Stephen's Life in the Day


 
 
 
 
A Life in the Day - Stephen Wiltshire - Sunday Times


I get up at 8 o'clock. From my bedroom window in Maida Vale I can see the BT Tower. I have drawn it many times because I love all sorts of skyscrapers. I will have a bath and put on jeans, a T-shirt, a sweater and my trainers. Then I will come downstairs and say hello to my mum. I'll have a bowl of Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes or Fruit n Fibre and make myself some tea. On Wednesdays and Fridays, I go to my gallery, so I need to leave at 10 o'clock. I get on the No 6 bus from Warwick Avenue. It takes me all the way. It's a nice journey, past Hyde Park, Marble Arch and Oxford Street. I get off near Trafalgar Square.

My sister, Annette, and her husband, Zoltan, run the gallery – it's a family business. We moved into it in 2006 and I have a small studio above. It was my idea to paint it all white – very nice and bright. I have a drawing board, a stool and a small chair. I also have shelves for my materials – pads, paper, pastels, charcoal sticks, pen and pencils. On the bottom shelf I have my tea and coffee and a box of biscuits. I like to sit at my board and start drawing straight away. When I do a drawing, I use a pencil first, because if it's not right I can rub it out and start again. When I've finished, I go over it using a fine black pen. I like Staedtler pens: 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.5. The finest is 0.1.

I've been drawing buildings for years. I have a good memory, so I can see them and then come back here and draw them. The first one I drew was St Paul's Cathedral. That was when I was 7 or 8 and I was at Queensmill School (a special school for autistic children). I started drawing other buildings after that – the Houses of Parliament, the Tower of London, Big Ben, St Pancras Station, Buckingham Palace... That's where the Queen lives. I haven't met the Queen but I met Prince Charles when I was awarded an MBE in 2006. I like all the old buildings because they're so classical, but I also like the new ones in the City, like the Gherkin, which looks like a big cigar, and the Lord Mayor's building, which looks like a woolly hat. But I love Canary Wharf the best, because of all the skyscrapers. Canada Square Tower's my favourite.

I stop for lunch at one o'clock. I go to a sandwich shop nearby and have a turkey or chicken sandwich with salad or sweetcorn. I then go back and carry on. I do lots of commissions. I have a long waiting list, so I'm very busy, but I always stop at 4 o'clock. I also love drawing cars, especially American cars: Cadillacs, Pontiacs, Chevys....

Today I was drawing a Miami 1975 Chevrolet Impala from a picture on my laptop. It's very nice car, very spacious. I collect the models, too. I keep them in my bedroom. I've got 75 so far, most of them 1:43 scale. My favourite's the Bluesmobile, from the film The Blues Brothers. It's a 1974 Dodge Monaco sedan. I've also got the sheriff's police car from the 1973 movie Live and Let Die.

Sometimes I draw city panoramas. I need to use a roll of paper to do this and work in a bigger studio. I did my first one after I went to Venice in 1989. Since then I've done Liverpool, Hong Kong, Madrid, Rome, Dubai, London, Jerusalem and Tokyo.

Tokyo was my biggest – 10 metres long. Last year I did one of New York. I went up in a helicopter and flew over Manhattan for 20 minutes. I could see all over. It was six metres long. I started on the far left with New Jersey and drew all the way up to the George Washington Bridge and down into Central Park, lower Manhattan and Staten Island. It took six days to draw from memory.

On Mondays I go to the City and Guilds art school in Kennington. I've been going since I was 20. I study life-drawing, print-making and paintings, but I love making etchings the best. I've just finished one of double-decker buses going round Piccadilly Circus.

When I'm working, I like to listen to music. I've got an iPhone and Zoltan puts lots of albums on it for me. I love funk and disco, especially Saturday Night Fever. I also like the Top 40. On Thursdays, I go to Evie's house. She's my piano teacher. I'm learning Stand by Me and Wonderful World, and when I get home I practice them on my own piano.

In the evening Mum cooks dinner for the two of us. It might be lamb steak, egg noodles and vegetables, or spaghetti bolognese, fish and chips, or sausage and mash with peas. On Saturdays I help her with the shopping. We go to Church Street market. When dinner's over I watch TV. I like CSI: NY and CSI: Miami. One of my favourite film is Rain Man, Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman drive across America in a 1949 Buick Roadmaster convertible.

At about 9 I say to Mum: ‘Do you want anything?' She might have a cup of tea, so I make us both a cup. Sometime I might have a biscuit or a snack. Then I wash our cups.

At about 10:30 I go to bed. We live on an estate, in a maisonette on three floors, and my bedroom's at the top. Now at night the top of the BT Tower lights up with different colours, so it looks very pretty. One day I hope to go up it. When I go to bed and close my eyes, maybe that's what I'll dream about tonight.


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