Workshops X 2 (+ Prep)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Last weekend I taught back-to-back sketching workshops in the South Bay. One was for winners of an Art in Action fundraising auction, and the other was for some Google colleagues.

The morning session was in Palo Alto, near the sculpture garden at Stanford's Cantor Arts Center. We found a shady spot to set up, and I had the group do several warm-up exercises. We practiced thumbnails, talked about using a waterbrush, and considered how to draw people. Quickly. Because they move.

AiA workshop Cantor Arts sculpture garden

Initially I'd considered holding the workshop at Baylands, but there's absolutely no shade out on the trails so I'm glad I chose the Cantor. Here are a few thumbnails I did as I scouted out locations:

Baylands Palo Alto thumbnails

The watercolor set we were using was made by Yarka. For an inexpensive student-grade set, the colors are quite rich. Below is a study I did to practice using them, from a photo I'd taken in Manchester at last year's Urban Sketchers symposium. It's a beautiful city; we all fell in love with it as we drew its cinnamon brick and shaded canals, and it's heartbreaking to see its people go through so much pain right now.

Manchester canal study

For the second workshop, I was providing the sketchbooks (I sprang for ones that were adequate but not too expensive), so I spent some time getting used to the paper beforehand. I chose Strathmore's Sketch (200 Series), which has 50 lb paper. It's for dry media, but I figured we could get away with a little bit of watercolor.

To test it, I took it with me when we rode the mini steam train at Berkeley's Tilden Regional Park a few weeks ago:

Tilden Regional Park train

And I experimented with watercolor washes.

Test landscape watercolor

I also used it at Artspan's sketch meetup at Huckleberry Bicycles in San Francisco. I'm pretty terrible at drawing bicycles (sad, I know, given M. does this) so it was a good chance to practice. The "models" (including M.) got to choose any bike they wanted and held poses for about five minutes. Just enough time to make a mess.

Huckleberry Bikes 1

Huckleberry Bikes 2

Huckleberry Bikes 3

Huckleberry Bikes 4

Huckleberry Bikes 5

Huckleberry Bikes 6

By the day of my workshop, I was pretty comfortable with the thin paper. Here's a quick demo I did for the participants, of people lounging in the park near the Mountain View Public Library. It's amazing how a little color can bring simple gestural lines to life.

Workshop people studies

At the end of the afternoon I was exhausted -- but very happy that both sessions had gone well. Next time, I won't be scheduling two workshops on the same day!

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