Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Sketch Crawl - Tall Ships Festival, Sunderland


"Headwind", River Wear
(markers and coloured pencils over two pages of A5 sketchbook)

The heatwave continued on Saturday, so when I arrived at the National Glass Centre to meet up with the other Urban Sketchers I was faced with the now usual problem of finding no shade. No shade, and nowhere that wasn't full of people. There are seats along the quay near the Glass Centre, of course, but they were understandably occupied and even were they to become vacant, I realised that sitting on them would provide no view of the Tall Ships because the railing in front of the seats were fully taken up with sightseers leaning on them.

I do find that when I go to an event like this that I go with a certain mindset, such that if I can't find somewhere to draw what I've gone there to draw, I can't simply decide to draw something entirely different. For a while, I sat on the only sofa in the Glass Centre and worked up enthusiasm for drawing a display case containing two oddly shaped pieces of glassware, beyond which I could also see some diners in the cafe. As soon as I got out my sketchbook and pen, someone came through the door and stood in front of the display case and took root. 

I did a lot of walking around that day, trying to find a space among the crowds that would afford a decent view of one of the Tall Ships, but one by one the ships upped anchor and sailed out to sea. Their departure seemed like an echo of having to say a sad goodbye to Jenny that day, as she gets ready to return to China.

After a coffee in the cafe, we decided we might as well call it a day. Michael, of course, had drawn several sketches, but even his Tall Ship was rather perfunctory. The surprise of the day was Kim's nicely coloured sketch of one of the ships.

I really, really don't like going home from a sketch crawl without getting anything done, so just as I reached the path that takes me away from the quayside, I saw this little boat at rest and a completely empty stretch of railing. Taking the opportunity, I was able to go home relatively content.

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