Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Gift of Foresight

Give yourself the gift of foresight.

Sometimes in urban sketching we stumble upon something that needs to be captured in the moment. Other times we know a general type of thing on our sketching menu. For instance you might consider that you'll be in public transit a good deal for the next few days or perhaps you know you're meeting a friend in a park with joggers.

When you know what type of thing is coming, give yourself the gift of foresight. What does that mean? Well mainly it means taking time between sketches to practice techniques for capturing something you anticipate seeing.

Do you struggle with quick sketches of people? Does your lighting source chance too often in a long sketch? Do you have trouble scaling objects on your page?

If you know an area you struggle with is on your sketching menu take a little time and practice at home. By giving yourself a set time to practice one of your trouble areas on a something in your house or even from a photograph you can try out new techniques without the pressure of your subject escaping.

Bent-nib fountain pen sketch


This weekend many of us will be meeting up at Cloud Gate – The Bean – and frankly sketching reflective metal is not high on my skill list.

So one evening I found a metal water bottle and tried out a few different techniques for capturing the reflective element that always alludes me. This time I only worked with techniques I generally use for sketch outings. While there are benefits to trying new techniques, I wanted to see what was and wasn't working with my standard methods.

watercolor without sketch guides




First I worked only with a "bent-nib" fountain pen (by Sailor) loaded with black ink. Next I tried watercolor in only black and blue and without a base sketch. Finally I sketched the bottle again with a fountain pen and wet the ink with a touch of blue watercolor to see how the colors would shade.

Fountain pen sketch with watercolor

Trying out several techniques on the same object helped me pin point the strengths in certain approaches so that when Saturday rolls around I'll be better prepared to sketch without hesitation.

Have you every planned ahead when it comes to what you practice? What else do you like to practice before a sketch outing?

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