Moving On: Hooray for heroes but don’t be a sheep!

It has taken me longer to move on from the urban sketching symposium in Manchester than I had expected although I wasn’t sure what I expected really!  You can hear about some of my takeaway lessons from my role as correspondent here.  The olympics has certainly helped me to move on over the last two weeks and I don’t mean because it was a diversion or that I sat and sketched the activities ( although that may have been a good idea! ) but that the athletes talked so passionately of this concept of just keeping practicing and going on to improve skill- just keep on going… It’s a point well made.  

This last week or so has seen me get back into drawing daily , sometimes for myself in a sketchbook but often for commission.  I won’t be sharing the later on here yet so the drawings here are mostly in sketchbooks (some are on loose watercolour paper).


After all the activities I have had a chance to reflect a little on where I am at and where I need to go.  It keeps me on my toes!- Of the very overly simplified 3 stage process: unconscious incompetence; conscious incompetence; and conscious competence, I place myself in the middle!  I’m not sure exactly where these labels came from originally but think I recall hearing them on a management course many moons ago!  So I hear you ask, how do you intend to move on from this middle ground?!    I think there are a number of things I need to do.  To provide myself with a guide, I’ve produced this simple diagram that can serve as a framework, something to figuratively hang my hat on (I have a very stylish hat for sketching, but that’s another story).  The diagram will develop and  evolve getting modified as I go along but it provides a start point and I didn’t want to overly complicate it in the first instance.  its a kind of spinning top if you like.  




Learning will be derived from a rich mix of technique/media development, Hero watching, reading and  my own practice.  I have always had my heros!  These are a handful of people that provide inspiration for my development.  But this pool of gurus comes and goes!  it depends upon where I am at and what I feel I need.  But the important thing about these is that I don’t just slavishly use but adapt and make my own.  Taking what I want from them without diluting out my own style or approach.  This I guess is the tricky bit, being true to yourself as well as developing and continually improving and refining.  I intend to give it a go!

As you can see from the diagram above, there are 3 key topics that I will focus upon initially: layering, line and colour/tone.  These are applied to all elements of a drawing (and there maybe others too).   Please note the drawings below are not necessarily topic specific, they are merely the recent drawings I have produced and mostly before I had formulated these ideas completely.

Layering of shapes and elements

This is a big topic area but in the first instance I am talking about distant, middle and foreground as well as the ideas of edges and overlapping.  In the end I guess to me this is about creating volume and depth in the sketch.  Something I need to be fully aware of from start to finish as I draw.


Quality of Line

A massive subject area related to how we make lines on the page and what that quality conveys within the drawing, thick, thin, sensitive, wiggly, confident etc.  Of course this quality of line is also important for lettering and writing (something I am keen on within the drawing) and i’m particularly interested in improving the quality of my line in my  people drawing, indeed, people drawing itself is a big improvement area for me.


Impact of Colour 

Another huge area to work on!  Within this I will be looking at selective colour (something I do a lot in my work, ie not colour everything), colour combinations and then the idea of layering of media to create mixed media pieces.  This will include the use of watercolour, coloured pencils, markers, gel pens etc, to layer colour and therefore create more textured, subtle and interesting effects.


I will be talking about  these and practicing key aspects of reportage drawing: people, buildings and entourage in future blogs.

Role on the conscious competent stage-there’s a lot of work ahead!

4 thoughts on “Moving On: Hooray for heroes but don’t be a sheep!

  1. This is a terrifically helpful post – the thoughtful analysis of how you want to grow is so inspirational; I’m going home tonight and start to put together my own goal list/chart. I love how willing you are to share your thoughts and drawings – I was able to talk to Tina (your fellow correspondent) about her experiences in Manchester, and she spoke so glowingly of you. I hope you’re able to come to Chicago next year; I’d love to meet you!

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comments. I am so very glad my blog is of some use and it’s so nice to be able to share ideas with a like minded audience. I’m not sure whether I will make it to Chicargo next year but we will see! Best wishes and thanks again Liz

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