Friday, 21 December 2012

A look down St Martin's Lane, London

I've been going through some older sketchbooks recently for something I'm working on, and came across quite a few drawings (unhelpfully not dated by me, but perhaps around 2000) that suddenly made me quite nostalgic about the good old 2B pencil.
I've gone on and on about my love for the humble, high fibre option pencil before, so I won't do it again, but... I just wish pencil drawings felt a bit more permanent when they are finished. Fixative or no fixative, they seem temporary in a way pen drawings don't.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Sketchcrawling with Urban Sketchers London

The third Urban Sketchers London sketchcrawl took place last week, a cheerful bunch of us meeting up by the diplodocus in the central hall of the Natural History Museum. It was a bit of a change for me, drawing things that are in glass display cases that I don't usually draw, which is a good thing surely, and probably part of what sketchcrawling is about. In the grip of a tight deadline, it was good to get out and draw and meet new people.
Then it was across the road to the Victoria and Albert Museum, all of a 15-second walk away, for lunch and, later, to compare drawings.
See more about it at the Urban Sketchers London website.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Laon cathedral, France

Last summer we drove down through France to Lake Annecy to camp by the water. We're not enthusiastic drivers, but each place where we stayed on our leisurely journey there and back was distinctive and memorable, even if the names of the places we stayed were not: Troyes and Lons-le-Saunier going south, Tournus and Laon on the way back, my sketchbook helpfully reminds me.

Laon cathedral is visible for miles, rising from the city on a ridge in the Picardy plain after our journey through the Champagne region. Driving up to our hotel in Laon's old centre is like going the wrong way up a helter skelter, the route becoming tighter and narrower as it nears the top. There's a cafe next to the cathedral in the square, of course, and the next morning we sit there drinking coffee and drawing while we prepare to head back to the Channel Tunnel.

This image for sale as a limited edition print: contact

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Urban Sketchers London sketchcrawl: Saturday 1 December at 11am

Poster drawing by Katherine Tyrrell
The next Urban Sketchers London sketchcrawl is coming soon. We will be meeting on Saturday 1 December at 11am in the free-to-enter Natural History Museum, near to one of the exhibits for which it is best known: the diplodocus skeleton in its central hall by the main entrance.

As well as the diverse and extraordinary exhibits in this museum, and the other ones nearby, there is plenty to draw outside if the weather is up to it, such as the skating rink that arrives close to the museum each winter. There's more information at the Urban Sketchers London website. Follow the tweets @urbsketchlondon.

It's a relaxed and pressure-free event. Come for as long as you can and meet other artists who get up to the same kinds of this as you do. Just bring whatever you usually draw with. You know it makes sense.

The Natural History Museum is at Cromwell Road, London SW7 5DB.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

At the Affordable Art Fair, Battersea, 25-28 October 2012

James Hobbs, Shoreditch High Street, digital print

I'm showing some new work on the Skylark Galleries stand (C3) at the Affordable Art Fair, Battersea Park, London, this week from Thursday 25 October to Sunday 28 October 2012. It's a great place to see new work, buy it and have it on the wall of your homely abode by the evening. And all without breaking the bank.

I'll be on the stand on Thursday until 3pm, on Saturday from 2pm to 6.30pm, and on Sunday until 3pm. Drop by if you can, whoever you are, and say hello. I'll show you my sketchbooks, if you're interested. (On Friday I'll even be in Skylark 2 gallery in the Oxo Tower Wharf from 11am to 6pm if you can't make the fair.)

For more information about the Affordable Art Fair follow this. Into the tweeting thing? Follow me at @jameshobbsart.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Regent Street meets Tenerife

I've always been interested in how a piece of work leaves home to make a life for itself once you have sold it. It's not often I get to see where they end up. And then last week, two lovely buyers Natalie Ward and Vanessa Skinner sent me this photograph of one of my prints they'd purchased from Skylark Galleries in its new home in Tenerife.

