Friday, 20 January 2017

Let’s draw the Barbican - Saturday 25 February 2017

Join us to draw at the Barbican in the City of London. The Barbican Centre is one of London’s major arts centres and the Barbican Estate is a landmark modern housing development by architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon.

Everyone welcome, bring your own drawing materials, just turn up on the day, which is free of charge.

Silk Street Entrance

Timetable for the day

11 am: Meet inside the main entrance of the Barbican Centre, on Silk Street, for an introduction and short discussion about area's attractions and good drawing spots, lead by Olga Mackness.

Barbican Centre Lakeside Terrace

1.00 pm: midway meeting by the main water feature in the Barbican estate Lakeside Court or if wet, inside in the Barbican Kitchen cafe situated at the same place, opposite the water feature (Level G).

Barbican Centre Lakeside Terrace Entrance

Finish at 3.30 pm at the Barbican Centre Lakeside Terrace Entrance for the group picture and discussion.

Afterwards we will go to the nearby pub The Jugged Hare, 49 Chiswell Street, a stylish gastropub with an English menu. This pub forms part of the famous old Grade II listed Whitbread Brewery (now the Montcalm 5 Star London City Hotel).

Drawing opportunities are endless in the area:

Barbican Centre: the arts centre offers views of the surrounding area and interesting modern interiors. There are also opportunities to draw people and activities in the Centre, and there will be a new temporary light installation by Omer Arbel in the Foyer, level G.

Barbican Estate has many public courts at different levels – exciting opportunities to draw panoramic scenery. Architecture of the complex is fascinating and very distinct. It is a very good chance to enrich your portfolio with sketches of classic modern architecture. There is an exhibition about the architecture of the Barbican in the Barbican Centre Foyer, level G.

St -Giles -without -Cripplegate Church: located within the Barbican complex, on Fore Street. This medieval church survived the Great Fire of London in 1666. Oliver Cromwell was married in this church and John Milton is buried there. There are many marble portraits in the church – of John Milton and other famous people associated with the church. Interesting information is to be discovered there and interiors are great for sketching.

The Museum of London is located at the south-west corner of the Barbican Estate, at the junction of London Wall and Aldersgate Street, above street level. It has free admission.

Nearby, there are remains of the Old London Wall dating from the Roman era, near the south west corner of the Barbican Estate.


The day offers opportunities to draw indoors and out, depending on the weather and your preferences.

There are many cafes and bars inside the Barbican Centre and surrounding area, suitable for all budgets and tastes.

How to get there: Situated in the City of London, the nearest tube stations are Barbican or Moorgate. Further information on the Barbican Centre website:

We look forward to this day sketching together in London

Day organisers – Olga Mackness and Lis Watkins

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Behind Harrods

[By James Hobbs.] Cycling in the west of London, I passed by the Ecuadorian embassy, which, with the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange still inside more than four years after claiming asylum there, is still in the news. Obama's decision to release the whistleblower Chelsea Manning has heightened speculation Assange will finally make an exit. The embassy, which shares a building with the Colombian embassy, is slap-bang behind Harrods, and watched by bored-looking press photographers from across the street. There was the hope that he would emerge as I drew the scene, but he will want, no doubt, more of a show and a larger audience when that time comes.


Monday, 2 January 2017

a farewell to dippy

Dippy, the beloved Diplodocus at the Natural History Museum, is moving! This week, on the 4th of January, ol' Dippy will be packed up into lots of boxes and sent on tour around the country, while the Hintze Hall, the grand space in the Museum that has been Dippy's home since I was a little kid (1979, though Dippy's been in the Museum for more than a century), is prepared for the installation of a large Blue Whale skeleton. I'm sad to see Dippy go, but excited to see a new change in my favourite of museums. I visited London over Thanksgiving break in November. Yes, you don't have Thanksgiving in the UK, but my Californian son was off school that week and flights were cheap so we took advantage, and came back to our London family. Britain still seems to have Black Friday though, but if you're not queuing up outside Best Buy at 4am and spending the rest of the morning in Target then you're not really doing it right. It was a good week to visit London, with the UK kids still in school and Christmas starting to really get into gear - South Kensington is lovely in wintertime, with the ice skaters outside the Natural History Museum. My son loves geology so we spent the longest time looking at all the rocks and minerals on display, before finding a seat to sketch Dippy. We couldn't see him all, so only sketched his body, and being a little pushed for time I never managed my two-page Diplodocus spread this time. But I am glad I got to see hime one last time before he goes plodding around the country, to Dorset and Newcastle and so on (see details of Dippy's tour on the NHM wesbite). Here is my son's sketch of Dippy, in his new NHM sketchbook.


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Let's Draw In and Around Tate Modern - January 2017

View of Switch House by Isabel Carmona

In January 2017 we are meeting to draw in and around Tate Modern, an area with spectacular views of the Thames riverside (we will be opposite St Paul’s and the City of London). The new extension to Tate Modern – the Switch House - is also spectacular and from the top we can enjoy one of London’s best panoramic views. 

