Drawing Hampton Court Palace

The thing with old buildings is that they're full of energy - like all the things that happen inside their walls have left behind a trace. 

Like if you listen really carefully, you'll be able to hear the laughing (and sobbing) that went on at Charles II's honeymoon in 1662. Or maybe even the cries of Catherine Howard as she was arrested on charges of treason. Or the music and dancing - and the smells of the food at the banquets - when Elizabeth I hosted Christmas. These vibes are just totally spilling out of Hampton Court Palace, am I right? 

I've been drawing since I could hold a pen in my hand, I'm told, but we're all learning, and I still am, years later. And when I started sketching buildings, I took online courses and watched hundreds of hours of YouTube videos. I filled sketchbooks with practice sketches and joined local art groups, to learn and create with them. And it was there that I found out about the artist Ian Fennelly. 

Ian Fennelly is an urban sketcher and he uses colour in a really exciting way. He talks about the realistic colour that's there (that's the red and yellow brickwork, the dark windows) and then also using emotional colour. That's whatever colour you feel works in the scene, even if it's not actually there. For me, on the day I painted this, Hampton Court Palace was associated with the colour blue, so this is what I ran with. 

This was a sketch done from a photo I took of Hampton Court Palace during my visit in 2019, and it shows how I saw it today.  That's what's so great about art - I could draw this in a week's time and it would be different! 

Here's how I did it. The links below are affiliate links. This means that if you click on a link and decide to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support. 

1. First, I very loosely sketched out the outline using water soluble grey tone Tombow brush pens. They have one end that's a brush and the other that is finer, like a marker. This was to give me a rough idea of where everything fits on the paper. I knew that I'd lose most of these lines ones I got the wet paintbrush going on there, but this was a guide to make sure what I wanted to draw would fit on the paper. 

2. I loaded up my brush with water and scrubbed in some of the main colours in watercolour - the red bricks, the yellow brickwork on the towers - and some of that lovely rich blue. Once that was dry, I used water-resistant fine liners (this one was a 0.3 size) to add detail and the beginnings of definition.  I got kind of excited when colours bled into each other and did their own thing. That's why I love watercolours. They're a bit random and spontaneous. 

3. Next, out came the Tombow brush pens again, adding some shadows, tone and definition. 
I started to blacken the windows and add hints of brickwork. 

4. This last bit took the longest. Lots of adding of detail, more shading and more colour. I realised I'd left out a chimney so added that in too. 

And that was it! The colours lightened as they dried. The whole thing took me a couple of hours and it was a perfect way to start a snoozy Bank Holiday Monday. 

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