This was the first of the peer workshops that all of the 2nd year part-time students will be running over the next couple of months. Here was Nic’s brief for her workshop:
My work at the moment is exploring human presence, movement, responses and memory. Drawing people, especially commuters, on the move and looking at ways to draw them and portray their activity.
By asking the group to go out and draw people on the move I hope to gain some insight into how you approach the subject matter and what methods and techniques you will employ to do so. Also exploring the use of memory to complete sections of the drawing as we draw people who have already gone.
The aim is to draw people from above, people on the same level and those below you. Somewhere between 20 and 30 drawings would be good.
Two hours at most
People- Commuters and shoppers
We will meet in Wimbledon at the entrance to Centre Court shopping centre by the train station entrance at 10am on Thursday. We will have 45 minutes to draw people on the move either outside the train station or inside the shopping centre. Walk back to the Centre for Drawing. Working in groups to transfer the images into a work which shows ways to portray people that were moving onto a static surface.
Most people, including me, were at least a bit nervous about drawing in public and/or drawing people and/or drawing moving people. But everyone returned with a good collection of sketches. Here is the group I was in with Ali Christie, Janine Hall and Ruth Richmond putting together our images.
We decided to transfer our images in different ways: Janine tore hers out of her sketchbook, Ruth copied hers on tracing paper, Ali made photocopies and I made copies on layout paper. This gave us a variety of densities and ways of layering when we put them together on a sheet of A1.
All three large collages went up on the wall, fitting well together.
Most people agreed that they could not draw moving people entirely from observation: they were gone too quickly. Figures were either left incomplete or finished from memory, but this could often be from a generic memory of ‘man looking at his phone’ rather than a very specific memory of that person. Often that was because we would start with the gesture or pose that attracted us, probably that was most distinctive, so the bits we ‘filled in’ were the bits in which we were less interested. Another strategy was drawing the top half of one person and, when they had moved on, the bottom half of someone else!
The important point is that all of these strategies were successful in terms of providing material for a larger collage. The use of different drawing materials and scales helped to produce crowds with some depth. Incomplete figures work as part of a mass; and it isn’t possible to tell as a viewer if a figure is in fact a composite.
Tina observed that our individual sketches were in fact quite static, but we were able to ‘re-animate’ the figures by creating the crowd. The composition, the overlapping and layering, the sense of depth all helped to create a sense of movement, which had been lost in the individual figures.
The workshop was challenging for those of us, including me, who don’t usually draw people from life, but it was fun to do as a group. And it felt like we did provide some answers to Nic’s questions about how we use memory to draw moving people and how our different sketches might work together.