. What more could we want?

Well, we wanted tea and coffee so, at Tate Modern we had both in the Members Cafe on Level 5 with a magnificent view, across the Thames, of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Francesca got me into the exhibition “Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs” and then, since she had already seen it, we said good-bye. Thank You again, Francesca. Yay facebook! (snort).

I loved this exhibition. It was really interesting to see how he worked planning these cut outs. And then I copied Blue Nude III & II.

I spent some time in the Espresso Bar on Level 3 – coffee and a yogurt – how about that view!

I walked back along the South Bank of the Thames to the bridge that I think is named Charing Cross Bridge but maybe it isn’t and instead of hanging out in Trafalgar Square (my nose was running, my bladder was over-full, I was getting tired, more moaning and groaning, whine) I just kept walking the long way to the hotel. It wasn’t that bad. I managed a pit stop along the way. (phew!)

Moleskine journal; background Gelli Plate printed with acrylic; Sharpie Ultra Fine pen, Pitt brush pen, Signo Uni-ball (UM-153) white gel pen; and sometimes I add a bit of color with Crayola markers.

The next morning the sore throat was still sore but now on the left side. I was in slow motion and after breakfast I hung out in the lobby alternating between using the wi-fi (remember this?) and drawing what was in front of me. The smaller grouping of people were all the way across the lobby and the larger ones were right smack in front or next to me. I was the only one looking around.

I plotted out the route to Somerset House and started walking. I was going there for a specific exhibition and, ha ha on me, that specific one was closed on Mondays. Bleh. I discovered that there was plenty more to see and was so blown away by the paintings of Viktor Popkov that I had to hold myself back from copying them all. Plus, who would have thought that the “Museum of Water” installation would be so great? Not me. I almost passed that one by.

There was time to walk to St. Paul’s and attach myself to an afternoon walking tour.

By the time it finished I was no longer in denial about coming down with a cold and even though it was only late afternoon I was so worn out (moan, groan, whine), I took the underground back to Russell Square, had a coffee and nosh, and called it a night.

Moleskine journal; background Gelli Plate printed with acrylic; Sharpie Ultra Fine pen, Pitt brush pen, Signo Uni-ball (UM-153) white gel pen; and sometimes I add a bit of color with Crayola markers.

The next day, Sunday, I met with Francesca and the “Drawing London On Location” Meetup group at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. I happened upon this group when I was trolling the internet for sketching groups while still at home, saw there was a meetup planned while I would be in London, and joined. And, surprise!, Francesca was a member and was also signed up to be there.

Just now I googled the cemetery and see that it is not as ancient as I thought. I think I must have mis-read Joseph’s date. It was very eroded and that’s what it looked like to me.

Sketchers make very good models. Walter and his wife had some company for awhile. I think this was the last time that day I ran into Francesca.

I spent FIVE hours sketching here. The time flew by. I loved every second.

Here are images from the internet so you all can see how cool this place is.

If I had lived near here when I was a teenager you can be sure I would be drinking with my friends on a Friday night, scared out of my wits, behind one of these stones.

At 4pm everybody met up at the front gate and went to a pub. Me, I split off and went to a coffee place a block or so from the underground and had a coffee and a sweet – because I had such a wonderful day and felt soooo happy.

And the rest of my day involved getting off the train at St. Paul’s, crossing the river and walking along the South Bank, crossing back over and just walking! walking! walking. At some point I noticed that a sore throat was beginning. Denial set in and I decided it was because I had been out in Nature all day.

Moleskine journal; background Gelli Plate printed with acrylic; Sharpie Ultra Fine pen, Pitt brush pen, Signo Uni-ball (UM-153) white gel pen; and sometimes I add a bit of color with Crayola markers.

I reached the Royal Academy early so I passed through the gates and sketched a bit of the pre-door-opening view. At 10 I went back out the gates and saw Francesca writing(?) and waiting for me. She has a Magic Museum Card that gets her and a friend into all sorts of museum and art exhibitions that require £££. This morning we were to see the 2014 Summer Exhibition. Whatever you have read about the RA Summer Exhibitions seems to be true. That’s all I’m sayin’ about that. We also gained entry to Renaissance Impressions upstairs which was a totally different experience.

