Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Christmas on James Street

The 73 bus at the end of our road runs to Oxford Street and there are still some presents to be bought, so we head on down. What possesses anyone to shopping there at Christmas? We take a break at a quiet cafe down James Street as darkness falls.
Season's greetings! I'll be posting images on Instagram and Twitter over the break, do drop in and follow me if that's your thing.
Have you just been given a copy of Sketch Your World? Visit its Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/sketchyourworld

Friday, 21 November 2014

From Piccadilly to Docklands

At Waterstones Piccadilly

It was a busy weekend this week, first at Waterstones Piccadilly's first art book fair, where it was great to meet publishers, writers, artists and book lovers in Europe's biggest bookshop, and sign copies of Sketch Your World. I sat with Owen Gildersleeve, the author of Paper Cut – he cut paper rather more meticulously than I drew the scene through the crowds to the Tate Publishing desk opposite.

The O2 arena across the Thames from Trinity Buoy Wharf, London
The following day London's Urban Sketchers joined the Dining Room Drawing Club at Trinity Buoy Wharf at Draw Britain Now organised by the Campaign for Drawing. The wharf is post industrial, right across the river from the O2 arena, the home of London's only lighthouse, and hosting work by 23 artists shortlisted for the 2014 John Ruskin Prize (the exhibition continues until 30 November). The rain came, and it started getting dark in mid afternoon, but there was still a lot of drawing going on when we met to compare work at the end of the day. (The Fatboy Diner got a lot of sheltering custom that afternoon.) The wharf is a great place to visit – I'm going back.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Book signing at Waterstones Piccadilly

The view from a Piccadilly cafe
Waterstones Piccadilly is hosting the first Piccadilly Art Book Fair on Saturday 15 November at its five-storey bookshop in the centre of London – Europe's largest bookshop — and I'll be there signing copies of Sketch Your World. (The store is about a two-minute walk along Piccadilly from where I drew the cover image for the book.)

The fair runs from 1pm to 5pm, is free, and a great chance to meet artists and authors, get involved in drawing workshops and see what great art books are out now. Come along and say hello. I'm taking some sketchbooks. Bring some of your own to show me!

There's more information at the Waterstones website.

The following day, Sunday 16 November, there is a London Urban Sketchers sketchcrawl at Trinity Buoy Wharf, in the East End. There's more information about that at the London USk website. I hope to see you there, also.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Out now: Sketch Your World in Chinese

I'm not sure I saw this coming when it was first published ten months ago, but with the recent release of a Chinese edition, Sketch Your World is now available in six languages.

Along with English editions in the UK, US and Asia, it has also been published in French, German, Korean and Taiwanese.

The US edition has recently been reprinted, and the UK edition has been reprinted three times.

There is more on this Facebook page about Sketch Your World, or follow me on Twitter and Instagram. I'll be posting shortly about some forthcoming events.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Gabriel Campanario's new book

Gabi's new book
I am happy to say that I have a drawing in Gabriel Campanario's new book The Urban Sketching Handbook: Architecture and Cityscapes published in November (US) and December (UK) by Quarry. Gabi is the founder of Urban Sketchers, a staff artist at the Seattle Times, and the author of The Art of Urban Sketching (2012, Quarry).

This new book, the first in a series on urban sketching, comes in a format that matches Moleskine's A5-sized sketchbook, complete with elasticated band. It's easy to imagine it being dropped into a bag with drawing equipment by people on their way out.

Melanie Reim's drawing on the left, mine on the right

A few other old mates also have their work in the book:

• Inma Serrano, who I met in London this summer

• Simone Ridyard, who I kind of met over different microphones when we were on BBC Radio 4's Saturday Live earlier this year, and

• Melanie Reim, who I met in New York a couple of years ago.

Many of these, and Gabi, have drawings in Sketch Your World.

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 www.facebook.com/sketchyourworld.

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.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Timberyard Old Street: show extended

The group show of drawings, including four by me, and Urban Sketchers Thomas Corrie, Isabelle Laliberté, Jhih-Ren Shih, Katherine Tyrrell and Zhenia Vasiliev at the Timberyard cafe, Old Street, London, has been extended for another few weeks – the final closing date is Saturday 12 July.

Timberyard, 61-67 Old Street, London EC1V 9HW
until 12 July
Open Monday to Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am-6pm

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Town hall to cemetery: a Stoke Newington drawing tour

Last Sunday, as part of Stoke Newington Literary Festival, in the part of north London where I have lived for the past 23 years, I was joined by an evolving cast of about 50 artists as we drew our way along Church Street, the neighbourhood's epicentre. This was partly to publicise my book, Sketch Your World, but also because it is such a good place to draw: it is historic, crumbling, gentrified, leafy, literary, organic, unstuffy, siren-filled, unrelentingly urban and many other things, too. And the arrival of summer was timely.

The great thing about this kind of event, of course, is that although you can stand on your own and draw any day of the week, doing it as a group means you stop and look at things and in places you may not otherwise. It's never easier to sit on a kerbstone and draw than when you're in a group. The usual fantastic range of abilities and experience were among us, but for those of us new to drawing on location, this was a chance to blend in and feel confident as we worked. For about an hour and a half, as we worked our way along from the town hall, people seemed to be drawing everywhere you looked...

