Figure studio sketches

Between Riverside and Crazy

When I was in elementary school I loved to stage little plays with neighborhood kids. In junior high I played one of the red headed twins in Elmer and the Lovebug. Never heard of it? Oh well. And that was the end of my career as a thespian. But the wonder and delight of the stage never left. And now I may have found a way to get closer to that backstage experience, by going to some rehearsals. . .

This is our second year now of having seasons tickets to Left Edge Theatre, featuring left leaning, edgy theatrical productions. So I asked if I could come and draw at their rehearsals. The director said sure! I knew it would also be a great way to sharpen up my reportage sketching skills.

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fountain pen and watercolor in 9 X 12″ Canson Mix Media spiral book

My first try was in the second week of rehearsals for Between Riverside and Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirgis, which by the way opened last night.

I wasn’t yet sure how I was going to approach drawing a theatrical production. As the actors started drifting in, I introduced myself and started to learn their names and parts played. Meanwhile I had time to sketch the set before they started rehearsing.

I guess I thought there would be long pauses where the actors got more direction and I could do a quick freeze-frame captures. But this cast was already so far along that there were almost no pauses, and to my delight and dismay, the action kept moving! How to jump in with the pen and brush? It was like trying to catch a train as it’s leaving the station by running alongside until you get enough speed to grab a door handle and hop! So forgive me if I omit the rest of my scribbles from that evening.

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Before I went back a couple weeks later I thought I’d practice a bit using their PR photos from the website. In their glamor PR shots here they bear only a slight resemblance to the characters they play , but it was a good warmup with no pressure.

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Two night ago I was back to watch the dress rehearsal. [Let me interject here that I do not recommend sketching at performances like this unless you have already seen them or will be seeing them without sketching.]

This play gets off to a rip-roaring start and never lets go of your attention until the very end. So as soon as it started, I had an overwhelming urge to put down my sketchbook and say “this is impossible!”

But I had a sort of strategy, to start with the main character Pops, who hopefully would stay put in his wheelchair for a few minutes, and then just add other characters willy nilly as they appeared. I put a bit of watercolor on during the intermission and the rest the next day.

Leftedge8 I’m no theatre critic, but this is my blog, so I get to give my opinion. This play is outrageous, hilarious, touching, and full of surprises, with a cast of seasoned professional actors. It runs through Nov 10. I’ve already got my tickets for November 3, but you may want to hurry and get yours.

And there’s a whole season of plays coming up. Hopefully by season’s end I will have figured out how to sketch-a-play!

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Portraits Plus. . .

I left my pencils and paints home this week for the Portrait Party at Sebastopol Center for the Arts and brought Prismacolor felt tip pens and my pocket brush pen. So no mistakes allowed. It’s all good, because you don’t have enough time – with the one to ten minute sketch periods – to make it “right” anyway.

We take turns posing for each other, the hardest part for me since I hate to sit still. By the end I was standing and sketching and moving to the music we could hear from the Peacetime concert band playing next door at Ives Park.

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At some point we started doing whole body poses, trying to get some attitude in them and most of us switched to putting more of the body in the  drawings.

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I combined a dark liner with a shading pen to get some quick volume.

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Loved Cary’s pose, the Rosey the Riveter “attitude”. My paper was too small to get the whole figure on the page, a constant problem for me, regardless of how big the paper is! So many times the feet and the top of the head don’t make it in.

There are two more Portrait Parties scheduled – August 29 and September 26. Put it on your calendar if you would like to join us next time. We meet at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts from 5-8pm. Beginners and pros are all welcome.

Last Night’s Party

Last night’s Portrait Party at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts was as thoroughly engrossing as the others.  At times I felt like I was in the company of professional models! though it was just us chickens of the sketching sort – a fun group.

If you have been wanting to come join us you may want to put our next date on your calendar – Thursday May 23, we’ll be at it again, 5-8pm. Everyone invited, no matter your figure drawing skills or lack thereof.

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These were my 2 minute sketches, done with a wet brush and a graphite cake, which I’d hoped would be a quicker way to do the modeling. It’s a somewhat clunky medium but gets one drawing with a brush.

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At 3 minute poses I switched to pencil and watercolor, which I liked better.

