Tuesday, 15 December 2015

New from Simone and Pete

Two new books have been published in the past few months by artists well known in urban sketching circles, and I have drawings in both of them. Archisketcher by Simone Ridyard and Creative Sketching Workshop by Pete Scully are both published in the UK by Apple. With Katherine Tyrrell's Sketching 365 and my own Sketch Your World, they make up a quartet of drawing books published by Apple that reveal themselves through the similar covers and designs (well done that RotoVision team).

Simone's Archisketcher focuses on the nitty-gritty of urban sketching: architecture. It has drawings by about 40 artists, and I particularly like the way it gets beneath the surface to look at how cities have changed and developed, focuses on different architectural styles, and explores the characters of neighbourhoods well known to particular contributors. It is great to be led through the streets by Simone, who is a Manchester-based architect and senior lecturer — she is playing a central role in the annual Urban Sketchers symposium that heads to that city in July 2016.

Pete Scully is based in Davis, California, but English — we've only met once at a sketchcrawl he organised through the East End. His book, Creative Sketching Workshop, takes the form of a series of workshops by 12 artists who each explore their own approaches to particular themes, such as drawing in bars, making travel portraits or street sketching. Each section starts with a jumping-off point to get you started, followed by a series of examples by the artist. It's a book, like Simone's, that urges us to get out and draw.

They are on sale in the usual places, usually close to Sketch Your World and Sketching 365.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Coming up in 2016: Pen and Ink

I have a new book out in 2016. It's called Pen and Ink, and it's published in the UK by Frances Lincoln in June. Before that, in the new year, it will be published in French and German editions. I'll post more details of these — and other editions — when I have them.

The book features the drawings of around 30 artists (some old favourites, others new discoveries) who, as the title effectively suggests, work with pen and ink. It's a medium that is broad in scope, as are the works that are featured in it. It's available for pre-order now, but I'll post more about it, and the artists featured in it, in time.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

My Garden an Amazon Best Book 2015

Good news. Dream Draw Design My Garden has been selected as one of Amazon's Best Books in 2015. It's one of the Editors' Holiday Gift Picks in the Design, Construct, Create section, meaning, I think, that it will make a great Christmas present. Who am I to argue?

There's more about it here. It's available from other online places as well, and your real-life high street book store. (It's just as good wherever you get it.)

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

St Paul's on a latte cup

My drawing of St Paul's and the city skyline are on the takeaway latte cups of the Timberyard chain of coffee shops for the next few months (while the stocks of 50,000 last). Get a latte, get a drawing.
It coincides with an exhibition of drawings by the London Urban Sketchers group from 2 November to 30 April 2016 at the brand new Timberyard Soho branch (4 Noel Street, London W1F 8GB). I'm showing (and selling) prints of the drawing (below) — email me for details.
I drew the view from Blackfriars Bridge as I cycled home one night after work. I've always liked the way the taller buildings towards the east appear over the top of the solar panelling of the railway station that spans the river: the Barbican towers, St Paul's, Tower 42, Cheesegrater, and a glimpse of the Gherkin pop up. There's another second part of the drawing that continues around to the south, showing the Walkie Talkie, Shard and Tate Modern. I drew it all with my cycle helmet on.
The bridge is the only one in central London that runs directly north-south, so the sunsets viewed from it can be spectacular. (It sounds ridiculous, but close your eyes on the windier days and it's the closest London has to offer to the feeling you get by standing on top of Henna Cliff, Morwenstow. Traffic, planes, sirens, commuters, architecture and everything else apart, that is.) The bridge isn't a friendly place for cyclists, but I like it.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Around Albert Bridge

I joined the London Urban Sketchers sketchcrawl around Battersea the other week — on one side of the Thames is the Norman Foster and Partners-designed Riverside complex, with its curved balconies, all empty despite it being a lovely day, and on the other side the historically burdened Cheyne Walk, festooned with blue plaques behind iron railings.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

In Pete Scully's new book

I have a couple of chapters in Pete Scully's great new book, Creative Sketching Workshop, which is published now. (The covers, drawn by Pete here, are for the US and UK editions.) I know Pete through the Urban Sketchers network and through joining him on his sketchcrawl around the East End of London a few years ago when he was back visiting the UK (he now lives in Davis, California). And I'm looking forward to seeing him again later in the year.

There are contributions to the book from other artists I've worked with before, including Virginia Hein, Nina Johansson and Melanie Reim. It's great to be in such good company.

Did you spot the family resemblance of his book and Sketch Your World? That's because they are related, along with Simone Ridyard's Archisketcher, just published, and Katherine Tyrrell's Sketching 365, both of which I also have work in. (We are all published in the UK by Apple Press and in the US by North Light.) I'll blog about Simone's book too when I get my hands on a copy.

