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July 3, 2007

London Visits: Part 32 - Our Year Visiting London


A view of The City from a riverside cafe at Hay's Galleria on the Southbank of the Thames.   

We are nearing the end of a wonderful year during which we really got to know London so much better.  It was a unique opportunity for us - being able to live in a terrace and shop in the local markets and stores in Chelsea.  We were also, ever so briefly, part of a family that was working and going to school, going to doctor's visits, having a baby, and taking soccer and swimming lessons.  But we also had time to ourselves to explore the streets, museums, theaters, famous national buildings, and restaurants.  

Since July 2006 we have visited 6 times - each time for 2 weeks except for a 3 week visit over Christmas when our grandson decided to arrive 6 weeks early.   Tomorrow we return to New York, leaving a house that feels sadly empty since our daughter and her family moved back to New York several days ago. 

I'm surprised and delighted that I was able to complete this art project - finishing sketchbook #3 on this trip.  Maintaining a daily sketchbook is new for me and my goal always was to develop enough skills to have many photos and a travel sketchbook from our travels.  For London I used spiral Cachet Linen Watercolor Journals (9 " x 7" cold press paper) and was able to use both sides of every page without any problem.  That means that I have approximately 150 pages of sketches - and all except a few have watercolor washes.  I also will have a Liberty of London scrap quilt which I worked on while here to remember this year.

I am naturally drawn to all sketchbooks using pen with watercolor and I used Pigma micron pens in the beginning and Zig Millenium pens more recently.  I have a small Daler Rowney travel watercolor set for days out and a palette with 12 W-N watercolor paints dried in the wells for home.  I carry only my sketchbook, pen case, Niji waterbrushes, and paints in a small backpack when I leave the house.    

Many of the sketchbook pages were uploaded and can be revisited by clicking through the London tag on the right side. 

London Visits: Part 31 - Miscellaneous


A combination of a real antique guard uniform and the life-size Bear that sits in front of Daisy and Tom's toy store on King's Road in Chelsea.  When visiting the Antique Military Uniform dealer in Antiquarius (131/141 King's Road), I learned that you can tell which guard division wore the uniform by the placement of the buttons.  Here on the left is a coat from the Coldstream guards because the buttons are in groups of 2.  The Bear is dressed in the Scotch jacket because the buttons are in groups of 3.


Inspired by an ink painting in the China Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum.


An exercise in perspective: this is the modern stairway in the central area at the British Library on Euston Road.  I'm not sure that it is possible to understand it unless you know the structure. 

This was my second visit to the manuscript reading room over the past year to transcribe a letter from Col. Henry Bouquet to the British General George Gage.  My Gr-Gr-Gr-Gr-grandmother Christina Wampler was kidnapped in 1757 by the Delaware Indians as child from the Wampler farm in Lebanon Township Pennsylvania.  Col. Bouquet was then sent to the Ohio Territory to arrange a prisoner release with the Indians and in 1764 sent a letter to General Gage describing the negotiations and listing the prisoners who were delivered to Fort Pitt by the Indians (now Pittsburgh).

July 1, 2007

London Visits: Part 30 National Gallery Exhibit

Drawing from Paintings: Leon Kossoff Exhibit at the National Gallery of Art

My husband and I went to this exhibit today on our way to the National Portrait Gallery - and I was intrigued by Leon Kossoff's process of working.  He began to sketch in front of National Gallery masterpieces when he was a young art student and returns over and over to sketch the same paintings - some over many decades.  He even etches plates directly in front of his favorite paintings to make prints. 

I like to draw from art masterpieces on occasion to learn more about techniques, but I usually buy a postcard to work from and rarely sketch a painting more than once.  I'm afraid I would be very bored....  Maybe I'll need to try the same one once a year and see if I can do it.

Here is a link to a Degas Masterpiece  Combing the Hair by Edgar Degas

Here is the very simplified sketch/print of the Degas Painting by Kossoff  Kossoff Drawing of Degas Painting

Here is my sketch with some watercolor added.


Most of Kosoff's drawings were more developed, resembling value sketches more than finished drawings.  I also purchased a postcard of the Poussin masterpiece, The Judgement of Paris, which was another favorite of his, and I'll use it for some figure practice when vacation is over. 

London Visit: Part 29 Terrorism


Our daughter, her husband, and our 3 grandchildren left their lovely, rented Chelsea home at 7:30 AM Friday - and we  came back in the house for our continued minivacation, only to see the breaking news on BBC.  We decided to stay in for the morning to see BBC/CNN news coverage of the suspicious car discovered on Haymarket.  While we watched the news unfold, I sketched my photo of Piccadilly Circus - taken earlier in the week.  I still need to add watercolor wash, but wanted to post this as the the first of my 3 journal pages on this morning when the London threat level has been raised to critical.   


After lunch on Friday we took a bus to Westminster to walk around Big Ben - to see what sections of  Parliament were reopened since our February visit.  We were amazed how many people were out and about - all appearing relatively unconcerned about the possibility of terrorism.  I took many new photos of Big Ben so I could continue to play with the image in a series of sketches and then we visited Westminster Hall.  We have vivid memories of our visit there in 1970 - and weren't able to see it again until now.  When we came out the helicopters that were hovering over Piccadilly area had moved slightly west, but we didn't learn about the closure of Park Lane and the robotic exam of the second car until we arrived home. 


Saturday morning we left early for a visit to Portobello Road Market - in the rain - and I took this photo of our Circle Line train arriving at the Sloane Square Station.  We walked back to Chelsea during intermittent heavy showers - and then learned about the Glasgow Airport incident.  Foot traffic along King's Road and in Peter Jones Department Store during their big sale was unchanged from the usual Saturday afternoon crush.  We are watching local news, but will continue with our plans for today and remain hopeful that this Critical Threat alert will end shortly.


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