Clancy’s 5 tips for drawing crowds

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, commonplace book, creative thinking, sketchbook, visual thinking

I’ve been so busy with other projects that I can’t talk about in public yet that I’ve not had time – not even 5 spare minutes – to work on my Time Tavern sketchbook. So to come up with a blog post update today I flipped through my sketchbook/commonplace book.

Crowds of characters feature prominently in one of my can’t-talk-about-it-much-yet projects – and are also part of my Time Tavern sketchbook too.  So as part of my work on these projects one afternoon, a month or so ago, I went through several of my art technique books to refresh my technical skills for drawing crowds. I wrote the various relevant pointers as well as my own thoughts in my sketchbook.

Here below is a picture of  my sketchbook page.

CrowdDrawingTips72

In case you can’t read my handwriting I’ll type it here – and tweak the text I wrote by hand in my book, based on my recent experience in drawing crowds for my various projects:

Five Crowd Drawing Tips:

  1. Start at the front of the crowd. Do the figures with the most detail that are upfront/closer. The looser and less detailed characters will read as “in the distance”. Try to capture the type of characters within the overall scene as that gives the viewer the flavor of the event/place.
  2. Focus on the crowd shape as a whole. See the crowd as a single abstract shape – or as several shapes put together. Select where to put the details so as to guide the viewers eye around the crowd-shape(s).
  3. Keep it within a perspective. Is the viewer standing within the same level as the people in the front of the crowd? Or viewing the crowd from above or below?  You won’t see the characters in the back of the crowd unless you are in an elevated position.  Find a character of “average height” to use as a measuring gauge for placing the other characters. Use the average height as a natural horizon line and/or an assist in creating the crowd shape.
  4. Use characters arms, bags, objects held, angle of the head and other elements as a way of showing movement and guiding the viewers eye around the crowd shape.
  5. Crowds will have a main set of colors – like at a sporting event, though maybe not that extreme – it is possible, helpful even, to lay down areas of color within the crowd shape and add details over that. Color placement can help move the viewers eye. If one particular character is the focal point or stands out in the crowd then use the most color and detail on them and leave the others more or less implied. The main set of colors within the crowd shape can guide the colors used within the setting/scene around the crowd too.

 

art of onions chopped

A Creative Life, Art Licensing, art techniques, artistic inspirations, commonplace book, drawing as thinking, food for thought, illustration, Not-So-Sketchy-Food, sketchbook, sketchbook suppers, visual story, words and pictures

I finished the artwork I was working on in my last blog post! https://sueclancy.com/2017/04/06/art-of-the-onion/ and then I applied the illustration to some things… a framed print, greeting cards and other items you can find here: https://society6.com/sueclancy

art of the onion

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, commonplace book, drawing as thinking, illustration, Not-So-Sketchy-Food, sketchbook, sketchbook suppers, visual story, words and pictures

About a month ago now Sweetie and I took a cooking class (www.class-cooking.com) as a “date night out”. It was fun and as usual when I do something fun I made notes in my sketchbook. Here is one of the sketchbook pages I did during cooking class with Chef Kim Mahan.

Pg3

Then I got very busy with fine art commissions and etc. freelance projects – and life.

But every time I’d cut an onion when cooking supper I’d think about our class and the valuable instructions I’d gotten about onions. Since for me drawing is thinking – I ached to draw onions and the chef’s “how to chop onions” instructions so as to think about and “visualize” them.  So for several weeks now when I’ve had a spare 5 or 10 minutes I’d look at my sketchbook pages and brain-storm about what I wanted to create. After a brain-storm option had been settled upon I spent my spare 5 or 10 minutes drawing and writing in pencil on a larger sheet of Bristol paper the onion art/illustration I’d brain-stormed about. Some days I only erased pencil lines that didn’t work. Other days I re-drew pencil lines. After the pencil lines were settled in my spare few moments I’d do an ink line or two…

We’re talking quick-quick drawing work on the “onion art” then I’d go on with my day-job art projects. Every day though I did something in my spare 5 to 10 minutes to inch the onion art along.