Here's a page from my parks and gardens chapter in Creative Sketching Workshop, which is available, like the other books, from discerning bookshops and the usual online places.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Interview: Jackson's art blog

I've been interviewed by Lisa Takahashi for the blog of Jackson's (the art materials suppliers). Surprise, surprise, it's about drawing in sketchbooks. You can find it here.

You can also find an interview there with Róisín Curé, who we met in Ireland last month.

Monday, 7 September 2015

To Ireland's west coast

James Hobbs, Twelve Bens, Connemara, Ireland

We're back from a week in Ireland – last visited by us in the 1980s before the onset of daughters. We headed to the west coast, stayed a few days in Connemara and another few days on the Aran Islands. As part of my research into a new book (full details in time), I took a few bottles of ink (just black, blue and green) and a few brushes, but for all of Ireland's greenness, it was the greys that got me. And the skies, too: always heavy with clouds, always threatening, but rarely delivering.

James Hobbs, Gurteen Beach, County Galway

In Galway we met for tea with urban sketcher Róisín Curé, who lives down the coast and has a fantastic plot to cover. Galway is a livelier place than when we were last there – it is bidding to become European Capital of Culture in 2020. Perhaps that exposure would widen its appeal to UK visitors. If you heard a tourist's voice it would mostly likely have a French, Italian or American accent.

James Hobbs, Connemara coast

What remains entirely unchanged, though, is the friendliness of Ireland. There's a welcome everywhere you go. We won't wait 30 years before we go again.

You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

Friday, 31 July 2015

From the 32nd floor

I was lucky to be part of a group who were invited to draw from the 32nd storey of an office block in the City of London earlier this month. Compared with buildings in many other cities, the 32nd floor isn't really so high, but in London it gives you a phenomenal view.

It would have been easy just to spend the time gawping at the view and trying to make sense of which parts of town are which, but it's not often you get a chance to draw scenes like these.

Our thanks to Carlos Olvera for inviting us up. We are hoping to arrange another visit soon.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Westminster crumbles

Never mind London Bridge, now the Houses of Parliament are falling down. A recent official report says that it could cost £5.7 billion and take 32 years to renovate it and turn it into the kind of building a modern democracy needs. UNESCO world heritage site it may be, but it is also an outdated, crumbling, rat-infested, leaking, asbestos-ridden gentlemen's club that needs dragging into the 21st century. I've already written about the leaning Big Ben.

It could be that members of parliament and peers are moved out while the restoration work is undertaken, speeding up the process. But where would they go? The Olympic Park media centre in the East End has been suggested as one temporary option. But what about outside London? Getting parliament out of the capital could invigorate its work and help change our jaded attitude to it. What about the city of Manchester, for instance? That would be an excellent choice.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Dream, Draw, Design My Garden is published now

Hello. Dream Draw Design My Garden is published now in the USA. It was chosen as one of Amazon's Best Books of 2015.
The book, the first in Rockport's Dream, Draw, Design series, is a playful, inspirational sketchbook rather than a book to read from cover to cover next to a roaring fire. Each page features an unfinished drawing by me to prompt you creatively through a variety of gardening design ideas.
It's a book to draw in, to stimulate your ideas and imagination towards the goal of realising your ideal garden or backyard.
Draw, paint, doodle in this book.
You can order it online at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound, Indigo – and your friendly local bookshop. It is published in the UK on 2 July.
Find out more and follow me @jameshobbsart on Instagram and Twitter, and visit my Facebook Author page.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

In Hoxton Square

While daughter 2 was doing her thing at the nearby National Centre for Circus Arts, I had some time sitting on the grass in Hoxton Square. I worked near here in the 1990s, before the hipster grip took over, before White Cube had moved in, let alone moved out, before you looked in estate agents' windows and rubbed your eyes. The van in the square isn't usual: work is underway to create TreexOffice, a transparent "tree office" to be built around one of these London planes as part of the Rethinking Parks project. You can book a work space in it up until December. There's more about it here.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Dream, Draw, Design My Garden is coming soon

I'm happy to say that my new book Dream Draw Design My Garden is published by Rockport in the US on 1 June and in the UK on 2 July.

Dream Draw Design My Garden is a hands-on book to draw and experiment in, with each page featuring a drawing by me that offers an inspirational jumping-off point to help you towards realising your ideal garden, back yard or roof terrace. It's an inspirational guide rather than a technical handbook, a place to let loose your imagination, with pages to help you draw your thoughts to reality.  

Visit my Facebook page for more details of Dream Draw Design My Garden – and Sketch Your World, which is now available in six languages.

You can preorder online at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound, Indigo, Waterstones, WHSmith – and your friendly local bookshop.

