The morning's session was about finding ways to tackle big, scary buildings: sort of coincidental, given my last post about Chicago. I can remember when I used to be put off anything with fancy arches or lots of windows, so I thought I'd share what I've learned since then, about ways to make such things more manageable.
We started off at a coffee shop, for a bit of an intro to what we would be doing. I brought lots of examples of my sketches to show, to help to convey what I meant and hopefully to inspire people.
Then we walked down the road to Upper Chapel, tucked away from all the people on the main roads, with it's own courtyard garden. We even had benches to sit on. I chose it because, apart from the handy setting, the building is only a little bit 'nasty', so not too challenging as a 1st exercise.
I got people to use collage to approximate the overall shape, before sketching and then asked them to try and underplay the amount of details added on top. I did a very quick demo first, as I personally find that is very helpful when I'm trying to learn new techniques. Then they had a go:
I stepped it up next, with the Victoria Hall. There was a bit more to go at with a tower and different shaped windows. I liked that the building had two basic colours: the brick and the stone, which helped with the technique I wanted to share. I showed them how to use watercolour as a first stage, to help you to simplify what's there before you draw:
I also wanted to demo how to actually use watercolour, showing people the quantities you need to mix up and how to apply the paint: confident, powerful marks, but applied with a light touch, good and wet, so the paint flows about. The idea is to say all the basics in paint and only add the line-work you really need.
Nobody was allowed to plan first in pencil but, as you can see, everyone did great work and people were forced to work in a much looser way than they normally would, when faced with such a building. This is a piece by one of the participants, Lynne McPeake, who took just a section to concentrate on, but used the technique well:
Although I don't run sketching workshops very often, by coincidence there are another couple in a few weeks. As part of my new residency at Orchard Square in Sheffield, I will be running 2 workshops on September 16th - the morning is for relative beginners, which can include families with children, then in the afternoon there's one for adults with at least a little previous sketching experience, which will in fact be a repeat of the workshop that I ran in Chicago. Everyone booking for this event will get a copy of the fully illustrated handout I created (as a PDF).