Sketching People in Action

Thursday 1 Thursday 1. People

THURSDAY 10am Class. FEBRUARY 20 ’14

Good morning to those who joined us in the early group this Thursday.

When walking in the door, seeing the mannequins on the table, some wanted to walk straight back out again!

Just teasing, I know sketching people can seem a little daunting, but as soon as you commit to your sketches, you soon discover it’s like sketching anything else, and it’s a matter of shapes and proportions.

In the Studio

We have a new person today, and Erin has kindly offered to assist with showing the first demo and sketch, while the rest of us tackle the mannequins, our first sketch of the day.

We then discussed how to use the watercolours with the newer members of the class, and a reminder for those already familiar with them.

We showed the importance of wetting the paints and getting the colours into the trays and keeping them from mixing with other colours, before transferring to the page. This will help with less ‘muddying’ of the colour on the page.

Then the real fun begins. We are encouraging a faster, looser sketch, in next to no time! Because, let’s face it, when you’re waiting for a train or on your travels somewhere and you see a delightful composition of people milling around or a child in a stroller and you want to sketch. Then yes! You do have the time to whip out your pens and give it a go.

You’d be amazed what 30 seconds can do! All right, we’re not forcing 30-second sketches in the class, but we are doing 5-minute sketches, with colour, of each other standing or holding a pose. Before long an array of characterful and delightful sketches are being produced.

Manly wharf

Then it’s time to head off to our next destination, Manly Cove.

The weather is being kind and there is no rain like the previous days.

We are bathed in sunlight as we make our way cheerfully down to the waters edge.

We see many fantastic sketching opportunities as we pass people along the way.

Those lounging at the beach, others sipping coffees and even an early ‘beer-drinking gentleman’ perched at the one of the tables.

Thursday 1 People sketches

It didn’t take long for everyone to scatter at the entrance of the Manly Wharf, and get busy sketching all the interesting people around us.

Beautiful sketches once again, and we headed off to the new restaurant, Papi Chulo, to finish off our last minute touches and order some lunch.

What a superb restaurant with spacious and inviting décor, encouraging us to relax and enjoy our surroundings.

We were seated at a raised level section near the back of the restaurant, and we had a bit of space and privacy to comfortably sketch together, while enjoying scrumptious food, and a view of the bay too.

Another truly enjoyable day sketching, thank you everyone.

Thursday 1 Papi Chulo


THURSDAY 11.30am Class. FEBRUARY 20 ’14

Thursday 2. Mannequins Thursday 2. People action

THURSDAY 11.30am Class. FEBRUARY 20 ’14

We thought we might need umbrellas today, but no, hot and steamy after all.

Another exciting day was about to begin.

Sketching the figure.

Several groans as some arrived.

Well, let’s do the thing we always do to start. How high? how wide? Where’s the middle?

Check your page and work out where your sketch will be placed

You now have a good idea of where your shapes should go. A plan. A road map.

People are just shapes, like a landscape.

We do 15 minutes on the mannequins, and then have a watercolour demo.

Today is the first time for some, so we need to get everyone started with good clear colour.

I show how I pick 3 colours and get them ready to load your brush,.

Just one long stroke of colour. Then the next and then the last.

Watch those pigments blend. Delicious. Watercolour at it’s best.

Thursday 2.People at Manly Wharf

Then 5 minute sketches of someone from each table, doing something. When Big Ben struck, our time was up.

Three different models for 5 minutes, and with colour added.

Everyone managed amazingly.

Down the steep hill we go, past the Art Gallery and along the foreshore, with it’s clear aqua water inviting us in. But no, we’re people sketching and we cannot be distracted!

There are surfboard shaped seats with shade in the forecourt of Manly Wharf, and everyone finds a good spot to spend the next 45 minutes.

Just as you did in the Studio, observe your human and what they’re doing.

That’s the movement you want to capture.

Papi Chulo happenings

Hunger was definitely affecting some, so thank goodness it was time to head to Papi Chulo on the wharf front.

The menu choice was very good and well priced.

Not everyone here is looking for a banquet, just a very tasty small dish which looks good enough to sketch. Hunger won. Food demolished! Smiles again.

There were some fun sketches done in the restaurant, and many seemed to have let go their fear of putting lines on paper.