How can Regent Street's (rather simplified) architectural charms and a double-decker bus look so at home off the coast of Africa looking out at the North Atlantic? But what wouldn't? My thanks to them for sending this.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

On the Greenwich sketchcrawl

Royal Observatory, Greenwich

I joined the London Urban Sketchers sketchcrawl around Greenwich last weekend, along with about 50 other artists. Greenwich is still recovering from the Olympic Games; the equestrian stadium is still standing, so parts of the park are closed, and local traders are reported in the local press as saying their takings were down by as much as 50% over the Olympic period, although things seemed busy last weekend.

It was a great day for a sketchcrawl, and there are more planned for the coming months. Dates will be announced on the London Urban Sketchers website.

Astronomy Centre, Greenwich

Top: Royal Observatory, and above, Astronomy Centre, Greenwich, London

Monday, 17 September 2012

Still at an IKEA store near you...

My A5-sized Kort art card range of London scenes is still available at IKEA stores. You can find out if they're in the store near you by looking here.

Update: they are no longer at an IKEA near you, although we still find the odd one in a frame around the store in Edmonton, north London.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Showing now on the South Bank...

I have a few more drawings and prints than usual on show at Skylark 2 as part of its featured artist rota, to coincide with the Thames Festival this weekend (8-9 September). Framed and unframed, big or small, there's possibly a work for you. The gallery is on the first floor with a great view of the river.

The show is on for a few weeks - it closes on 16 September. Follow me @jameshobbsart.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Ackland Museum of Art fundraiser show

I am one of the 38 international artists who have a drawing on show — and on sale — at the Ackland Museum of Art store, Chapel Hill, South Carolina, as part of an Urban Sketchers education programme fundraiser. More information here.

Seeing the World, One Drawing at a Time continues from Thursday 16 August until Saturday 6 October.

Friday, 27 July 2012

London's Olympic Stadium

The Olympic stadium in Stratford is a few miles away from where we live in north London, close enough, like most of London probably, for us to see its lights beaming into the night air on the evening of the opening ceremony's rehearsal. Tonight is the real thing.

Are Londoners cynical and moaning about the Olympics? Many are, but many of these moaning cynics were among the millions that went to see the Olympic torch as it passed around the country. I know: I was among them...

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The finished Shard: Europe's tallest (for now)

James Hobbs, The Shard from Southwark Street
Having posted drawings of London's newest tallest building as a promising stump in 2010 and as an unfinished, unfurling skyscraper in 2011, I thought I'd mark its recent opening with another of the finished thing.

The 310-metre building launched with a light display at the beginning of July 2012. We live a few miles to the north and went up on to the roof of the house to watch the lasers beaming around the city. Perhaps our expectations were, like the Shard, too high: it wasn't so exciting.

Is the building any better? The angles of its sides means it invariably reflects the colour of the sky, which I like, even though this particular summer that colour has, until now, been that of rainclouds.

The Shard is distinctive, certainly, but dwarfing and isolated. And how do the £50 million penthouses, luxury hotel and £24.95 adult ticket prices to the as-yet-unopened viewing tower relate to what's happening in the streets it has risen from? How many people from Southwark are working in its offices? I have the feeling it is probably better to be on the inside looking out, than on the outside looking in.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Urban Sketchers London show opens at Foyles bookshop

James Hobbs, Foyles bookshop
The exhibition The Art of Urban Sketching, which is linked to the book of the same name by USk founder Gabriel Campanario, has now opened at Foyles bookshop, London. It features five monochrome drawings by me straight from the sketchbook, including one that was reproduced in the book. (So not the one on the right here, which I drew on Charing Cross Road last week.)

There are five other London-based artists showing in the exhibition: Nathan Brenville, Barry Jackson, Olha Pryymak, Katherine Tyrrell and Zhenia Vasiliev. You can follow the evolving introductions to each artist at the Urban Sketchers London blog, which is being updated each day of the show.

Foyles, 113-119 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0EB
Monday 16 July to Sunday 22 July 2012
More about the show here.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Coming soon at Foyles, Charing Cross Road, and much more

Seventh Avenue cafe
I'm going to be exhibiting work, along with other London-based Urban Sketchers, from the hugely successful The Art of Urban Sketching by Gabriel Campanario at Foyles Gallery, on the third floor of the bookshop's Charing Cross Road store, from 16 to 22 July. The book features work by urban artists around the world who contribute to the Urban Sketchers blog. The show is part of the Foyles's Sketching the City season, which continues until 4 August. I've written an article about Urban Sketchers for the summer issue of Artists & Illustrators magazine, out now.

