Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Sketching the Market Square

It's too cold, wet and windy at the moment for sketching outdoors (for me at least), so I've retreated to the Cambridge branch of Marks and Spencer over the course of a few days to sketch from the cafe. The tables by the windows on the second floor offer a splendid view of the Market Square and St Mary's the Great church with Kings College chapel in the background. The aspect I chose to sketch looks across the market stalls and down St Mary's Street toward the Senate House lawn.

Market Square pen sketch

Getting a window side table to sketch from wasn't easy! The cafe in Mark and Spencer is very popular and everyone wants to sit by the window. I had to lurk for about 20 minutes, surreptitiously browsing home wares while waiting for a table to become free. As soon as a table became vacant I dumped my bag and coat and went to queue up for a pot of peppermint tea and a delicious cheese scone, but the service was not the fastest and by the time I came back to my table my coat and bag had gone! Seeing my look of alarm an adjacent diner told me that a staff member had taken them for safekeeping as she thought they had been left behind by a previous occupant. My things were quickly returned to me and no one else had taken the table so no harm was done and I was grateful to the staff for their vigilance. On the next visit I got my tea before sitting down at a table as close to the window as I could and waited until a table became free. It took longer this time as I needed to get the same table as before to continue sketching the same view.
Market Square pen and watercolour sketch

So lessons learnt on this trip.

  • If sketching from a popular eating venue get there early to ensure the position you want. (This also allows more time to complete the drawing, I had to return to the  same spot to finish my sketch as I hadn't allowed enough time and the light was fading.)
  • Get your food or drink before you sit down even if the seat you want isn't immediately available. You can quickly switch seats later. 
  • If possible reconnoitre the venue first to check the best view, time of day etc. 
  • Be prepared to wait! (You can always sketch your fellow diners while you wait!)

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