34th Worldwide Sketchcrawl at the Natural History Museum, London

'Dodo' from the Natural History Museum, London. (c) Ayesha Gamiet 2012

Last Saturday, I attended my first ever “sketchcrawl” at the Natural History Museum in London. If you don’t know what a sketchcrawl is, take a look at the Urban Sketchers blog, where artists (both amateur and professional) share their sketches of everyday life from around the world. The aim of the site is to encourage the art of drawing on location – i.e. not from photographs or memory. Artists simply try to capture their environments in a sketchbook, and share these visual stories with others.

A “sketchcrawl” is a day when a group of artists meet up and draw on location together. The London Urban Sketchers group decided to spend the day at the Natural History Museum – an excellent choice! Not only are the exhibits fantastic, but the architecture of the museum is simply breathtaking. In fact, the building is my favourite in London.

Our first stop was the bird gallery, where I couldn’t resist the replica dodo (above). Its feathers are so soft and fluffy, it looks like a sheep-bird. How sad to think that such a beautiful animal is now extinct. For this sketch, I used pencil, 0.2 waterproof marker and Chinese stick ink on khadi paper. It was a challenge to keep my inks and materials balanced on my sketchbook while painting – but all part of the fun!

Stained glass panel at the Natural History Museum

After sharing our sketches over lunch in the museum cafe, everybody headed off to different areas of the museum. I was enchanted by the stained glass, and spent the remainder of the afternoon sketching this panel. It took me some time to work out the geometry, but it was very satisfying.

As the afternoon wore on, the light began to fade and the glass changed colour. I haven’t done it justice, but I hope that a little of that subtlety is captured in this sketch.

'Plesiosaur', from the Natural History Museum, London. (c) Ayesha Gamiet 2012

Finally, I am adding this sketch that I made of a Plesiosaur at the Natural History Museum in November last year. It proved quite a challenge, and as you can see, it’s unfinished. I love the texture of the fossils, and the way the shapes of the bones create patterns.

Thank you to all of the Urban Sketchers for such a fun and inspiring day! Looking forward to seeing everyone at the next sketchcrawl!

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