London, UK: Whenever I fly back to England, I spend the first few mornings waking up at ridiculously early hours with an urge to go out and sketch everything. One of my least favourite sketching spots in London is Piccadilly Circus, the traffic and tourist filled junction at the bottom end of Regent Street, our very own Times Square if you will. We only call it that because of the neon-lit advert hoardings, there are tourists and traffic jams everywhere in central London. Piccadilly Circus is a headache. So naturally on this early-to-rise morning I headed there first, so I could sketch it in its calmer, emptier state. I stood outside Lillywhites, the big sports megastore full of lovely new football shirts (I'm quite a football shirt geek), waiting for it to open, and sketched the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, also known as the Angel of Christian Charity, more commonly known to Londoners as 'Eros'. After a while, some police officers showed up, dressed in bright yellow overcoats. They were just hanging around, and then more came. Some photographers also started gathering, and then more police, and then two officers mounted on horseback, all in a jovial mood, all happy to pose with tourists. There must have been over forty police officers there, and they all stood together and said “cheese, guv” and had their photo taken in front of the statue (“Ello, ello, ello, what’s goin’ on Eros then?” I chuckled to myself). I had already drawn most of it by then but I did add a couple of coppers for good measure. A young woman from Germany, holidaying in London, stopped and watched me sketch for a while, even sitting down when I crouched over to add the paint, and we talked about the benefits of urban sketching every day. I was in a good mood for my first out-and-about sketch in London, and when I was done I said goodbye to the circus, popped into Lillywhites to see the glossy new Tottenham shirt, and set off to sketch the narrow dusty streets of Soho.
by Pete Scully