I am gradually recovering from an epic drawing session. Thank you everyone who has sponsored me, both commissioning original drawings, and donating to this great cause on my Drawathon. I’m absolutely worn out, and my lungs filtering out two day’s worth of traffic fumes from sitting on street corners!
So here’s the two-day marathon picture-by-picture. London blessed me with sunshine and warm temperatures, as if summer had arrived early. I hadn’t quite prepared for just how gloriously bright and colourful it would be, and as a result I set out inspired and ambitious and attacked my sheet of paper with every hue in my watercolour box, and couldn’t quite stop.
I’m drawing against the sun so glad I brought sunglasses! Though a very simple building, the Shell centre always looks incredibly elegant against the river, a giant monument.
Another Bridge, another bright bright drawing. At this time of the day the city is thrown into extremes of light and shade, so the cityscape is somewhat blurred as I try to pick out shapes from shadows and sun reflecting on glass. There’s so much to take in and the wind is up, blowing my hair all over the place, so I sketch quickly.
This areas a lovely place to draw as it’s always fairly quiet, safe for legal suits and wigs going back and forth and the odd tourist. Find a lovely spot on a bench overlooking Middle Temple and in good time to see this Magnolia tree in full bloom, I love how the pinks offset the deep red of the old brickwork. Sit and eat my picnic in the beautiful gardens before braving Fleet Street…
1.00 pm Hoare’s Bank (for Thomas)
A classic building, though made tricky by busy traffic and buses constantly stopping in front of me! The sun is starting to make me light-headed by now, so I endeavour to find some shade.
A great Victorian building and I’ve never seen it so bright and red as today. I hide in the shade next to Blacks’ opposite and think how funny it is that my mum used to work here before I was born. I’m desperate to spend longer here, as the architecture and ornamentation is so over the top, but time pushes on so I do my best to sketch in every arch. The afternoon’s getting me tired so an indulgent large mocha Frappuccino is in order for a caffeine and sugar hit. Though I fear the whipped cream makes me even sleepier.
3.45 pm St Brides Church, Fleet Street (for Mick)
The wonderful Wren church is neatly slotted into the City fabric and tucked off the street, but that makes it tricky to find the best place to draw. So I ended up sitting cross-legged in the middle of Fleet Street outside the Express building and have city workers tripping up over me every now and then. Once again, the sun is so bright that the shadows are extreme, and London’s Portland stone becomes shades of purples and blue.
5.00 pm The Blackfriars Pub, Blackfriars (for Mick)
Getting very tired now and after another session on a street corner (literally next to road works for new Blackfriars station) my eyes are dry and my lungs tight. But thankfully this request just happens to be my favourite pub in London, so I push through and reward myself with a half of a guest ale.
6.00 pm View of St Paul’s from One New Change (for Mandy)
My lovely friend Mandy was so keen to sponsor me for a good cause that she completely forgot to tell me what to draw! Now she’s moved to Oz for work I figured I would pick her a classic London scene. I have many grumblings about this new shiny shopping centre. But the view from the top is exceptional. Up in the air, my lungs are cleared (as much as they can be in the square mile) and I’m invigorated by the sharpness of the sun, cutting through streets and creating a halo around the monumental cathedral.
Very very tired now, and hasten through the street and across London Bridge to get to another cathedral before the light is lost. The garden here has shut up by now and the market traders are all but packed up, but it matters not as this view from the east end is one of my favourites. I love being raised so that I can draw both up and down the cathedral. The sun set casts the end of the church into purple shadows, safe for where it be seen streaming through the south transept window. I have to work fast as the light fades minute by minute, which is very disorienting when you’re trying to draw. By 8.30 its dark and I can’t make any kind of judgement, I take my picture to a street light and in the yellow haze decide its complete.
I pack up and stagger back across the bridge and eastwards home. My lovely boyfriend meets me at GBK and feeds me burger and chips before carrying me home.
I’ve less drawings to do today, but more mileage to cover, so I set out on my trusty bike. I take less food but more water, as its bright and even hotter.
Another firs thing in the morning, another stunning sky. Alex had just requested the Gherkin, but since he’s been so generous and I love this view with St Andrew Undershaft I had to show new against old. The cleaners were out too, who are mesmerising to watch as, like spiders, they work their way up and down the glass on spindly wires.
9.30 am. I’m stalled somewhat as having hoped the draw police horses, I find that when I visit and pop back during the day, they’re all out! Apparently some are keeping an eye over a protest in town, whilst others are chilling out in Bushy Park. This throws the morning’s plans, so I will have to come back another day.
11.15 am The Barbican, City of London (for Simon and Angie)
I spend a while getting lost around the strange beast that is this 1960s development. I love it, and used to have to deal with it when I worked at the Twentieth Century Society, but it scares me rigid to draw. Its not a simple modernist building. But instead something giant and sculptural, a maze, a monument to post-war ambitions and hopes, and yet still manages to feel a humane, beautifully detailed environment. This one takes a while to set-up, as I fret over proportions, but then get absorbed by endless windows and distinctive kinky balconies. Thankfully the bright sun is helpful is discerning shapes.
But yesterday is catching up with me, and I’m already tired. Luckily I happen to be chanced upon by my friend Louise, a fellow Drawing School student, who is on her way to London Zoo to draw. A quick chat and the gift of a choccie biscuit perks me up, and I hop back on my bike.
I stop for lunch at Bunhill Fields, the beautiful dissenters’ graveyard opposite the chapel. I have to hide in the shade for a while as I stake out the best place to draw the chapel -back in the sun! I feel I have to include the man himself too, and I like his sculpture against the characterful pollarded trees. Afterwards I am met by my parents, in town to see my progress, who reward me with a large iced coffee, and more whipped cream. I feel dizzy by this point as I’ve had a bit too much time in the sun!
3.30 pm Beigel Bake, Brick Lane (for Simon)
Back onto local territory, a request that also happen to be one of my regular haunts. It’s a busy road so I have to steer clear of cars and trendies on their fixed-gear bikes. I choose a spot next to Tom, who’s spot is just outside the next door cafe, and has shaved off his beard for the summer. He tells me stories of the old market and his time as a (not very good, apparently) sailor. After a while though, I attract the attentions of another, less sober local who won’t leave me alone and, though complementary, leads to finish up and head for quieter pastures.
5. 15 pm Christ Church from Fournier Street, Spitalfields (for Karen)
Another regular feature of my drawings. I knew that Karen had a print of one of my drawings with a view from the church front, so I decided she should have a side view to match. This takes in more really, the side of the church and the way it appears to shelter the houses around it. The rows of brick houses in the quiet street, and the buzz in the Victorian market buildings, which although just a hop and skip across the road, seem another world in the bright sun.
This was request from Bob, whose ancestor once ran a bookshop on this busy street. This handsome Victorian building is a lucky survivor in an area where son much was destroyed by bombs. I push on, driven by the knowledge that this is my last picture. I finish as the light starts to fade and, and the traffic gathers. across the road the call to prayer is sounded from the East London Mosque, and I pack up my bike and am called home.