Sunday, 10 July 2011

Journey's end: 1 July 2011

This marks the end of this journey. I'm at Richmond Station and I've attempted, in this pen and ink drawing, to get a feel for the hustle and bustle of people constantly coming and going.

I chose to eat, very slowly, a pasty from the West Cornwall Pasty company for my lunch because they have tables and chairs on the concourse that provided a handy view of the foot traffic. Richmond is a very busy station with various lines beginning and ending there. The station architecture is an odd mish mash of styles from its Victorian beginnings, through 1960s utility, up to the present day with its smooth glass partitions and electronic gates.

I have finally completed this drawing journey which consisted of a series of around 30 short trips which got longer and longer the further west I went. It resulted in 49 drawings, beginning 1 August 2005 and ending 1 July 2011. My confidence in my drawing has developed along the way and I have learned to appreciate equally the drawings that were successful along with the less successful experiments. I enjoyed having you along for the ride too.

There were some high points and low points. One of the high points was drawing in Keat's garden in Hampstead and one of the low points was drawing in West Hampstead when it was so cold I regretted leaving the house and my eyes were watering so much I could hardly see what I was doing. The great thing was that I found if you look hard enough at the most unpromising locations there will always be something worth recording and I am very happy that I undertook this project.

I'll be back soon to announce other plans. See you soon.

Richmond Hill: 1 July 2011

View of the Thames from Richmond Hill
I have arrived in Richmond which means I'm almost at the end of my journey. I was keen to return to a view I have drawn before which overlooks Petersham Meadow from Richmond Hill. I rarely visit this side of London so I felt as though I was on holiday for the day. I don't know my way around the town so finding my way back to this view felt a bit like an adventure.

Richmond is a very wealthy town. It is full of large, gracious houses with fancy cars parked outside. There are boutique hotels along the riverbank and expensive restaurants every which way. It happened to be a lovely sunny day when I visited and that enhanced the general feeling of tranquility and 'everything's all right with the world'. The last time I visited this particular view was back in May 2005 just a few months before I began this whole project so it seems fitting to show you the sketch I made then.

Same view as above: 30 May 2005

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Kew Gardens: 24 June 2011

I find it's always a mistake to have a preconceived idea about what you intend to draw and I fell into this trap yesterday.

I had planned to do an elaborate drawing inside the Palm House at Kew but they keep the temperature so hot in there, since it is full of tropical plants, I almost felt my life force drain out of me. It was fascinating exploring the place but I couldn't spend too long in there.

So I had to abandon that idea and mulled over what to do while sitting on a memorial bench outside this giant green house. I was surrounded by other limp looking visitors who seemed to be in need of recuperation as well as me which may explain why there are so many benches outside the Palm House.

So while sitting there I could see in the distance on top of a grassy hillock this temple which looked intriguing. So I wandered over to it via the Waterlilly House where a nice, elderly gent took some time to explain in clear detail the sex lives of waterlillies to us (which were in bloom and looking lovely). There are a few temples dotted around Kew Gardens and this one is called the Temple of Aeolus who was a mythical king of storms and winds.

When I got to a convenient position and began drawing away I was amused by a bunch of young school children who were behaving like the famous five and chasing up and down to the temple playing some game where they were rescuing people from slavery. I managed to draw part of one of these children but it may be difficult to spot.

The Railway Pub, Kew Gardens: 24 June 2011

I've reached Kew Gardens now and only have one more station left to visit which will mark the end of my journey. I'm pleased that I'm still enjoying the train ride and recalling the images I've drawn as we pass through each station.

I was very much looking forward to revisiting Kew Gardens. I finally arrived at the station around lunch time so decided to kill two birds with one stone by having lunch in the Railway Pub. When you look at the building from the outside it appears to have been built at the same time as the railway ticket office but I can't imagine what it was used for.