Afterwards we had lunch near Picadilly Circus and wandered around looking for and finally finding Pace Gallery.

By then it was time to travel by underground to a Meetup lead by Sabrina, an expert on graffiti. I can’t remember where exactly we were, forgot to write it down. The destination gallery was having a show of three artists who collaborated and ended up drawing on the walls, ceiling, floor. Very intricate black and white drawings. I loved it at first sight and soon realized that it was quite possible to keep discovering more the longer you looked. We ended up in a pub with a Very Loud tennis game on the television. I drew the right hand page while there because I couldn’t hear any of the conversation around me. Francesca and I didn’t stay there very long.

Francesca’s tube stop came first. Was I on the Victoria line from the beginning or did I transfer to it? Can’t remember. I took advantage of the two women opposite me and decided to ignore the stops and just sketch. I finished them, saw that the stop was Oxford Circus and jumped (well as much of a jump that I do) out of the train in the nick of time. But wait! Only the right side of the spread was done. Oh woe! So I stood on the platform and let several trains come and go until I had sketched enough people for the left side. Yes. That was me. The Underground Sketcher Lady Trying To Be Not Weird.

I looked at the map and decided to walk to Picadilly Circus and then to Charing Cross Road. I took a detour on one small street and found myself on the road we were looking for earlier that day. I stopped to sketch a shabby facade and then a typical pub scene just off of Charing Cross Road. All the pubs, in the early evening, have crowds of drinkers out on the sidewalk socializing with drinks in hand.

I kept walking, decided on a new roundabout route to the hotel and won’t tell you how I walked TWICE around Russell Square because I got BEFUDDLED and it is a miracle my feet didn’t just lay down and die right then and there. I’m not going to tell anyone that.

Moleskine journal; background Gelli Plate printed with acrylic; Sharpie Ultra Fine pen, Pitt brush pen, Signo Uni-ball (UM-153) white gel pen; and sometimes I add a bit of color with Crayola markers.

This was Friday, June 6, and it was a Super Day! Well, they all were, but this one was with a capital S super.

Francesca and I were going to be at both the Tate Britain and Tate Modern the following week because she was going to get me into two special exhibitions for free. I decided to visit Tate Modern ahead of time so that I could leisurely see everything else. It was a beautiful day. I took the underground to St. Paul’s and crossed the Thames using the Millennium Bridge. I covered every square inch of the museum, starting at the top, and was in seventh heaven when I got down to the second floor and saw the gallery walls crowded with paintings up down and all around. What fun it was to sketch here. I love copying Picasso. All of a sudden you can get a glimmer as to how he did this or that and it makes perfect sense – for that moment at least. I was the one standing in the middle of the room with a grin on my face.

I stopped in the Tate’s Espresso Bar for a coffee and drew the museum people.
(Full disclosure: the grouping of people on the right was drawn from a photo I had just taken of a bunch of teenagers that were just about to get up and leave the gallery. That was the only sketch I did from a photo. The people on the left were drawn from life as I had my coffee.)

When I left the museum I decided to walk back to Trafalgar Square on the south bank of the Thames. I really didn’t know how far this would be or how long it would take. I stopped in a gallery along the way, Bankside, and saw a wonderful show of etchings and relief prints. More walls crowded with art from top to bottom. Resumed walking until I recognized the bridge I saw the other evening from the Embankment tube station. I think it is called Charing Cross Bridge, maybe. Or something else, maybe. From there, surprise, it was just a couple of blocks until I reached Trafalgar Square. I arrived at Pret a Manger (either I’m a very boring diner or it’s nice that no one cares how long you hang out), ate lunch, worked on my drawings and added their decor art to the Tate’s cafe in the drawing above. At 5:30 I went to the National Portrait Gallery, next to The National Gallery, for the late, free, materials supplied, “Drop In Drawing”.

