People sketches

Put People in Your Sketches

These on-location (urban sketch) workshops I’ve been teaching can be a challenge. Not only do I need to be prepared with the content, but there’s all the logistics, like parking and food and bathrooms and the big unknown, WEATHER. This time the weather picture changed each day this week from sun to rain to sun and then, finally to just plain damp and cold. I know this sounds whiny to those of you who live where it snows. I see the posts on Instagram of icy, snowy scenes that are sketched on site, and I’m impressed.

So I fretted right up to the minute when my workshop started on Saturday, but then this group of ready-for-just-about-anything sketchers showed up from all over the Bay Area ready to go.

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We started out with drawing warm ups in the back room of Aroma Roasters, enjoying their coffee and warmth and practicing the 30 second pencil gesture followed by pen drawing, using each other as models and later infiltrating the coffee shop proper.

The idea is to go from drawing big shapes to smaller details like clothing and facial features, but to get the gesture down first in case the person moves. We were about to move out to the train station where people stand still for only moments!

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Then things got really interesting as passengers arrived.

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Passengers getting their tickets. . . I realized that I’ve never even ridden this SMART train yet. I bet it’s fun!

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Well, I may have exaggerated the colors here a bit, but this gentleman did in fact have yellow pants and shirt. The assignment here was to give the figure some context in your sketch. We were telling people stories after all!

peoplesketch3We huddled around the bed of an antique wagon on site to share our morning’s sketches. Some of this group had completed the OneWeek100People sketch challenge and had many wonderful sketches to share from the morning alone.

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The afternoon was about adding color to the sketches. Here I’m doing a minimal treatment of skin, clothing and context, which is often all one has time for.

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On the right I mixed the yellows with the reds in my palette to get light skin tones. It’s something you just have to play around with. The basic “recipe” is to use lots more red than yellow and dilute with water. I add Cerulean Blue for the shadow shapes. For dark skin I use dark versions of the red and yellow and blue. Then if there’s bright clothing or other bright reflected light (the skin reflects everything around it!) I glaze a bit of that color over the skin when it’s dry.

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The finished demo. I wanted to show how you could draw one figure over another without worrying too much about the lines showing through (her arm)! And notice the green on his face.

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We were all a bit chilled at the end, but there were a lot of smiles and enthusiasm about doing more people sketching!

We missed the lovely warm spring weather by a couple days! But there’s more opportunities coming up to attend on-location sketch workshops here in the Bay Area if you’re interested.

My next day workshop is Watercolor Simplified for the Sketcher on May 5 in Sonoma Visit my website for more details. But that’s not all! On May 26 I’m teaching Sketch the Vignette in Petaluma. It’s one of the 10X10 Urban Sketch workshops, all listed below!

URBAN SKETCHERS BAY AREA 10X10 CLASSES, SPRING 2018

The International Urban Sketchers organization and San Francisco Bay Area Urban Sketchers are bringing back the popular series of on-location sketching workshops, running from April to June 2018. (We are hoping to repeat the series in the Fall.) Workshops are designed for all levels of participants, but check class details to see if it’s a good fit for you. Class size is limited to 15 participants. Workshop cost $45 (some have an additional materials fee.) 

Info about individual classes is listed below. Click here to see a flyer with more information plus links for all the classes.

10×10 – Nina Khashchina: Gouache Your World

April 7, 10-1 

Location: Palo Alto

This workshop will give participants basic tools needed to use gouache successfully. It is geared toward people who struggled with gouache before but also to those trying this medium for the first time. We will use small-scale exercises to cover transparent and opaque methods available with the gouache and learn techniques for working with shape and color, creating interesting textures, and details of urban landscape, on location, using gouache as the main tool. There is a materials cost of $15, paid to the instructor on the day. 

Register here on Eventbrite

10×10 – Mark Simmons: Your Storytelling Kit

April 14, 1-4

Location: San Francisco

We’ll look at a variety of comics and cartooning techniques that can be applied to urban sketching, event reportage, and storytelling. The workshop will be held at San Francisco’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival, where we can practice our comic art tricks; we’ll start with a presentation and demo of comic devices like word balloons, captions, and sound effects to capture dialog and incorporate text, pen and ink rendering, with emphasis on monochrome art, use of line weight and spot blacks and organizing a visual narrative into sequential panels. We’ll apply them at the event, and then regroup to compare notes in a brief show-and-tell.

