Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Two of my favourite occupations

A tutor once said to me "If you can draw people, you can draw anything" before making a strong recommendation to draw regularly and to draw people as often as I could.

Lunch yesterday involved two of my very favourite occupations, eating the excellent set lunch at a favourite restaurant - the Club Gascon in West Smithfield - and drawing people in a restaurant.

Club Gascon in Smithfield
I've drawn in many cafes and restaurants in the past and find them an excellent place to practise drawing people from life without needing to attend a life drawing class (although the latter are excellent and to be recommended).

I started this practice after seeing the pastel drawings of people in cafes, tearooms and restaurants made by Diana Armfield RA, RWS, Hon.. NEAC. although I still haven't had the nerve to get out my pastels when sitting next to clean white linen! I tend to leave the people in my drawings looking rather anonymous rather than having to go through the rigmarole of asking permission to draw from each and everyone of them. I find that the waiters are always very interested to see the drawing and in particular how they are portrayed - they make suggestions as well! Sometimes about whether or not I could maybe shave away some element of their double chin, which makes for an extra incentive to draw people well!

Another interesting aspect to drawing in restaurants is that you never quite know when the people you are drawing are going to ask for the bill and leave. After the few first few times of drawing in cafes, tearooms and restaurants I learned to draw a bit faster and to keep any eye on how they are progressing with their refreshment.

The two sketches I completed were made in my new Moleskine sketch book which was having its first outing. It proved to be an ideal size for sketching in a restaurant. And being sewn it lies nice and flat on the table. I drew using an ordinary mechanical pencil which can create some very dark values - for all those very dark suits and the black shirts which the waiters wore!

In this restaurant, the biggest challenge was trying to decide how to portray the absolutely enormous arrangements of stems of all sorts of different things. They were a positively artistic creation in their own right with the one on the marble servery countertop proving particularly awesome. In the end this became very gestural - there was no way I'd have the time to make these in any way realistic - and nor would I want to.

My main focus - as always - was to try and portray the main shapes and forms and tonal values well - as the design and composition of these is the starting point for any painting. And drawing people is an excellent way of practising tonal values.

More Drawings of People and Interiors can be seen on my website

[Main image updated January 2016]

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