Sunday, May 31, 2015


Stade Jean-Bouin, Pen & watercolour, A5 sketchbook. ©Sue Pownall 2015
Love this sign at the entrance to Roland Garros.
This year, I was fortunate to get a ticket for Roland Garros and last Wednesday saw me dropping my assistant at her sitter and me catching a plane to Paris. Friends live near the stadium, overlooking the Stade Jean Bouin, the home of Paris rugby. It was the subject of my pre-breakfast sketch before going to Roland Garros.

I had a ticket for the centre court and Goerges & Wozniacki were playing as I took my seat. I'm not so keen on ladies tennis, so took the opportunity to try and capture the movement of their serves using my multi-coloured pencil. Unfortunately, I pressed very lightly and cannot get a copy to share. Next, having realised you could see the Eiffel Tower from my seat, I then sketched the stand and view. I drew directly in ink and then added the watercolour.

Roland Garros center court Philippe Chatrier ©Sue Pownal
After that, I didn't do any more sketching as the tennis was too exciting: Rafa Nadal V Almagro, Murray V Sousa, and on court 7, Ferrer V Gimeno-Traver.

Ferrer serves. ©Sue Pownall
However, the next day I arrived at the metro about 15 minutes early, so did a quick last sketch before heading to the airport. 
Commuters at Port d'Auteuil: metro & bus.
Now the question is: Where to next?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Jumbo Start

"Jumbo" Ink in A4 sketchbook. ©Sue Pownall 2015
Recently, Sarah from The Connection Magazine and I started a new urban sketching group the Essex & Suffolk Sketchers, with the aim to become an official chapter of the UrbanSketchers.
Lunchtime show & tell

We decided to start big, drawing at Colchester's old water tower, locally called Jumbo, and the first meeting was last Sunday. It was a lovely sunny day, albeit cold in the shade, and we had a great turn out.

We spent the first part of the day sketching around Jumbo and the Mercury Theatre, then after a lunch break moved onto the grounds of the Colchester Art Centre. It was a lovely day and everyone seemed enthusiastic about sketching again soon.

Below are my sketches (photos from the day are here). I'd love to hear what you think in a comment below. Thanks.

My 1st sketch, Balkerne Gate.
A sketch from the 2nd location.
I stopped for a cuppa, which came in a glass cup & had to be sketched.
 Essex & Suffolk sketchers. Find and like us on facebook:

Next meeting is June 20th, 12noon St Mary's Church, Halesworth, Suffolk IP19 8LL

Monday, May 18, 2015


Silo D, watercolour in A4 sketchbook.
Just over a week ago, I was fortunate enough to be one of eight London Urbansketchers invited to draw at the Silvertown redevelopment site. I didn't realise there were still areas of London Docklands, which were not all sparkly and new. However, Silvertown is a huge wasteland, with remnants of the recent London Olympics, the huge Millennium Mill (previous millennium not this one), a grade 2 listed grain silo, lots of rubble, street art, and wildlife.
You can read about the mills redevelopment here on the BBC.

We were not allowed into the mill as there is currently a massive operation to remove asbestos, but we decked out in hi-vis vests and allowed to spread out throughout the site.
It's not often you need a hi-vis jacket as part of your sketching kit, is it?
Silo D detail. ©Sue Pownall
 With a Payne's Grey sky and a bitterly cold wind, I wandered around to find a place to start. The mill itself was too daunting for a first sketch, so instead I ended up sat up a grassy bank, part of the old Olympic London Pleasure Gardens, to sketch the silo. With it's predominantly white facade, I started with the Payne's Grey, with a touch of indigo, sky to outline its bulk. 

The wind was so cold, despite my layers of fleece, I seriously considered leaving, but opportunities like this are rare, so I continued until it was time for lunch, where we all huddled in a patch of sun behind a corrugated fence for shelter.

With patches of sunshine, it was time to tackle the mill... I was drawn (excuse the pun) to the street art and decided to try and capture a snippet of that along with the large painted advert on one face of the mill. 

I started loosely in pencil, to try not to get to caught up in details, then added watercolour. I'm not sure how successful it was. What do you think?

 Finally, I wanted to capture a little of the current work, sketching the scaffolding and sign, but I was cold and not concentrating by that point, and so it remains hidden in my sketchbook.

Urbansketchers and photographers have been invited to record the redevelopment of the site as it progresses over the years, which is why we were there, and I hope I am one of the ones who gets to go back again. Finally, a big thank you to James Hobbs who organised the day. Check out his report and amazing Silvertown sketches here: Silvertown's Dereliction.
Millennium Mills, finally in sunshine, seen from the bridge to Custom House at Excel as I left.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Barcelona boats, bars, ballerinas...

Fleca Els Angels, Carrer D'Elisabets

 ... & some tennis.

Before last Saturday's Barcelona sketchcrawl, see my previous post here, I had spent a couple of days in the city. 

On Thursday, I went to the Barcelona Open, and got to realise a dream - to watch Rafael Nadal play in Spain whilst sat among a Spanish crowd. Mostly I was too busy watching the tennis to sketch, but I did manage the one below between matches.
Stadium at Real Club de Tenis Barcelona
Thursday was also Saint George's Day and everywhere people were handing out red roses. I was offered one first thing, but didn't accept as I was heading into the tennis stadium. I tried to sketch some in the Ramblas, but the crowds were massive and frequently obscured my view. The sketch is the best I achieved.
Las rosas di San Jordi.

The next day, I took an early morning walk and ended up at a café, where I'd had breakfast before the Urban Sketchers 2013 Symposium and had meant to sketch, so I did. (top).

Then it was on to the Maritime Museum where I sketched a traditional Catalan fishing boat.
Barca Catalana - Jean et Marie
Late afternoon, I headed off to join the group Inky Fingers, Barcelona who had arranged to draw the contemporary dance company Las Carmelas. 
Sketching Las Carmelas with Inky Fingers.

It was a real challenge trying to capture their movements as they danced. Thankfully they also did some short poses. I used a pad of tonal pastel paper and a multi-coloured single lead pencil. I can't wait to draw with this group again.