Hampton Court

Grand Designs

I like to draw in detail but with a fairly loose style. This means I’m attracted to some quite complicated views. When I know I have time I do enjoy the puzzle of putting together a complex drawing. However, they can be spoiled by an unsympathetic wash and you will see this more than once below.

My first ‘Grand Design’ was the British Museum. I’d just returned from a work colleagues memorial service in Mayfair and it was a beautiful winters day, bright but with a cold wind. I planned to paint inside but the view from the gardens enticed me and I had a go. The wash is not complete as the cold and my need to be comfortable took over.

Line & Wash

British Museum

My next complicated drawing was taking on the Tudor facade of Hampton Court. I arrived early and the crowds had not arrived. I didn’t want a full on view so i sat on the river side of the building and sat down behind a tree, to get out of the raw wind.


Hampton Court

Having completed the drawing I had to return home to paint the scene as I was cold and hungry. The sun was low and the facade was in shadow. I painted it as I saw it but this didn’t produce a sympathetic painting. I should have thought about the colours more.

Line and Wash

Hampton Court

A ‘Grand Design’ in my mind doesn’t have to be one building but can be in this case a line of  beautiful houses. I decided to start this sketch as I only had limited time on my parking meter. I returned and started painting on a second visit. I stopped painting when I saw that the drawing was getting lost. I did return to the painting on a second session to provide more detail.


Hampton Court Green

The final ‘Grand Design’ is of Ardingly College. I was attending a Tango festival, which included workshops and an evening Milonga. I turned up early and made the most of a brief spell of good weather. The building is complicated but I enjoyed the puzzle of drawing it in scale and simplifying the lines. In front of the building were large playing fields and I made the error of including them in my painting rather than the sky. I’ve cropped them out in the picture below.

Line & wash

Ardingly College

Thames at Richmond & Hampton

Living near the Thames and growing up both alongside and on it means I’ve a strong connection with it from Weybridge downsstream to Richmond. The sketches for this post were made in early 2014, in the mornings  when there was good weather and before I became too cold.

The first picture is from the Star & Garter Hill, over the looking the bend in the river.  The view is spectacular, with the Surrey Hills, Heathrow and Twickenham Stadium in sight. As I painted this scene a group of canoeists came into view and I managed  to capture them with a few marks.

Line and Wash

River Thames at Richmond

I followed up this theme with trips to Hampton Court Bridge and Kingston. I started at Hampton Court but this will be on another post called ‘Grand Designs’. As the theme is the Thames for this post my next picture is of the rather lovely Hampton Court Bridge. Seen from downstream I made this quick sketch with a picture in mind. I painted the scene again but as a line and wash in my sketchbook at home. I think there is a full watercolour picture here in the future. Tell me what you think.


Hampton Court Bridge


Hampton Court Bridge

For my next picture I really wanted to paint inside Hampton Court but didn’t want to pay for the entrance fee. So I found a small beach overlooking the bridge and I’m really pleased I spent the time here. It’s one of my favourite pictures. Not too busy but with plenty of interest.


Hampton Court Bridge

Whilst I was sitting on the beach there was a lot of activity around me. I didn’t think my presence was causing this much attention and then around the bend of the river came the Royal Barge, Gloriana. I took a quick a couple of photos and when I got home made a quick sketch in my small sketchbook. Standing up on the bridge are three figures. George I, his body guard and  the barge captain.

Royal Barge