Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sketches that Sing: Creating Sketches with a Life of their Own (Workshop L)

Instructor: Lynne Chapman (Sheffield, UK)
Location: Plaça Vicenç Martorell

In the battle to interpret accurately what is in front of us, it is easy to forget that a successful sketch needs also to sing and dance with an energy of its own. No matter which subject matter we are tackling, our best sketches have this inner vibrancy: an independent strength, which might come from a particular use of colour, from mark-making, from tonal contrasts, or from all manner of visual surprises which can sometimes be as much about how we frame or crop our subject, or what we choose not to draw, as much as what we actually put on the page.

The Practical

The time will be divided into a series of shorter tasks, looking at different ways of challenging ourselves to gently manipulate realism for dramatic effect. We will aim to capture the sense of place, or the essence of the subject, but at the same time, we will use various different techniques to free up our sketches, focusing attention on the dynamism of the page.

Elements with which we will experiment:

Colour: exaggerated or non naturalistic colour; a limited palette; harmonious versus contrasting colours.
Mark-making: pattern and decorative marks; directional contrast; busy marks versus calm; free-floating line.
Composition: very tight cropping; exciting negative space and shadows.

Learning Goals
  • The freedom from the need to be a slave to realism, which can open the sketcher up all kinds of experimentation and make the experience of drawing more playful.
  • An understanding of how a sketch has a life which is entirely independent of its subject matter and how, once the original location is left behind, the sketch is judged without reference to the subject, but on its own terms.
  • The ability to employ varied and exciting mark-making for dynamic effect, and to make choices about the way different media work together to create interesting visual contrast.
  • An awareness of the dramatic potential inherent in negative space, and of techniques which can draw attention to it.
  • An awareness of how the way in which we frame our subject on the page effects the finished sketch, and how we can use the edges of the page, or employ drastic cropping, to add emphasis.
  • An understanding of the possibilities for using colour or tone to draw the eye, through enhanced contrast or harmonies.
  • The ability to free up a sketch through the simplification of colour and an understanding of how working with a limited palette can enforce new and unexpected choices when we are depicting what is in front of us.

Supply list

A selection of media will help you get the most use from the workshop.
  • Make sure your kit includes coloured drawing or painting materials.
  • Something which makes a powerful mark would be helpful eg conte, soft graphite stick, bamboo pen etc
  • NB if using pastels, conte or graphite sticks, a small pack of Wet-Ones and a small hairspray, to use as fixative, are very handy!

Sample sketches