Our mission, in blazing sun throughout, ended in the shade and birdsong of Abney Park cemetery, where we cooled off, and shared and compared our endeavours – thanks once again to Seawhite of Brighton, who kindly supplied its Eco sketchbooks for the event.

Thanks for coming, if you did. And thanks to the team at Stoke Newington Literary Festival for inviting me to do this. Sketch Your World is a book about getting out and drawing rather than sit around discussing, and there's a chance a similar event may take place at next year's festival.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Drawing event at Stoke Newington's literary festival

Stoke Newington Church Street
I'll be at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival on Sunday 8 June from 12 noon for a special free drawing event. To take part, simply come to the town hall foyer with your drawing equipment – a limited number of free Seawhite sketchbooks will be available while stocks last – draw the many hotspots of Stoke Newington, meet other artists, share your drawings online and find out more about the burgeoning Urban Sketching community. It's relaxed, free and you can come and go as you like. It's good for adults and children, all abilities, all levels of experience, all everything, in fact. Find out more about it here.

Signed copies of my book Sketch Your World will be on sale.

Many thanks to Seawhite of Brighton for generously providing the sketchbooks.

There's more information about the literary festival at www.stokenewingtonliteraryfestival.com. There are plenty of great events taking place from 6 to 8 June.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

London sketchcrawl: Saturday 24 May

Old Street roundabout
There is a London Urban Sketchers sketchcrawl on Saturday 24 May 2014, meeting at 11am at Timberyard cafe, Old Street, where there is currently a show of drawings by five of the London group (including me, actually). The idea is to then head east towards Shoreditch to finish around 3.30pm at the Shoreditch High Street overground station. Want to come? Need more information? There's more at the London Urban Sketchers website. It's free, relaxed and everyone is welcome — just bring something to draw on and with. And stay as long as you want.

Timberyard, 61-67 Old Street, London EC1V 9HW

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Signing Sketch Your World: 17 May

I'll be signing copies of Sketch Your World and bringing along a selection of my sketchbooks to a drop-in session at Cass Art, Islington, on Saturday 17 May from 2pm to 4pm. Cass Art kindly lent me art materials for product shots in the book.
It's free. Come and talk drawing. Bring some sketchbooks. There's more info here.
Cass Art, 66-67 Colebrooke Row, London, N1 8AB
Angel tube, buses 19, 38, 56, 73, 341, 476

Friday, 25 April 2014

Reprinted and on shelves

Sketch Your World has been reprinted and is on shelves and in online warehouses again now. I dropped in on the recently renovated Tate Britain – through the main entrance past groups of art students sitting on the steps, which suddenly transported me back to my student days – to visit its bookshop where copies are on sale. (It has a different cover if you are in the US or Asia.)

There's more information about the book at its Facebook page. Let me know if you have problems getting hold of a copy.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Visit my new-look website

My website www.james-hobbs.co.uk has been spruced up and updated, with more links, new images and a design that echoes this blog. My thanks to Colin Bowling for this. 

Saturday, 29 March 2014

On show with Urban Sketchers London

The Timberyard hang

I have four drawings in a group show of work by London's Urban Sketchers at Timberyard cafe, Old Street, London, until the end of June. Thomas Corrie, Isabelle Laliberté, Jhih-Ren Shih, Katherine Tyrrell and Zhenia Vasliev are co-exhibitors at the cafe, which is a popular place for freelancers and e-workers to settle in for the day. That may well be where you are as you read this. The coffee is good, isn't it?

Timberyard, 61-67 Old Street, London EC1V 9HW
29 March-30 June
Open Monday to Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am-6pm

Friday, 21 March 2014

Drawing Jay Scott and the Find

I spent an enjoyable evening last night at a gig by Jay Scott and the Find at the Underbelly, Hoxton Square, where we'd been invited to draw by the band's management. This is not my usual choice of subject; as with drawing in the BBC studios in January, it was a challenge to draw a scene that wouldn't usually get me reaching for the marker pen, but that is no reason to back down. The low and changing light levels, the liveliness of the audience, and perplexing problem of drawing while holding a bottle of beer all contributed to the outcome.

Our thanks to Jay Scott and the Find, who have a new album out soon.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Coming home on the M4

Last weekend we drove down to Devon to meet up with old friends to remember and celebrate the life and times of Jonathan Young, who had been a good mate since we met at school in 1972. He died from a heart attack in Italy last November, where he had lived in beautiful rural seclusion with his wife and five children for several years.
The reunion, of around 40 of us in the back room of a pub where we were refreshed by beer and curry as JY would have wanted, brought together people we hadn't seen for more than 30 years, and a feast of unrestrained nostalgia for what really were good times. I won't go on about what a kind, funny, lovely man he was, or about how much he is missed by his family and friends, but understand how true this is.
I drew this as N drove us back home to London along the M4 motorway as we dwelt on the weekend and our memories of him.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Lisbon nights

We grab a few days away over the school break, and travel to the coast of Portugal and then south to Lisbon. I've been given a set of four warm grey double-pointed Promarker pens, and am still not sure how to use them to best effect.
This view of the square at Rossio from across the road from our hotel one evening (while the others slept, read and revised) is a case of trying to find out how I can use them with the black pens that go everywhere with me. That feeling of now knowing quite what you're doing can be an enjoyable one. Which pen do I reach for when I put another down? What makes things go forward and back? When to use the chisel point or the bullet point? How much tonal range is needed? Which restaurant are we eating at tonight?

