Drawing figures: Quick sketches


I did more drawings for this exercise  following my tutor’s report with the aim of trying to work more fluidly and quickly in order to capture the vitality of the model, while being less precious about detail. These were drawn from Croquis Cafe, You Tube life drawing sessions in real time and viewed on TV. They are timed so I had to work fast and resist pressing the pause button. This facility is, I feel, very close to the experience of being in a real life drawing class. My art friends Stella and Karen joined in too, so we were able to compare each other’s work and enjoy a shared experience. I felt we generated the kind of energy that happens in a real life drawing class.


Abi – two minute sketches – drawing pen – A3


Abi – one minute sketches – drawing pen – A3

I have been mindful of my tutor’s comment that I should let corrections remain as part of the history of the drawing. I am learning that working in this way can bring much more character to the image.

Additional one and two minute sketches of Abi (sketchbook)

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One minute poses Croquis Cafe – biro


One minute poses – Croquis Cafe – red and black biro














I am looking forward to drawing figures with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. I’ve been to three short life drawing classes in the past and the results left a lot to be desired – I managed to demonstrate all the classic mistakes, particularly short legs.

To give myself a bit of help I signed up for the monthly life drawing sessions at Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury and did the first of these on 5th April (10 am to 4pm). I am so glad I did. This was not a taught class but it was a great opportunity and although I was anxious beforehand and not sure of what to expect, it turned out to be a really exhilarating day. Fortunately there were two other people there for the first time, who like me had limited experience, and we all got a lot of help and encouragement, and useful critiques, from the more experienced artists which was fantastic.

To give myself a bit of practice beforehand I found a You Tube series called Croquis Cafe which releases weekly video life drawing sessions. There is a different model each week who sits for a series of 1 minute, 2 minute and 5 minute poses. These were of benefit as a warm up, particularly as I was able to view them on the TV. However,  I can see now that some of the pictures from these sessions are  more wooden than those drawn at Gainsborough’s House.

Nonetheless, Croquis Cafe is a handy resource  because it enabled me to practice in my own time and was a lot more realistic than drawing from a photo. The models are recorded in real time  and blink and stretch every now and then which is ever so slightly disconcerting.

Quick sketches  (Gainsborough’s House)

Sam our lovely model sat  for a series of three minute, 15 minute, 30 minute, 45 minute and hour-long poses. These timings don’t exactly match the requirements of the exercise but I think they are close enough.

Three-minute sketches

Mostly drawn with soft pencil, one in charcoal.

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These were a great warm up exercise and I helped my eye to tune in. The final sketch is  my favourite as somehow there seems to be something more sensitive and expressive about the line.

Fifteen minute sketches

It is surprising how long fifteen minutes can seem after three minute sessions. It felt great to have a little more time, but having more time also took some of the spontaneity out of my drawing. And, in my case, more time means more opportunity to mess up and over work things!

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I got some useful feedback on the picture above of Sam sitting with her back to us to say that it is rare for the spine indentation to be exactly central. In fact when I look at this I can see that my first more instinctive mark was off centre and I think I’ve corrected it to match what I thought should be there rather than what actually was.

Croquis Cafe sketches 

As mentioned above, these sketches from You Tube videos on the TV sometimes look wooden compared to those I produced in a real life drawing class. But the Croquis Cafe does have advantages as the sessions are timed so you have to work fast and furiously, and the resource is always there so it’s a way of grabbing a bit of practice any time.

The models aren’t named but identified by the session number. This feels a bit sterile so I’ve given them names.

Two minute sketches of Hannah









Double one and two minute poses of Sandrina and Ruth 

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Two minute and ten minute sketches of Sandrina

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Using the charcoal on its side gave this more vitality










Ten minute sketches

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I feel that in both these sketches Sandrina’s body is a little too long relative to the legs and head.

At this point I feel I may have overdone the You Tube sketching as these are looking rather flat and lifeless. I think that perhaps going over the outline to create a  neater edge actually dulls the sketch and takes away its vitality.




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