Saturday, 20 September 2014

Sketch Your World: now in German

I'm happy to say that Sketch Your World is now available in a German edition: Sketch Your World: Unterwegs mit dem Skizzenbuch, published by Englisch Verlag. It's on sale at the usual German online places and in bookshops.

Wondering what it's about? It features the drawings of 60 artists who work in sketchbooks, and is available in UK, US, Asian and French editions, as well as German. You can find out more about Sketch Your World at

Monday, 8 September 2014

On the streets of Seven Dials

Seven Dials, a throbbing junction on the north side of Covent Garden, soon gets crowded with pedestrians, especially when the curtain is about to rise on Matilda the Musical at the Cambridge Theatre, which is at its heart. On Saturday it was busier still with people taking part in Moleskine City Stories, a drawing event organised by Moleskine in collaboration with Urban Sketchers at Moleskine's King Street store and the London Graphic Centre in nearby Shelton Street.
I was there representing Urban Sketchers with Andrea Joseph, Olha Pryymak and Adebanji Alade; we drew and led learning sessions through the day, and contributed to a growing gallery of drawings in each venue. It was a learning experience – for me, I mean. There was the usual fantastic range of people taking part, from children to elderly, and from totally inexperienced to professionals, and the usual amazing range of approaches to observational drawing. And to talk was to share ideas and connect in a way that you don't if you draw in isolation.
Thanks to everyone who came, and those who donated their drawings to the cause of the non-profit Lettera27, and its mission to support the right to literacy, education and the access to knowledge.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Coming soon: Moleskine City Stories

Like the idea of a live sketch event? Urban Sketchers and Moleskine are teaming up for a day of drawing in and around Covent Garden, London, on Saturday 6 September 2014 with events planned at the Moleskine store in King Street and the London Graphic Centre in Shelton Street.

James Hobbs, Covent Garden
I'm one of four artists – Adebanji Alade, Andrea Joseph and Olha Pryymak are the others – who will be drawing at the stores and in the streets nearby, ready to talk about drawing in sketchbooks and taking part in learning sessions, for which you'll need to reserve a place. I'll be at the London Graphic Centre with Andrea from 11.30am to 5.30pm, and Olha and Adebanji will be at the Moleskine store around the corner. During the day, an exhibition of drawings will gradually be built up in each store.

Moleskine is also giving away Moleskine Sketch Albums – limited to the first 150 visitors to each store who present a coupon downloaded from its website. Get one if you can, but if you're too late, come and draw anyway. And say hello.

To find out more, to book a place on a learning session, and to find out how to get a Sketch Album, have a look at Moleskine City Stories.

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.