Monthly Archives: September 2013

USK Barcelona DAY 2 Barry Jackson


 I have written about the first two workshops I attended.
DAY 1 AM Luis Ruiz
DAY 1 PM Marc Taro Holmes

I registered for workshops that would assist and build my urban sketching . I took workshops that would push me past just “drawing a building on a page” . I want to capture the moment or to tell a story. So Barry’s workshop description seemed to fit that  – and it did !


Workshop O
X Hither, Thither and Yon
Barry Jackson
Location: Plaça Universitat

The slightly archaic English expression: ‘Hither, thither, and yon’ prefigures recent
concepts in perceptual psychology, which suggest that we experience the visual world (and representations of it) as three layers of space: usually labelled as ‘personal’, ‘action’ and ‘vista’ space. This workshop sets out to explore how we might exploit this concept when drawing on location.

Just so we’re clear: ‘Personal space’ is the band of space nearest to the viewer, extending perhaps 2 metres at most. ‘Action space’ extends perhaps 20-30m further – representing the furthest distance that the viewer could interact with by shouting, or throwing, perhaps. ‘Vista’ space is all the rest – everything that falls beyond the viewer’s sphere of influence.

Learning goals
The aim is not to promote a particular approach to drawing, but rather to make conscious stuff which is often non-conscious.
In learning outcomes terms, I hope someone participating in the workshop will develop:

  • An increased understanding of how they perceive the world
  • A specific understanding of the concepts of spatial depth and the ways in which it can be depicted
  • An increased repertoire of drawing skills to depict space
  • An increased skill in using the representation of depth to make engaging drawings
  • An increased confidence in the representation of depth

My experience 
On a hot day we walked to the nearby Placa Universitat and after explantions from Barry and a bit of discussion, each of the participants found a place on the plaza to sketch and explore the notions posed by Barry. I found a great view in full sun, leaning up against a large cement tree plant stand.


In my first sketch page I deliberately tried to sketch the scene giving equal emphasis to personal’, ‘action’ and ‘vista’ space – and found it impossible !  I already have ingrained ways of sketching and means of emphasising areas and features . It was a really interesting exercise in making me think about how I already sketch. And that is a good thing – to question what you do.  
In my second sketch I decided to emphasise the “thither” or “action” space. I used Cool Grey IV watercolour pencil to do the sketch, with more detail on the thither space and then added water to that area with a waterbrush . It really does make a difference. Working through this  process in a deliberate method made me think through a few things that I will mention soon in my “takeaways”
We then moved to another space in the University to put this into practice. I decided to sit in the shade  and feature the “hither” space by drawing a column right infront of me and its lichen and worn edges. Great fun. For those who know me will know that this is my comfort zone – close objects and the impression of detail. So today I got to include it in my urban sketching.

The photos above are our sketchbooks and some in the group (I hardly took any photographs at the Symposium – if anyone has any – I would love to get a copy) . There was some amazing sketches from this session I wish that I had the chance to look through these sketchbooks
my takeaways
  • I realised that my “thither/action” space is not  20-30 meters that Barry proposed in this workshop. Mine was whatever moved !!!! and that could go on and on. So perhaps tightening that “thither” space by using different mark marking will make subtle difference to my sketches
  • using different line, textures and colours in each of the different spaces .I think that this was a major “click” moment in the whole Symposium for me and I think this will make huge difference to me. It may not be immediately obvious in my sketches, but mentally it has changed the way I think.
  • for example colour – It was mentioned by Barry and others in the class had used colour in their pages to differentiate spaces.

Putting it all into practice – a week later on the Underground in London. The red figures in the foreground who entered my personal space  after I had drawn the other train passengers

USK Barcelona DAY 1 Marc Taro Holmes

My afternoon workshop on the first day was with Marc Taro Holmes
I’ve already written about my My DAY 1 morning workshop with Luis Ruiz

Workshop N 4- 7 pm

Instructor: Marc Holmes
Location: Rambla del Raval

Here are Marc’s Notes (click through to a pdf of Marc’s notes from the workshop):

The main thing to remember about drawing people in action is this: They are going to move before you’re ready. It’s inevitable. Real life never holds a pose. Once you are ok with that, urban sketching begins to open up for you. If your drawing process requires subjects to sit still, you will never be able to draw anyone outside of a subway car or cafe.

