Monthly Archives: March 2017

Speed sketching

Recently for a few years I stopped carrying a sketchbook even after having done that all my life, at least since I was a schoolboy. But I’m back sketching now – and enjoying it.

sketches of faces in a shopping mall.
I was warming up at sketching and added notes to myself as I noticed my faults and sticking points. Lighten up on the pens strokes, people facing to the left are more difficult for me to draw. And I was gripping the sketch book like a drowning man.


People is what I like to draw. I enjoy that more than drawing scenery or buildings.

Usually I draw in a cafe and focus on fellow customers seated at tables. But lately I’ve been sketching at tables in the open inside shopping mall courts.

sketches at supermarket tills.
These sketches allowed slightly more time for me to draw as the people were at self service tills. I still only had seconds but at least they were not traveling past at speed.

The pages below are from last week. My viewpoint allowed me to observe pedestrians coming from three different directions and they didn’t stop as they passed so I had to work fast.

Sketching people in the shopping mall as they walk past.
With these sketches I only had seconds (3-4) because the people were all walking past without stopping. I had to draw extremely fast. Sometimes the pen didn’t leave the paper once.

Getting Cramps.

Because I was out of practise in my sketching I was discovering kink after kink in my draftsmanship, it was like being wobbly on a bike after not using one for a few years.  I made some notes to myself amongst the sketches to drive home the things I needed to change.

Mainly to lighten up. I was getting tense and gripping the pad too fiercely even to the stage of giving myself cramp in the hand.

I also found I could lighten up gripping the pen and the weight of strokes too.

Not that I was scoring grooves into the paper but allowing myself to shift to using an extremely light touch increased the variety and sensitivity of marks available immediately.

Trust the Hand.

And I worked on letting myself trust my hand to make good marks.

Over-thinking and being too controlling of the pen cramps the flow of the drawing. Let go, let go.

I made myself concentrate much more on acutely observing the subject and much less watching and controlling the act of drawing. Let it go. Let it go. Chill man.

more leisurely sketch in a cafe.
This sketch allowed me to take my time as I was in a cafe with customers seated at tables. The sketching was still executed quickly because no-one held a pose. But surprisingly – people will often assume the same pose over again if you’re patient.
drawing in a pub.
These sketches were done in a pub – Royal Bar, Edinburgh. This usually means I have to force myself to be rude. I don’t drink alone in pubs and if I want to make some sketches I have to excuse myself from participating in the usually beery conversation.