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I guess we all have our visual “issues” to overcome. When I’m sitting too close to someone I’m drawing, I can’t seem to avoid sketching them larger, often so they barely fit on the page – like Catherine here!

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I got out an Inktense pencil to sketch the one on the right.

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In this 10 minute pose I got a bit more ambitious, with more of the figure.

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Last pose of the night. A very wise woman gave us a lovely peaceful pose.

I’m so tempted to go back into these and “finish” them, but I would surely lose whatever “freshness” I have achieved. It’s wonderful practice, and frankly as good as meditation for quieting the mind. We have music playing in the background, but each person is intensely in their own creative space. The resulting portraits are as different in style as the individuals we are.

See you next month, May 23rd?

#oneweek100people2019

There’s still two days left in the 100 people in One Week sketch challenge! The social media air waves have been filled with speedy people-sketches. Maybe it’s getting a little much? Nevertheless, since I’ve been busy in my own way, here’s some samples. Whether or not I get to 100, who cares? Certainly not me.foolsvol2_3

The lovely lady in the Fool’s Parade towering over us and waving her flag. (done from a photo of course!)

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If you live around Sebastopol you may recognize this guy – a fixture in the community, always dancing around with the manic look in his eye.

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And one last Hubbub Club musician in the signature colors (and hiking shoes).

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Bob (my husband) was learning a new book binding method and let me use this tiny one for my 100 people. The newspaper was a good source of faces that day. I did two of Attorney General Barr because the top one didn’t reveal the tilt of the head and other signs of stress. I almost got Netanyahu’s smirk, but need to learn to exaggerate more!

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Lurking in the Whole Foods dining area here. The paper is smooth so the paint sits on the surface – actually pretty fun to work with as the colors creep into each other.

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I’m using fountain pen with brown ink here, and discovering the fact that I can no longer see clearly across a room without my distance glasses and can’t focus on my sketchbook and brush without my prescription readers. Time for graduated lenses, but until then. . .messy sketches.

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The black thread is a bit distracting, but I love this little book because I can feel free in it!

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Another day at the restaurant at Cornerstone Gardens. More sketches (not people) from there later.

#oneweek100people2019

Are you getting your pencils sharpened and pens filled for next week’s challenge to sketch 100 people in one week, beginning Monday April 8, and share your sketches on social media? If you want to know the “rules” and the intention behind this fun challenge (now in its third year), go to the Facebook group page, join up and read a fun description with lots of ideas about how to participate. When you put your mind to it and form a plan, it is remarkably easy to do 100 quick people sketches in a week. And once you get going, sometimes it’s hard to stop!

And then, what good timing! You’ll be warmed up for the next Portrait Party at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts on April 18, 5-8pm. It’s getting to be a monthly thing, and I’m so glad because I’m meeting lots of new people, getting to sketch with beginners and professional artists both. See the details below and more about last month’s party here.

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Another Portrait Party!

A portrait party? You mean a figure drawing studio class? Or a party where you get your picture taken or sketched?

Well, none of the above, but all of the above. Our second Portrait Party held at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts last week attracted many new curious souls, some of whom wanted to observe, or in fact to pose and be sketched (without themselves sketching). But what we were doing was sitting in groups of six  sketchers and taking turns sketching each other (one person posing at a time). No teacher, but lots of sharing of ideas, techniques, and materials. We were fortunate to also have some accomplished artist/teachers among the crowd of enthusiasts.

We started out with one-minute sketches.

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. . .and went up to five and seven minutes so I got out the watercolor and Inktense pencils. And rescued some hats I’d brought. (A little dog had curled up on them to take a nap, bored as I’m sure he/she was to be in a group of humans where no one was paying him any attention.) We had fun posing with hats. They really help to add some (additional) character to us characters.

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No names here, because really. .  .it’s not about likeness. I have destroyed many a lovely person’s visage with my paint and pencils.

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Can you tell that this was my favorite of the evening?

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A hoody for a change.

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A last minute dark wash pencil at the end, heavy handed, but oozing enthusiasm. . .

And we’ll be holding more of these portrait parties at the Seb. Arts Center, so I hope you’ll be able to come next time. Stay tuned for the dates!