Drawing From Life


Sketches done between 10.20 and 11.00 one night when I was waiting for a late train at Victoria Station, London.

Pencil Sketches Station

Saloon-bar sketches. If you use your sketchbook habitually it can provide you with an excellent source for picture composition and character reference.

More leaves from my sketchbook -street scenes in London and

Composition Drawing Railway SceneHuman Posture Drawing

observation. Don't aim for neat, tidy drawings arranged artistically on the page. That's not what your sketchbook is for. Aim to capture the character and posture of your subject within just a few moments. Choose someone who is likely to remain still for a while, and get started. Don't hesitate. Don't try for attractive line quality or arty tricks. This is an exercise in recording facts quickly. Your sketches are for your benefit alone - to give you the sheer pleasure of seeing and recording the life around you and to help you develop a sharp eye and a sure touch.

If you've never tried this you may think that it sounds like hard work. It isn't. It is a most pleasurable and most rewarding occupation. It is relaxing and invigorating, and as a means of improving your drawing skills it can't be beaten.

Take your sketchbook with you wherever you go. This is so important that I make no apology for repeating it. Draw people as they wait on a railway platform or sit on a park bench, or members of your family at home as they watch television. In bars, in restaurants and cafés, and in the street you can see all shapes and sizes of people. Note them down in your sketchbook and you'll never regret it. Sketching, it should be stressed, is not only a pleasurable occupation in its own right: there is no better way to increase your knowledge and ability. If you make it a habit your life will be enriched by your clearer perception of your fellow human beings, and you'll develop a sureness of touch that will enliven your work and increase your ability to draw just what you want.

The circumstances under which figure sketching is done are

More leaves from my sketchbook -street scenes in London and

often not conducive to the production of carefully completed picture compositions, but sometimes it is valuable to include background and surrounding details. Try to look on each drawing you do as a potential picture arrangement. This may mean half a figure with some shadow, or it could be an area of public park with figures distributed around it; the random patterns the figures make are often surprisingly pleasing. When you progress to composing original pictures of your own the experience will prove extremely valuable.

If you take a larger sketchbook along to concerts, jazz clubs or auction rooms, or perhaps to the public gallery of the town hall when a council meeting is in progress, you will have time to make more considered drawings of figure groups, as the performers remain reasonably still.

Throughout this book I shall return again and again to this theme of drawing and sketching from life. It is a process of reaching out for raw material to provide a pool of resources for your imagination to call upon. Without this exercise of your powers of observation, your drawings from memory are in danger of gradually deteriorating until they become little more than a series of clichés.

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Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Learn to sketch by working through these quick, simple lessons. This Learn to Sketch course will help you learn to draw what you see and develop your skills.

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