[By Tina Koyama in Seattle, Washington, USA] Well-known Urban Sketchers instructor and correspondent Marc Taro Holmes has been sharing his drawing and painting techniques in workshops, a book and Craftsy online classes. Now Artists Network TV has produced a series of four video programs of Marc demonstrating his urban sketching methods.
|Capturing small vignettes tells the story of a place.|
Recorded in Cincinnati, Ohio, the four programs in the Urban Sketching series are Drawing Birds, Travel Sketching, Sketching a Panorama, and Sketching City Life. While students of Marc’s Craftsy courses will find the techniques and approach familiar, the significant difference with the Artist Network TV programs is that the demos are done entirely on location. Seeing Marc sketching from photos in the Craftsy studio is an effective way to learn and practice his techniques. But viewing Marc in the field – whether he’s sketching a turkey vulture at a bird sanctuary or painting a panoramic Cincinnati skyline – feels much more like attending an actual workshop. The light shifts, the birds and people move, the wind blows (at one point, battling the wind as he paints turns into a serious challenge!) – these are all part of the urban sketching experience we know and love. Marc shows us how he turns the ever-changing environment to his advantage and creates a dynamic composition more lively and spontaneous than anything that could be done in a comfy studio.
|A pencil is used to roughly indicate the placement of people.|
Each video program begins with a brief introduction to Marc’s favorite tools and materials. Then the rest of the program (each runs for about 60 to 80 minutes) is a start-to-finish demo of one or more sketches. In all of them, Marc demonstrates his three-part process: pencil first to rough in the composition and basic elements; fountain pen to complete the drawing; and finally brush – a brush pen with dark ink to create shadows and eventually a paint brush for watercolor.
Each program presents unique features based on the location and subject matter. In Drawing Birds, Marc shows how he starts several views of an owl to keep up with the various changes in position the owl makes. Some views end up as more finished sketches than others, and they all work together as a group on the page.
|Marc paints a turkey vulture -- a challenging subject that moves constantly.|
In Sketching City Life, a large building and trees form the backdrop to people in a busy park. Marc shows us how he creates composite people made up of the various folks who walk in and out of his view.
Sketching a Panorama was especially illuminating to me as I watched Marc set up a “post and rail” composition – picking out major visual markers on a 180-degree skyline to create the focus of a landscape that might otherwise be overwhelming to sketch.
The fourth program, Travel Sketching, puts emphasis on sketching quickly and efficiently (when travelers may be pressed to see as much as possible in a short time) and creating the “story” of a place on the sketchbook page. For example, by choosing small but historically significant subjects, you learn a little about the location while creating a montage of memorable sketches.
|Three pieces of paper are taped together horizontally to sketch a |
These programs are not step-by-step how-to instructions. To learn his techniques and approach and follow specific exercises, beginners may want to start with Marc’s book or Craftsy courses first, then use these video demos as a visual supplement. Intermediate and advanced sketchers, though, may be able to grasp the basics of Marc’s approach simply by viewing these excellent programs. And anyone would enjoy watching a master at work – one who has the impressive ability to speak articulately about what he’s doing even while he’s drawing.
Visit Marc’s blog for more details and links to the Artist Network TV programs.
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