Return to Windsor

Its been shamefully long since I last checked in, so long a few kind people who I’ve never meet have even checked as to my health! Thank you. I am well and have been busier than ever. So here’s a bumper drawings royal-themed post for you.

Firstly, a short while ago I was given the chance to paint a giant Easter Egg as part of The Big Egg Hunt, a city-wide fundraiser featuring a number of prestigious artists to raise money for the Elephant Family and Action of Children charities. When the egg arrived at my door it was larger than I could have imagined, and I set to work on a design aimed at complementing another egg featuring Humpty Dumpty that was painted by the Prince’s Drawing School. In the spirit of the Diamond Jubilee I decided to adapt the children’s’ nursery rhyme to ‘All the Queen’s horses and all the Queen’s men’. I’ve always liked the variety of military uniform our country has managed to design over the centuries, so put a succession of guards on horse around each other, charging as if the Trooping of the Colour ceremony had got a little out of hand. I only had a few days to paint it, and to my surprise only a few days later the next time I saw it was outside the Fabergé shop in Mayfair. What a privilege to be picked out by the main sponsors, and so nice to see egg-hunters and tourists alike looking at it here, and in Covent Garden, where entire collection of 200+ eggs were brought together at the Easter weekend.

Continuing the royal theme, I’ve also been lucky enough to spend a lot of time at Windsor Castle over the last month or so. Readers may remember I had a very inspired day there last year drawing the rooms and drawings in the royal collection. This time round, as part of a Drawing School project, I took groups of students to the castle, where we were given privileged access to the state rooms and garden areas around the round tower. It was great to get out of the way of the tourists and get to chat with the lovely staff who work there and really know their stuff. When not boring my students with too much history I got the chance to do a fair bit of drawing. From the opulent state rooms to the atmospheric medieval towers (admittedly in the rare moments when it wasn’t raining) to a stunning collection of oil paintings, there was so much to draw. I was particularly taken with the Civil War era paintings by the likes of Peake and Van Dyck. It’s not an area of history I know much about at all. I was very taken with the tragic story of Prince Henry of Wales, as the state rooms also holds several of his teenage-sized suits of armour, and with George and Francis Villiers, who were taken into the Stuart household after the murder of their father. These paintings reminded me that underneath all the gilt, velvet and extraordinary splendour of the state rooms were a set of fascinating stories that, for all their titles and privilege, were about very vulnerable humans lived out in uncertain times.

View from the Royal Mile

St George’s Hall, in a monoprint-drawing method I’m experimenting with

An impressive state room

The King’s Audience Chamber

The Round Tower and garden

North Tower

Detail of sculpted knights from St George’s Hall

(below) a selection of seventeeth-century paintings that caught my eye

Knight in Armour and horse in the entrance hall

St George’s Chapel and Albert Memorial Chapel from the tower

Side aisle at St George’s Chapel