Been thinking ahead to drawing another stretch of the Great North Road later this year. I like to sketch from the street first to get a good look at some of the details so pitched my perch opposite the Fig and Olive on Upper Steet, Islington.
I use a handy portable camping stool – it’s lightweight and fits easily into a bag and I tucked myself into a corner, well clear of the fire station.
Stating the obvious, it was pretty cold and so on the fist day of the Chinese New Year (Rooster), I chickened out after one sketch and went for an indoor brew nearby. Couldn’t see a Shirker’s Cafe, but this place, the Workers Cafe looked like I could sketch from the empty seat in the front window.
Back home again next day via a catch-up with a dear old pal, meeting up in Milton Keynes.
Thought I would share a few pics of the couple of days spent sketching another stretch of the Holloway Road. This time I brought along a length of cartridge paper which I had prepared at home with a wash of gum arabic and French and English Ochre pigments, to give the paper a bit of warmth.
Note the colourful tote bag by the French American artist Gwenn Seemel – I admire her outlook on copyright as well as her colourful artwork.
I’d packed half a dozen clothes pegs to clip the paper to a folder which seemed to work quite well. Even though it’s non-stop busy along this road, several people stopped to pass the time of day with me and thanks to Sean for taking this photo and sending it to me.
The drawing is now complete, scanned and can be seen in full on my website. Limited edition prints are now available to buy.
There is a sense of great relief when I complete a street drawing, even more so on completion of a pair. I have spent the best part of 100 hours on each drawing from the early sketches to the drafts, the transfer and then ink then wash on the watercolour paper. With ink, there is no rubbing out mistakes so they get to stay!
Plus we live with a nervous dog, two Burmese cats and a tortoise which combined can be quite a handful!
Yes, I do shut the cats out but Norman can negotiate door handles, walls and windows with ease and he likes to help.
So the great Bishy Road is complete. It has been a joy to draw this street – the most interactive and sociable that I have done so far. My first contact with the street began last year with elevenses at the Pig and Pastry, where this drawing began. Since then, through connections on social media, I have gradually picked up the great warmth, humour, fun and sense of community spirit on this street from simple acts of kindness such as looking after a lost dog to the generous spirit in fundraising for various charitable causes. People care here. The photographer Karen Turner, has captured the energy of this street beautifully over on her blog – it’s well worth a look.
Furthermore, there is a real sense of belonging here which the Clementshall History Group demonstrates through their blog where you can see how several shops have survived with the same use for over 100 years – that is some achievement!
As my first drawing reached completion, Bishy Road greeted le Tour de France. Now, as I wrap up the second drawing, Bishy road have entered the competition for the best Great British High Street. I wish them every success – their sparkle is the result of combined hard work, vision and commitment.
The full length drawings of both sides of Bishy Road are shown on my website Drawing the Street and for detailed views of the buildings, please visit Drawing the Detail. The original drawing is just under 2 metres long and it is not easy to reduce the image down to a phone sized view unless I crop it – hence Drawing the Detail.
Limited edition (100 only) signed giclee fine art prints (unframed) will shortly be available for sale, three sizes, 60cm (£48) 1.2m (£119) and 1.5m (£195), through Blossom Street Gallery and Framing, please contact me for further information or to reserve one. Banners are also available by request – please contact me for a quote.
Whenever I finish a drawing, I scan it as soon as possible as the original often represents over a hundred hours work. Given the size of the drawings (the Audlem drawing is 2 metres long), the scanned file sizes are huge as I scan with a high resolution for the best quality prints and so that enlargements on to canvas can be made for festival banners.
The street drawings are non-standard sizes so there are not many printing firms that can handle this combination. That said, Smith York in Ironbridge is a place where Simon not only can scan, but he also makes adjustments to the scanned image in order to reproduce the best quality giclee prints on heavy watercolour paper.
The first few limited edition prints are now ready and for sale. I took the first framed large colour print along to Jane and Andy who have been running the Old Priest House in Audlem for almost twenty years. As Jane herself has been included on the drawing, it’s a great keepsake for friends and family of the part they have played in Audlem life. Thanks to you both for providing us with a top destination for many a sturdy breakfast!
When I set out to draw a street, I make thumbnail sketches and take photos. Inevitably, I photograph a few passers-by and I like to draw them too as they are an important part of the streetscape. It crossed my mind that people may wonder if they have been included on a drawing so here are a few photographed faces and the corresponding sketches.
Set within the lovely group of buildings known as ‘The Square’, there is a shop which has been in the same family since 1862 – it’s Williams of Audlem. I particularly like the sign-writing on the awnings and doorway – and the attractive flower baskets and flags all add up to it looking very elegant indeed.
Audlem is a cycling hub! Cyclists are hard to catch on the move but I managed to snatch a few taking off. The slow start can only be the result of a big breakfast…
Williams of Audlem and the Old Priest House are stocking limited edition (100 total) prints. If you would like to buy an unframed colour print, prices are as follows: small (800mm long) £95, medium (1200mm) £135 and large (1500mm) £175.
The prices reflect the quality of the print, the work involved in the drawing and include a commission to the trader. So, if you buy a print, you also support your local high street! There are also a selection of postcards from the drawing avaiable for sale. Please dont hesitate to contact me if you would like to reserve a print.