Sunday, 19 June 2016

New routes

Victoria Embankment Gardens, London

My regular 12-mile daily commute on my bike from Stoke Newington to Vauxhall has adapted over time. Safety rather than speed has always been uppermost in refining my route. I like the backroads and old lanes through the city – with names like Back Hill, Shoe Lane and Tudor Street, and on past the London Eye and Houses of Parliament. The city seems a different kind of place just a street or two off the main routes.

Waterloo Bridge

The biggest change to my route came a few weeks ago with the opening of a new 1.5 mile stretch of segregated cycle lane along the north bank of the Thames from St Paul's to the foot of Big Ben. It meant I could say goodbye to the hazardous crossing of Blackfriars Bridge and having to thread my way past construction work towards the National Theatre and Westminster Bridge. London is hardly a cycling-friendly city even now, but things are improving.

County Hall, St Thomas' Hospital, Waterloo Bridge

The new north bank route meant different views: these drawings show the south side of the river that I used to cycle along until a few weeks ago. My journey was suddenly quicker, and I found I had the chance to stop and draw the views up and down the river in the time I'd saved: the cluster of towers on the South Bank downstream, and the old County Hall, St Thomas' Hospital and Lambeth Palace upstream. In Victoria Embankment Gardens, just across the river from the London Eye, people lingered in the sun after work before going home or heading out for the evening.



Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Who is in Pen and Ink?


Pen and Ink is, I am happy to say, published now in the UK by Frances Lincoln. It features the work of 34 artists. They are an international lot, from 10 countries, but they all use pen and ink, although often in very different ways.

These are the artists whose works it contains:

Phoebe Atkey, UK www.phoma.co.uk
Cachetejack, Spain www.cachetejack.com
Cynthia Barlow Marrs, UK www.cbarlowmarrs.com
Michelle Cioccoloni, UK www.cioccoloni.blogspot.com
Caroline Didou, France www.cdidou.tumblr.com
Nicholas Di Genova, Canada www.nicholasdigenova.com
Jedidiah Dore, USA inkandsword.com
Rohan Eason, UK www.rohaneason.com
Joan Ramon Farré Burzuri, Spain www.flickr.com/photos/42114709@N05/
Pamela Grace, UK www.pamelagrace.co.uk
Marina Grechanik, Israel www.marinagrechanik.blogspot.co.il
Tyga Helme, UK www.tygahelme.com
Amer Ismail, UK www.tendtotravel.com
Sabine Israel, Germany www.sabine-israel-illustration.com
Nina Johansson, Sweden www.ninajohansson.se
Loui Jover, Australia www.saatchiart.com/louijover
Oscar Julve, Spain www.oscarjulve.com
Eleni Kalorkoti, UK www.elenikalorkoti.com
Fred Kennett, UK www.fredkennett.co.uk
Olivia Kemp, UK www.oliviakemp.co.uk
Ch’ng Kiah Kiean, Malaysia www.kiahkiean.com
Chris Lee, UK www.chrisleedrawing.co.uk
Dalit Leon, UK www.dalitleon.com
Michael Lukyniuk, Canada www.michaelsscroll.blogspot.ca
Fred Lynch, USA www.fredlynch.com
Joe Munro, UK www.joemunro.com
Fraser Scarfe, UK www.fraserscarfe.co.uk
Rolf Schroeter, Germany skizzenblog.rolfschroeter.com
Suhita Shirodkar, USA sketchaway.wordpress.com
Mike Slaton, USA mikeslaton.culturalspot.org/home
Swasky, Spain www.swasky.es
Susan Toplitz, USA www.flickr.com/photos/52358552@N06/
Patrick Vale, USA/UK www.patrickvale.co.uk
Wendy Winfield, UK www.wendywinfield.com
And there are some by me.

We were all saddened to hear the news that Fred Kennett died in May, shortly before the book's publication in English.

Pen and Ink is already available in French and German, and further international editions are planned. The UK edition is available from all the usual places, in your local bookshop and online, and worldwide from here.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Around Westminster

Home Office, Marsham Street

Two drawings from around Westminster, which were done on a recent gathering of London's Urban Sketchers. Close to the Palace of Westminster there was the usual tourist throng and road closures in preparation for the State Opening of Parliament. A couple of streets back, though, and you could have a street almost to yourself. 

Victoria Tower from Great Peter Street, Westminster

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Woodberry Wetlands opens

https://flic.kr/p/GA8ynY

It's not often a nature reserve opens up near where you live, especially when you live in inner London. The new Woodberry Wetlands – opened last week by the naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough – has been created on a reservoir fed by the New River, which was opened in 1613 to bring fresh water to the growing city from the chalk streams of Hertfordshire. (F. Scott Fitzgerald is said to have boated here while staying nearby.) While new housing rises abruptly on the reservoir's north banks, the view south is low-level and misleadingly rural, although there are glimpses of the Shard, Canary Wharf and the Post Office Tower in the distance. It's hardly the countryside – the sound of planes and sirens put a stop to that – but it's a restoring urban escape to greenness, nature and a slower pace.

https://flic.kr/p/Fu8sWp

The reservoir, which is still supplying water to us London's inhabitants, is home to kingfishers, buntings, grebes, snipe, herons, terns and more, as well as dragonflies, butterflies and bats. Some birds migrate thousands of miles to spend the summer here in Hackney, the guide tells his cosmopolitan audience, to murmurs of appreciation. The reservoir was off limits to the public for nearly 200 years: clean water was such a precious commodity at the time it was built, it was fenced off. Now we can follow the volunteer-built trail around its perimeter and stop in its Coalhouse cafe, train the binoculars on the reeds, and enjoy the warmth of summer that has suddenly arrived. And it's just a 17-minute tube journey away from Leicester Square.

