We met at Sheffield's Botanical Gardens. It's a gorgeous, big park, where lots and lots of people hang out on the grass on a sunny Saturday. Imagine how relieved I was then, that it was not just dry (well, mostly), but also hot. We started with a picnic, while people gradually arrived and watched, in amazement, as a huge group of oddly dressed-up people milled about really close by. One of our number went to ask what it was all about and, with INCREDIBLE good fortune, I had picked the same afternoon as the Sheffield Steampunk Society picnic. Fantastic for sketching!
We started with an easy exercise: using contour drawing to loosen up our arms. This is also a great way to sketch very, very quickly - perfect for capturing people who might move at any moment.
Next, I shared a technique that was shown to me some years ago by Inma Serrano: using just one, at most two colours, to get down very simple shapes in watercolour, finished off with line. This is so speedy to do, especially if you pre-mix a couple of colours. You need to look for the key angles and shapes - the V of the legs, arms in the air, a bent back etc. You can get the gist in 15 seconds.
Then I did a demonstration, to show how, with 5 minutes, rather than 1, you can 'draw' with watercolour, but in a very simple way, not bothering with detail, just capturing shapes again. The trick with people-sketching, is to learn which bits of information are crucial to get down and which you only need if you have time before they move. You can add different coloured line-work, just to define things here and there, but really quickly, keeping 2 or 3 pencils ready at hand, adding as little as you can get away with.
Since we couldn't guarantee any of the members of the public would keep still for long enough, someone's friend sat for me. Which isn't strictly speaking urban sketching, but was the best way for the demo. As you can see, I create the whole thing in line first and only add water with a waterbrush at the end.
I'll also be doing and an informal talk about my sketching and textiles work and the ways in which they are linked. If you would like to find out more about this, or future events, you can join my new mailing list.
In the meantime, you might be interested in some of my other top tips on sketching people or, if you've not seen it already, there's always my book.