Register here on Eventbrite

10×10 – Bill Russell: Procreate Digital Sketching

Location: Larkspur

April 21, 10-1

Finally, with the Procreate drawing app and the Apple iPad Pro, artists have the best quality technology for urban sketching. Join Bill at Marin County Mart in Larkspur Landing for a fast-paced primer, starting with a one-hour tutorial, where he will share his own digital sketching knowledge and skillset. He will teach you how to simplify the process, so you can make beautiful pictures fast and easy. You will create some of your own digital sketches of their farmers market, cool stores and live entertainment. Each person must have a basic understanding of Procreate and have it installed on their iPad Pro. An Apple Pencil is also required.

Register here on Eventbrite

10×10 – Diane Olivier: Chinatown Drawing & Eating Adventure

May 6, 11-2 

Location: San Francisco

An outdoor/indoor workshop with a bit of walking. We will meet up at Portsmouth Square Playground for a demo of a few concepts to capture and organize information from our adventure. From there a 2 minute walk through the heart of Chinatown on Grant Avenue to eat lunch and sketch our meal. Diane will detail what to look for: the space, the wait staff, the customers, and the food! After lunch we’ll take a 2 minute walk for dessert at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. Here we’ll see the tiny shop, the product and how they are made. We’ll end with a show-and-tell in the alley to share our stories and our drawings. 

Register here on Eventbrite

10×10 – Uma Kelkar: Landscapes, Quickly!

May 13, 12-3 

Location: Millbrae

This workshop will teach you how to look. That’s right, learn how to see a landscape. Learn how to reduce a scene into no more than 3 shapes and 3 values. Experience agile sketching by using limited tools, single pigment, and letting go of some details. At end of the 3 hours, you should be able to do a direct brush sketch (with a single color) and yet capture a landscape. The lesson plan of the workshop is active, thus settling down to draw in balmy weather will not happen. Participants will move, sketch, move, make mistakes, make more sketches. Sketches will be be spontaneous, lively and the sketcher will be mentally energized.

Workshop full. Click here to be added to waitlist.

10×10 – Susan Cornelis: Sketch the Vignette

May 26, 10-1

Location: Petaluma

In this workshop we will explore tools for simplifying and designing your sketches on location to quickly get to the visual story you most want to tell. We will build the sketch out from the point of greatest interest, connecting it to its context and leaving out all that isn’t necessary to make a more powerful impact. Principles of vignette design and using the white of the paper will be practiced along with simple drawing and watercolor applications.

Register here on Eventbrite

10×10 – Oliver Hoeller: How to Build a Strong Sketch out of Weak Elements

June 2, 12-3

Location: San Francisco

Often we see things that appeal to us—a lamp, a button, a watch—but we don’t sketch them because they may be a weak motif by themselves. In this workshop we will learn strategies to combine many weak elements into an interesting hodgepodge that tells the story of a place. We will practice this skill at the Asian Art Museum, where we assemble personal spreads out of the individual pieces on display. We will start outside to practice contour drawing and discuss 10 strategies to form a rich picture out of individual elements. Participants will then select from the tools presented and draw their own 2 spreads in the museum. Half way through, one-on one feedback will help to solidify the approaches. In the end we will add (water) color to the work and discuss our results. 

Workshop almost full. Register here on Eventbrite

10×10 – Carlos Almeida: The Sense of Urban Spaces

June 9, 9-12 

Location: Palo Alto

The workshop is about process and the understanding of the urban space as a first approach through quick observation of massing, scale, proportionality of elements, textures, light, shade and shadow and how all these aspects can be incorporated in the frame to achieve a good sketch composition in order to clearly and effectively convey what is seen in a specific period of time.

Register here on Eventbrite

10×10 – Suma CM: From Line to Design

June 10, 1-4

Location: Redwood City

This will be an energizing class! We’ll explore the downtown with a minimal kit, stopping for demos and exercises. We’ll start by learning how to frame compact, pleasing vignettes on the fly, with an emphasis on shapes and balanced design. Then we’ll review techniques for adding vibrant color to bring the compositions to life. Beginners will be able to focus on objects and simple structures, while experienced sketchers can use the concepts to work on more complex streetscapes. Register here on Eventbrite

10×10 – Richard Sheppard: Unraveling the Complexity of Travel Sketching 

June 23, 10-1 

Location: San Francisco

The best souvenirs are not the things you buy or the photos you take while on vacation, but drawings you create in a sketchbook. Sketching allows the artist to slow down enough to get acquainted with surroundings that are so often overlooked while framing the world through a lens. Yet sketching in public can be a daunting experience for the self-conscious sketcher, or for those that are just unprepared. The first part of this class will cover tips on getting beyond the emotional roadblocks that keep us from sketching. Then we’ll discuss materials, styles, and techniques that are best suited for travel sketching. We will learn how to get the most out of our sketchbooks while on the road.

