Monday, May 21, 2007

Every day in May no. 21


I went into town to run an errand after work today, and while there I managed to sit down for a few minutes and do today´s drawing. I decided to do some fast sketches of people. Difficult but fun - if you can let go of the perfectionist inside. None of these sketches took more than 30 seconds, most of them only half, and in that time you don´t get it right. It´s just not possible. And for me, that gives me a more relaxed approach to drawing.

I´ve done a few of these before, it´s a good drawing exercise. Feel free to try it, just shut your Inner Critic up first, because a lot of these sketches end up looking extremely weird. :)

What I do is sit down (with a nice cappuccino) in a place where a lot of people pass by, in this case on the second floor of a mall in Stockholm city, where you have a perfect view of the main flow of people on the first floor. Then I try to spot someone interesting down there, could be someone with nice clothes, a funny way of walking, or - to make it easier on myself - someone who looks like they´ll be standing still for a few seconds. And then I put pen to paper and draw away. I look more at the subject than at the paper, sort of a semi blind contour thing. I draw as fast as I can and I try to "freeze" part of the image of the people every time I look. For instance, I check out the head and shoulder and left arm, then I draw that - fast - and then I check out the other arm and one of the legs and draw that, and so on. If someone gets away before I´m finished, I either find someone else with similar body shape and keep drawing, OR they end up without legs, like the woman to the left in the top drawing.

This is more like playing a game than trying to draw people in a correct way. It´s tricky, sort of like crosswords or sudoku, but very amusing. And in the end, I often end up with one or two sketches that I really like. In this case, my favourite is the woman on the red background. She´s a darling.

Both drawings are about 12 x 8 cm, Lamy Safari with Noodler´s Lexington Grey on a small Moleskine Watercolor page. The watercolors were added afterwards. "Sunspot" is the name of a shop in the mall, I´m am in no way connected to them, never bought anything from them, and I won´t even tell you what they sell. I just thought the sign was cool.

14 comments:

martín said...

Hi Nina! You've adding some great sketches during the last days. Everything is brilliant but what holds my attention is this contours with painted background. Next saturday I'll be sketching in a square, if it doesn't rain, so I think I'll try something like that in a few, can I? They look great. Best wishes, and thanks for your comments in my blog.

Lin said...

SO SO TERRIFIC!! I am so painfully slow with my sketches that capturing even a head in time is a challenge!! Terrific work, Nina!

Genine said...

Nina, again great stuff! So glad you wrote some notes on your approach.
I'll have to give it a try.

Ujwala said...

i loved the sketches especially the way you've added colour and thanks for the tips.

Dave said...

Sounds like a great exercise. I did something similar recently, but at a life class where at least the model was keeping still for 30 seconds! I like the addition of the backgrounds; it really adds something special.

Jesse said...

They're great drawings, and a great explanation of how to approach them. Thank you!

E-J said...

These are great, Nina! I like the way you've used a coloured background to unify all the figures. Thank you for the description of how you go about doing this - you make something that seems daunting sound like a lot of fun.

I was pinned to the sofa one morning by my sleeping baby daughter, and with my free arm I decided to do some 30-second sketches of people on the tv. A few of them captured the gesture really effectively, and some of them were rubbish. I accept now that much of what goes into my little "tv sketching" book may not be good art, but it's great practice.

Anita said...

The woman on red is my fav too Nina but I love them all.
What paper are you using?

Anita said...

Sorry, just read the paper you are using....Doh! LOL!

Africantapestry said...

Great sketches here Nina. I love the background wash you've applied here....almost gives the impression of negative space sketching. And thanks for the notes, will definitely try this approach!
Ronell

E-J said...

I tried this today, Nina, while sitting on a bench watching people in the sunshine. I may post it up at some point. Pleased to have achieved something in so short a time (as usual, while M slept in her pushchair!) Thanks for the motivation.

juj said...

What a great idea - to just capture the essence of a person without getting caught up in all the details. I'm sure the hardest part is to just give yourself permission to loosen up, but you have encouraged me and I can't wait to try it. Thank you. BTW - Lovely stuff you've been posting lately. Those hands are beautiful. I really need to remember to visit more often.

phthaloblu said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I recently went to the local zoo and tried to sketch people along with the animals, but ended up very frustrated because people and animals were just moving too fast. I think I will try this approach this week when I go back. Great sketches, btw.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the inspiration. I am a therapist, as well as the Director for a Foundation that is high stress. Lately, I have bought into the lie I didn't have time to draw due to all the travelind and work that I am doing. I can do this while waiting for aomeone for an appointment at the restraunts, etc. Happy drawing.