Urban Sketching at Alexandra Palace and why I am my own worst enemy

The problem with having a Bad Art Day isn’t that you then think you’re a bad artist. No. The problem with having a Bad Art Day is that when you return to the scene of the crime, trying to do the same thing you did last time you had a Bad Art Day, you inevitably put so much pressure on yourself that you end up psyching yourself out. And that is what happened to me yesterday.

I had the most awful of Bad Art Days at Urban Sketchers last month. The location was brilliant, the people were lovely, and everything I drew was horrendous. It’s ok, it happens. But naturally it made me hesitant about going back to this month’s Urban Sketchers. Still, the sun was shining and it seemed like it was going to be a good day, so I got up and headed across London to Alexandra Palace.

I drew my friend Mary again. It was ok, not as bad as I felt like it was yesterday morning. Mary likes it. But I struggled to draw anything else in the morning. Nothing felt right until I avoided the lunchtime group photo and stood by the boating lake drawing some of the Canada geese.


I like these little geese. They have character.

Pressure off myself a little bit, I drew a silly little rendition of some of the swan boats on the lake before we headed inside to get warm. In the Palm Court I took out my watercolours and sketched some palm trees, before reverting to my marker pens and some unsuspecting members of the general public. It was good – I produced some good work.


And everyone loved the geese.

Lesson learned. I hope.


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