Drawn to Distraction in a Life-Class at the Mall Galleries

To get to the Mall Galleries I need to cross St James’s Park.
It is fairly quiet and the swans and cygnets on the lake create a peaceful mid-morning scene.

A crow crows as I walk past.

I step into Pall Mall. Did you know that it gets the name from the 17th century from when a Frenchman introduced the game Pelemele (an older sort of croquet type game) to be played on the lawns here?

A lone jogger huffs and puffs by…

Jogger jogging

Note: referring back to my post of 18th February ‘Now is the Time to Ban Joggers from Tranquil Walkways’ in which I complained a bit about joggers ‘en masse’. The odd solitary jogger is fine by me! It’s only when they are in their hordes taking over the pavement space that I have contention.

A long line of tourists crocodile their way up the red ceremonial route of Pall Mall and carry on past the elegant Regency style porticoes of the Mall Galleries, and on towards Admiralty Arch and Trafalgar Square.


A long line of tourists crocodile up the Mall


Note: the Mall has been tinted red since the period of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation to create the effect of a giant red carpet leading up to Buckingham Palace – so eat your heart out Oscars!

Before entering the galleries, I glance up to the sky and see the sun (looking more like the moon than the sun making a feeble watery effort to break through the wintry cloudiness.

A watery sun tries to break through the wintry cloudiness

Once inside the galleries I join a pop-up life-class workshop with artist tutor Henry Gibbons Guy. The model is good looking and has a beard that reminds me of an 8th century BC Assyrian warrior of King Ashurnasirpal II who might have leapt right out of a great stone frieze that I have seen gracing a couple of walls in the British museum (I make a note to return to have another look at it again sometime).  It has all these wonderful warriors and horses and lions carved on a gigantic scale and is so AMAZING!


I’ve been supplied with good quality paper (which negates the lugging of my sketchbooks in an already too heavy satchel!). I want to experiment using charcoal and graphite sticks and mixing them with some wax. I have brought with me a small pot of Michael Harding’s beeswax paste and a Windsor and Newton colourless Oilbar. I draw a bit then smudge on some wax. Hmm this could be interesting… I look up and become a little distracted (not this time by the model, but by what is hanging on the walls. The workshop is being held in one of the galleries and the walls are exhibiting some smashing works of art and a painting has caught my eye.


It is a stunning landscape painted with a palette knife.
Tim Galton ‘Incombe Hole near Ivinghoe Beacon, Buckinghamshire’

I return my attention back to my artistic endeavours and scribble and smudge and concentrate a bit more on my drawing

At the break, I sip a cup of tea and am idly looking at a painting of a rainy night scene, when the Assyrian Warrior God speaks over my shoulder, ‘That’s one of mine’ he tells me.  I look at him, and back at the label beside the picture; it turns out that the Assyrian Warrior is an artist called David Caldwell, and a good one at that.

David Caldwell ‘Rainy Night’

At the end of the workshop I roll up my master drawing of the Assyrian warrior and tuck it under my arm. Before leaving, I take a walk through the galleries and check out some of the other paintings in the Lynn Painter-Steiner Prize Exhibition.

There is a beautiful oil of Ripley Castle. Gosh! That reminds me of an incredible experience I had whilst visiting this castle in Yorkshire. You wouldn’t believe it! I must tell you all about it in another post when I have more time to tell you about a ghostly ‘occurrence’ from the English civil War. Its a very spooky castle.



A large picture of a broken ship in a wide a cool sea…

Detail of painting
Broken Vessel by Peter Archer


Picture Details
The Cowgate is the winner of the Prize and I like it.
The Cowgate by Henry Kondracki


Details of The Cowgate

The next painting I come across makes me feel like taking a walk around a garden…and I love the thickness of the paint and brushwork. Painted by Peter Clossick and Runner Up for the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize.

The Garden
Another Runner Up Prize painted by Benjamin Andreas is of Hoxton Square. I’m often in Hoxton so, who knows, I might pass by this location sometime…
Hoxton Square Daytime
Emma Haworth’s Secret Garden is like reading a wonderful children’s story and I would have liked more time to explore it. The delightful naivety of its style would be magical to hang in any child’s room.
Secret Garden
Details from Secret Garden

My final painting selection just makes me want to do some wild swimming in some unknown remote and secret place..

Secret Place by Daniel Ablitt
Oil on canvas


After spending the morning in distractions of the arts I exit the galleries and out into the afternoon.

Is the sun shining? Nope! The sun has failed in its vain attempt to break through the cloud which now hangs flat and grey overhead. Ah well, Spring is just around the corner, so who knows? We might get to see the sun some time soon.

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