Wednesday, 2 April 2014
SCBWI SketchCrawl at MOSI in Manchester
I spent Saturday in Manchester, sketching in and around the fantastic Museum of Science and Industry (yes, this is me in action - thanks to Adelina Pintae for the lovely sketch):
The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, SCBWI, asked if I would run a sketchcrawl workshop day for them. The idea was to make it very much like the sketchcrawls I do each month with my Urban Sketchers group, Sketchcrawl North but, because SCBWI represents authors as well as illustrators, we incorporated on-the-spot writing too.
I kicked off with a talk in the Learning Loft, because the concept of sketchcrawling was new to many of the participants, in fact several of them had not done location sketching before, or not used a sketchbook in years. I took along lots of my sketchbooks, told them about Urban Sketchers, talked about reportage sketching and the various techniques I use. People were very interested in the contents of my kit bag, because I have got it down to a fine art now. I carry quite a range of art equipment, but can pack it all into a little zip-up case, just 10" x 6":
MOSI is spread over several buildings. Our first sketching spot was in the Air and Space building. I concentrated on a replica of an old tri-plane, although I was also very interested in the iron architecture behind:
I could have stayed there all day, but after an hour we moved on to the Power Hall. It was certainly a baptism of fire for the new sketchers. If our first venue was pretty tricky, the second spot was fiendishly so! It was all pumping pistons and spinning wheels. I got quite interested in the patterns that the various structures and machine elements made so, rather than concentrating on one machine, I went for a general view across one end of the room.
We had a lunch break up in the Learning Loft. It was a wide, bright space, up at the top of the main museum building, with fabulous views out over the surrounding area. We spent 45 minutes sketching the views. I picked this one, down over the 'train' part of the museum, complete with working steam trains. This is the sketch I am doing in Adelina's drawing at the top:
We were intending to stay within the museum, but it was a lovely warm sunny day, so we went for a little walk instead, to a really good outdoor location, called Castlefield. The canal meets various railway lines as well as the road, so there are lots of different bridges in a small space, creating some great shapes and contrasts:
There are also canal boats and geese, as well as a lovely variety of old and new buildings. I made a mental note to take SketchCrawl North back there as soon as possible.
We went back up to the Learning Loft to share the work. As usual, it was fascinating to see all the different styles and approaches to the same subjects. The two writers who were with us didn't read out, but they also passed round their notebooks. They had both chosen to capture words and phrases, to take away a sense of the place, rather than write a narrative.
I enjoyed walking back to Deansgate station through the same area we had drawn in. It was very visually exciting. Even the grotty bits were interesting. I had a fun journey home too. the train was rammed. Luckily I got a seat and started to draw.
A family, who were standing behind me, were all watching. Their little girl, about seven I should think, had her head just above my book and was fascinated. Incredibly, despite all the attention and all the little girl's questions ('Are you drawing that?'), the people still didn't appear to realise they were being sketched!
A big thanks to Anna at SCBWI for organising the event and for inviting me to lead it. I met some lovely people and had a great time.