At this very moment … my Sketchbook Skool videos are live and I’m checking in every so often to respond to the students’ questions and some of their amazing responses to my ‘draw your food’ challenge.
When I was first asked if I’d like to take part I thought it would be pretty cool if students could buy a little booklet with some of my foodie drawings in – but I couldn’t figure out how to present it. Sketching chum Andrea Joseph has presented a few in the still of sketching manuals and other sketchers who concentrate on urban sketching can get away with presenting drawings showing a particular area.
How could I present food drawings?
At first I thought about presenting it in the form of a menu; with different dishes from starter, main course and pudding. That seemed like a logical choice – nice and organised. But then, where would an ice-cream, or hot-dog, picked up in the park, fit in? (Can I hasten to add that I didn’t pick it up off the floor, but rather from a hot-dog stand!)
I started jotting down some sketches that I particularly liked and realised that I always seem to be playing around with where my drawings are located on the page.
So … I started to jot down all the different ways I could think of.
And that’s where my problems began.
(This was only about five or six weeks ago)
I realised that I could broadly divide these different ways of drawing food into three areas;
Position – So where the drawing is located on the page, or which direction the drawing is going in.
Focus – Which I thought of as how I’m approaching a drawing; such as a close-up, or a side-view
Location – Because sometimes there are elements at the restaurant that you can include in your drawing
… and then …
So I eventually came up with
24 Position cards
14 Focus cards
9 Location cards
Then I realised that they needed a box to live in too – but I couldn’t design that until the cards had all been designed and printed; so that they would fit inside the box properly.
– There are a variety of ways that these can be used;
Take a card from each pile to influence all three elements.
Take one card only as a guide.
Take out the cards with elements that you usually use before you draw cards.
Sketchbook Skool were interested in offering the cards as a free gift to the students of my klass – so I PDF’d a few of the cards from each set for them.
The set of cards on Etsy contains the full set of cards + 15 blank cards to add your own mischief; all printed on lovely, thick 350gsm card and with a handy-dandy cut out and keep box to hold them all in.
Meanwhile I was feverishly trying to complete the three booklets I’d hit upon.
The Focus booklet was the one I started out doing first – it seemed the most interesting and practical and also had the most pages.
or … how are you going to draw this? Not technique, but approach.
Okay – so it’s made up of 14 sections – most of which are double spreads – discussing each of my Focus ideas. Offering some further twists and turns.
So, for example the pages about boxes, suggests other ways you can stretch and bend the definition of boxes to suit your needs.
The Location booklet was the next most useful one.
or … Things to do with your drawing whilst you’re there.
Again, this contains sections covering the 9 Location cards in the card pack; varying between 1 to 3 pages.
I’m still working on the Position booklet – mainly because the subject doesn’t really lend itself all that well to me having to explain what the different positions might mean; for example ‘Drawing in the middle of the page’ is pretty self-explanatory, really.
I’m thinking maybe in terms of this booklet showing off drawings in these different positions, but the text focussing on my own personal positions on various aspects of drawing (Y’see what I did there!)
All-in-all the past few weeks have been pretty crazy! After coming up with my initial idea to having got two booklets and a set of accompanying cards has been about five weeks – baring in mind I have a full-time day-job that keeps me busy during the daylight hours. And all those pages are handwritten (Slowly handwritten!)
But it’s been an absolute blast!
What it is
Urban Sketching is basically drawing or sketching or painting on location; without taking reference photographs.
The rules (Yes, I’m afraid there are rules) of Urban Sketching detailed on the Urban Sketchers website state that:
1) We draw on location, indoors or outdoors, capturing what we see from direct observation.
2) Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live, and where we travel.
What you need
The cool thing about urban sketching is that the materials are pretty much an open field; you can use whatever materials you want. Although, portability is an important factor.
At the bare minimum you would need a material to record with and a material to record on to.
So sketchbooks need to be small, or stored easily in a bag or pocket. But you could just as easily sketch on the page of a book you’re reading, or a piece of cardboard.
Pens, pencils and paints
Can be stored in a pocket. And can be specialist drawing pens which are waterproof and fade proof, or they could just as easily be a biro or an old pencil.
Sometimes I carry round a inexpensive camping stool to sit on, or more often than not I like to find somewhere in the environment to perch or sit; so a wall or bench.
Being a bloke means I don’t have the luxury of choosing a fancy handbag to carry around for my art materials (Well, I realise that I could, but I would look rather odd)
I’ve used a variety of shoulder bags over the years, but prefer the shoulder Satchel designed by Ally Capellino for the Tate Art Gallery in the United Kingdom.
At 31cm wide and 29cm high and 8cm deep it is roomy enough to carry two or three A5 sized sketchbooks, paint palettes, brush pens and regular pens. A bottle of water and my wallet.
How to do it
Initially you’ll need courage to stand your ground and draw in public. But, to be honest, I’ve never really found it a problem. People tend to just ignore you. If they do approach you it’s usually with curiosity. And when they see what you’re doing they are fascinated and usually awestruck, amazed that you can capture the scene. People will stand and chat and then the view that your capturing becomes infused with their tales and your conversation.
As you draw alone it feels almost as if you are detached from reality – that you are an observer of the world. Capturing the moment in a book.
You don’t have to sketch on your own either. there are many local groups which meet up every month or so. Meet up to chat, compare styles and tips and equipment. But more importantly, to sketch and draw. In the Urban Sketchers Yorkshire Group we even share our sketchbooks at the end of a busy day of sketching and pour over each other’s different takes on the subject matter.
If you would like to read more
The official Urban Sketchers website is a wonderful place to start. You can see the wide variety of approaches by the different correspondents from all over the world.
The Urban Sketchers group also has a vibrant Facebook group where you can post your own images. There are other more local urban sketch groups too.
Tools – Waterbrushes are incredibly useful for the urban sketcher who wants to use water-based paints.
Read – Urban Sketcher’s Singapore to see how one urban sketching group sees their city