Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Easel sketching at the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

I like going along to see art exhibitions, so sometime ago I ticked the box to get the National Gallery listings sent to me. Last week I had a look at it properly and noticed that every month there are free easel sketching sessions available with no need to book in advance. This looked like too good a chance to miss, so I went along. Sure enough a group of people were gathered around a Japanese lady in a kimono and were either standing at an easel or sitting with a board, sketching her. I was a bit late but joined in and produced two sketches sitting at a board and one standing at an easel. The session was run by  artist, Damian Callan.The sketching of each pose lasted about 20 minutes. We were supplied with paper, charcoal, chalk and coloured pastels to work with. Before each pose Damian gave us a wee demonstration of how he tackles a sketch.
  1. He starts off with a phantom sketch by drawing the outline of the model without putting any lines on the paper. This helps to get going and get some dimensions in the eye.
  2. Then he draws the model in a flowing way, moving around and across the paper without lifting the charcoal off the paper and  not worrying too much about the finer points of accuracy. This produces the first rough take on the model. 
  3. Next, the sketch is worked on... filling in details and missing out or changing parts which are not needed or inaccurate. The beauty of working with charcoal is that it is flexible and can be altered. 
  4. Bearing in mind tone, light and and shade and form.
  5. Features are brought out with the use of tone and this is where chalk can be used as a highlighter.
  6. Damian asked to look deeply at the model and the drawing will follow.
This is the sketch I did of M  when standing at the easel, I worked on it for about 20 minutes, so it is a work in progress! I got engrossed in what I was doing and forgot that members of the public were wandering around the gallery. At one point I looked up and was quite surprised to see quite a large group of people watching us draw.


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