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Saturday, December 14, 2013

What's missing is the people!

Sometimes I sketch a street, a building, something from the urban landscape around me. And it just doesn’t look right. Usually what I missing is the people. People passing by, crowds, the lone person making their way down an alley- they are all such an integral part of the urban landscape. And drawing them is hard: they don’t sit still like the buildings, they are more fleeting than the light and it is just plain difficult to draw people! ( or so I psyche myself into believing)
My solution? Quick 5 second studies. Lots of them. The kind that are drawn almost blind-contour, more watching-the-people than watching-my-line. The kind that I draw so quickly, I have no time to judge. And more often than not, they are truer than my long-studies. Here I sketched people at the mall. It is close to Christmas time. Everyone seems to be on a mission. Loaded bags. See the iconic Macy’s star on a bag? Or the stripes of a Victoria’s secret bag?
Sketching People:At the mall, just before Christmas

Next up: Another page of studies, this time a little slower, and I’m noticing things other than the people: the mannequins, the signs, lettering styles (the graphic designer in me loves sketching typography!)
Sketching People:At the mall, just before Christmas

By this time, I’ve loosened up and am ready to dive into what I really want to do:capture the atmosphere of the mall at this time of the year: that frenzied, people on a mission, hurried yet festive feel... I’ve done my little observation sketches. Now I’m ready for my sketch. It’s still a quick sketch (it just has to be, people don’t stand still). 20 minutes. Some splashes of color to recreate garish mall lighting and loud sale signs. Very little color on the people: they’re fleeting, they walk through my scene… And I’m done.
Sketching People:At the mall, just before Christmas

More sketches of people and places on my blog (scroll to the bottom of the post).
And a whole set of collected sketches on flickr.


Don McNulty said...

Always great.

Gail Wong said...

Do you draw the people first in a space or the space then people in it.
Nice sketches

Suhita said...

I go back and forth: I know people are going to walk through my space, so if I start drawing architectural lines, I start at the top, above their heads, and I switch back to drawing a person everytime the right candidate walks through my space:) it's a little dance....

Les B said...

Great gesture drawing and good writing to match the drawings. Thanks!

Ghislaine BRUNO said...

Very interesting post. Thanks a lot !

kirkistan said...

Thanks for this. This is super helpful as I try (and fail) to draw people.

Maike Bohlen said...

This is one of the posts i always wish for when i visit usk. All the pieces shown here are great, naturally, but it is nice to know how other sketchers (even great ones as you) have similar problems and how they handle them. Thanks a lot.

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