Aim: Drawing moving figures or a changing scene can be extremely challenging. Make a drawing which is a record of the movement and action itself, we can begin to reflect on how to balance movement and form to create a dynamic image.
Method: Find a fairly busy scene, with plenty of movement. Sit somewhere comfortable and out of the way and start making a drawing. Build up a drawing full of dynamic energy, make a drawing which captures a sense of time elapsed, rather like a photographic long exposure.
Reflection: Review the work you’ve produced for this project and make some reflective notes in your learning log. What were the main challenges in working this way? Did you feel comfortable focusing on movement at the expense of a more ‘finished’ effect? Did you choose the right materials for the job? What would you do differently another time?
This is an exercise I will like were my first thoughts. My sketchbook work on location mainly looks at buildings whereas this project is more aimed at catching the dynamic of the location. In my parallel project I am generally looking at the timeless qualities of a place, making a drawing that will be in essence a depiction of how it stands today (usually without figures). This exercise was to produce a series of drawings catching the dynamics of a scene, making it come alive. In essence the aim was to create a dynamic scene with little regard to the surroundings to concentrate upon the movement in and around the scene.
Selecting a few locations where I could sit and observe the action as well as draw resulted in a variety of locations: coffee shops, park, street bench and library. All the drawings were done on an A4 pad using a ink fountain pen, the paper was white medium weight cartridge paper.
Gallery of sketches drawn in busy locations
As part of my Parallel Project I have looked at the work of a variety of artists amongst them Fraser Scarfe. His website has plenty of his work to contemplate including an archive with a couple of sketch books of quick drawings primarily of scenes. Taking as an example some of the work from his London sketchbook we see that he makes quick decisive bold marks in a small notebook or sketchbook using a broad tipped marker. These drawings convey a sense of busy scene bustling with people and noise.
There is no commentary from the artist but these must have drawn very quickly as he stood to one side in the scene taking don the information in the scene with a glance and rendering this edited version in his drawing with a few brief marks.
Fraser Scarfe, website – archive sketchbook – London 2013. Fraserscarfe.co.uk (2018).
Fig 1. 4601326705 – London (2013)
This scene is a very brief drawing of road works. This is shown with the traffic cones. A series of marks represents the equipment in use by the workmen (man). The drawing is across two pages of a ‘small’ sketchbook using and ink implement to draw, possibly a marker.
The marks are quickly and briefly made noting the barest of information to allow the viewer and himself to dynamics and geography of the scene.
Fig 2. 4601326824 – London (2013)
This second sketch is a much closer viewpoint that the scene above. Here two women sit staring ahead, are they strangers (they are not looking or leaning towards each other). The oval shape above them is either a lamp of a hairdresser’s hairdryer. Maybe they wait in complementation, ignoring each other as they await their turn under the dryer or they are sharing a coffee and conversation has lulled or they are annoyed with each other.
This drawing is done on a single leaf and not the double page arrangement of the drawings above and below. The tight cropping of the scene eliminates much of the scene to concentrate on the two sitting figures whom we view from the waist up. The drawing implement is again a marker and a much heavier mark is evident from the larger marks.
Fig 3. 4601326494 – London (2013)
A street scene encompassing a view along a street taking in the opposite side of the street with buildings, vehicles, street furniture and pedestrians jostling for position on the pavement. Again, Scarfe utilises twin pages to do the drawing using a heavy marker to draw. The marks are sketchy, brief and reinforced with overdrawn corrections. There is minimal shading on the objects, including people to give them substance.
Scarfe, draws and re-draws over marks already made and is not afraid to leave the evidence of these discarded marks showing. These are most probably sketches for his own use and he does not need then tidied, plus they are drawings and not a finished work
Review the work you’ve produced for this project and make some in your reflective notes
In all I produced sixteen drawings / sketches. Overall, I was happy with the results and some have been more successful than others in their outcome.
The more successful outcomes are where I have continued to draw and in effect cover more of the paper. This myriad of marks has in itself made the scene look and feel busy. Looking at artists sketchbooks, they usually work quickly and incisively, making marks and overdrawing to correct. There is no polish or finish to the work but this in itself lends a sense of dynamism to the work. Thus, I tried to work as quickly as I could, drawing and overdrawing to capture the essence of the scene.
People will not sit still, stand still, they must fidget and shift their stance in a near constant process. However, I was aware of this from past working when trying to capture a family member of some-one else without their awareness.
The medium chosen resulted in a thin line of black ink and this did not lend itself to depicting the substance, i.e. volume of an individual quickly. It does however, lend itself to quick mark making with no temptation to correct with an eraser as using a pencil might.
Drawing a public place can and is usually done discretely, on occasion you may be rumbled as to your activity and this can make an individual fidget even more or get up and leave.
To avoid detection a few strategies can be employed such as glancing around and not concentrating fixedly on a particular individual or direction. Wearing dark glasses may disguise where you are looking as will having a companion with you which serves several purposes including making it look like you are making notes on your meaning them.
Did you feel comfortable focusing on movement at the expense of a more ‘finished’ effect?
Whilst working quickly will generally no lend itself to a more finished piece or accuracy, it does result in a sense of dynamism and energy to a work. In reality there is no other way to work on depicting the scene as if you dawdle over the marks the subject will be away either because you made them uncomfortable or they finished their coffee or activity.
Did you choose the right materials for the job?
The need in this exercise was to work quickly and ‘confidently, not to doubt the line placed as well as using a line that would give weight and substance to the objects and people depicted. For this pen and paper were very good, the line could not be erased or corrected except by re-drawing to correct and emphasis. The drawing process and evolution would be evident from the series of marks made.
The indelible ink ensure that I had to work with purpose for the mark-making; this allowed for quick marks which were essential to the success or not of the exercise.
What would you do differently another time?
Working in another medium would have possibly opened up other means and methods of working and I would like to try using chalks or charcoal as the medium. This would have allowed some substance in the depiction of the scene characters. Or looking at the sketchbook work of Fraser Scarfe maybe utilising a small size drawing surface along with a broad tipped marker or the like.
List of Illustrations
Fig 1. Scarfe, Fraser. (2018). 4601326705, London – Fraser Scarfe. [online] Available at: http://www.fraserscarfe.co.uk/london/4580643599 [Accessed 17 May 2018].
Fig 2. Scarfe, Fraser. (2018). 4601326824, London – Fraser Scarfe. [online] Available at: http://www.fraserscarfe.co.uk/london/4580643599 [Accessed 17 May 2018].
Fig 3. Scarfe, Fraser. (2018). 4601326494, London – Fraser Scarfe. [online] Available at: http://www.fraserscarfe.co.uk/london/4580643599 [Accessed 17 May 2018].