Saturday, June 9, 2012

Urban Sketching often means people - Desiree

Hi everyone, Desiree here on Urban Sketching. I am one of the newbies to the group but I have been sketching and painting for more years than I am willing to admit. I am excited to be a part of the group and hope you will enjoy my input. I keep several sketchbooks and journals and I teach a monthly sketchbook/journaling class. I have a sketchbook in my purse all the time for those moments when I find myself sitting with nothing to do, I can't waste a minute! 

I love to sketch while we travel, it gives me the opportunity to record my day and my thoughts. When I think about sketching urban settings I often think of people, architecture, animals and lots of activity. Scary, huh! Well it doesn't need to be. I think my students are also often nervous of sketching outside where people will see them or worse watch them! First let me reassure you that most of the people I encounter on the street know little or nothing about art. The ones that do often say to me, Wow, Oh I wish I had my art supplies, I would love to join you! They seldom stay long and you are once again left to your painting. 

I love to challenge myself to draw people in airports, doctor offices and on the street etc where I like to practice drawing people. When they are sitting across from me I will quietly get my sketchbook out of my purse without them knowing. I like these opportunities to sketch different types of people because they are not moving and make an easier subject. Its all about practice, use a pencil if it helps you feel more comfortable. Capture general shapes then add details and some shading. Its not about perfection is about capturing the moment, memory or a feeling. They also become good references for paintings later.
These following pencil sketches were captured while we were traveling in Rome. This one as we rested in the Forum, the others are in the Plaza Novona, Spanish Steps etc. I love capturing the people of the area along with the architecture.

My husband reading, a watercolor sketch, no prior drawing
Trying to capture the mood of the scene is fun, what do you think these women are discussing by looking at their body language.

People bring life, add movement, create a focus point. Urban sketching gives you some great opportunities to capture people living life in your area or on vacation.


  1. Enjoyed your post today. Any suggestions on learning to sketch people?

  2. Love your people sketches from everyday life. So inspirational!

  3. Love your sketches, Desiree! I get great pleasure from sketching people in public like that, and find that most people don't mind, and like to have a look at my sketch. Got to be a bit tactful though; I drew my husband's cardiologist while we were waiting for him to finish a phone discussion, and he was pulling faces at me while he was talking. When he hung up the phone, he wanted to see my drawings. He has put on a lot of weight lately, and my images weren't flattering! But he was highly amused, and showed them to his staff!

  4. Hi Denise, start with shapes, oval for head(smaller than you think),rectangle for body,arms,legs. Start by looking in a magazine and drawing a person you see( they are not moving). Once you think you have it look closely at the proportions, head size compared to body, arms length on torso etc. How did you do? Practice. Remember, eyes go almost in the middle of your oval, ears are out from that. There should be an eye sized space in-between each eye. I might need to do a special post on some tips for drawing people soon! Thank you all for the nice comments, Gina I have to laugh at your story. Tomorrow I have some other tips for people too.

  5. Love you drawings and have an itch to get out and do some sketching of my own. Thank you for taking the time to share them.

  6. oops. that should have been 'your' drawings, not 'you' drawings. but you knew that.


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