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).
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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.