Sketchbook: Summer People Sketches

So – a few sketches of people here and there from this summer.

Some at Brighton Pride, some on a train journey through London and some on the beach at Mersea, Essex.

I’d quite happily draw all year long, but mostly you have to talk to people – (of which, I’ve done a lot over summer). Whilst drawing this sketchbook page at a station, someone did come and TALK to me. Perhaps I should’ve said, ‘Look, can’t you see I’m drawing here? – No offence, but I don’t want to know about your grandson’s GCSE in Art, your uncle who paints wonderful seascapes or that you can draw tanks. Mostly I’m loading dishwashers and picking pyjamas off the floor, and trying to make a living – I don’t get to do this as often as I like. So go away!” but almost exclusively I am nice and polite and I say, “ooh that’s so interesting, and ah, thank you, and yes, I do this for a living…”


Some of these sketches, are tiny – I’ve enlarged them because I love the simplicity that can happen when you’re looking at a moving subject and drawing it quickly on a small scale. If it’s well observed – perhaps a moment when I’ve been able to concentrate, or when nobody walked in front of the subject, or they didn’t get up and go someplace else – when you’ve caught a particular gesture (the weight strangely distributed when carrying a bucket of water) – it’s satisfying. When the sketch is a bit bigger you can see the simplicity, the energy and texture in the stroke.

September is going to be my month of No Facebook and limited socialising (but I am going to try and post more regularly). I’m developing my Grotsby Snot character into two picture books (i.e the first two in a series) and it’s such a long process, quite a difficult process. I don’t think I’ve ever procrastinated so much – there’s always the dishes to do, plants to repot, patios to scrub (and one can get utterly lost on social media). The work of developing a story, writing it, changing it, changing it again – and again, and again… then drawing the pictures – that’s such a lot of hats to wear.

Sitting on the beach drawing people, well – it’s practically meditation (apart from the small matter of having to keep at least one eye on your children at all times).

Not my favourite drawing, I dislike the inaccuracy of it – but I enjoyed the challenge of trying to capture the uneven distribution of weight, the child’s effort at carrying the bucket of water. It’s this kind of observation that adds drama to imaginative drawings – Shirley Hughes did plenty of this kind of thing “lurking in sandpits” (listen to her Desert Island Discs interview on the Radio 4 archives).

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