You can practice sketching people “in the wild”, working quickly with just one color of pencil. No way to be sure that your subject will sit still, so you need to work fast! Get the biggest, darkest shapes and shadows in first. Then add smaller bits or lines as needed.
people in a restaurant, Mexico City
Decide if you want your people to be the only item, or the most important elements. You might want to sketch a scene wheree the people are minor characters. Even small figures can help convey the feeling or atmosphere of a sketch.
The students who joined me for my third annual Day of the Dead sketching workshop in SanMiguel de Allende came from as far away as California, British Columbia and New Zealand!
Our visit to the Mask Museum in San Miguel provided a fascinating look at about 600 authentic masks used in indigenous festivals and rituals.
We had opportunities to sketch people preparing themselves for the costume parties and parades, as well as the collection of folk art at Galeria Atotonilco.
My sketch of the colorful scene in El Jardin on the night of November 1st features a fat mariachi horn player, and just a few of the many costumed revelers, with the illuminated Parroquia church as a backdrop.
On the following day we went to a large cemetery, where we could respectfully observe the tributes to dead relatives prepared by families. Flowers and snacks were arranged around graves and monuments. I improvised a sketch using elements plucked from the scene.
A glorious climax to the day was a performance of Mozart’s Requieum inside the Parroquia. I arrived almost 2 hours early to be sure of a seat. This is music I know intimately, as a choral singer. I was able to capture an impression of the audience during this sublime event.
Six of us had a lively sketching session at Fabrica la Aurora, a complex of galleries, studios and shops which used to be a textile factory. It was a Thursday, so the topic was THINGS: still life or objects such as potted plants, tall space heaters, ornate lamps. Here are the sketchbooks we “throw down”at the end of the class.
A large group of urban sketchers met in Nob Hill yesterday to sketch the enormous and breathtaking Grace Cathedral. Featured sketchers were the Aussie women, Liz Steele and Jane Blundell. Notice my “leaning spire” in one of the sketches below. After seeing some of the sketches by others, I decided it is a feature, not a bug!
July was a busy month for LIVE paintings on canvas at weddings in the Bay Area!
Above is the finished piece for Yoona and Glen. This couple has a great sense of humor, as I easily discovered at our initial meeting months before. Glen is from Australia and requested that a kangaroo and a jar of Vegemite be included in the painting. I was glad to oblige. Most of the piece was painted on location at the Falkirk Cultural Center in San Rafael, CA. Finishing touches were added in my studio.
This large canvas (24 x 36″) was created for Sarah and Andrew at the Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa. The Mother of the Bride commissioned it. I presented it to the couple and the bride’s parents on a busy street in San Francisco, just before the family went to the theatre.
Here is the final painting for Joe and Alea, celebrated at the San Jose Marriott. I did not have to exaggerate the height difference between this couple…she is five feet nothing and he is 6 foot 8!
On Thursday, August 3rd, I gave my San Rafael workshop students a challenge that I learned from the recent Urban Sketchers Symposium. After a warmup with photos from great Chicago architecture, we went to City Plaza down the street. The task— combine three points of view into one sketch. (Thanks to Veronica Lawlor for that exercise). Here are some of the results. Thanks to Anne, Kimberly and Stephanie
Chicago, my home town, hosted the 8th annual Urban Sketching Symposium, with over 500 sketchers attending worldwide. What a great opportunity to return after 25 years, to see the familiar as well as new architecture and art.
The Falkirk Mansion in San Rafael is just a few blocks away from our workshop HQ at Rileystreet Art Supplies. It is a favorite venue for us, due to the amazing architecture of the mansion and the breathtaking variety of plant life in the gardens. The scattering of sculpture and found-object artwork adds even more to the array of choices to draw. Here are some sketches by students.
Jean Gjevik’s sketch
Jean Gjevik’s delightful sketch of a section of the mansion has a fairy-tale quality.
Patty chose to feature the decorative glass on the veranda, in the shade!
Patty’s sketch of the veranda
Stephanie’s sketch in the garden
Stephanie chose a whimsical sculpture, paired with an aloe plant. She makes them look as if they are dancing together
Kimberley’s composite sketch
Kimberley manages to combine three views very successfully: a large stone planter, a front view of the mansion and a section of the veranda.
Anne captured the colors and curves of the mansion.