And yes, that is my back garden on the cover.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Silvertown's dereliction

London's Urban Sketchers were recently invited to draw Silvertown, a major £3.5 billion regeneration project in east London that will turn the derelict post-industrial wasteland into what aims to be the city's "new creative capital", with 3,000 new homes and 21,000 new jobs. Named after its 19th-century founder Samuel Winkworth Silver, it handled much of the old Empire's exports and imports until the 1960s when containerisation and new docks downstream took over. What remains - monumental, crumbling, windswept, beautiful – is Millennium Mills, once home to Rank Hovis MacDougall and Spillers, and a surviving grain silo. Set by the Thames in a wealth of concrete, graffiti, aircraft noise and wildlife-rich greenery, the site is one of the most exciting places I have ever drawn.

Because work is underway at the 62-acre site – our high visability jackets bore the logo of a asbestos removal company – numbers were limited to eight. Security is tight, and there are dogs on the site. We will be returning as it develops over the years so more regular urban sketchers in London may get a chance to visit it to draw.

Silvertown has been a popular backdrop for films (such as Derek Jarman's The Last of England), music videos (The Smiths, Arctic Monkeys) and TV (Ashes to Ashes). Yet quite why something grim in so many ways is so moving I'm struggling to understand. What is so alluring about urban desolation? London's sights are visible in the distance: Gherkin, Cheesegrater, Dome, Canary Wharf and the cable car. But Silvertown is still the twinkle in the developer's eye. Whatever it becomes, it can never be more lovely than it is now.

Sue Pownall, Evelyn Rowland, Lis Watkins, James Hobbs, Julie Bolus,
Isabelle Laliberté, Olha Pryymak and Nathan Brenville

Our thanks to the Silvertown Partnership for inviting us. 

Friday, 1 May 2015

Across London's rooftops

Towards the Barbican
Here are two drawings from the recent London Urban Sketchers sketchcrawl around St Paul's Cathedral. They are both from the roof terrace of the hideous One New Change shopping centre, right across the road from the cathedral. The complex's redeeming feature, as the developers must have known when they were trying to get permission to build it, is the spacious terrace on the top floor, which has great views across the city. When it costs more than £100 to get a family of four to the top of the Shard, this is an excellent, free but much much lower alternative. The dome of St Paul's seems so close you could touch it.

Towards Tate Modern

Friday, 24 April 2015

From Blackfriars Bridge

My cycling commute homeward takes me north over Blackfriars Bridge, close to Tate Modern. Looking east, Blackfriars railway station has recently been extended to stretch from bank to bank; its solar roof provides half of the station's energy. What I have always enjoyed about this view, from the safely of the cycle lane or during windswept interludes halfway across, is the way just a handful of London's most recognisable buildings poke up from behind the station. From the left come the Barbican towers, St Paul's Cathedral, Tower 42 (the old NatWest tower), the Cheesegrater with the Gherkin almost hidden behind…

…then the curvy lines of the new Walkie Talkie, before a gap for the river Thames beneath us (and the spine of the book), and then the pointy Shard, the brick tower of Tate Modern and finally its ziggurat-esque extension, due to open next year.

Look west, and this bridge is one of the best places to view sunsets in London (weather permitting, terms and conditions apply) – but somehow I like these views to the east just as much.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Millbank: the campaign commences

So the general election campaign is underway, something that was very apparent as I cycled through Westminster yesterday, with helicopters overhead, the prime minister heading off to the palace, and TV crews putting up temporary studios on the green across the road from the Houses of Parliament, one for the BBC, and the other for Sky. Allegra Stratton from BBC2's Newsnight was being filmed at a desk behind me as I drew this. My enthusiasm to keep out of shot meant Big Ben remains barely visible on the right hand side of the drawing.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

100 postcards in a box

Gabriel Campanario's hugely successful book The Art of Urban Sketching was published in 2012, and I was lucky enough to have my drawings included in it. Now comes a boxed set of 100 postcards of different images from the book – again including something by me – on sale in the UK from 2 April 2015 (Quarry, £12.99), and already out in the US. It's a great collection of scenes from every continent and 30 countries drawn on location by many of my favourite urban sketchers.
It's a tricky one: are they too good to post to people, or so good that they shouldn't be kept in a box but shared through the post? 

Saturday, 14 March 2015

The 1967 Ford Mustang comes fifth

When did I start drawing cars? The 1967 Ford Mustang, above, has just come fifth in a poll of Britain's favourite classic cars – my drawing of it is featured on the website of the survey's findings, which was commissioned by The Car Buying Service. Number one, not surprisingly, went to the Jaguar E-Type (below). My great aunt Nelly lived on Brown's Lane, Coventry, where E-Types were made and test driven, and my brothers and I would sit on her gate and watch them go by when we went to visit her.
Did I vow then to have one when I grew up? No I didn't. Bikes and buses are much more up my street.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Around the Victoria and Albert Museum

London's Urban Sketchers met up to draw in and around the Victoria and Albert Museum on Saturday. It was a great turn-out, helped by springlike weather. I stayed outside to draw for most of it, around South Kensington tube station (above), and across the road from the museum in Thurloe Square (below). The museum's first director, Henry Cole, lived in the house on its corner. It would have been an easy commute for him in the 19th century – easier than now, when crossing four lanes of speeding, outsized 4x4s and tour buses is required.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Coming soon: a new book

I have a new book out in a few months' time about drawing your way to your dream garden. (Yes, that's my back garden on the cover.)

