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A Sketchbooking Retreat- part 4

Posted by Koosje Koene in ArtJournal, sketchbook on September 10, 2017

This is the last blogpost in a series of 4. In this series I’m sharing my experiences and drawings of a workshop I attended in Rotterdam a couple of weeks ago. You can read the previous post here.

Last day

The days in the ‘Pushing Your Sketch Boundaries’ workshop were very intensive, and energizing at the same time. It felt like a mini-vacation! We were lucky with the gorgeous weather, that certainly helped too. With one morning session and one afternoon session to go, I was quite excited and curious about kicking my inner critic’s butt yet again while filling up my workshop sketchbook.

We started out with inks and Bamboo pen. Inma Serrano shared some of her secrets on how to capture movement. When you draw people, they always move, unless you’re in a live model drawing session. How do you tackle that? Draw them in those different positions!

We drew each other, changing positions, and as you can see, the things that were moving most, were the drawing hands – moving frantically on the page, and going back and forth to the ink bottle to dip the pen in.

Biggest takeaways:

-keep an open line, so the third, fourth, fifth hand makes sense in the drawing

So much energy

It was a Saturday and that means there’s a big market in Rotterdam. Inma sent us out to capture some movement on the market. Pick up the energy and add it to the sketches.
Quite scary at first but I got over it very fast and just started. Because she gave us just half an hour, I didn’t even have time to hesitate!

Biggest takeaways:

-Graphite is great when drawing movements this way, especially combined with watercolours
-This is SO exciting – you can capture the energy and you’ll get energised by it too.
-Point of view/angle helps. Be courageous and go close. Deal with the people who approach you and ask questions – it’s okay! I had some really great conversations.

We weren’t done yet! We then were sent out to ‘draw a pathway’ by adding color. That way you can direct the viewer’s eyes through your drawing.

She also told us about using a big shape and draw from there – I had 15 minutes left so I tried my hand at it and want to practice this more.

Biggest takeaways:

-Just one color! So powerful!
-Don’t be too careful. Big dark shapes make things interesting.

I decided to skip the sociable part of having lunch with the group. I wanted to draw MORE!
I searched for a spot where I could sit down in the middle of the market busy-ness and found a doner place where I ordered a durum (did a quick drawing while standing in line) and sat down on a stool at a greasy table to draw whatever I could.

Eye opening

In the afternoon, Miguel guided us through some eye-opening exercises:

1. The spiral drawing.

I knew this exercise from Miguel’s klass in Sketchbook Skool but I hadn’t done it in a while. We went to the old harbour for a very complex view and break it down into small pieces of shapes, not thinking of the whole scene. This way you make the drawing grow, and the drawing ‘appears’.

I was excited to see some colourful washing hanging on the lines of one of the boats so I decided to start from there. Soon enough I realised I had started way to small, so I couldn’t finish my drawing within the hour. And wow, was this different from the quick, gestural kind of drawing I had been doing all morning!

2. A ‘Frankenstein’ drawing.

To capture the story of an afternoon, of your surroundings, you could sit down and draw the view. But it could be more exciting to grab the most interesting bits and pieces and put them all on one page like a collage.

Walking around with my sketchbook in hand, I just drew anything of interest, anything that I found characteristic for the surroundings, things and people that caught my eye… just filling the page frantically. I LOVE this technique, and i really like the page I filled as well.

Biggest takeaways:

-the spiral drawing technique is a fantastic way to approach complex scenes and filter out ‘the whole’. Jut take it step by step, shape by shape.
-the collage slash frankenstein drawing could be really great when traveling.
-the collage slash frankenstein drawing doesn’t need to be finished in one go. You can add a little bit every time you pick up the sketchbook

Finished, but certainly not done

With just a few pages left in my workshop sketchbook, I caught my train back to Amsterdam. Very happy. Very eager to keep applying all the things I learned in just those few days!

Workshop teachers Isabel Carmona, Inma Serrano and Miguel Herranz

Koosje Koene

Hi I'm Koosje. I'm an illustrator and art teacher in Amsterdam, where I was born and raised. I went to school to study graphic design, then worked for ten years as an award-winning professional photographer. But eventually my love of drawing and painting took over and I became an illustrator. My illustrations have been published in many Dutch magazines and in 2011, I began blogging and started developing and teaching online art classes. In 2014 I founded Sketchbook Skool, which is a flourishing community of artists from around the world of all skill levels.