Category Archives: Hither Thither and Yon

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