On my return train journey last night, on an empty I found myself without a decent ‘model’. Just to reassure you fellow-sketchers that we don’t alwalys have to wait for a real, live person, I drew this girl from a film poster advertising the British film ‘Fish Tank’ in my newspaper. In the original poster, she has no additional imagery surrounding her. Considering her pensive countenance, I invented the bustling city background as a narrative element to enhance the rather sombre and isolated mood. Don’t know if this theme ties in at all with the film having not seen it, but that’s my unbiased interpretation! Black Biro and white Conté pencil.
Sketched this fellow on yesterday’s morning train. The light from the east was producing a nice side highlight. I must have elongated his head, but he definitley resembles a baboon with his tight mouth too adding to the effect, so I have rather unkindly since changed him from 'Train sleeper' to baboon face. Black Biro and white Conté pencil.
Very hot today and The British Museum was probably the worst place to go under that huge (but impressive) glass roof! Still, once you start you can't stop, so I sweated it out. A passer-by sketcher asked me if I had special permission to use wet media in the museum (apparently it's dry only), but I admitted I wasn't aware of any sketchy rules so was probably just getting away with it until I was caught. The fun police in the UK get everywhere. But I finished without any scene. Blue Quink ink on yellow Canson card, about half hour duration.
Hot day today and I wasted half an hour wandering around looking for inspiration. Perspiration more like. Eventually I sat in the shade of some Bedford Square park trees and sketched this girl engrossed in her book. She disappeared towards the end, but I managed to make up the missing bits. As much as I love drawing, no pencil was used at all in this one, just painted directly in Quink ink with a brush. The grand Georgian houses recede nicely in the background thanks to a light hand. On manilla envelope paper, took about half an hour.
Just outside the John Lewis store at London’s Oxford Circus, this lovely vintage girl’s bicycle was waiting to be sketched. No direct sunshine today, so no dynamic shadows, but you can’t have everything. Drawn with a Pentel MS50 black marker and painted with Quink ink with a brush on white cartridge.
Lovely sunny day today. Wisely, this guy followed a popular worldwide pastime of 'People Watching From A Cafe'. I’m a big believer too. he buzzed off after a while, so I had to use a pic from my mobile as ref. I added the white highlights back at work with a white Chinagraph. This was especially effective for doing the highlights on the black leather. The rest was painted with a brush and black ink and blue Quink ink. A lack of outlines in the background figures and a pale wash helps them recede, giving the sketch much depth.
Just a few metres down from yesterday's Bedford Square sketch, this is drawn from a meeting room window 4 floors up, giving me an interesting bird's eye viewpoint. The strong shadows cast by the sun made for interesting shapes, cast across the pavement. It's the first time I've tried wet ink by brush in this sketchbook and the low-quality paper is very poor at spreading the colour evenly, so next time perhaps at least I'll try it on more absorbent paper, such as a heavy cartridge or proper watercolour paper. Duration: 20mins Materials: Quink Blue-Black ink with brush on the usual sketchpad brown paper.
Lovely warm lunchtime today so I ambled round the corner from work and sketched this unique square. Bedford Square is the only intact Georgian square surviving in London and still has the original Georgian buildings and cast iron lamposts. I would have loved to have sketched from the gardens found in the centre of the square, but unfortunately (for sketchers at least), it's a residents-only private park. Materials: Fountain Pentel on brown paper Daler Rowney Cachet sketchbook. Duration: 30mins.
A 10 minute sketch of Emily who works at my agency, looking out of a boardroom window. Not a great likeness, but a fair effort in ten mins. Materials: Black Daler-Rowney sketching charcoal pencil and white drawing pencil.
This one's done from photographic reference, but I was so taken by the remarkable clarity of the reflected image, I wanted it to be revisited. It almost looks like a canalside sketch rather than a dip in the pavement, due to the way I gave it a tight crop. Depending on whether you're a 'glass half empty' or 'full' kind of person, I think you may interpret the shadowing figure behind the girl as either sinister or harmless. It could be the cover of a crime novel if you're of the former persuasion! What do you think? I like this one so much, I'll be putting it on my other painting and sketching blog (see side panel).Materials: Black, grey and white Daler-Rowney Sketching Charcoal on Cachet sketchbook paper Duration: 30 mins
A couple of builders take a break in Hanover Square gardens, just a few metres from a bustling Oxford Street. Duration: About 20 mins. Materials: Black Pentel Brushpen on Daler-Rowney Cachet (brown paper) sketchbook.
Office workers lunch amidst budding springtime plane trees. A gangly man in black in the background shows off his solo ball-handling skills, which was more of a dance than anything else. A bit like Tai-chi with a sphere. Duration: About 20 mins. Materials: Black Pentel Brushpen on Daler-Rowney Cachet (brown paper) sketchbook.
Nice to get out armed only with a brush pen and sketchbook. No feint trace lines before committing, just committing to the ink right there! I even left the white Chinagraph behind today. One of a series of three. Materials: Pentel Brush Pen Duration: 10 mins
After a short trip to Foyles bookshop, I had half an hour and took a shortcut back through Denmark Place. I sketched this nice, shiny British Triumph in the quiet alleyway behind the drumming studios and famous guitar shops of Denmark Street, off Charing Cross Road, WC2. Materials: Daler Rowney Artists' Sketching pencil on brown paper. Duration: 30mins.
