Wednesday, 17 September 2014

No Teeth but an Eye for Art: Urban Sketchers in Sheffield

I spent last Sunday painting in Sheffield with my Urban Sketchers Yorkshire chums. I ought to say right up front that, as far as I am aware, they all have plenty of teeth. It was our unexpected companions for the first draw of the day, in Fitzalan Square, who were dentally-challenged. I was warned that the area was wino-land, but I wanted to have a go at sketching the old, disused Post Office building:

To be fair, all three of the men were friendly, possibly too friendly. I was forcefully engaged in a very hands-on critique session with a man with matted dredlocks, beer-breath and, for some reason, wearing a paper hula-garland. I'd just finished the painting of the Post Office and the sketch was very wet. My new friend kept poking it, pointing out places in the sky where I should add in some birds, while I, in typical British style, tried subtly to wrest the sketchbook from him, without seeming rude.

We moved round the corner for sketch number two and left our companions behind. I loved this view from the traffic island, looking across the road to the tram stop. I was surprised though, it being Sunday, how many trams came through. And they stopped for annoyingly long periods, entirely blotting out my view. As soon as one going downhill had moved on, another coming uphill would arrive. I spent an hour doing the painting, but was only actually painting for 30 minutes, gritting my teeth and muttering for the other 30.

It was quite chilly (oh to be back in Brazil...), so we were all grateful for a lunch break at Zooby's cafe in the Winter Gardens. I was looking forward to a nice, hot coffee, but it was then that I discovered I had left my purse at home. There was an outside chance I had remembered it, but had it stolen, so I texted John at home and asked him to check. Being the sweetie that he is, he came all the way into town to bring it for me, so I wouldn't have to go without lunch.

For the next sketch-site we sat outside the Crucible Theatre. I was interested in the jumble of spires over this lovely old building:

It was getting pretty cold though. Various people peeled off. The remaining knot of us decided to go the the pub to draw and walked down to The Sheffield Tap at the station. It's an amazing pub. We've been sketching there before. It has one room with a really high-ceilinged and lovely, Victorian tiles, not to mention the massive mirrors, and the chandeliers, as well as all the shiny, copper, micro-brewing kit on display. You can even watch trains out of the windows - a visual feast.

I was experimenting with paint, trying to keep things wet and loose: lots of water and not too many colours - stuff I learned from sketching alongside people like Liz Steel in Paraty. No pre-drawing, no line at all. Quite a challenge, but I was pleased with the results, which seemed to conjure the atmosphere. 

We stayed quite a while in the pub (only drinking tea, honest...), sketching until nearly 5 o'clock so, when it came to the sharing at the end, we were whittled down to just 4 of us. I think we had at least 12 at lunch.

It was another fun day and actually dry for once. All that concentration takes it out of you though - by the time I got home, I was exhausted. 


larry said...

What a wonderful post, Lynn. I love stories coming from a day of sketching.

Love your sketches, of course, and I'm amazed by your stamina. I guess that comes from being a pro. I find that I get mentally fatigued by my sketching, in a good way, and that I need a significant break between sketches so I can't be as productive as you.

Cheers --- Larry

Beliza Mendes said...

I know they must have been very annoying, but I love the story of the three men! And of course the drawings you did during that time. I admire that you remained patient enough to work on the second sketch in spite of the trams. The result is wonderful!

Mike Dodds said...

Great sketching and good storytelling, but was there no-one around who could have acted as a deterrent?
Anyhow I must apologise for non attendance, I was working on another type of painting ready for a competition this weekend.
Never mind, hope to catch up and learn more from other sketchers.

Marc said...

If you wanted the trams to disappear, you should have pretended you were waiting for one!

Great sketches as always!

Lynne the Pencil said...

Ha ha! Good thinking Marc.

Thanks guys, glad you enjoyed it. I love sketchings days which have a bit of extra drama :-D