I was directed to the gallery that was to be used that evening. So not my choice of art at all. Staid portraits of famous Brits from way way back. On a large table were many marble busts facing this way and that. There were little folding seats. I got my folding thingy because I saw another woman had one even though she was sitting on a bench. I also sat on the bench and waited since it wouldn’t start until 6:30. It was getting crowded. The lady next to me started talking. Her first time also.

The person in charge came in, set out paper and boards and all sorts of pencils for us to use and gave us a suggestion/mini instruction as to a good way to proceed in copying the artwork around us. We were given free reign to use two galleries and set us free. I sat on my stool thingy and I sketched the busts with a big chunky pencil on a big sheet of paper until I reached my pencil frustration threshold. I didn’t do too badly, right?

I couldn’t stand another second of that pencil (Chunky Pencil Claustrophobia Syndrome) so I took out my Moleskine and Sharpie pen and did what I do. The sketchbook ended up getting a lot of attention.

And then I did more. What fun. An amazing amount of fun.

When it was all over at 8:30 (sob) I, now that I was totally in control of my whereabouts, walked back along Charing Cross Road, around the big construction to Tottenham Court Road, made a right at whatchamacallit Road and eventually reached the hotel with energy left to spare.

Moleskine journal; background Gelli Plate printed with acrylic; Sharpie Ultra Fine pen, Pitt brush pen, Signo Uni-ball (UM-153) white gel pen; and sometimes I add a bit of color with Crayola markers.

After breakfast I headed to Tottenham Court Road which leads into Charing Cross Road – after a bit of a construction detour – I ended up at The National Gallery.

There was a convenient bench opposite this painting and there were a lot of pauses as groups gathered in front of it.

This painting by Canaletto caught my eye when I entered the first room. It is a huge painting and this detail is just a couple of inches in the lower left corner The gondolier is from another section.

The entrance has a balcony that overlooks Trafalgar Square which turned out to be a great spot to rest the feet and with the added benefit of a nice clean bathroom. I found myself here several times in the coming days.

Then I continued walking – the journal tells the story:

Man oh man. Did my feet HURT (pedometer=7.3 miles) and I was TIRED. I headed straight to my room, skipped the lobby wi-fi ceremony, and got in my pajamas immediately. Ahhh.

Moleskine journal; background Gelli Plate printed with acrylic; Sharpie Ultra Fine pen, Pitt brush pen, Signo Uni-ball (UM-153) white gel pen; and sometimes I add a bit of color with Crayola markers.

After breakfast I took the Picadilly line to the South Kensington stop. I had studied the map carefully but it turned out to be unnecessary because it is possible to walk to the V&A Museum completely underground. Since the exhibit I particularly wanted to see wouldn’t open until 1pm I checked the directory and headed to the first place I usually go in any museum: prints and drawings. I was very happy to come upon the exhibit “New Dawns”. From the little card on the wall “These posters communicate a sense of hope and optimism for the future…when new social and political alternatives feel possible.”

So, I saw all the bright colors, ignored the big words, and stopped to sketch details from four of the posters.

I checked out Modern Design, totally skipped the Wedding Dress exhibit and wandered through Asian Art. That’s when I spotted Jill sitting very still while she struggled with a sketch. I took full advantage of her obliviousness. I found out that she is taking a course and the assignment was to draw “texture”. She chose a poorly lighted dark, very old small piece of clothing and agreed that she should find something else.

At 1pm sharp I entered the gallery that contained “M. F. Husain: Master of Modern Indian Painting.” I love love love contemporary Indian art and this exhibit was WOW WOW WOW. I hope it comes to New York. It was stupendous and I’m so happy I got to see it in person.

There was a small painting of Ganesha hung at the start of the exhibit that I was compelled to draw even though I was pretty much an obstruction. A man stopped and told me everything that everybody should know about the roll of that god. Interesting.

On my way out of the museum I spotted Michael Cooper sketching a sculpture. Same course? I fitted him in with Jill.