So what’s the worst thing that can happen?

Well nothing actually, but you’ve learned a lot. Just give it go. Take a few risks.

Thank you to you all for such a gorgeous day together.



Friday Figures


A sunny day but we are noticing a little chill in the mornings now.

Perhaps summer is coming to a close.

Today we had a large group of people all keen to start their mannequin sketch so as to get their new watercolours out to apply colour. Judy was working with me, so everybody could get help if they needed.

Time was a little short as we still needed to do the 5 minute people sketches yet.

Sketches done and out with the 3 colours you’ll be using.

Just the right amount of water and layer over layer we go.

Watch those colours working together.

Of course it doesn’t happen as easily as it looks.

This is new for you, so try it out and get a feel for how much paint and how much water.

Don’t let them get together in the lid.

You’ll have mud.

Friday Action figures

Then the stop watch is on for the 5 minute sketches.

Three models do the honours, and everybody had a valiant attempt to get down the form or landscape they could see.

Get the angle, get the line.

No need for faces.

Big Ben is about to chime. (I’m a poet)

Good work everybody.

This is only the 3rd lesson for many of the sketchers and they are loving the freedom of ‘not having to be perfect’

Off we go the the beach.

Round the corner, down the hill. What a great day.

One sketcher kindly got a coffee for me from Manly Cove Cafe.

Oh so good. Thank you.

Friday Beach Sketches

Everyone found spots to sit and sketch people all around them.

The sketches took all sorts of shapes and forms, and indeed captured the movement and position of their subjects

Friday is busy in most Manly restaurants, so we were pleased to get a big table at the far end of Papi Chulo, which was a little quieter than in the main restaurant.

Those who hadn’t been here before were discovering the intriguing flavours of the Mexican influence.

A little chilli, a little citrus, a little heat.

Some who’d been before knew already which were their favourites.

Some sketches were completed and others started, and a good time was had by all.

Congrats everyone. You make us proud.

Restaurant Sketches.



Saturday mannequins


Another warm clear day.

Still fine for short sleeves. No raincoats needed.

A busy morning and lots to get through of course.

One new sketcher started her first flower sketch. She managed a beautiful hibiscus amidst the mannequin sketching going on around her. Good work.

Everyone else had a 15min mannequin sketch with another 15 min to apply


Exciting for those who’ve been keen to start this medium.

For the demo, I like to do a quick sketch of my own, mix my 3 colours in the top panels of the pallet, and show the single brush strokes from top to bottom.

I hold the sketchbook so that everyone can see, and begin applying the thin mix one colour followed by the other 2.

My law is that you work with tissues tucked into your hand because you’ll wash your brush and mop it between each colour. Always.

Of course it’s very much trial and error when it’s your first time.

You work it to your own satisfaction.

Next on the agenda – the 5 min sketch.

A person from each table works well.

It’s not portraiture but simply observing the shapes and proportions you see.

In fact we don’t need faces. We work too quickly for that.

You must also add some colour.

Use what you have prepared already and throw it on.

Works a treat. Free yourself up. Great character sketches are the result.

Saturday. The 5 minute sketches

Now for a saunter down the hill. Caffein addicts grab a hit as we pass the busy cafe and join the rest of us along near the wharf.

Anybody and everything is fair game for us today.

Vignettes are good here. Lots of quick sketches with a few sand and sea colours popped on, with a wash of skin colour.

They all looked so animated and fun.

Nothing intense goes on with sketching.

If you feel that way then you’re overdoing it.

We ask for 2 tables of 6 at Papi Chula today. It’s busy but not as much as we’d expected. Suits us. We’re also keen to avoid the additional ‘Service fee’ for tables over 8 people. Yes really.

It’s interesting for our sketchers going to the number of cafes and restaurants we do.  We really do judge them on all sorts of levels. There are over 50 of us every week. We know what we like. We don’t like hidden fees.

We are perfectly happy to sit apart and I just wander between the tables. And it worked well.

Saturday. Outdoor people

More food and people sketches happen between delicious servings of tasty dishes.

Whew, we survived a busy week and everybody has some very successful sketches and overcome the ‘people are too hard’ factor.

Well done everyone.



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