From where I was sitting I could see the station platform to my left with the trains arriving and departing and to my right the busy little cul de sac outside the station with its fancy restaurants, health food shop, book shop, banks and expensive children's clothes shop. I chose a complicated scene to draw and wasn't sure where to start, or to finish, for that matter. The tennis from Wimbledon was showing on the TV in the pub and the commentary was loud enough to be a welcome diversion from my internal dialogue that was grumbling away while I laboured on the drawing. I eventually decided to call it quits around 2.20pm since I also wanted to get into Kew Gardens and do a drawing there too. On reflection I quite like its unfinished look.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Chiswick roundabout: 10 June 2011

I turned left out of Gunnersbury station and found myself on Chiswick High Road. My only associations with Chiswick is remembering visiting my brother when he lived in a very cold, shared house in the area back in the '70s so this is uncharted territory for me.

I wandered along the road until I reached the Chiswick roundaboat and flyover. Now this I did recognise and decided to record the view because like it or not it is a famous west London landmark. It was tricky to work out how to portray noisy moving traffic that wasn't still long enough to draw. I decided to suggest it with the movement of the lines and one or two vehicles. I also observed that the trees and shrubs growing on the roundabout are really beautiful and that's not something you'd notice when you are just racing round it in a car.

Gunnersbury: 10 June 2011

The view when I got off the train was fairly dispiriting. It was raining as well so I sheltered in the waiting room and drew this view leaving out the window frame. I did wonder if I should have stayed at home. However I persevered for a bit and found I'd become quite fascinated by this view of damaged concrete that is supporting a road or car park or whatever it is.

When I decided that enough was enough I spotted a young man watching me work. We got into conversation and he came and sat next to me. He asked if he could look at the sketch book and as he flicked through the pages asked me for some tips for improving his own freehand drawing. So I gave him an impromptu lesson and he seemed quite pleased. I hope he goes for it and has the courage to persevere with his own drawing.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Just outside South Acton station: 3 June 2011

And then I turned left out of the station and was met with this view straight out of suburbia. There was so much greenery growing around this house I wondered if they got any natural daylight at all.

South Acton: 3 June 2011

This was my second drawing of a bridge in one day (a record for me). South Acton was not as picturesque as Acton Central but I found this view intriguing none-the-less.

Acton Park: 3 June 2011

This is Acton Park which is just outside Acton Central station. There was a fun fair behind this pavilion and I enjoyed listening to the fun while I made this drawing. I used pen and ink for this sketch and managed to get ink all over me.

Acton Central: 3 June 2011

This was the warmest day of the year so far and that made me feel as though I was on holiday.

Acton Central seems to be very green and leafy and delightfully old fashioned. It was like taking a step back in time.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Willesden Junction from Station Road: 20 May 2011

The area immediately around the station doesn't seem to have been developed much since the end of the 19th century with the exception of constant traffic.

There is an interesting group of Brazilian businesses close by including a finance company, a lingerie shop, a grocery store and I enjoyed a cup of coffee in a café that was showing a Brazilian game show on the television.

Willesden Junction - platform 4: 20 May 2011

Willesden Junction is a vast industrial site with platforms and railway tracks pointing in different directions and almost as far as the eye can see. It doesn't have the charm of Hampstead or the liveliness of Stratford but the many vertical and horizontal lines make for an interesting view.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Kensal Rise: 6 May 2011

I'm two thirds of the way through this project now and I can see the end in sight. It is tempting to rush ahead, get the job done and crack on with something else. Instead, I decided to take this drawing fairly slowly and savour the experience of being in a part of London that is new to me.

The journey to Kensal Rise took longer than expected what with cancellations and delays but when we finally got moving I enjoyed passing through the stations where I have already stopped and made drawings. It gave me a chance to be nostalgic while the journey is still in progress.

On arrival I peered through the slatted wooden fence separating the station from the neighbouring street and spied the word COFFEE in large letters on a building some distance away. I realised that I fancied a cup of coffee so headed over to this rather uninteresting looking building only to be greeted with this lovely scene of oranges on a cart outside the café. The weather was warm and not windy. I had a table to myself and was able to spread out. Towards the end I had a chat with the proprietor, who I think was Italian, who told me that watching me work in dip pen and ink reminded him of when he was at school and that's what they used to write with.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Close to Brondesbury Park station: 28 March 2011

This is the drawing I made after I had left the station and turned right into what I think was Salisbury Road.

I was attracted to the view in the distance and then ended up drawing what was in front of it. For this one I used a fine black pen and the previous one was in pencil.

