It's less than 2 weeks before I leave Sheffield and head off to Brazil for the symposium (yippee)!
The workshop I will be delivering is called Afraid of Colour?. I've noticed that a lot of sketchers are great in black and white, but totally intimidated by colour. I used to mainly use a 3B pencil myself, but since I got into watercolour and discovered my Inktense pencils, I am having so much more fun.
With that in mind, I designed my workshop to share some ideas and pointers, to help others make that transition too. Each workshops runs for 3.5 hours, which sounds a lot, but there's so much I want to do, it's been a struggle fitting it in. I was a bit worried that things might feel too rushed, so I thought I'd do a dry-run in Sheffield. I did the same thing the very first time I was selected to run a symposium workshop, in Santo Domingo (my speed-sketching workshop Quick-on-the-Draw). It was really useful to test that everything worked in advance.
I offered it as a freebie to my Urban Sketchers Yorkshire team and put together a group of a dozen guinea-pig sketchers. I chose a spot in the centre of Sheffield, where there is a grassy area surrounded on all sides by a good variety of architecture. I was a bit nervous about the UK weather though - Sheffield is not quite Brazil - but we were very lucky: it was a perfect day.
John told me that his main worry, when it comes to colour, is the likelihood of ruining a good sketch, so we started with a workshop aimed at getting lots of colour down on the page before we started any drawing. I created the sketch at the top a little while ago, to use as an example. Below is one of the sketches done on the day for this exercise, by Abi Goodman, and the one above was done by Peter Wadsworth. Good eh?
We followed that up with another slightly lateral idea: using coloured line-work. My idea was to make the colour intrinsic to the sketch, rather than just a way of tinting an existing drawing.
I asked the group to choose 3 different colours for the line, based on the experiment I did a couple of weeks back, sketching in just round the corner from where we were doing the workshop:
Below is the painting done by new sketcher, Lucie Golton:
The final exercise allowed people to start with a standard black and white line-drawing, but I asked them to use expressive methods to colour it up, in a variety of art materials. I did a little demo to give them some tips, using Inktense pencil, watercolour and oil pastels:
To help people further, I had also printed out a selection of my sketches and created a little folder of examples to give them ideas of different ways to tackle the different challenges:
One of the main secrets to success with colour is having the confidence to be bold with both your colour choices and mark-making. Wishy-washy or dingy colours tend to feel safer, but they are not going to light up your sketch.
Between each exercise, we gathered to look at the results, laying the books out on the grass to give each other feedback, then I briefed in the next task. People worked really hard and, as you can see, some exciting sketching was done. It's hard to believe that they were all done by people who are really uncomfortable using colour.
At the end we went for a coffee and I asked for feedback. Despite my worries, people seemed quite happy with the timings. Everyone said that they had found it challenging to be pushed so far out of their comfort-zone, but that is had been extremely useful and very interesting. Most importantly, they all enjoyed themselves. Phew.
A week later, at our Derbyshire SketchCrawl last Saturday, I noticed that one of the workshop participants, Andrea Joseph, who usually works in biro, did a beautiful, loose and joyful watercolour - in full colour:
Job done. Paraty, here I come...