I was fascinated by the concept of Urban Sketching, so I decided to draw every day while on a two month trip to Singapore and Australia in 2015. And I did. I discovered after the first drawing of the V&A just before I left, that I get caught up in detail and this limits me. So ‘Loosen Up’, (But how?)
There is nothing quite like a monsoon to ‘loosen one up’. I sheltered in a kiosk with the wind blowing the plants to bits and rain driving in from behind, wetting my back and these lovely white dots are torrential rain. And just as suddenly it was over, the sun came out and I got dry.
Moving people and static structures. This was great and I had to draw the moving figures really fast. My stylisation crept in and I enjoyed the outcome. So I wandered over to the yacht basin and did another similar drawing.
This is the second or third time I have ever tried to depict water (since painting blue ponds in primary school) and its really much less scary than it sounds.I simply looked and painted what I saw. I was ecstatic. But it bothered me that these drawings are still taking a while. Looking back 3 years later, I can see that it doesn’t matter and that there is a place for quick drawings and slower drawings.
Sea View from the condo
The foreground is the aquarium on the balcony – I rather liked the angel fish outside the sea. Every evening all the ships lined up just outside the territorial waters of Singapore. I think they couldn’t afford the harbour fees, but needed protection from pirates.
I’m going to come clean now – There are the best pieces and they actually took me a long time – often as much as an hour. At the time, I didn’t think they qualified as sketches, but rather as something between a sketch and a fully-fledged drawing. I felt I wasn’t doing it properly or that they didn’t serve any purpose etc. etc. And an hour a day just for a sketch is a LOT of time!
I did many sketchier ones – and also wondered why I was drawing monkeys – for heaven’s sake, I’ll never paint a monkey. I discovered that I don’t really enjoy drawing buildings unless they are quirky and colourful – so much for urban sketching. I love figure studies, but not really peopled-landscapes. I’ll show you the sketchier drawings in the next post – including some of animals at the zoo.
I can see from studying Kurt’s Sketchbooks that I have had some misconceptions, but also that I have been more on the right track than I realised.
This is what I have learnt:
- Be braver about making a mess and not too precious
- Use acrylic and don’t worry if the paper cockles.
- Permit the sketchbook to catalogue your thoughts rather than to follow a strict set of rules about style or theme.
- It really is your visual thinking and it’s a private affair. As it’s private you don’t have to perform superbly every time. (Despite this, the whole world feels they can come and see what you are doing, whereas they’d never look over your shoulder to see what you are reading or writing. – my little rant!)
- Don’t worry too much about chronology – use different sized books and change about depending on where you are and systematically fill the books.
- Its your book – you can allow it to define itself.
This is what I got right
- I used a few different media.
- I am going to enlarge on this and start using acrylic as well.
- I used good quality paper.
- I’m going to learn to do digital sketching. Watch this space!
This is what I’m going to change as soon as I get a chance:
- I will stop thinking I must bind my own books after sketching so that they’ll be lovely (although they really are yummy hand-bound, just not very practical)
- Don’t be too sad all you aesthetes – think of how much more productive I can be. The 2015 book is still not bound! I must be honest about my perfectionist limitations which prevent me from sketching more. The theory was great. The reality meant that after an initial surge NOTHING much happened.
2 Sketchbooks from 2001-2003
Loose folios from 2015
Still unbound in 2018
A peek inside the 2001 journal from when I was a lettering artist and binder of books!
I will go out and buy a few differently sized books of good paper and allow myself more playtime (and not be so darned serious about outcome) At the end of the day this is for me to function well as an artist, not for the museum!