Since I can never predict what medium I will want to work in at any given time I usually take a selection of things so I can make a choice on the spur of the moment. I decided at the beginning of this project that I would do all the drawings in mono, regardless of the medium, to provide some continuity.

Brondesbury Park station: 28 March 2011

Brondesbury Park station struck me as being much more attractive than Brondesbury where I was just 10 days ago but that is probably because the weather was so nice today.

This station, along with all the others on this line, is undergoing major refurbishment. However the covered walkways still retain some of their Victorian charm and in this drawing I was interested by the lines of the roofs. Simple as that.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Brondesbury: 18 March 2011

Today was my attempt to restart this drawing project and, as you can see, I have managed to complete a drawing.

It was definitely warmer today than my last excursion at the end of January but, because it rained most of the day, it still felt very cold. I've decided that I must be a fair weather artist after all.

Since it was raining I needed to find some shelter so I sat in the waiting area at the edge of the platform. In the old days you would have had a real waiting room to sit in that had doors and even a gas heater to keep off the chill. Now, if you are lucky, you get to sit in something like a bike shed.

While I was sitting there I felt there was a tangible relationship between the shape and size of my shelter and the shape and size of a train carriage so my view from here is as though I was sitting in the train that I was actually waiting for.

Friday, 28 January 2011

West Hampstead: 28 January 2011

West Hampstead has three stations. Three in walking distance of each other! I suppose if the train network was being designed now instead of roughly 150 years ago the engineers would have devised one large railway hub which would extend north, south, east and west.

Today I pitched up at the one in the middle of the three. It was very cold, really too cold to draw outside. I headed out of the station looking for a lunch stop and ended up at a small café called Bon Café and enjoyed an egg mayo sandwich and gazed out of the window wondering where to go to draw. When I wasn't staring out of the window I watched the lunchtime news on the tv which was broadcasting the rioting going on in Cairo which I found quite disturbing.

When I couldn't find any excuse for staying put I left the warmth behind and went exploring. Fortunately there was a lot more going on in the area than there had been at Finchley Road. The general views were a lot more interesting and if it had been warmer I would have enjoyed taking more time over my drawing. As it was I tossed this picture off and developed it a bit more when I got home and my hands had thawed out.

So I have decided to mothball this drawing project until the weather has warmed up. I'll keep an eye on the weather forecasts over the next few weeks before I set out again.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Finchley Road & Frognal: 14 January 2011

Wire mesh fences running the length of the platform
At last, after a six week break I've been able today to get back to trekking my way round north London.

As anyone who has ever been outside their house knows many journeys are beset with unexpected delays and diversions. My life was suddenly diverted in December by falling over in the street and earning myself a celebrity fracture made famous by David Beckham. I broke my fifth metatarsal on my left foot and although I've been able to walk I've pretty much avoided going anywhere I didn't have to and that includes leisurely train journeys.

Then we were clobbered with unusual amounts of snow. They are used to snow up in Northumberland where my mother-in-law lives. It falls in vast quantities every year but down south, here in the capital, we usually only see snow on Christmas cards. For the time being all that has melted away, the temperatures have risen so now is the time to get out and about.

Oh, and did I also mention that every journey has sections that are very tedious. Today's outing was one of those. I always take the view that there is always something interesting to draw if you only look for it. I looked in the station. I looked as I walked along the high road. I looked again as I walked back towards the station. I wondered if this would be the stop with no drawing.

I walked back down to the platform to wait for a train home and drew what was in front of me. This was one of the wire mesh fences used to separate passengers from the building works going on along the length of the platform and in the background you can see a quick outline of a train that moved before I could add any detail.

When I got home I had a chat with my friend David who began to reminisce about Finchley Road because he had lived near there in the '70s when he was a schoolboy. He remembered when he'd had a job as a road sweeper and the perils of driving his little cart over a busy four lane highway. He recalled an obscure lane he was scared to walk down in case he got beaten up by skin heads. He talked about a café that only sold freshly ground coffee and that a pub opposite it had been blown up by the IRA. He was at home when he heard the explosion.

This just showed me that it is possible to live a very rich and interesting life in a very dull looking place so perhaps I shouldn't have been so judgmental.