Meet the Correspondent: Luis Ruiz > Malaga, Spain$show=/search/label/Luis%20Ruiz

"Since I was a child, I have always loved drawing. As an architect, I was trained to sketch on site in my first year of my studies. I have always considered sketching a wonderful tool in my job to understand things, more in the field of spatial relations than in their material aspect. On the other hand, I have always brought a sketchbook with me in my travels as a much more effective way of keeping a memory than a photograph. But lately my travel sketches tended to be too few and too quick. I have recently found Urban Sketchers, and then discovered the immense joy of sketching outside with no particular task. Reading Usk’s manifesto, I feel especially sensitive with the point of keeping a record of time and place, and I’m changing from sketching just architecture to understand the city as a big scenario for human activity. I live in Málaga, a city in the south of Spain with more than half a million residents and 2,500 years of age; but also the center of a busy and lively metropolitan area, home of an active harbour and a big tourist destination. Now that I have two small children and I do not travel as much as before, I’m trying to show this mixture of old and new in my drawings. It is so rewarding to share my work with so many excellent artists and receive continuous feedback from other members! And, last but not least, to learn from other parts of the world. I'm delighted to join Urban Sketchers." • Luis' art on flickr.

Workshop K: Quick on the Draw

Plaza Padre Billini and Tostado House

Lynne Chapman

Workshop description
More often than not, when I am sketching on location, time is of the essence: the person I’m sketching could leave at any moment; the light is fading; it is cold; I am with non-sketchers who are keen to move on... It is these common restrictions which have helped me learn to get down the essence of a subject quickly, trusting my instincts and worrying less about detail than capturing the essentials.

Anyone who has ever tried life-drawing will recognise the curious phenomenum whereby, the shorter the time allowed, the ‘truer’ your lines are: with just 2 minutes to capture a pose, you put greater trust in your hand/eye coordination, thinking less, feeling more and, looking more at the subject and less at your paper, the results are generally stronger.

The same principle holds true for location sketching, whether you are observing characters, buildings, transport or landscape.

Workshop format
The 3 hour workshop will be divided into 4 timied exercises of 30 mins, coming together between each to share the results and then brief in the next exercise with examples from my sketchbooks.
  1. Using only a soft pencil: Keeping your eye on your subject as much as possible, allowing yourself only brief and occasional glimpses at your paper, ‘feel’ your way around what you observe, using quick, bold and instinctive marks.
  2. Using 1 dark and 1 lighter color (plus your white paper): Identify the darkest and brightest elements of your subject. Concentrate entirely on tone, disregarding naturalistic colour. Use your two colours to describe both block shapes and linear details, not forgetting to ‘use’ the white paper for the brightest areas of all.
  3. Using 3 colours (naturalistic or otherwise) plus a line in any medium: Allowing yourself just block color and no line to start with, lay in the main shapes quickly and approximately, dividing your page into areas of color and bare paper: this is the ‘skeleton’ to hang your line on. Draw on top in line only, choosing only those details which are important.
  4. Using any of the above techniques: Concentrate on smaller parts of what is in front of you, rather than the ‘complete picture’. Whilst drawing, be aware of what’s happening around you. Link your disparate sketches using type which captures snatches of conversation, background noise, smells etc. Pull out, enlarge and colour key words to add compositional strength to the page.
Learning goals
  • Relying more on instinctive hand/eye coordination and less on thinking and measuring.
  • The ability to quickly extract and capture the essential elements of a composition.
  • The swift evaluation of tonal values.
  • Remembering that correct tones are ultimately more important than correct colour.
  • Loosening up the relationship between colour and line.
  • Engaging all the senses and not just the eyes.
  • Using handwritten type to compliment and add to a composition.

Supply list
Sketchbook (obviously!), but 2 if possible, to save waiting for things to dry; a soft pencil (3B or softer); a colouring medium eg watercolour, watercolour pencils, coloured ink, pastel.

Reference images

"My main profession is as a children’s book illustrator, but for over 20 years I have spent a significant proportion of my working year teaching drawing in its various forms ... Sharing our skills to empower one another is at the heart of what urban sketching is about and I feel that I have my own particular areas of expertise that would be both fun to share and useful to fellow sketchers."
—Lynne Chapman


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Test USk Blog: Workshop K: Quick on the Draw
Workshop K: Quick on the Draw
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