Sunday, June 18, 2006

Sketching in Public

Just over three weeks ago I commented in this blog on a poll "Do You Ever Sketch in Public?". Subsequently I started a poll within the Drawing and Sketching Forum of the Wet Canvas website and asked the same sort of questions - as they're pretty standard lines of enquiry in this field for those wanting to encourage people to sketch. They were also questions I wanted to know the answers to as I was about to start teaching my sketching class "Sketching for Real" and wanted to refine my class notes to make sure they addressed the issues which concerned WC members the most. We got many comments on the WC poll which were very helpful in this respect.

I defined 'sketching in public as meaning:
Sketching in public might involve drawing people or it might just be about drawing in a place the public have access to (as opposed to sketching outside in your back garden! ). By "sketch in public" I mean creating a study of an object/scene you can see by drawing freehand for a short period in a public place

* either in the open air such as a park, gardens open to the public, a city street or square;
* or in an interior such as a waiting room (planes / trains/ doctors etc), coffee house, restaurant, bar, gallery, concert hall or theatre.

Sketching in public can involve whatever media you feel comfortable working in - given a limited timescale in a public space.

I thought you might be interested in the results and a comparison with the results, as of today's date, of the poll

First off the WC Drawing and Sketching Forum poll has attracted 89 responses compared to 702 responses to the poll - so these numbers suggest the response levels for both polls are likely to be meaningful although possibly not representative of all the people who visit or who are WC members. The high degree of similarity of response to the questions posed by the two polls also suggests that the results are credible.

How popular is sketching in public?

  • 29% of about poll respondents sketch anywhere and everywhere compared to 26% of WC respondents who sketch everywhere they go
  • 13% of about poll respondents only sketch somewhere they won't be noticed compared to 22% of WC respondents who try not to be noticed when sketching
  • 18% of about poll respondents and 27% of WC respondents sketch sometimes
This means that
  • between 25-30% of people are happy about sketching in public everywhere they go
  • 60% of about poll respondents and 75% of the WC respondents sketch somewhere in public at least some of the time.
I would suggest that this is a very respectable result for the ancient art of sketching!

More WC respondents sketch - but more about poll respondents are confident about sketching in public. Interestingly the narrative comments of WC members indicated that a number of them counted themselves as people who sketch in public if they had tried and found it scary. This seemed to indicate a wish to do so despite the 'fear factor'. It also explains why the percentage of people who try not to be noticed while sketching is much higher amonst WC members. I'll comment more on this tomorrow when I review the results of the sketching class I've been teaching.

Who's undecided about sketching?
  • 5% of WC respondents don't sketch but have thought about it compared to 9% of about poll respondents who have also thought about it but haven't yet.
Why don't people sketch in public?
  • 10% of WC respondents are too afraid to sketch in public compared to 15% about poll respondents who are far too intimidated to sketch in public
  • Just 3% of each of the sets of WC respondents and about poll respondents stopped sketching after a bad experience
  • 5% of WC respondents don't sketch at all compared to 6% of about poll respondents
Which means just under 20% of WC respondents aren't sketching in public at all, for various reasons, compared to just over 20% of about poll respondents. 1% of WC respondents didn't fit any of the categories offered compared to 4% of about poll respondents.

Lack of confidence is still the main reason the majority of people don't sketch in public. What is interesting is the extent to which people favour sketching inside in public to plein air sketching - more on this topic tomorrow.

Technorati tags: art , drawing , plein air , sketching

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