Sunday, December 30, 2012

Tips About Sketching People

When is the last time you sat and drew a picture that had people in it?

I see.

You don't do people.

Well, don't be afraid. Jump in and draw. 

Keep a sketchbook in your purse or briefcase and whip it out when you are sitting in the doctor's office or when you are waiting to have the oil in your car changed. 

When I have a spare moment (it happens on occasion), I take out my sketchbook and start drawing.  Not only is it therapeutic, but it's challenging to capture the gesture of people - especially when you only have a few minutes to work.  

Sometimes, when I'm drawing a picture of a person, it's a matter of seconds before they move or shift their body position! When that happens, I simply start again.  I have a page in one of my sketchbooks that has a drawing of a two-year-old. It's really a compilation of six heads in various positions.  He moved around so much that I never had time to sketch the rest of his body.

When I draw, I like to use a sharpie marker. It's cleaner than using graphite (pencil) and because I can't erase my errors, drawing with permanent ink causes me to ignore my mistakes. It's a quick capture.  You are forced to draw continuously and the moment your pen hits the paper, you have a committed mark. No turning back.

Let's talk for a minute about mistakes.

If you look at the above drawings, you will see many mistakes - that's what I used to call them. Now, I don't even think about them...they're just there. For example, look at the boy seated with the laptop computer. You can see the computer through his leg.

Big deal.

Notice the guy seated in the round chair. His head is composed of two perpendicular ovals and a triangle nose. Who cares? Seriously. Sketching is all about the joy of drawing people. 
Take the challenge. 
Sit down somewhere and begin to draw.  Sketching is like everything else. You get better with practice. Here are some handy tips:
  • People are made of shapes. First, learn to see them - then draw them. Squares, rectangles, circles, etc.
  • See relationships between the shapes.  How far is the triangle from the square? How far is it from the hip to the knee and from the knee to the ankle? Is the length similar?
  • Leave out the face. Anonymity has a certain universal appeal.
  • Go for the big stuff like legs, arms and torso. Leave out the details.
  • Keep a piece of blank paper underneath the page on which you are drawing so that the ink doesn't bleed through.
  • Draw on ONE side of your notebook page (not on both sides)
  • Practice. Draw anything: objects, landscape or even people.

On occasion people will be aware that I am sketching them. They usually shift their body position and turn away from me. Sometimes they walk over to see my sketch. Once in awhile they say, "It doesn't even look like me." 

You get all kinds of reactions. Try to respond to them politely.

Most folks don't mind if you draw them, but some do. If I am going to render a detailed sketch (one that takes more time than a quick gesture), I usually ask the person for permission before I begin.  Otherwise, be discreet and try not to let them see you staring. If your drawing turns out nicely, you can email the person a copy of it (get their email address). 

Don't be afraid of how your drawing looks and avoid comparing your work to other artists. Each artist has their own style; their own interpretation of what they are seeing.

Here's Picasso...

And Matisse...

You will have your own style too.  It's like a signature - unique and original.

Buy a small sketchbook and a good pen.  Keep them nearby so that when you have some time in your schedule, you can practice drawing people, or for that matter - anything!
Drawing images of people is daunting at first, but it's a learned skill that can be rewarding.
Mostly, sketching is just plain fun!

Why not try it and see what happens?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Workshop For Children!

Yes, indeed.  

I am going to teach a six-session workshop for children.

I'll be teaming up with the Clark Planetarium under the umbrella of Art Access, an organization in Salt Lake City that provides equal opportunities to inclusive arts programming for Utahns with disabilities and those with limited access to the arts. It's part of their program called "Kindred Spirits."

Kindred Spirits Workshop
Designed for children whose chronological and/or cognitive age is 5 to 13, the Kindred Spirits program offers young participants an opportunity to engage creatively in a variety of visual arts projects in an inclusive environment. By integrating children with and without disabilities, Kindred Spirits works to eliminate barriers, empower participants and foster growth.

A Workshop That Appeals to Astronomy Enthusiasts!
Painting Nebulae with Susan Jarvis
Wednesdays, February 5-March 12 from 4:30 to 6:30 pm.

Design and paint your own nebulae using a variety of mediums. Participants, under the instruction of the Clark Planetarium education staff, will explore nebulae – interstellar clouds of dust and gas. Students will create compositions of their own star-forming regions. Under the instruction of the teaching artist, participants will design their own nebulae and paint them. 

To register online, click here.

Artwork created in these Kindred Spirits workshops will be exhibited at The Clark Planetarium in honor of the Planetarium's 10th Anniversary at their location in The Gateway. The exhibit will open on April 4, 2013 and will also contain juried artwork from other youth in the community.

Class Schedule:
Every Wednesday from 4:30 to 6:00 PM (see dates above)

Max Enrollment:
7 students  (14 when including their partners, a parent or a sibling).

$50 - includes all art supplies and snacks (no fee for partner companion).

Art Access Gallery, 230 South 500 West, #125 in Salt Lake City

Amanda Finlayson 801-328-0703, option #5

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Come With Us To Italy!


Have you ever wanted to combine your travels in Italy with an adventure in painting and sketching? Well, now is your chance to join us for a two-week art study abroad!

Yep.  we're going!

Join us for a memorable exploration of the Italian countryside through illustrated journaling and watercolor sketching featuring you as the artist.

Let us teach you!

Enjoy an introduction to watercolor techniques and new painting surfaces by team teachers Steven K. Sheffield and Susan N. Jarvis. Make new friends as you paint side-by-side with your fellow artists. Discover your hidden talents and bring home artwork that was painted by you in sunny Italy.

Here are samples of the type of work that you will be learning: 

If you want to learn more about this trip, you can click on the "Italy" tab of my website or check out the La Romita website at