Take every opportunity to practise drawing people… Draw groups of people such as people sitting around a table, observing in a gallery, on a beach, at an airport or chatting on a street. Keep up the fast pace of your sketching as you include more people.
I found that drawing in busy places was the easiest because I felt less self-conscious in a crowd. I have drawn people waiting at Stowmarket station, people relaxing on the grass in front of Tate Modern, people having a picnic at Needham Lakes, and families having fun on Bournemouth beach on a cold and windy early summer’s day.
Tate Modern and Needham Lakes (pencil)
I took the easy approach here and sat behind people to draw… this had the advantage that they were they mostly unaware of me and I didn’t have to worry too much about the detail of people’s faces. I found that people shift and change position constantly, gesticulate wildly, fidget and sometimes get up and go before I’ve barely started. Initially I started drawing single figures on a page but then I realised that I could put people together to create a group, even if they weren’t together in reality. This might sound a bit obvious, but it was a revelation to me.
Also, as has been mentioned in our learning pack, while people move about, they often return to the same position so it pays to be patient.
Bournemouth beach (pencil)
A family outing to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday provided the opportunity to get some great photos of families doing what families do on beaches on a wild and windy but, fortunately, dry day.
I took a series of photos looking down at the beach from the pier. I would have liked to have stayed put to draw from the scene but 14 family members needed rounding up so that we could get to Poole in time for lunch!
A busy beach was a wonderful place for people watching. Because of the wind people were wrapped up and coats were flying.
The more I worked on these Bournemouth beach pictures from my photos, the more wooden my drawings became. The loosest and most pleasing picture to my eye is that with the ladies wearing hijabs because I let the line remain simple and fluid. I know I should do this more often and I’m very frustrated by my tendency to go back over my drawings.
Bournemouth beach – quick outline sketches
I had another go from my Bournemouth beach photographs.. these by the way are a wonderful collection of a multicultural community at play and a terrific future resource. This time, I made myself draw fast and just capture the main lines / outlines and not fuss about detail. This was a beneficial exercise; something of an antidote to my more wooden drawings above. I used drawing pen so that I could not rub it out!
Stowmarket railway station (drawing pen, ink wash, bleach)
I did these drawings at Stowmarket station a couple of months ago (at this start of this part of the course) and I can see that my drawing has improved since. People spend a lot of time staring at their mobile phones in stations… and fidgeting and pacing. One man kept turning round and round in circles. Shortly after I had got started a train arrived and everyone got on which was a bit frustrating but a predictable hazard on a railway platform.
Again, I feel my quick sketches are better than those where I have spent more time. I am reasonably pleased with the loose lines of the Asian ladies on the beach and also with the series of people at Tate Modern and Needham Lakes. My more detailed drawings look wooden by comparison. However, I do think I’ve done a better job of of capturing movement and energy than in my earlier work. I feel I’ve got the potential to draw figures well but I need much more practice. It is just as well then that I’m getting a surprising pleasure from this part of the course… and slowly beginning to get over some of my self-consciousness.