Tuesday, 10 May 2016

People-Sketching Workshops for Undergraduates

In amongst all the other interesting things which are going on, I had a really fun day working with various Art and Design students at Salford University.

The idea was set in motion by a lecturer on the Interior Design course, who happens to be a fellow urban sketcher. She is interested in getting art students drawing and painting more: such a lot of time is spent in front of technology these days, it is easy for design students to get through a degree without putting a real pencil to an actual sheet of paper very often. Not only does this narrow their creative options in life, but it also suppresses their general creativity: the process of drawing enhances our ability to think creatively in all areas, not just in the arts. Plus of course, many students are missing out on the great joy that is to be had from drawing.

So, I was engaged to deliver an hour's inspirational lecture in the morning, talking about my urban sketching work. I adapted a PowerPoint lecture I have delivered to art groups and students before, adding some recent painting and of course a taster of the Artist-in-Residence work I am doing at the Morgan Centre.

We followed the lecture with a 90 minute workshop. It would have been a massive gamble, planning an urban sketching session outdoors, as the weather has been so rubbish (and it was actually snowing that morning, as it turned out). So, I decided instead to concentrate on sketching people, which we could do inside. I used a visualiser to give a couple of very quick demonstrations of what I was going to ask them to do, getting students to pose for me. I did a blind-contour sketch first, in about half a minute, then a 'paint-before-line' demo which took about 2 minutes.

Then it was their turn. I set the stopwatch on my phone (they had about twice my time, still not long though) and they took turns to pose in small groups, first for the blind-contour line-drawings and then with watercolour and watercolour pencils.

As I had hoped, the time-limit made it fun and our ability to crack through sketch after sketch stopped people getting too frustrating if a piece was going badly wrong. It also meant we were able to stop and look at the work a couple of times during the morning, to see what was working / not working and learn from each other's successes. I got some great feedback and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Both techniques were new to them.

I was originally intending to shoot across to the Morgan Centre after lunch, but decided instead to stay on and watch the lectures by urban sketchers Simone Ridyard and Liz Ackerley. I'm so glad I did: it was really interesting to hear them talk and see some of the projects they have been working on.

After the lectures, the students were again set to work and I had the chance to talk to Simone about how plans are going for the Urban Sketchers Symposium in July, which she has the major role in organising. It sounds very full-on and, although I am very excited to be a part of it, I am SO glad that the organising is her project, not mine!

1 comment:

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It looks great! This artistic work very relaxes people:)