Monday, 24 February 2014

Who's in Sketch Your World?

The works of more than 60 international artists are included in Sketch Your World: illustrators, architects, students, painters, film-makers, printmakers, Oscar-winning animators, senior citizens, lecturers, reportage artists and people who just like to draw in sketchbooks. Here's a complete list, with links to the websites of those who have them:

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Inma Serrano and Caroline Johnson in Sketch Your World

Thanks to people for their kind messages and reviews of Sketch Your World, now out in bookshops. It's available at the usual online stores and high street bookshops, including Waterstones and Barnes & Noble.
Here are drawings by Inma Serrano and Caroline Johnson (and a smaller one by me) included in the book. I'll be posting more about the 60 different artists whose work is included in the book over the coming weeks.
You can find out more about the book at www.facebook.com/sketchyourworld or follow me on Twitter @jameshobbsart.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Drawing on air at the BBC

I was invited to BBC Broadcasting House in central London this weekend to take part in Radio 4's Saturday Live, to talk, along with Manchester-based artist Simone Ridyard, about urban sketching and the sketchcrawl phenomenon. It's an easy-going programme with live guests and prerecorded elements. Tracey Thorn of Everything But the Girl fame, environmental activist Laurens de Groot and I sat around the table with the presenters Richard Coles and Aasmah Mir for 90 minutes to be gently grilled.

After the contribution from Simone and me (about 15mins in), I drew the scene as the programme continued, one of which is now shown on the programme's website as a time lapse drawing, condensed into about a minute. It's loose, and everyone, the subjects included, can be forgiven for not recognising Laurens on the left and Tracey on the right. (I showed it to her later and told her she is shown as such a blur I was afraid she might sue: "Don't worry. I'm not a suer," she said.)

The time flew by, with chatter breaking out around the table every time we went to a prerecorded segment. And having a photographer looking over my shoulder as I drew was a bit distracting. The hexagonal desk was a mass of paper cups, sketchbooks, microphones, clocks, monitors and unidentifiable bits of electronic stuff, through which the two presenters weaved their way as if it was nothing more than a chat around a kitchen table.

There's a link to the programme here. Look out for the gallery of work by London Urban Sketchers, too.

BBC Radio 4: it's a beautiful thing.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

On Radio 4's Saturday Live

Did you hear Saturday Live on BBC Radio 4 today? Simone Ridyard and I were interviewed about Urban Sketchers, and the joys of drawing together in sketchcrawls.
• My book Sketch Your World is published now and available online and at good bookshops
• The London Urban Sketchers are exhibiting at Timberyard cafe, 7 Upper St Martin's Lane, London, until March. News of our next sketchcrawl will be posted at www.urbansketchers-london.blogspot.co.uk
• I have a small display of drawings and prints on show at Skylark Gallery 2, on the first floor of Oxo Tower Wharf, on London's South Bank, until the end of February. I'm there signing books on Friday 31 January from 6pm to 8pm, so come along
• Visit the wider Urban Sketchers community at www.urbansketchers.org
• And follow me on Twitter @jameshobbsart and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/sketchyourworld
• Oh, and there are more of my images on my Flickr site. That's definitely the last bullet point.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Farewell to Skylark: showing until 31 January 2014

Skylark 2 at Oxo Tower Wharf overlooks the Thames
between the London Eye and Tate Modern
I have a small selection of prints and drawings on sale in a display at Skylark Gallery 2, which is on the first floor of the distinctive Oxo Tower Wharf on London's South Bank, until 31 January. Guess what? Signed copies of Sketch Your World are also on sale for £9.99.
I will be at the gallery all day on Friday 31 January, when it will stay open until 8pm for a wine-fuelled book signing event — everyone is welcome.
February will be, sadly, my last month at the artist-run space, at which I have been showing my work for the past five years. I'll miss it: but more about that later.
Tues-Sun 11am-6pm

Saturday, 4 January 2014

My must-take sketchbook kit

There's an interview with me about the art materials I use in sketchbooks on the Parka Blogs website, in which I run through my not-very-extensive list of must-take products.
If you've read it, let me know what you think, or what you use.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Sketch Your World published in the UK

Sketch Your World is published in the UK today. It's about drawing in sketchbooks, and includes the drawings and words of about 60 international artists who talk about how they go about it. Architects, reportage artists, students, journalists, illustrators, lecturers, retired people, Oscar-winning animators, people who squeeze drawing into lunch breaks and holidays... they are all here.
It's published by Apple Press and costs £9.99. It comes out in the US later this month.
There's more about it at www.facebook.com/sketchyourworld.