Trying to Catch the Essence


Sketch of Brent Laycock


Brent Laycock presenting at the Utah Watercolor Society.

I had my sketch book open, my pen was flying over the paper sketching Brent Laycock. He was demonstrating at the Utah Watercolor Society. My friend Manelle Oliphant was sketching next to me. Up the row from us I could hear a camera clicking. Manelle leaned over and said I think your friend is taking pictures of us. (Rule number one when sketching someone: Don’t draw attention to yourself.) When you are watching a demo or listening to someone speak, you have a model standing right in front of you or seated around you. It’s a great opportunity to do some sketching. Here are a few things I think about when I’m sketching people.

It’s nice to watch the person you are sketching so you can catch some of his or her mannerisms, personality and how they move. You are trying to capture the personality as much as the shapes of the face.

You have to forget yourself completely or you’ll pull yourself out of the moment.

You don’t want the person you are sketching to know you are drawing him. It will make him self conscious and you’ll lose the natural poses.

What feature stands out the most or where do you want to start the sketch. It’s kind of like psyching yourself up for a sport.competition. You look and you let your pen fly on the gesture or angle that captures your attention.

Sometimes the first try doesn’t make it. So now that you’ve warmed up, you try again.

People move so the view you are looking at might change. I wait until the person turns back into the same pose and add a few details or where the shadows lie.

When do you stop? With the drawing of Brent Laycock, I stopped when I drew the line between his eyebrows. With that final touch, I was done.

Just like with other things practice – practice – practice makes you quicker and less self conscious.. If you practice enough you can have someone walk by you and you can sketch them from your memory.




About Sherry Meidell

Sherry Meidell is a signature member of the National Watercolor Society Western Federation Watercolor Society and the Utah Watercolor Society. She loves to paint with watercolor whether she is painting pictures or illustrating children's picture books. She is a member of SCBWI. Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
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