Urban sketch workshop

Expressive Figure Drawing With Oliver Hoeller

On May 13 I took one of the 10 X 10 Urban Sketch workshops taught by one of my favorite urban sketch artist/illustrators, Oliver Hoeller.  I originally ran across him through his blog, the Visual Flanuer and have loved his zany depictions of festival life in San Francisco.

We met for the three hour workshop in Dolores Park in the Mission. It was a blustery, cool day and I still had my runny nose and cold left over from the cold week in N. Y. Nevertheless I was determined to learn his secrets for lively sketching of busy city scenes in pen and watercolor.

dolorespark2 After some contour sketch warm ups we moved on to sketching heads of the people in the park, drawing the shadow shapes rather than specific features.

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Then we went on to draw shadow shapes on full figures of people sitting relatively still.

Next we sketched parts of people, heads, torsos and legs/feet. When sketching people who are moving you often need to complete your sketch with the parts of another person who steps into your field of vision. So we also practiced putting tops and bottoms of different people together into one!

The next step was to form an opinion of what you’re interested in and then be ready to exaggerate it.

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This was more challenging as we switched to people who were moving. It helped me to write down what I was initially interested in so I wouldn’t lose my focus.

Lastly we were to add some detail and context to the picture. (By this point I was too cold, so I took myself off to the Dolores Cafe where I nursed a latte while adding color and waiting for my friends to finish the workshop.)

I definitely think the workshop helped me loosen up and get more playful. Drawing the shadow shape first definitely helps. The white of the paper is always more lively than when you color in shapes with blocks of color.

Thank you Oliver!

New York: Part 3

The next day was a gully washer. Andrew and I arrived at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, saturated after fording the street in ankle deep water, and then waited in line with the other umbrellas to enter.

The museum easily held all of us soggy souls, and we soon forgot about the sloshy shoes when we saw the Irving Penn Centennial and Rei Kawakubo’s “Art of the In-Between” , my favorites. The opportunity to sketch didn’t arise til evening.

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. . .on the Balcony Bar where Veronica Lawlor’s workshop “Puzzling Out the Picture” was meeting up. The JP Jofre Hard Tango Chamber Band was playing the most passionate music! Can you tell by the way my line changed? I could barely contain myself. I mean this was soul-bared tango music.

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Next Morning the workshop met at Brookfield Palm Plaza/the Winter Garden.

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Another glorious sketching spot because it opens onto the World Trade Center, 9/11 Memorial Pools and Oculus on one side, and the Hudson River on the other.

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Ink and colored pencil in 9 X 12″ Canson mixed media sketchbook

Our exercise was to do lots of thumbnail sketches, composed in dimensional space, as a film director would do.

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The Oculus is like a gigantic white raptor crouching at the base of the World Trade Center and inside it’s a transport hub. You really have to be there to even conceive of it.

Next to it is the 9/11 Memorial pools, and that’s where we went next to sketch.

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. . .to sketch and ponder and pray for all those who lost lives and loved ones.

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Veronica was circling around to all of us to give helpful comments. After struggling mightily with these BIG scenes, I was relieved with her instruction to “Just draw the heck out of it now!” So I did, surrounded by so many different languages I couldn’t even identify.

Then we entered the belly of the Oculus. . .

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. . .a setting which made our thumbnail exercise suddenly so easy. Look anywhere for those shapes that enter and exit the picture boundary and capture the energy of that.

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And yes! I even found a spot to enjoy a much needed latte while doing my lesson.

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Here is the Oculus from the other angle, and that celestial form of the World Trade Center merging with the sky. And me, the little figure in the bottom left hand corner, at the end of a long and wondrous day, crossing with the light to find the subway stop.