More? My work continues at the Fat Cat cafe, along with that of fellow N16 Pop-up artist Deborah Sandersley, at 119 Stoke Newington Church Street until Tuesday 17 July.

And, of course, my work, is also on sale at IKEA stores worldwide and always on display at Skylark 2, in the Oxo Tower Wharf, on London's South Bank...

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Show at Stoke Newington Church Street extended to 17 July

I'm the latest N16 Pop-up artist, along with Deborah Sandersley, to show at the Fat Cat cafe on Stoke Newington Church Street. There's new signage going up on the cafe as I write, which makes it a bit anonymous at present: the cafe is at the junction with Marton Road.

My work is on show there until 10 July 17 July, and it's all for sale. Seen my work and like it? Give me a call on 07891 611919 or email me at info at

There's more about the N16 Pop-up artists here.

The Fat Cat cafe is at 119 Stoke Newington Church Street, London N16 0UD. It's worth a visit. Most of Stoke Newington is worth a visit, frankly. A 73 bus will bring you here.

Monday, 28 May 2012

A day in New York City

Broadway at 35th Street
Broadway at 35th Street, New York City

I had a week of (journalistic) work at the first Frieze New York art fair recently. At the end of my visit, in order to get a cheaper ticket home, I stayed an extra day in the city before an early flight the next morning. A day in New York could turn out expensive for people good at the retailing thing, what with the shopping opportunities people lead me to believe the city has, making the whole exercise pointless.

But it is free to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and along the High Line, the raised park along a disused industrial railway line, and around the 9/11 Memorial. Later, I walked 30 blocks from the Guggenheim Museum to meet New York Urban Sketcher Melanie Reim for tea.

The High Line, New York City
The High Line, New York City

I had an idea of going to the cinema in the evening, but I was a bit aimless, and there was plenty going on in the streets, so I drew and drew around Times Square as the sun went down. It's the way New York rears straight up at you, so the sky becomes a very different element of the composition, compared with, for instance, the way it often is in London. There's one hell of a lot of drawing to be done in New York City.

Times Square, New York City
Times Square, New York City

Thursday, 24 May 2012

London sketchcrawl: Saturday 26 May

Defoe Road, Stoke Newington
Urban Sketcher Pete Scully is coming to London this weekend, and he has arranged a sketchcrawl around Fleet Street on Saturday 26 May from 10.30am to 4.30pm.

The starting point is at Temple tube station, but there is more information on the Urban Sketchers London website.

All you need is something to draw on, something to draw with, and a few hours. No charge.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Art of Urban Sketching: London launch on Saturday

The Art of Urban Sketching by Urban Sketchers founder Gabriel Campanario is having its London launch this Saturday 19 May at Cass Art, Islington, from 12.30pm to 5.30pm. Six of the artists with work in the book will be there during the afternoon (including me - I'll be there from 3pm onwards). We'll be taking some sketchbooks, and things to draw with and the book will be on sale.

Everyone welcome! It's free! Who could ask for more? It's close to Angel tube and a host of bus services.

How to find Cass Art, with a printable map. See you there.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Coming soon at Grand Designs Live

I'm showing work at Grand Designs Live at Excel, London, with Skylark Galleries from 5 to 13 May. I'll have framed work on show from Wednesday 9 May until the show closes. Find out more about the fair, and book tickets at a discounted rate, here. I'll be on the Skylark stand (L141 in the Grand Interiors Hall) on Tuesday 8, Wednesday 9 and Sunday 12 May, if you're around. Come and introduce yourself...

Monday, 2 April 2012

Early summer, Clissold Park

With the short-lived arrival of summer last week, Clissold Park was soon well filled. I had time while the daughters were off with their friends to sit with the bike and a cup of tea. There were no real shady spots to keep out of the sun: the summer temperatures had arrived before the leaves had come out to offer shade.