A windy and cold day, so I sought the warmth and shelter of The British Museum, a favourite sketching haunt. The plaque read Hoa Hakananai'a, which means 'secret friend' or something similar and this Easter Island figure dates back to around 1400AD. I like sculptures, they stay nice and still for the artist. Materials: Black and white Daler Rowney 'Sketching Pencils" on cardboard (art pad backing). Duration: 20mins.
Only had a brief moment to sketch today, so popped over to Crabtree Fields, Colville Place, a precious slice of green in the erstwhile grey environment of Tottenham Court Road. The book reader in question actually disappeared two-thirds of the way through the sketch, so I improvised thereafter. The fleeting low winter sun made the odd appearance and produced some nice diagonal shadows via the trees across the pavement. But disappeared again, so I found myself waiting for the clouds to move on and reveal it again, just to make sure I was getting the shadows in the right place. Materials: Black and white Daler Rowney 'Sketching Pencils" on manilla envelope paper. Duration: 20mins.
Thought I'd try a sketch of the great outdoors whilst staying indoors. It was cosy enough, but obviously lacked any interaction with the public, part of the thrill of plein air sketching, I feel. This viewpoint is from a meeting room window on the 4th floor of my company's offices, looking north up Tottenham Court Road towards Euston. An ambitious drawing as I only had 40 minutes before a meeting at 2pm, but in hindsight, it's the medium which was a tad ambitious. All that scratching around with a fine-tipped Fountain Pentel when a soft pencil would have been better for indicating the trees, especially. They look rather sparse and bedraggled, though it is only February so I can probably get away with it! A sketch like this sums up the lovely mix of London architecture. The landmark BT Tower sits amongst 1960s office boxes and intricately-decorated Georgian buildings (to the right). I wonder for who's benefit the draped fabric effect round the window in plaster (top right) was for? Well, at least I got to appreciate it. That's half the fun of sketching, of course, the observing. Typically, the meeting got cancelled. Materials: Black Fountain Pentel. Duration: 40 mins.
Just up from my previous sketching in Trafalgar Square where I was slowly turning to ice is The National Portrait Gallery, an appropraite venue for sketching people. In fact this is possibly my favourite London lunchtime haunt, I always see the BP NPG Award here every year. In an example of art imitating life imitating art, I drew this young student who in turn was drawing an impressive limewood sculpture. It's called 'Wooden Head' (Andrew Motion's, former Poet Laureate) by artist Jilly Sutton. I always like sketching in museums and galleries, especially in the week, as everyone's at it like it's the most natural thing in the world and few people bother you. Oh, and it's nice and warm too and usually free. As you can see, I employed/recycled the backing cardboard from an old layout pad for this one - you can see the paper overlap at the top and sticker at the bottom. This cardboard is a lovely cool grey, but I guess paper is preferable, otherwise my plan chest will fill up in no time, as it's so much thicker. Materials: Black and white Chinagraph on cardboard. Duration: about 20 mins.
Brighter day today, but only about 4 degrees C. Not the kind of temperature that you want to be sitting on cold stone, which is what I did, for half an hour. Precariously positioned on the edge of one of the Nelson's Column fountains (all of which differ in design), I was occasionally sprayed with a fine mist of icy water, but it was too late to start again and fortunately, waxy Chinagraphs are unfazed by a bit of water. Today's Curious Interrupter was a charming American lady who asked if she could take a photo of me sketching, which was fine with me. I know this is my second sketch and my second employing Chinagraphs, but they are not terribly good at shades of grey. Which is fair enough, as they aren't really intended for paper substrates. Next time, it's going to be good ol' graphite pencils or ink pens. Materials: Black and white Chinagraph on cardboard (backing from an art pad). Duration: Half hour.
What a great venue to kick off my London lunchtime sketches. Not only out of the cold February wind, but there are even free stools to sit on, so I could sketch in comfort! A very friendly Spanish member of TBM staff chatted to me for a while. He said the sketch was "very Andy Warhol". He asked me what we called Andy Warhol in English, which did amuse me. Still, his English was far superior to my Spanish. Materials: 'Fountain Pentel' and white Chinagraph on manilla envelope. Duration: About an hour (lucky that, as I only get an hour for lunch).
Please leave a comment below any post using the panel provided, or email petergander(at)gmail.com Thanks.
What's this all about?
Inspired by the worldwide sketching website, Urban Sketchers.com which I found on Flickr, I thought I'd put pencil to paper and get sketching in my lunch hour. Working in the West End of London gives me a wealth of drawing matter on my doorstep and whilst I am lucky enough to draw for a living every day (see About Me below), it's quite a different kettle of fish. The day job involves what we call in the trade 'scamps'. Simple drawings with messaging in one-stroke pen for advertising ideas and campaigns. Sketching in the street, however, offers quite a different pleasure. No brief to be answered and no client making unreasonable requests. It's all about the drawing. I will be experimenting with different mediums and substrates initially as I plan to find my favourite pen, brush, marker, pencil or paper, so check out the site later too. Thanks for looking, Peter Gander
Peter Gander (BA Hons) graduated from Canterbury College of Art to work in London as graphic designer and later as an art director. He lives in Herne bay, near Whitstable on north Kent's coast. During his commercial art career, which spans over 20 years, he lays claim to having re-designed the Monopoly logo to include 'Mr Moneybags' (still there to this day); winning an advertising D&AD Yellow pencil award for Spiller's Dog Food campaign featuring Dougal from The Magic Roundabout and having an award-winning cartoon featured on London's Underground as well as having his humorous poetry displayed for Londoner's by Friends of the Earth featured on London's iconic Routemaster buses.