Figure Marathon

charcoal and colored pencil in circa 1907 song book

I’m going to take you on the crazy odyssey of my 6 hours of figure sketching at the Marathon in Oakland yesterday.  I couldn’t decide what mediums/styles I wanted to work in, so I brought lots of art supplies and tried them all (meanwhile berating myself for not being more consistent!)  The warm up sketches went in this old book I brought.

Derwent Dark Wash pencil on HP w/c paper

I do soooo appreciate it when models strike natural poses and vary the clothing.  This one was so touching.  These are all 10 or 20 minute poses.

pencil, gouache on hp w/c paper

This guy had the most amazing eyebrows that gave his face such sensitivity, like they were wings that would fly him off in a heartbeat.

Derwent Dark Wash pencil on acrylic toned w/c paper

I brought various “starts” with me and the colors in this one seemed to match this “ample” model.

Dark Wash pencil and gouache on gessoed hp w/c paper

As you can see, I tried to obliterate the face, which ruined the sketch.  When will I learn not to get so descriptive of facial features in these quick poses?!

At the end of the day I was still undecided about what direction I should move in with my figure sketches, but the gouache on smooth watercolor paper was the most fun!



  1. these worked well….I’m glad there is someone else that takes alsorts to life sessions…but can’t say I’m as productive…amazing array of models too..and great use of all your medium…regards cilla


    1. Thank you Cilla! It’s ironic but sometimes having a lot of supplies with me just adds to the confusion. Often I do my most expressive sketches when I’ve forgotten to bring something important, like a paint brush and have to use an ink dropper or something.


  2. Susan,

    I always enjoy checking your website for what’s new. I sure wasn’t disappointed today. I love the variety. Especially like the large model on pre-painted paper. Such a nice sketch and the paint provides all the movement.



  3. Love the guy with the bushy eyebrows ! That red is perfect and stricking, contrasting with the strong lines ! I love the others as well; so different from each other !


  4. I love these–so full of real life! I was glad you also included your comments about berating yourself for not being consistent. I bet that once you saw all the great results you realized how silly it was to worry about that!


    1. Yes, but that won’t keep me from feeling silly again the next time I keep changing my mind. This is why, when I do sketchbooking, I make sure I only have a pen and watercolors and one brush with me, so I don’t get confused.


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