Generally when I travel I take a sketchbook and watercolours, and do sketches when I get the opportunity or when a good subject catches my eye. I have just returned home from a very busy trip to the UK and although I always had my sketchbook with me, time was not always on my side. However, below are a few of the quick drawings I did do. The first one is of women at different tables in the cafe at the National Portrait Gallery cafe. I saw the BP National Portrait Prize there – 55 very competent portraits, but nothing that moved me greatly. I noted that they receive almost 2000 submissions, but hang only 55 works … I also saw a small exhibition of gouache portraits there which I loved. They were by Humphrey Ocean, and were of people who come to his studio, quick, loose and very appealing, they really seemed to capture character.

The next sketch was a woman on a bus, texting, and the last one is of fresh hazelnuts. I hadn’t seen them before, but was told they are delicious. In fact they were fairly bland, but beautiful objects. They were in a tiny organic fruit shop under the railway arches in Bermondsey. There is a proliferation of micro businesses in these arches – bakeries, gin factories, breweries, places that sell coffee or smoked salmon or cheese, mostly only open on a Saturday morning. Wonderful!



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Author: anna warren portfolio

I draw, I paint, I am a printmaker. Always searching for the interesting detail in the world around me.

25 thoughts

  1. These are wonderful Anna! We have lots of Hazelnuts (Filberts) in our state and about 6 trees in our yard (they like to grow about anywhere). They have a lovely form and are great roasted. Raw doesn’t quite do it like many nuts. Looks like you had a great trip!


    1. How lovely to have them growing in your own yard! I am very fond of hazelnuts in their usual dried form, so I thought these would be interesting – they are a little like like macadamias I thought, but not as rich. Thanks, yes, it was a great trip.


  2. Love your cafe life sketches Anna ! I imagine the one women avidly reading and reaching out blindly for her mug .. the other relaxed and catching up with a friend … woman texting – yes that sheer concentration of one finger hitting the right key !
    I think of a jaunty Squirrel Nutkin from Beatrix Potter whenever I see Hazlenuts with their wispy edged outercoats ๐Ÿ™‚
    Lovely work .
    Home now, I wonder if you are bubbling with new ideas …..


    1. Thanks Poppy – of course, Squirrel Nutkin! He would have enjoyed those hazelnuts. I like your description of them! There are ideas bubbling away – I saw several exhibitions which inspired me in new directions, hopefully new things will emerge …


  3. What appeals is the spontaneous and fluid nature of these sketches. The subject of the third sketch looks like she is from another era. Perhaps it is her high collar and hair style. She’s texting but one can also imagine her doing needlework in one of Jane Austen’s sitting rooms. I also love the hazelnuts.


    1. The people sketches were very quick and loose – I wanted to catch them before they moved too much, or noticed me drawing them! You’re right about the texting woman – she looked quite severe, maybe because she was concentrating. She really could be from another era. I wasn’t so rushed with the hazelnuts (I do like drawing things that won’t escape!) but I intentionally kept them quite loose too. There were so many interesting folds and frilly edges to explore!


  4. great drawings Anna – interesting about the portrait show – imagine sifting through 2000 to select the final 55 – how could you possibly remain objective and transparent about the task ! whew and we think it is a lottery in this country where the numbers are more like 400 – 500 entries !! (and sometimes much less).


    1. Thanks Veronica. Yes, I was was astounded at the numbers submitted to the portrait show. There is no way that judges can really make a considered appraisal of so many, it has to very much come down to almost random decisions. Nevertheless, I think there was at least one artist who had two works in! I realised a while ago that the works hung in an exhibition that has a great number of works submitted will not necessarily be the ‘best’ (judged by whatever criteria!).


  5. I’m curious about how long one of those sketches take you to do? They are great! I don’t do enough sketching. I’ve never gotten into the habit. To sketch people in public, I would think you’d have to be able to work very quickly? It would take me forever to just get someone’s head to look right! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m just not that experienced at it yet.
    Your sketches are lovely. The colors are great! I haven’t eaten hazelnuts much, but my favorite coffee is hazelnut (sometimes with some cinnamon thrown in!) Cheers!


    1. Patsy, these sketches were quick! Only a few minutes each, I don’t like the people I am drawing to realise they are being observed. Often they will move just as you get started so that either has to be incorporated, or you wait till they move back to the position they were in before. There are many sketches I have only got a couple of marks before the people (or animal) moves. You have to be persistent, and prepared for moving fast. The hazelnuts probably took half an hour or so all up because they didn’t move! Sketching is a really useful activity for improving your art, it helps with observation and understanding your subject. Do have a go, and be prepared for lots of ‘failures’. You will learn something from each one.


      1. Wow, Anna! That’s what I figured since you are obviously a very experienced artist! Unfortunately, what holds me back in quick sketching is my inability to go over mistakes and try to get proportions right, especially with trying to sketch people. I am planning to try some quick sketching at Barnes & Noble this Tuesday when I have some alone time while my kids are in their class. I have been going there to write, though, so I will probably spend most of the time on that, but I plan to try an sketch, too! Thanks so much for the encouragement.


        1. Patsy, the main thing with sketching is just to DO it! Don’t worry about proportions etc, that will come. You will think your first drawings are awful, but persist, and you will eventually come up with work you like. Have fun in the bookshop!


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