Follow me on Instagram: @jameshobbsart


Sunday, 8 May 2016

Pen und Ink: published now

My new book Pen and Ink is, I'm happy to say, published now in a German edition by EMF, joining the French edition. The English language edition will be published next month, June 2016, and other translations are anticipated over the coming months. I'll post more news about those nearer the time.

My thanks to the artists who have generously allowed me to use their work in the book.
Q: Who are these artists?
A: This is who they are:

Phoebe Atkey, UK www.phoma.co.uk
Cachetejack, Spain www.cachetejack.com
Cynthia Barlow Marrs, UK www.cbarlowmarrs.com
Michelle Cioccoloni, UK www.cioccoloni.blogspot.com
Caroline Didou, France www.cdidou.tumblr.com
Nicholas Di Genova, Canada www.nicholasdigenova.com
Jedidiah Dore, USA inkandsword.com
Rohan Eason, UK www.rohaneason.com
Joan Ramon Farré Burzuri, Spain www.flickr.com/photos/42114709@N05/
Pamela Grace, UK www.pamelagrace.co.uk
Marina Grechanik, Israel www.marinagrechanik.blogspot.co.il
Tyga Helme, UK www.tygahelme.com
Amer Ismail, UK www.tendtotravel.com
Sabine Israel, Germany www.sabine-israel-illustration.com
Nina Johansson, Sweden www.ninajohansson.se
Loui Jover, Australia www.saatchiart.com/louijover
Òscar Julve, Spain www.oscarjulve.com
Eleni Kalorkoti, UK www.elenikalorkoti.com
Fred Kennett, UK www.fredkennett.co.uk
Olivia Kemp, UK www.oliviakemp.co.uk
Ch’ng Kiah Kiean, Malaysia www.kiahkiean.com
Chris Lee, UK www.chrisleedrawing.co.uk
Dalit Leon, UK www.dalitleon.com
Michael Lukyniuk, Canada www.michaelsscroll.blogspot.ca
Fred Lynch, USA www.fredlynch.com
Joe Munro, UK www.joemunro.com
Fraser Scarfe, UK www.fraserscarfe.co.uk
Rolf Schroeter, Germany skizzenblog.rolfschroeter.com
Suhita Shirodkar, USA sketchaway.wordpress.com
Mike Slaton, USA mikeslaton.culturalspot.org/home
Swasky, Spain www.swasky.es
Susan Toplitz, USA www.flickr.com/photos/52358552@N06/
Patrick Vale, USA/UK www.patrickvale.co.uk
Wendy Winfield, UK www.wendywinfield.com

And there are some drawings by me as well.

You can find out more about buying the German language edition, translated by Annika Loose, here.


Monday, 18 April 2016

A bird's nest in Mayfair


London is a big place, and it's hard to think of it all as home. We all have our parts of town that mean most to us, and for me that's the north and the east, and parts of the centre I know best. So I become a bit of a tourist in places like Mayfair. It's one of the city's richest parts with impressive architecture and plenty of displays of ostentatious wealth, which I usually look at with bemused detachment. Above, though, nature takes its course. It may be an old, empty nest, but it survives in a budding tree just around the corner from the Ritz Hotel (below).

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Back to pencils

Derwent Graphic 4B


I drew with pencils (or charcoal) for years before I took up the thick black marker pen. The shift was for a variety of reasons, not least my love for intense blackness and the permanence of ink. But when I was sent a variety of Derwent drawing products recently, it was no hardship to try them out.

There's nothing quite like a pencil. I have written before about why I find them so fantastic: their natural, organic quality, their glorious subtleties of line, their apparent omnipresence (is there a home in the world without at least one, or a shopping street that doesn't sell them?), and their overall honesty (what you see is exactly what you get, and you're not left wondering how long it is before they run out).

Derwent Graphic 8B

The way you work has a big influence on what pencils you may need. I have rarely used the harder pencils from the H end of the scale in Derwent's Graphic set, preferring a 2B, 4B or 6B. Using softer pencils mean they need sharpening more often, if that is important, and that they get worked down more quickly, but this is a small price to pay. It's fun just to pull the point across the surface of the paper: the feel of a pencil on the paper is so nuanced you can sense the texture as the graphite is applied in a way that you never do with the ink of a marker pen.

The Sketching set is a softer, thicker graphite, in HB, 2B and 4B. I think it is only as I am using these that I realise how much I like the point of a pencil. It's the precision – the lack of "sketchiness" – that is appealing about a pencil, just as it is the uniform, relentless directness of a thick black marker pen that I find appealing.

Derwent Sketching 4B

My problems with pencils? They can be more subtle and "sketchy" than I like, and don't always show up strongly when posted on social media. A dropped pencil can mean the graphite shaft is shattered so a sharpened lead is quickly broken, especially with softer pencils (although getting a set in a tin helps to reduce this likelihood). But for all that, pencils are a beautiful thing – my thanks to Derwent for sending them for me to try.