Friday, March 30, 2018

Playtime for Artists at "Tools for Urban Sketching"

An Interview with "Tools for Urban Sketching" Instructor Amy Larsen (WS 03)  
by Wes Douglas

There is this notion of “play” in the world. On the one hand, it is reserved for children to engage in an activity for enjoyment and recreation. You sometimes hear play associated with sports in the context of competition. On the other hand, it’s not meant for the serious or the practical purpose. Adults are expected to be "grown up" and "not play around," "waste time" or "goof off." When did playing around become a bad thing?

As an adult you shouldn’t buy into that. In the Chicago Sketch Seminar, anyone with an interest in trying out new things, learning new skills and messing up on purpose are welcome to register and sign up for the workshops that interest you. In fact, "play" is experimenting and trying out new ideas without bias or a preconceived notion of how it will turn out. This is the urban sketchers' definition of "play" and it is at the heart of every workshop offered this year. Here is one workshop that you really should consider.

WS 03: Tools for Urban Sketching with Amy Larsen

Wes: What would you like participants to know about this workshop that they may not understand from the above description?

Amy: We will explore many types of drawing and painting tools and the interactions of the different media with water and/or ink. I will bring many tools for people to try-out, including special papers. The goal is to explore combining media types to create sketches that are truly your own style. This workshop is an opportunity to experiment and discover a new way of working. Using two or three new tools/media on your sketches may excite your sense of color and shape and make you think in new ways.

Wes: What type of workshop is this: Demonstration? Lecture? Working session? Discussion?

Amy: This workshop is going to be part demonstration and part working session. Students are encouraged to bring their sketchbooks and use my tools to enhance their enjoyment of sketching by combining certain media they may not have tried.

For the first half hour or so of this workshop we will try out combining certain media with water and ink and I will explain which combinations work well together, then we will have 1 hour or more for sketching in the courtyard of the Palette and Chisel. In the last hour, I will demonstrate to interested students how to use ProCreate to color or test color a drawing and how to use the adjustments menu to make changes to your sketch. I will also introduce students to 2 or three other sketching apps that work really well and explain why I think they are superior to other apps.

Here is a partial list of the tools I will be bringing for my students to try out.

Tombow dual brush pen watercolor markers set of 96 colors

Faber Castell Albrect Durer 120 color watercolor pencil set

Copic 72 color marker set plus a few “wide” markers

Faber Castell Pitt pens many colors and 2 sizes

Sennelier oil pastel set of 50 colors

FX acrylic inks – These inks dry shiny and add visual interest to any sketch.

Frixion Erasable gel pens 24 color set - These pens allow you to add highlights with erasure and also soften edges with water since they are somewhat water-soluble.

I will also have samples of papers to try out. Students are encouraged to bring their own sketchbooks and use the tools I provide to see what happens on their chosen paper/sketchbook.

Wes: Sounds great Amy! And that's only a partial list? That's a lot of stuff. I assume there be some time for sketching or drawing in this workshop?

Amy: Yes, we will be scribbling away throughout the entire workshop. It will be 3 hours of playtime!

Wes: Playtime!? I think you said the secret word of the day. Do you have any examples of how sketches might look before and after this session? Will you be able to show how I can make my images look better and why?

Amy: Yes, I am working on examples to show in the workshop and will be guiding the students in certain combinations that work well together. I intend to show how using soluble and non-soluble inks and other media combinations can add depth and interest to your sketch. Here's a few examples:
Wes: What is an example of one of the coolest tools for urban sketching you have found? What makes you excited about this tool and why?

Amy: The coolest thing I want to express to the students is that by combining dry and wet media in layers the student can discover a unique and definitive style for their sketches that may advance their enjoyment of the outcome.

Wes: Will this make urban sketching easier, faster, better or more awesome?

Amy: Wouldn’t it be great when a student discovers a combination of tools that they feel intuitively defines their vision of how they want their sketches to look and advances their technique?

I will also be demonstrating best practices for what I’ve discovered in techniques such as layering, planning, combining, choosing media and simplifying using mixed media tools.

Wes: Will you also be able to share some of the downsides for each of the products (pros and cons for an informed purchase decision) or some of the watch-outs as well as the benefits?

Amy: Yes, I will be telling all that I know about my experience with these tools.

Wes: Do you represent any of the companies for the products shown?

Amy: No, I don’t represent any of the companies. I’m just an artist that gets excited about all the new products that are available on the market and want to share them with fellow creative people.

Wes: Amy, this sounds super-exciting and perhaps the most valuable investment of time that any artist could spend. The fact that you are not giving a sales pitch says to me that you are passionate about these products you have found and are giving a real gift to those who register for your workshop. Remind me again how people can sign up for your workshop.

Amy: Sure. If you go to the website and click on the “registration” tab, then click on the “BOOKWHEN” type, it will take you to the list of workshops. My workshop is WS 03 on Saturday afternoon from 2:30pm to 5:30pm and Sunday morning 10:00am to 1:00pm. Like I said before, we are going to have THREE FULL HOURS OF PLAYING AROUND WITH COOL TOOLS. I hope you be one of them Wes.

This workshop will present a wide variety of tools for Urban Sketching, both traditional and digital. Amy will share her experiences with these tools, will demonstrate them and allow students access to a variety of tools, including digital. Amy will share her extensive experience with digital apps to help artists sketch in new and innovative ways.

Learning Goals:
Participants will get an up-to-date overview of great tools and apps, and best
practices involved in using them. Amy will also explain best uses of tools for specific graphic applications. Students will learn how to blend different media for maximum effect.

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