figure sketching

100People Days 1-3

This was day three of the sketch 100 people in one week challenge. I don’t usually like to be told what kind of art to do, preferring to set my own goals. But when so many of my urban sketch friends were participating, I signed on. (you know FMO, fear of missing out?) Well, here’s what’s happening so far.


Lamy fountain pen and ink in a 6 X 8″ Hahnemuhle Nostalgie sketchbook

I started out using the Sktchy app, and as much as possible, continuous line drawing. It helps to keep the pen on the paper so you don’t lose your place! The drawings on the right were done first, and look at the improvement already when I made it to the other side of the paper and got clearer about where to draw the lines?


On Monday afternoon I caught the Muses (in my mixed media workshop) hard at work. Noodlers Red Black ink in the fountain pen here, and it’s slightly water soluble.

On Tuesday I was reading my friends’ blogs and feeling a bit jealous that they live in cities where there’s lots of people to draw. Here at home I have my husband or the goats at the bottom of the hill. Oh, and the cats.



So I headed over to the train depot at Railroad Square in the afternoon, where there were a few men waiting together while they complained about the cost of the ride on the new SMART train. The hipster (pictured above) lingered only moments and left before I could add his girlfriend (who was a great match!)


People don’t really stand all that still when they’re impatient for the train to come, and then it came, and that was it. So I headed over to Old Courthouse Square where I could sketch sleeping people from a distance, homeless or just down for a nice afternoon nap?


Then headed back to the S.R. Mall to see what action was there. Not bad! On the left I was trying to capture this beafy guy while he was balancing on the outside of his feet, but he changed positions and so did my drawing. The girls on the left and the right of him were my favorite sketches of the day. No pencil first. I was discovering that when I do the quick pencil thing first, I lose the gesture, so I put it away.

From a seat on a couch in front of a furniture store in the mall I could see the old men who were resting in the chairs in the middle of the mall.The one on the left was gesturing while telling a story. . .caught it!


Still on the sofa I’m watching the escalator traffic and getting maybe 5-10 more seconds of drawing time than with the people walking by. Then a lady comes right up to me and asks about the sofa I’m sitting on, and I realize it’s time to move on again.

And I get home and look at the sketches and see that almost everyone, even some of the people on the escalator, and the father eating dinner with his son in the food court, all are looking at their smart phones! But you already know, that’s our new world.


Today I had to wait a long while at Toyota. I decided I was “broken in” enough to use the pocket brush pen. With that I had to slow down enough to use the tip lightly for fine lines and broadly to “paint” in the darks. But what about gray or white hair and a beard? When you have only two values, black and white, it’s challeging to show subtlety?  I realized that every line started to count more and shapes became more important.


I haven’t counted them up yet. Since I’m headed to San Francisco for the weekend there will be lots more opportunities, and I’d like to try some color next!

How are you doing with your people sketching this week?


Character Sketching

You don’t have to look far to find characters to sketch! Your friends will do quite nicely. I borrowed the idea from my Urban Sketcher friend Vivian and her group and got some people together with costumes and attitude to pose for each other for 15 minute timed poses (with wine of course).


We never got around to adding words at the time, but I stuck some in the next day.


Actually I think I might have the wrong era here. More like Dickens era from the waist up, but who cares?! (She left the corset at home because it is after all the 21st century and California casual at that!)


It’s all in the props. . .


Switched to pencil here and more drawing with watercolor for a different look. Also got tired of painting in the clothing!


This character reminded me of the cutest chick contest at the Butter and Eggs day in Petaluma!


Becky’s character from Sweeney Todd. At this point I’d given up trying to get the whole figure into a 15 min sketch with color!

Hopefully these “characters” will be posting their sketches on Instagram and Facebook!

If you want to get some figure sketching practice and can’t get to a group set up, try these two free online resources:  the Sktchy phone app and Quick Poses

And then if you want to Put People in Your Sketches on location, join me on March 24 for my day-long workshop of that name, in Santa Rosa, CA. You’ll learn strategies for drawing people “in the act”, mixing believable skin tones, dealing with clothing, and connecting the figure with context. For more information visit my website!

#OneWeek100People2017, Day 4

Day 4 of the challenge I decided to speed things up a bit more. Using the site I set the timer on 60 seconds and got out my Pentel Pocket Brush Pen which is great for gestural sketching (I had forgotten how much I love this pen!)

The Quick Poses in the clothes and costumes category tend to be action poses that rely heavily on costumes with weaponry with only an occasional ballet dancer or fashion model thrown in. I had to sit on my judgments about that and just get started!


I don’t seem to be able to fit too many of these gestures on a page (6 X 9″ sketchbook,) so I had to keep flipping pages. The figures are grouped randomly by me to save some paper. Some interesting story lines resulted from the pairings!


In this one for instance, the pinup figure appears to be held hostage. (Not my intention!)


I was catching on here about leaving out what i didn’t have time to draw. How little we need to recognize a figure.


My brush pen is starting to run out of ink here!


So I switch to the Lamy Joy fountain pen. The muscle man pose is a gift! Most figure models are attractive women ,so it takes longer to learn how to sketch a male physique.


The break dancer was particularly difficult, but I think the skateboarder may be my favorite.


But I had to get some live model practice and headed to town to catch the high schoolers who always swarm the Safeway grocery store after school and hang out in front. It was a warm day, so they all seemed to have those multi-colored ice pops and some sodas. I felt like a lurker, standing behind my car directly across from them. But of course they didn’t notice me. Adults are largely invisible to people this age.

You probably know of Danny Gregory of sketchbook fame? I loved his video, I’d rather draw you than shoot you on the difference between the way a camera sees and we human’s see . Watching it this morning made it just a bit easier to accept the gross imperfections of my own efforts and appreciate this process. Thanks Danny! Collecting 100 sketches in 5 days of busy life doesn’t lend itself particularly to accuracy in drawing, but a lot of life is getting communicated nevertheless!


Day 1: 100 people sketch week

There’s a lot of sketching folks out there this week rising to the #OneWeek100People2017 challenge! So I couldn’t resist. It’s actually a five day challenge, which means 20 people/day sketched any way you want. But if you’re busy, obviously that means fast! Monday is always a very full day for me with my Mom’s group in the morning and Muse Group in the afternoon.

So sleepy-eyed in the evening after dinner I sat down to sketch from, a great online resource for when you can’t get out and sketch live. Most of these I started out with watercolor and added ink.

After finishing these I wanted to keep going but it was getting late. These poses are so great!! I think I could get addicted. And to reach the 100 goal I’m going to have to work faster and simpler. Maybe just stick to pen. Later today I’ll be in a grocery store with my sketch buddies capturing live movement with more speed and probably a lot less accuracy.

Why do this? Drawing is one of those activities that improves with quantity, like reps with those barbells or miles of walking/running/biking. And there’s a previous limitation to overcome. 100 sketches in 5 days just might do it.

I find inspiration in so many places. Here’s some of my favorites:  Marc Taro Holmes of course, and Liz Steel, and Suhita Shirodhar. They’re all blogging about this challenge this week and talking honestly about the process. Check it out! And I’ll be back every day to share my own discoveries/sketches.