Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Photographed in Action: a Trip to London


As regular readers will know, I am very close now to the deadline for my book, the full title of which is now decided: Sketching People, an Urban Sketchers Manual for Drawing Figures and Faces.  All the scans from my archive of sketchbooks are done, as well as various additional drawings, created specifically for the book (like for how to draw hands and using colour as a framework instead of pencil). 


But one BIG ELEMENT has been waiting until the end... the photographed sequences. These are needed to show how sketches are built up: 


But that's really not something that can easily be done at home, so I took the train down to London and spent two days with my publisher and with Phil Wilkins, a freelance photographer. 


To better explain how I draw different elements of people and how I tackle specific tricky situations, we wanted to show my sketches in stages. But for my style of working, where a sketch is done very fast, stopping at various stages was a problem. Which is why we got Phil to stand behind me, capturing the work in progress. 

I was rather excited and looking forward to the adventure, but also a bit nervous: I wasn't sure how well I would perform under that kind of pressure. 

There was a bit of a spanner in the works too - a tube strike. This meant we had no models, so had to press-gang various people from the surrounding offices to come and sit for me. We started off by drawing the Senior Editor Kate. She was very unsure about the whole thing, but reassured when she saw it was just her hair I was focussing on:




I did someone's ear, as you can see at the top, then someone else's nose and mouth. We scoured the building for someone glam enough to be wearing high heels, then got her to clamber up on a table so I could draw her legs and feet:



The most scary sketch I had to do was left to day 2: to demonstrate a technique for drawing movement, by superimposing different elements over the top of one another. I thought a violinist would be a good option. Luckily, my editor Lily could play. Unluckily, the only violin we could lay our hands on was a child's one which had been gathering dust in someone's attic, so it's slightly smaller than it should be in the sketches. Hey ho. Probably nobody but another violinist would notice.

Once again, Phil set up over my shoulder so he could take pictures all the way through, from first marks to finished drawing. I did two different versions, first with my Koh-i-Noor rainbow pencil, so Lily ended up with lots of arms:


Then I tried again with my Inktense pencils, using different colours for the different overlaid arms. I think it's this one I like best as it's a more interesting teaching technique:


We finished off with a long pose. I wanted to do something on how to plan out a more complex situation, where you have more than one characters and a bit of background. We mocked up a meeting with 
Lily and one of the interns. I sketched a little thumbnail first, to plan the composition, which Phil photographed for the book, then I used this plan to create an under-drawing in my sketchbook, in lilac coloured pencil, before beginning in ink with my trusty Sailor pen:


Every minute or so I paused for a photo. It was really quite an odd way to sketch! 

Once the line drawing was complete, I used watercolour to pull out the light and shade and give splashes of colour. It's not the way that I would normally work, but it's a good technique to demonstrate for beginners and so something that needed to be covered in the book:



The final sketch is not as exciting as I personally like - it's interesting how the more formalised approach made it harder for me to be expressive - but it will do the job. I gave it as a present to the intern, as a reminder of her time at Quarto, as she is heading home to new Zealand shortly. I also gave individuals the pictures of their ears, noses and legs etc.

We had some other jobs to do while I was in London, bit I'll talk about them next time, or we'll be here forever. See you in a few days...

9 comments:

Diane said...

What a fun story! Have been following you and your book adventures and cannot wait for it to be available for purchase. Love your work.

Lynne the Pencil said...

Thank you Diana. Not long to wait now...

VHein said...

Looking forward to your book, Lynne! So smart to have a photographer shooting over your shoulder--as odd as it may feel, so much better than having to figure out where to stop and photograph your own work in stages...that really does break the flow!

Lynne the Pencil said...

Tell me about it! I tried it, but just couldn't cope and gave up. This was a bit scary at first but way way way easier :-)

Maudie said...

Loved your post. so interesting good luck with your book.

Ros said...

Your book sounds fab. It will be a great resource.

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Balaji Venugopal said...

Terrific!
Can't wait to see your book in print.

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