Look first then sketch.

It is always so easy to slip into the habit of drawing what you think you see, rather than drawing what you actually see.

This could be a correct perspective if I was sitting a good metre or so below this woman.

A perfectly reasonable sketch except when I came to add other people in I realised that they would, if drawn in correct perspective, be scraping the roof of this alley way of shops. The rule of thumb is all heads of people, near and far in a sketch, should be on the same level unless you are sitting way above or below you subject.

This is the second version of my sketch this morning after I realised the woman’s head was below the jars of honey, not above them.

Sitting at the same level as this woman this is the correct perspective as she is sitting at the same eye line as me.

Side by side.

Perspective Practice

This is the first in a short series that comes from tidying up my blog. I have found several draft posts that never made the light of day. So here they come.

Following on from the class with Stephanie Bowers, an architectural illustrator and urban sketcher, on getting a handle on perspective, I thought I’d better get some practice in. These are some of the sketches I’ve done over the past few days.

29mar2017

Thank heavens for narrow alleys

While they are not necessarily the most exciting of locations, our local shopping precinct has enough lanes and intersections to make finding a subject easy.

5Apr2017b

The bus stop provided convenient seating, as well as subject matter

Stephanie also taught us watercolour techniques, to add to our perspective drawings. I love the opportunity to pick up tips from other artists, such as a good way of getting an even darker grey by mixing Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna, with the tiniest touch of Alizarin Crimson. Stephanie also demonstrated using square brushes, something I haven’t done before with watercolour.

‘Good Bones’ with Stephanie Bowers

We recently took off to Melbourne for a few days with friends to take a workshop called ‘Good Bones’, with architectural illustrator and urban sketcher Stephanie Bowers. Obviously the desire to learn how to handle perspective and use of water colour for illustration appealed as folks came from as far afield as Brisbane and even Perth to attend the workshop. I’ll spare you the blow by blow description of the workshop because Stephanie teaches these techniques in her online classes.

Our base for the two days of the workshop was the ‘Old Quad’ at Melbourne University. The university was founded in 1853 and sought to impress with buildings based on the cloisters and quadrangles of older European institutions. The Quad, with its arcades and arched cloisters certainly was a challenge.

Day one focused on basic instruction and demonstration on single point perspective. Sketches were in pencil with watercolour to follow on Day 2.

24Mar2017a

The Old Arts Building, Cussonia Court, University of Melbourne

Sketching in this much detail in pencil is definitely not my usual approach!

24-25Mar2017b

My second sketch with watercolour added on the following day, the Old Quad, University of Melbourne

Focused practice is always difficult. Another study in pencil.

24Mar2017b

Finding the perspective lines was challenging and I doubt I would have gotten this far without Stephanie’s expert tuition

After a day of concentration Stephanie had us make two quick 10 minute sketches.

Day 2 was spent trying out colour combinations and practicing our watercolour technique.

Following the workshop we spent a final half day with Urban Sketchers Melbourne. We had the advantage as we stayed at the University. Without the previous two days tuition I would not have had the skills to successfully tackle the design buildings at the university.

26Mar2017

The dramatic extension of the Design Building with the Elisabeth Murdoch Building in the background

I would recommend taking a class with Stephanie, either on-line or in person.