Click on the cover to get a glimpse of what's inside.

I'll be blogging about it more in time, as well as tweeting and posting on Instagram. Follow me there.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Signing Sketch Your World at the Mall Galleries

I'm happy to say I'll be signing copies of Sketch Your World on Thursday 5 March at the Mall Galleries, London, from 3pm. I'll be there with Katherine Tyrrell, who will be signing copies of her new book, Sketching 365. (There is even a reduced price deal for anyone buying both books before 4pm on that date.)

Katherine and I will be bringing some of our sketchbooks, and will be very happy to talk about all things drawing. The signings will coincide with a Pastel Society event from 6pm to 9pm – details of entry are here – with music by David Buckingham on guitar.

And I'll be able to tell you more about my forthcoming book, Dream, Draw, Design My Garden, which is published soon. Here's a glimpse. I'll be posting more details here shortly.

For more details and directions, visit the Mall Galleries website. I hope to see you there.

Monday, 9 February 2015

What I drew at the British Museum

Gold cape, 1900-1600BC, found Mold, Wales, 1833
I had a day drawing at the British Museum last Saturday with London's Urban Sketchers, and found myself drawing the kind of things I don't usually do. Of course, the scale of what is on display is immense – around eight million objects are viewed by more than six million visitors a year. The museum may have been crowded, but it is still possible to get an object to draw quietly for a while without feeling you are getting in the way.

Even the Mold Cape has a space by a pillar where I could slip in to draw. The cape is not like anything I've seen before. Dug up in Wales in 1883, and more than 3,000 years old, its fragments went to different people when it was discovered, and only slowly, over more than 100 years, was it reassembled as bits of the paper-thin gold made their way to the British Museum to create what it is now. Neil MacGregor, the director of the museum, featured the cape in his Radio 4 series A History of the World in 100 Objects in 2010.

Egyptian rooms
Time was limited on Saturday, and there were people to meet and talk to, so it is easy to find yourself sweeping past miraculously saved objects that have similarly intriguing stories. In the Egyptian rooms, the Gayer Anderson cat, with nose and ear piercings, a horus falcon with extraordinary eyes, and the sculpture of the seated man whose name I wrote so quickly I can't read it now caught my eye. Downstairs in Africa, as it were, contemporary work, such as El Anatsui's sculpture that echoes the form of the Mold Cape, made me stop and draw.

Thanks go to Isabel Carmona and Sue Pownall for arranging the day, and to Simone Ridyard – who is included in Sketch Your World and has her own book out soon – who travelled down from Manchester. There are more drawings from the day on the London Urban Sketchers Facebook page. Monthly gatherings are planned through the rest of the year.

Entrance to the British Museum is free, even in our age of austerity.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Sketchbooks at the Museum

London's Urban Sketchers are meeting up at the British Museum on this Saturday, 7 February 2015 from 11.30am to 3.30pm. (This drawing is of the museum's courtyard with the lovely Centre Point rearing up in the distance.) Everybody's welcome. Just bring things to draw on and with, and come and say hello. There are lots of places to warm up, and it's all very relaxed.

There's more information on the London Urban Sketchers website, if you want it. And join the London Urban Sketchers new Facebook page.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Mole Man's house, Dalston

I stopped to draw the Mole Man's house in Mortimer Road, Dalston, as I cycled home the other day. It's been like a building site for years, but now there is activity above ground as it is developed for the artists Sue Webster and Tim Noble, who were reported to have bought it at auction before Christmas. It was previously the home of William Lyttle, aka Mole Man, who tunnelled beneath it in all directions over more than 40 years, until complaints led to his eviction. (He was rehoused in a flat and, with nowhere to dig, was dead within a few years.)
Papers report that the architect David Adjaye, who designed the forthcoming National Museum of African American History and Culture in the National Mall, Washington, DC, among other buildings, is overseeing the development, although it doesn't look anything special yet, apart from being a shrine to scaffolding and corrugated iron.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Euro-Coaster, Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park

The big winter fair in Hyde Park over Christmas, called Winter Wonderland, had this roller coaster among the labyrinthine commercial sprawl. Euro-Coaster? Get on that, Nigel Farage.

I drew these on a recent numbingly cold sketchcrawl with London's Urban Sketchers: why not drop in on the group's new Facebook group page.