Workshop full. Click here to be added to waitlist.

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100! and Julia Kay’s Portrait Party

How did it go with the 100 people in one week sketches? Did you see some of the wonderful people sketches that were out on the web last week? The #oneweek100people will get you there! I made my 100 over the weekend, but just got back yesterday from San Francisco, so here are some of them.

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(here Tania is in color because she’s the speaker but also because she was wearing this amazing peacock vest and matching jewelry she got in Uzbekistan.)

On day 4 of last week I was at my friend Tania Amochaev’s (Romanov) book reading and opening in San Francisco. Her just published book is Mother Tongue: Three Generations of Balkan Women, available now on Amazon. The story follows the lives of three generations of women: Katarina, Zora and Tania over the last 100 years when they lived in countries that were dissolved, formed and reformed. They lived in exile, in refugee camps and in new worlds (namely San Francisco!). Tania tells this remarkable story straight from the heart. Her mother tongue is literally the language she spoke only with her mother, one of so many tongues she is comfortable speaking.

When I was just 21 years old I traveled through then Yugoslavia with absolutely no knowledge of the history and struggles of this fractured land. If only I’d read this book before I went. After reading it I’m more determined than ever to make a trip back.

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I was seated on the front and side where I had a pretty good view of the faces in the audience.

 

Taniareads2_2Tania’s story is so moving that the audience was rapt and no one seemed to want her to stop reading!

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On Friday we were having lunch in the colorful Mission neighborhood of San Francisco at a Peruvian restaurant, Alma Cocina enjoying their mouth watering rotisserie chicken! . . .followed by coffee at Philz across the street. My preference is always to sketch a variety of ethnicities and lifestyles, and I hit the jackpot. Hiding the book in your lap is good for staying undetected when up close, but it makes for some pretty wonky lines.

I ordered Jacob’s Wonder blend of “chocolate, smoke and nuts” flavors. Getting coffee at Philz is like going to a wine tasting room in Sonoma County. You get to hang out a bit with a hip young person, discuss the flavors, have them add or subtract cream and sugar, and then sip and murmur approval, watching their enjoyment at having gotten it “right”.

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And not a single person there was over 30 I’m sure. Oh well, except me.

 

 

On Saturday I finished off my 100 people sketches at Arch Art Supplies at a meet up called Julia Kay’s Portrait Party. We sat in groups of 6-8 and posed for each other to sketch. We started off with 30-second poses, sketching with the non-dominant hand. The idea was to start off messing up so badly that the next ones would seem highly skilled in comparison! And so they did. My 30-second ones were a battle to even hold the pencil with the lead facing the right way in my right hand (I’m left handed), and just as I was getting used to the feel, we switched to the other hand. These (above) were the one minute poses with a brush pen.

 

Then we switched to the (now luxurious) 8 minute poses. I used fountain pens with red black (Noodler’s) ink which is water soluble and black ink.

 

These two sketches are of me, done by artists in my group. Lorna Strutt is the artist of the one on the left and Vivian Aldridge the one on the right. Don’t you just love them?! Both are so expressive in totally different ways. What they left out is as powerful as what they put in.

Well, somewhere in there I hit 100 figures, and then switched to toilets, skyscrapers and flowers. . .(to be continued)

 

Internat’l Women’s Day and Day 2 + 3

Today wasInternational Women’s Day along with Day 3 of the 100 people sketches in a week challenge, and I was able to celebrate all in one!

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I arrived late to the noon time demonstration in Santa Rosa and no sooner had I gotten a few lines down the paper when a reporter from the Press Democrat got interested in the three of us who were sketching there and started interviewing us. (and here I was worried that we’d look like we weren’t participating!) So I got to talk about Reportage sketching or documentary journaling and how it actually connects us deeply with the action in the moment.

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My favorite part is the signs. Note my friends Bettina and Carole, busy documenting! And the hands waving as cars drive by honking in agreement. It was a wear-red day, in support of the Day Without Women strike.

Day Two of the 100 people challenge we met at Oliver’s Market cafe in Windsor.

It was really easy to get our 20 sketches for the day in just about an hour.

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When there was a lag in the folks sitting in the cafe, we just switched to sketching each other.

#OneWeek100People2017