Just down Stoke Newington Church Street at the Fat Cat cafe, the first round of the N16 Pop-up work, by Annie Morris and Stewy, is now on display. My turn comes up around 12 June until 10 July. More information here soon. And in an evolving N16 Pop-up website here.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

From a Turkish cafe, north London

Furniture Express, north London

Stoke Newington has Church Street, with numerous cafes, organic stores, independent shops and all the trendy stuff, and the traffic-laden High Street, part of the old Roman Ermine Street running due north from London Bridge, which morphs culturally through Shoreditch, Dalston, Stoke Newington and Stamford Hill, but with an essentially edgier feel. Church Street and High Street: one would be pretty much unbearable without the other.
The High Street has a good line of Turkish restaurants and cafes, too, one of which I drew this from. Dear old Gilbert and George can occasionally be spotted eating in one of the restaurants down the road. That's definitely one for the I-Spy book of Contemporary Artists.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

New: Urban Sketchers London blog

The London Urban Sketchers blog has gone live: Katherine Tyrrell is first up, followed by me, with more London-based artists blogging over the coming days and weeks.
The blog is the latest regional offshoot of the international Urban Sketchers - you can find the main website here.

Monday, 6 February 2012

James Hobbs images on sale at IKEA

News! I'm very happy to say that five of my images have just gone on sale at IKEA. Wherever you are in the world, there's a chance they're in stock at your nearest branch. But check here before you make a special journey:

My original digital prints are still on sale at Skylark 2, The Art Agency and Printroom, London.

If you've never visited my blog before, hello. You can, if you like, follow me on Twitter or even Facebook.

And you can find out more about my work on my main website:

Friday, 3 February 2012

Grayson Perry, fashion victor

I wasn't so sure about Grayson Perry when I went to see his show at the British Museum last week, but it was impossible not to warm to him. He communicates very directly. "Don't look too hard for meaning here," he greets us. I wrote it down, and then found more comments by him that resonated for me that I also noted, until I realised I couldn't possibly copy everything he said that I liked and be out of the museum by closing time. I was still resisting the urge to copy quotations by him from books in the gift shop on my way out.

Part of the reason for this is being from the same pre-Goldsmiths art school generation as him. Perry gave the title "Unpopular Culture" to an exhibition of postwar British works he selected from the Arts Council collection in 2008, which rings true. The first show I really went to at the Tate Gallery was "The Hard-Won Image" in 1984, which I remember as consisting of works by Kitaj and Auerbach and others that suggested slow grind in a variety of shades of brown. Art was much less fashionable then.

In fact, Perry's British Museum show ("The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman", extended to 26 February 2012) suggests his works come from much further back. They are interspersed with works from the museum's collection, as a tribute to the craftsmen and women who have made them, and often it is difficult to know which are his and which are 400 years old and from Ethiopia, or wherever. By the end I'd lost all faith in my judgement in knowing which were which. If that isn't a sign of his work being unfashionable I don't know what is. But to make works that chime so well with those from the British Museum? How much better could it get than that?

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Art of Urban Sketching: a quick flick through

Have a quick look at "The Art of Urban Sketching", out any minute now. My work flies through at about 47 seconds, and again later on...

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Art of Urban Sketching

I've been blogging occasionally on the Urban Sketchers website for a few years now, and I'm one of 85 artists profiled in a new book about the international non-profit organisation. The Art of Urban Sketching, by its founder Gabriel Campanario, is published in February by Quarry at £17.99.

Urban Sketchers is a great thing. Invited artists around the world post their drawings and paintings with a few words about how they came about. Whether the drawing is on the back of an envelope or in one of those swish Moleskine sketchbooks that some artists seem to like, it can have an international audience - and international critical response - within minutes. This can be kind of odd, and strangely exciting, when you consider what usually happens to many such drawings.
Urban Sketchers is fantastically international, holds an annual symposium, which I haven't been able to attend yet, has nearly 16,000 Facebook fans and 7,000 people subscribing to its blog feed. It's worth visiting, if you haven't already.

As its motto says: "See the world one drawing at a time."