Thursday, February 5, 2015

Surreptitious Sketching

I enjoyed my outing with the Seattle Urban Sketchers last month and want to go again, though I couldn't help noticing that there are usually lots of people hanging out in the areas where they tend to sketch, and that Urban Sketchers like to put people in their drawings.  While I've had plenty of figure and portrait drawing classes, they were ages ago, and my subjects have been birds and nature for a long, long time.

So I decided to freshen up my stale people-sketching skills this week by taking my To Go sketch kit to a spot near where I work -- a large building full of lounge areas where students tend to meet or study.  The Urban Sketchers suggest sketching people in public as unobtrusively as possible, so I searched for some stealth sketching opportunities.  The first group of likely students I found got up and left as soon as I sat down nearby.  Rats.  Next, I found a guy sleeping -- perfect subject, no worries about being detected!

But then I realized that this wasn't great practice, as most of the people I'd wind up sketching during our meet-ups would not be sleeping.  So I tried again to find a quiet spot where no one would notice what I was doing, with subjects not too far away.  This can be difficult!

I found these two people in a small eating/studying spot -- and everything went well at first....

...and then I made a tactical error by deploying my watercolors in order to capture the woman's big purse.  I wound up sticking my thumb in the red paint and couldn't get it off easily.  Not exactly incognito anymore, I gave up for the day.

Today I went back to the lounge in search of more victims, and had much better luck.  I snagged a comfy chair in an open area with no one near me to see what I was doing, but with people across the way who stayed put long enough for quick sketches.  And I steered clear of the watercolors.

I made notes in pencil on the colors, in case I wanted to add watercolor later.

Next I need to practice on people who aren't sitting.  There's a cafeteria at my work place with an espresso stand, so next week I hope to find a good spot from which to sketch the people standing in line there.  Wish me luck!


  1. Since you are practicing so much, it sounds like you will be meeting up with the Urban Sketchers again in the future . . . have fun!! Seems like an interesting group.

  2. I'm impressed by what you are doing, and that you can be sneaky and not be noticed.

    Here's some urban sketches -