This workshop is based on capturing everything you need quickly – in mere seconds – and completing the sketch before your visual memory fades.
It helps to have a plan – a systematic approach – to avoid dithering about what to draw next, or how to draw it. We’re going to practice a method of working where each step adds information to the step before, always moving toward a finished sketch. Your subject can walk away at any stage in the process, but you’ll be able to finish based on whatever you have captured so far.
We will practice four simple steps, in this order: Gesture > Line > Blacks > Color

You can also think of this as: Pencil > Pen > Brush (Pen) > Watercolor
Our group started in a café (which was very empty due to rain, which got heavier and we had to find somewhere more sheltered) .The café sketch of a nearby diner started in pencil and then moved to pen and I had time to use my new Pentel Brush pen to add dark areas.
 pencil, pen and brushpen
we quickly walked to shelter  to continue

We learnt about sketching people as they walked towards us. You only had seconds to capture the essence of the person in a few lines on  paper before they either walked passed you or turned a corner. It took a few pages of seemingly meaningless scribbles to start to get the feel of how to try and get those important lines on and to feel a little more comfortable with what we are trying to achieve. I did 11 pages of “people walking towards me” sketches.
You also learn to pick your subjects – people who are walking slower are good !
pencil sketches and then one with pen and brush pen added – and the rain added
We then learnt to add further emphasis and detail with pen after the subject had moved on
The final part of Pencil > Pen > Brush (Pen) > Watercolor is the colour – oops  -In the above sketch I had used a pen of soluble ink  (instead of non-soluble).It certainly had an  interesting effect  and got lots of likes and comment online. But perhaps the drawing of a old woman, carrying a fan, cigarette in mouth is interesting however it is sketched-
and it was challenging as I used watercolour paint – and I haven’t done this …I usually use watercolour pencils

MY TAKEAWAYS from the workshop

  • I don’t have to finish the drawing just because subject moves on. As long as I have the essence of lines on the page I can continue

  • Drawing people walking towards me is a new challenge – aaarggg – I thought I was pretty savvy stalking people, drawing them as I walked behind them . This is a new challenge
  • You don’t have to draw legs. My figure drawing experience comes from life drawing lessons, where you always put the feet in to ground the figure. If you have the basic lines or essence on paper it can be enough to capture what the person is doing


Urban (and other) sketching in Melbourne

I was fortunate enough to spend a few days in Melbourne.Some of this page is from my Urban Sketchers Australia blogpost. And it also includes other sketches from my weekend.
 There are always airplane sketches when I travel by plane and more opportunities at railway stations in Melbourne and on the train.


It was even more wonderful that Melbourne Urban Sketchers were having a Sketchcrawl. I had met four of the sketchers separately on my last visit to Melbourne, Jodi, Evelyn, Kym and Angela and now I got to see them all in one place and with another 12 or so sketchers. It was inspirational and motivational to sketch with the group and to meet a new group of sketchers.

The weather was sunny and warm and the day could not have been more perfect. 

I started with a coffee from Brunetti’s (we were meeting there) in Lygon Street . I sketched the staff and then took the cup home to draw it later
Then we all  walked just around the corner to the back of La Mama, where there was a courtyard, with LOTS to sketch and seats as well. 

my sketch
I was fascinated by the rooftops and brickwork of the back of the shops. We were going to be there for two hours and I quickly realised that I was not going to have time to be able to get a lot of the scene onto the page. I think I decided (sort of) to feature a bit of texture and colour.  I  used my watercolour pencils (decided not to use ink) in my Moleskine accordion style watercolour sketchbook (special Barcelona edition) . This style of book let my lines wander across the pages . 

some of our sketchbooks 

We kept sketching through lunch, with the tables covered dominated by sketchbooks more than food at times

my pencils overtaking my plate

lunch at the Lygon Food Store

The rest of my Melbourne urban sketching ……..

after lunch we visited urban sketcher Jodi Wiley’s exhibition at a cafe/gallery (and sketched it)

and then  Melbourne … everyday life