Friday, 22 August 2014

Upstream London



This is the view along the river Thames that tourists from around the world turn their back on as they photograph the very recognisable shapes of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Beyond the boats moored before Lambeth Bridge lie the tower blocks of Vauxhall, and further still, the cranes of Nine Elms, a rapidly developing part of the city that will house the new American Embassy, among much else.

This stretch of the Thames looks undistinguished but it's stuffed with history, of course. Handel's Water Music was played here for the first time in 1717. King George I, heading upstream on the royal barge, liked it so much he made the floating orchestra play it four times, an hour each performance. Lambeth Palace, hidden to the left of the bridge, has been the London home of the Archbishops of Canterbury since the 13th century.

Turning your back on a city's great sights to draw what is behind you has always interested me. They are sights that say much more about the place than the scenes you see on postcards. I'm not convinced that the average Londoner is so emotionally attached to the great buildings of state, or Buckingham Palace, or the tourist attractions. London is a city of villages that have become congealed, and the local always has a strong pull. I'm more attached to Hackney Town Hall, the scene of happy, family events, than St James's Palace or Admiralty Arch, for instance.


Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Along the Ardeche

Labeaume, France

We're back from a holiday on the scenic banks of the Ardeche river, which carves its way through central southern France. There are gorges of impressive limestone cliffs, wooded sections and water that is deliciously cooling to swim in when the temperatures get into the 30Cs or more. Watching kayakers heading downstream, and sometimes taking an involuntary dip, is evidently a popular pastime for those lazing on the pebbled beaches.

Balazuc, France
Part of the joy of visiting this region is to search out quiet bathing spots among the trees that seem to be popular with the locals – although the drawings here of Labeaume and Balazuc, while still quiet when compared with coastal resorts, are of scenes firmly on the tourist trail.

Our six-hour journey home by train from Avignon gave plenty of opportunity for drawing fleeting scenes from the window. After spending days drawing geological formations shaped over centuries, it was invigorating to try to capture the landscape as it passed at 200mph.

From a moving train south of Paris


Friday, 18 July 2014

Portobello: a London sketchcrawl



Assorted sketchbook users from London and further afield landed on Portobello Road market on 12 July. When sketchcrawls take place in such crowded venues it can be difficult to know just how many people are taking part, but even with the massed ranks of antique buyers, fruit and veg consumers and Notting Hill location spotters, it was somehow never difficult to spot someone drawing.
Isabel Carmona, Swasky and Miguel Herranz were in town straight from their Oxford USk workshop, and it was great also to meet Inma Serrano, whose work I particularly love. (Inma and Miguel, visiting from Spain, both have drawings in Sketch Your World.) It was a scorching day, and some had fallen by the wayside by the time we took shelter in the Castle pub later in the afternoon to restore fluids and meet old and new friends.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

London sketchcrawl: Portobello Road, Saturday 12 July



There's a sketchcrawl along Portobello Road, London W11, this weekend on Saturday 12 July, attended by Urban Sketchers from this week's Oxford Urban Sketchers workshop. The weather forecast isn't looking too bad, so come if you can.
The plan is to meet at around 11am at Charlie's Portobello Road cafe, which is at number 58, and finish at around 4pm at the Castle pub.
There's more information here, and a plan of the route here.
Bring your drawing materials and join us.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Timberyard Old Street: show extended



The group show of drawings, including four by me, and Urban Sketchers Thomas Corrie, Isabelle Lalibert̩, Jhih-Ren Shih, Katherine Tyrrell and Zhenia Vasiliev at the Timberyard cafe, Old Street, London, has been extended for another few weeks Рthe final closing date is Saturday 12 July.

Timberyard, 61-67 Old Street, London EC1V 9HW
until 12 July
Open Monday to Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am-6pm
www.timberyardlondon.com
@jameshobbsart

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Town hall to cemetery: a Stoke Newington drawing tour


Last Sunday, as part of Stoke Newington Literary Festival, in the part of north London where I have lived for the past 23 years, I was joined by an evolving cast of about 50 artists as we drew our way along Church Street, the neighbourhood's epicentre. This was partly to publicise my book, Sketch Your World, but also because it is such a good place to draw: it is historic, crumbling, gentrified, leafy, literary, organic, unstuffy, siren-filled, unrelentingly urban and many other things, too. And the arrival of summer was timely.


The great thing about this kind of event, of course, is that although you can stand on your own and draw any day of the week, doing it as a group means you stop and look at things and in places you may not otherwise. It's never easier to sit on a kerbstone and draw than when you're in a group. The usual fantastic range of abilities and experience were among us, but for those of us new to drawing on location, this was a chance to blend in and feel confident as we worked. For about an hour and a half, as we worked our way along from the town hall, people seemed to be drawing everywhere you looked...


Our mission, in blazing sun throughout, ended in the shade and birdsong of Abney Park cemetery, where we cooled off, and shared and compared our endeavours – thanks once again to Seawhite of Brighton, who kindly supplied its Eco sketchbooks for the event.


Thanks for coming, if you did. And thanks to the team at Stoke Newington Literary Festival for inviting me to do this. Sketch Your World is a book about getting out and drawing rather than sit around discussing, and there's a chance a similar event may take place at next year's festival.


Sunday, 1 June 2014

Drawing event at Stoke Newington's literary festival

Stoke Newington Church Street
I'll be at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival on Sunday 8 June from 12 noon for a special free drawing event. To take part, simply come to the town hall foyer with your drawing equipment – a limited number of free Seawhite sketchbooks will be available while stocks last – draw the many hotspots of Stoke Newington, meet other artists, share your drawings online and find out more about the burgeoning Urban Sketching community. It's relaxed, free and you can come and go as you like. It's good for adults and children, all abilities, all levels of experience, all everything, in fact. Find out more about it here.

Signed copies of my book Sketch Your World will be on sale.

Many thanks to Seawhite of Brighton for generously providing the sketchbooks.

There's more information about the literary festival at www.stokenewingtonliteraryfestival.com. There are plenty of great events taking place from 6 to 8 June.