Everyday Sketching, Urban Sketching

Quick Sketches on a Family Trip

Pen and Watercolour Sketch Liverpool Albert Dock
Sketch of the Albert Dock in Liverpool with an unfinished drawing of my son in the corner – he got annoyed at me drawing him and moved away

Making the best of short sketching opportunities

With family and work commitments, I don’t always find it easy to find opportunities for Urban Sketching. So I often need to grab 15 or 20 minutes for quick sketches and make the best of those short time windows.

I want to develop a method for quick sketches that allows me to completes as much of the sketch from life as possible. I am happy to finish the drawing later and use a reference photo / memory to put in the final touches. I don’t want to complete the whole sketch using reference photos though. The results don’t have the little quirks and mistakes that come with drawing from life and under time pressure…  and I seem to end up with drawings that lack energy and character.

How can I develop a way of working that allows me to make the best of the time I have, and produce the quick sketches I am after?

I haven’t found a method I am fully happy with yet. But here are a few drawings from a family trip to Liverpool where I am trying to make the best of those little time windows.

Quick sketches of people

Quick sketches of people (and lego figures) in pen and watercolour
A sketch waiting for a doctor’s appointment. Before dinner and chilling out later – and the Lego figures my daughter bought that day

Unless they are posing for you, you only have a few minutes to draw people before they move. So I approached these quick sketches with a gestural pencil outline (a few seconds) and pen line. If someone moved I started to draw another person hoping the first ‘target’ will get back to their initial pose. That didn’t always work. You can see ghostly eyes floating on the left. The drawings bear little resemblance with the subjects, but I am happy enough with them.    I added quick pencil shading on some of those.

Quick Sketches of Lego Figures
I painted the lego figures my daughter bought that day later on at home

Sketch pen outline onsite

Pen drawing of the Albert Dock in Liverpool by Sophie Peanut
Pen drawing after finishing the windows at home

I had about 20 minutes to sketch as much as I could of the Albert Dock view in Liverpool while the rest of the family went on the big wheel. I drew the building outlines and some of the windows on site – just enough information to be able to complete the sketch at home. I finished the pen lines and added the watercolour after the trip.

Liverpool Albert Dock Watercolour Sketch
Detail of the completed sketch of the Albert Dock in Liverpool. Pen, watercolour and white gel pen

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