"Big Ben"

Travel Sketchbook: London and Cambridge

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Just got back from gloriously sunny wanderings in the U.K.! Seriously, the weather could not have been better for walking about and sketching -- blue, blue sky and near-summer temps. (So rare!)

The trip was quite art-immersive: I explored several art supply stores, took in the big (if uneven) "Watercolour" exhibition at the Tate Britain, and visited the Bankside Gallery for the Royal Watercolour Society show. I'll share the art supplies I found in another post, but first, the sketches.

The day we arrived, a friend and I took the Thames Clipper from Millbank to Bankside; we had to wait quite a while for the boat, so I took the opportunity to do a quick sketch of the scene:

Waiting for Thames Clipper, London, UK

Sunday found us in Cambridge. On the way there, I sketched a bit at breakfast and on the train:

Scenes on the way to Cambridge, UK

We took in the River Cam in the traditional way -- punting on the college backs, with Scudamore's tour company. I challenged myself to sketch while we were on the boat; though it seemed to move along lazily through the water, it was tough to get all the details of a scene down before the vantage point changed!

Scenes from the college backs punting tour, Cambridge, UK

As we floated by, our guide pointed out the details of the colleges, the bridges (including the famous Bridge of Sighs), and the gardens.

Punting on the backs, Cambridge, UK

After our tour, I sat on one of the banks and attempted a more studied watercolor -- unfortunately, I hadn't used the paper before (Fabriano Satinata hot press) and it took me a while to figure out how the paint would behave on it. I used a Rotring pen to add linework later since I wasn't very happy with how it turned out.

Punting, Cambridge, UK

Our hotel in London was in Pimlico, served by the excellent bus route No. 24. Sitting in morning rush-hour traffic, on the top deck, I was able to get in quite a few little studies:

Views from Bus No. 24, London, UK

Big Ben from Bus No. 24, London, UK

On one of my excursions, I stopped in at the storied Fortnum & Mason for lunch, and sketched as I was waiting for my excellent goat-cheese and leek tart:

At Fortnum & Mason, London, UK

I'm already making a list of places to visit on the next London trip!

"Jim Himes"

Weekend Sketchbook: Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Was all set to draw and paint cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin in Washington this past weekend, but the mercurial weather made a hash of those plans.

Nonetheless, I did get a bit of sketching in. Drew this one quite rapidly with a refilled Pilot Varsity pen while we were waiting to have breakfast with our congressman, Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn. I'm calling it "The Constituents." The private Capitol tour following breakfast was a highlight of our weekend.

As we sat in Himes' office in the Cannon building, we heard our elected officials (on a small television screen) loudly and dramatically debating the merits of shutting down the government.

Waiting in Rep. Jim Himes' office, Washington, D.C.

In between the sudden showers and gawks at stately architecture, I did manage to meet an artist friend in Old Town Alexandria. There was an interesting group of gentlemen sitting on a bench at the docks, but I chose to paint just the guy in the middle, who was relaxing with a cigar. I had to rush because I had to make it back to Arlington for a dinner reservation; in my haste the watercolor got a bit gouache-y and opaque. Touching it up with more paint later didn't really help!

At the dock in Old Town Alexandria, VA