Date : Saturday 21st January 2017
Timetable for the day:

  • Start meeting 11 am: Meet at the riverside, below the Tate Modern chimney. In wet conditions we will be just beside the chimney by the riverside entrance to the Tate (to the left of the chimney as you look towards the building).
  • Halfway meeting 1 pm: Meet on the opposite side of Tate Modern, in the new circular terrace just outside the entrance to the new extension, between the Switch House entrance and the Terrace entrance.  If it is wet, we will be just inside the Terrace entrance.  See map of level 1 (
  • Finish meeting point, 3:30 pm: Meet inside, in the middle of the Turbine Hall, level 0,at the bottom of the ramp coming down from the Turbine Hall entrance.
  • Afterwards - meeting point to continue discussions and drinks (and to draw some more if you wish), from around 4pm: Meet at the bar of the Citizen M Hotel in Lavington Street, almost Southwark Street. 

Tate Modern is free of charge (other than for special exhibitions) and there are extensive collection displays in both the Boiler House and the new Switch House extension.  See all you can do here:

Drawing possibilities are inexhaustible around here, amongst others you could draw:

  • the riverside with views of the St Paul’s embankment, the Millennium Bridge, 
  • Tate Modern, outside or inside including the Turbine Hall and the new Switch House interior architecture,
  • one of the best views in London from level 10 of the Switch House,
  • the new terrace and mini park by the Terrace entrance
  • People inside, outside the museum and around the cafes, the riverside, everywhere.
Please note the Gallery Rules:  which state: ‘The use of charcoal, pastels, permanent marker, and watercolour or oil paint is not allowed in the galleries'.  We have sought clarification and this includes all areas of the building. 

View of St Paul's from Tate Modern by Isabel Carmona

How to get here: There is a map and information about transport and facilities on the Tate website:

There are plenty of cafes and sandwich bars for various budgets either inside Tate Modern or around Sumner Street, Convey Street or Southwark Street. The only pub in the area, the Founders Arms serves food but it is normally very busy.

In any case, there is so much to do and see around here and so little time, that you'll be itching to keep on drawing! 

We look forward to this day sketching together in London

Day organisers: Isabel Carmona and Dionisa Joseph Mattam.


Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Urban Sketchers London exhibition at Timberyard Soho

Five artists are on show in the latest exhibition by Urban Sketchers London. The venue is Timberyard Soho, the award winning 'creative hub' cafe and open workspace in the heart of London. 

Nick Richards, James Hobbs, Isabel Carmona, Jo Dungey and Isabelle Laliberte
on show at Timberyard Soho from November 2016
The featured artists are Nick Richards, James Hobbs, Isabel Carmona, Jo Dungey and Isabelle Laliberte. Each artwork is drawn on location in London, following the Urban Sketchers manifesto pledge 'to show the world one drawing at a time'. 

Photo: C Barlow Marrs

The exhibition will run for several months. Some of the works are for sale -- and would make ideal seasonal gifts!

Photo: Lis Watkins
Timberyard Soho
Cafe Design of the Year 2016 ‘GOLD’ Award Winner
4 Noel Street
London W1F 8GB

Regular hours 
Mon-Fri 8am - 7pm
Sat-Sun 11am-6pm

Holiday hours 2016
Christmas Eve 11am - 6pm
Christmas  Day Closed
Boxing Day Closed
27-31 December 10am-6pm
New Years Day Closed
2-8 January 2017 10am-6pm



Under the mistletoe at Covent Garden

Urban Sketchers London Do Covent Garden - December 2016
Urban Sketchers London do Covent Garden
December 2016

Giant mistletoe and Christmas baubles, carol singers, buskers and conjurors, historic buildings and crowds of shoppers – Urban Sketchers tackled them all at Covent Garden.  

Our monthly sketchcrawl was on Saturday 10 December, and plenty of people took up the challenge to capture the pre-Christmas scenes. At least two sketchers sold their drawings to impressed passers-by!  Here are just a few examples of the great range of sketches.

This USk London sketchcrawl was brought to you by Jo Dungey

Katie Clare - unmissable mistletoe
Karen Jones - really unmissable
Daniel Lloyd-Morgan's sketch drew compliments from an appreciative busker playinBob Dylan and Neil Young, harmonica and all
Sketching double at Covent Garden

Helen Pavli

Katerina Antipina

Monica Phillips - Lunchtime concert at St Paul's Church by Velehrad Choir of the Czech Republic 
Sheila Spencer - Street performer Captain Franko checked to be sure Sheila had included him in her sketch -- and he gave her his promotional leaflet.

Nick Richards - Neal's Yard


Monday, 14 November 2016

Vauxhall in the rain

Group shot at the end of the day, with everybody 'exhibiting' their work at Tate Britain.

Thank you to everybody who came along to the sketchcrawl in Vauxhall on Saturday.  Despite the persistent rain, there was a good turnout and lots of positive comments about the location.  Here are just a few snaps of the sketches made during the day.

The next sketchcrawl is Saturday 10th December in Covent Garden.

People sketched by Jimmy

Local landmark, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, drawn by Rachel

Sketch of the bus station by Lara

Watercolours from Katy. With added water.

Watercolour sketch by Christine inside Starbucks

Black and white drawing inside the Tate by Sarah

Study of 'Jacob and the Angel' by Sarra