Then today I had 20 whole minutes in a row to spare! Wahoo!! And the pencil work was done and I even had a few ink lines done – so I grabbed my ink pens, watercolors and color pencils…

Here’s what I’ve done today – as it is on my work table – I’ve a bit more work to do but it’s almost finished!

HowToCutOnionWorkProgress.jpg

 

 

psychogeography and me

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, commonplace book, psychogeography, sketchbook

Generally I try to avoid jargon but sometimes it’s necessary. Especially when you’re working with galleries, libraries and museums as I do. While I may prefer the term “visual stories” as the umbrella term for what I’m doing with all of my artwork – the term “psychogeography” and it’s alternative spelling “psycogeography” most accurately apply.

As I apply the term it means: to wander around the physical world, with a sense of wonder, making artistic notes documenting the intersection of the person of me with the place I am located. To revel in the simple pleasures of being alive. Then back in my art studio I create a work of fine art (etc.) that expresses and presents my documentation in a format intended for sharing with a wider audience.

More plainly: for me “psycogeography’ means that I wander around my life with my sketchbook much like people playing Pokemon Go wander around with their phones. Then I use my sketchbook as a launch pad for developing my thought-of-as-I-wandered-ideas back at my studio.

Anyway, I’ll be posting more sketchbook pages on this blog as we go along…and as described above… elements from my sketchbooks will end up as fine art, artist books or as art apparel. That’s just how I roll.  (You can find more details at www.sueclancy.com)

EstherShortPageSpread72

Sue Clancy’s sketchbook pages created in Esther Short Park, Propstra Square, Vancouver WA

 

 

finding artistic inspiration

A Creative Life, art techniques, commonplace book, food for thought, pattern design, sketchbook, visual story

People tend to think of “wealth” as things they have yet to acquire rather than things they already have. Similarly people think of “artistic inspiration” as some grand life-changing event rather than a learned-and-practiced way of looking at ordinary life.

I had an art professor in college who would talk, after class was over, of various practical aspects of the business of being a professional artist. He would say “If you can’t find artistic inspiration, something utterly fascinating to you, something you are curious about exploring using art techniques, in your own room, in your own yard, in your own life – then you won’t last long as an artist. So collect every inspiration you have, keep careful notes of what piques your interest no matter how small, protect and pursue these interests passionately, and you’ll have a life-long career as an artist.”

Here’s a fascinating pattern I found in my backyard – which I’m “keeping” for some unknown-at-this-moment future use.

A fascinating pattern I saw of white dew "dots" on larger green clover "dots" on a darker green-brown ground.

A fascinating pattern I saw of small white dew “dots” on larger green clover “dots” on a darker green-brown ground.

 

Verry big love and sketches

A Creative Life, commonplace book, ebook, public art, sketchbook

As I mentioned in this post here the executive director came to my studio, saw the “Verry Big Project” and approved! “I love it!” the exec said. “Whew!” I said. Then we discussed installation and other nitty-gritty details. The next day I started varnishing the finished (and approved! yippeee!) artwork! The organization will do publicity regarding this public art project at the appropriate time. So for a while we’ll need to talk about something other than my Verry Big Project.

How about those sketchbooks? Have you got one? Is it a “sketchbook”, a “commonplace book” a “writer’s notebook” some combo of the above? I do a combo and jokingly call it a “Commonsketchplacebook”.

Here is a photo of my 2015 sketchbook which I just finished – and my new 2016 sketchbook (the one with the coffee beans on it).

2SketchbooksCoffeePen

And yes, that’s a fountain pen in the photo!

You can see some of my sketchbook pages here on my blog at www.sueclancy.com or collected in my ebooks:

“Coffee, Table, Book” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/coffee-table-book

“Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit

knowing beans

A Creative Life, art exhibit, commonplace book, food for thought, sketchbook, words and pictures

Knowing how to cook dry beans, and having a pot of formerly-dry beans ready to use in any quick-recipe, is a good thing to know when you’re a busy artist getting ready for a major art exhibit…. Here’s a page from an old sketchbook drawn some years back when, after a time of struggle, I’d finally attained The Knowledge of Beans.

Beans72