Sketch In the Square.

Trafalgar Square.

Warm, 21°C, bright sun, light breeze

A few days in That London to take the lad to see possible universities. We looked round UCL with an interest in Biomedical Science. The city was relatively quiet with much reduced numbers of foreign tourists. I reckon the foreign voices heard in the square were peole who live here coming as inland tourists to london. Many wanted to take photos of the kids after they climbed up on the lion statues.

After a coffee and a walk, we ended up at the National Portrait Gallery (which was closed). Round the back is the National Gallery which had an enormous queue. But… in the square was a big cluster of easels and staff giving out drawing materials. This is “Sketch in the Square”.
It turns out they are from the gallery’s public education department. There was the choice of sitting at an easel (but they were full) or wandering off with a board/paper and medium. I seized the opportunity and took A3 paper, a clipboard and a nice thick 2B graphite stick.

With only a graphite stick (a ‘chunky’) I needed to shade as soon as possible to sharpen the tip on the chunky. There are things wrong with each drawing even though, the second one I did get to use a rubber. Nevermind, if I don’t point out the faults, then maybe nobody will notice. Don’t tell. I think my choice of media was about right, 2B is quite hard but darks can be marked with heavy pressure.

Folks did notice me drawing though. I got some fabulous comments, from a guttoral “Woooowww” to a chat with an undergraduate from Mumbai who asked for permission to take a photo. A couple of nervous teenage girls said ” I just wanted so say how much I like your drawing“… then ran away. I overheard an unseen group talking about putting a picture on their ‘story’. More kids stopped to watch than anybody else.
I loved it, I suppose all those years drawing in front of kids in class took away and self-counscious inhibition. I’d go every day if I could.

Sketch in the Square

Don’t fall of a lion today.

School demos

Lesson demo 1

Teaching how to use graphite powder in drawing. This is more a painterly approach. Lay out blocks of tone softly with a cloth. Work in highlights with a putty-rubber. Only then dive is with ever softer pencils. This is a top-down method that parallels painting a ground, under-painting, over-painting then glazes.

It’s a way of thinking that avoids errors introduced by filling in an outline that so many children use. This offers a clear route in via broad tones towards fine detail last.

Lesson demo 2.

So many children get in a fix and want to start again. Sometimes that’s because an outline is off. Sometimes they have represented a boundary with line that they can’t even see. For example, a face outline partly covered by hair. I teach them to build up details starting from the eye-line. That way, the eyes get the most attention; they are, after all, the most important feature ina portrait.

Biro III.

Bic Biro on A5

It’s not quite finished, there is something wrong and I’m not sure what. This letterbox view on this landscape book doesn’t help but the solution may lie in careful hair measurements. The original photo has a twist – the model is looking 3/4 to her right. In this view, the isn’t enough information, maybe that’s why it looks odd.

The tuning-fork tree.

More storms, 60mph gusts. Dried up later. 7°C.

A6 sketchbook:

In work today, I had time to watch a tree beaten by storm Gareth. My mind turned to the problem of how can we animate a winter tree? The tree is so obviously a chaotic kinetic system when moving through wind. Each branch will have its own resonant frequency, but then I noticed something. Each branch must be a different length. If it weren’t, there could be a serious problem. Serious for the tree, it could lose branches in storms more often.

Imagine the branches are swaying in wind. If there were only two branches, the tree would vibrate like a tuning fork. The resonance of each branch would support the motion of the other branch, this feeding energy at greater and greater amplitudes. I’d say there is a system heading towards catastrophic fractures.

Three’s aren’t constructed that way. Not this one anyway. Each branch is a different length, this avoiding such a destructive fate.