I had to hot foot it back to the hotel because Francesca, an, as yet, unmet facebook friend, was meeting me in the lobby at 3:00. She had me laughing and snorting right from the beginning. We went for coffee at Camera Cafe near the British Museum and then took the underground to Green Street stop where
we went gallery hopping. We had a dinner of breakfast food in a “diner” on Carnaby Street. Yikes! The 60’s flashed before my eyes. Then we walked down Regency Street to the end and she showed me the Institute of Contemporary Art. It was about 9:30 when we took the tube back to our respective stops. Yay Facebook!

More zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz followed.

Moleskine journal; background Gelli Plate printed with acrylic; Sharpie Ultra Fine pen, Pitt brush pen, Signo Uni-ball (UM-153) white gel pen; and sometimes I add a bit of color with Crayola markers.

The plane landed at Heathrow at 8:30 am which made it 3:30 am NYC time. I had been up since 6:30 am so it was almost 24 hours awake with just one of those naps where your head keeps dropping and waking you up. That lasted about 30 minutes on the plane and then I went back to movie watching. I was awake but fuzzy around the edges. I successfully purchased an Oyster card for use on the underground and buses , successfully boarded the proper subway and successfully got off at the proper station. There was a temporary suspension of success when I couldn’t orient myself to my carefully annotated map and walked around in a few circles looking for the hotel and talking aloud to myself. Back at the station again I spotted a large map of the immediate area and had the “ah ha!” moment and soon, after a right and a left turn, my feet were leading me directly to the registration desk. Too early for check in so I stowed my luggage with the porter and sat in the lobby to use the wi-fi to confirm a meeting with an as yet un-met facebook friend the next day.


I looked at my map, British Museum was “just over there”, other side of Russell Square. Easy Peasy. A snap to find. Got turned around, lost, feeling stupid cause it’s a big big building and it is in the neighborhood and I can’t find it – can’t follow the stinking map! Things are not boding well. I remembered that there was a Pret a Manger by the tube station so I headed there for some familiar comfort food and coffee, snagged a little table by the window and did some work in my journal. A woman, Elizabeth, asked if she could share the table. She works as a domestic in a hospital and said she used to sketch years ago. I told her about the London sketching meetup group that I was going to be with the following Sunday. After I mentioned that I couldn’t find the British Museum she explained exactly how to get there and pointed in the direction I should head. Thank you Elizabeth. Phew.

In the museum a very old docent with a quivering soft voice was leading a tour of Islamic Art so I joined it. Sigh. I couldn’t hear her at all and the pieces she stopped in front of were so uninspiring that I left in search of other things. I found an interesting print exhibition “Germany Divided: Baselitz and His Generation” and then went in search of things to draw.

It was nice to sketch here. A very relaxed museum.

At one point I sat down to rest my feet and sketched the sculpture, (Thalia, Muse of Comedy, Roman, 2nd century AD),in the center of the large atrium(?). I had no confidence that I could actually do it so I just used the museum map and surprised myself.

Now to redeem myself. Following the map, faultlessly, I walked, on purpose, the Very Long Way from the museum to the hotel, finding myself on Tottenham Court Road at one point. This road would prove to be my main walking route to many places in the following days. The process of orientation had begun.

I arrived at the hotel at 6:00 pm, checked in, retrieved my suitcase and backpack, dropped them off in the room and headed out to the St. Paul’s tube stop. I actually had to change trains. Since I was early and St. Paul’s Cathedral was in front of me and I was obviously delirious from lack of sleep, I decided to sketch a snippet of it.

At 7:00 I joined “Ghosts Of The Old City” walking tour and learned about all sorts of spooky sightings and gruesome, gory happenings. I drew every time we stopped. I have no memory of how I got back to the hotel – did I take the underground or did I walk – but I arrived at about 9:30 with a sandwich, cookie and bottle of water in my hands and 6.9 miles on my pedometer.

I ate in the room, watched TV while working on the journal, and, Keeping Awake Goal successfully attained, I zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Moleskine journal; background Gelli Plate printed with acrylic; Sharpie Ultra Fine pen, Pitt brush pen, Signo Uni-ball (UM-153) white gel pen; and sometimes I add a bit of color with Crayola markers.