Sketching Fast People

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Tuesday Class. October 21 ’14

Hello’ it’s Christy here. Today Toni and I have the pleasure of Karen helping us with our large group, and also taking us through a fun exercise she and others had recently done on their sketching trip in Tuscany.

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Our large group arrive and very interested to see the chairs have been arranged in a large circle.

The idea is that we’re going to be sketching ‘fast people’ sketches today.

Very fast to be honest, 10 seconds, which provides you enough time to get in very basic lines and shapes.

We then move onto 30 second sketches, and then onto 2 minute sketches. AND suddenly 2 minutes feels like you have all the time in the world.

What a luxury to feel you can get in the basic lines quickly, along with some supporting details. Brilliant exercise to warm up and thank you to all those that hopped up and were the ‘models’ for the rest of us.

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Once we’d added some colour to our 2 minute sketches, we couldn’t wait to get down to the Corso and observe all the people we could sketch.


Before long we’d ambled down the hill, and were meeting up outside St Matthew’s Church.

We decided to sketch those nearby who were either seated on benches or standing around the kids play area.

Usually a good place to start is with people who aren’t moving too much. Then one can move onto the man walking passed slowly with his dog, or the elderly couple walking along hand in hand.

And if you’re really fast you could try sketch a person jogging passed. All a lot of fun!

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We were entertained by seven police officers who came to make sure a gentleman and his dog weren’t causing a nuisance to the community, and there wasn’t much action other than them all simply standing there.

It made for brilliant sketching, and you can see the blue uniforms in some of the sketches.

Everyone has made wonderful progress today, and should feel proud of their work! Know that I am!

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Once we’d come to that time of the day when coffee is calling to us from the cafe, we decided it was time to head to 3 Beans Cafe.

A lovely table was set up for us, but not quite ready for us when we arrived, and we didn’t mind, we dispersed to smaller tables and quickly got sketching those around us.

Easier to sketch people at their tables when you’re amongst them. We were settling down with our teas and coffees when in popped Erin.

What a lovely surprise! It’s always a treat when Erin joins us, and many had the opportunity to share their great work from today.

Thank you for your willingness to dive into ‘people sketching’ today everyone, you did very well! See you next week.

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Thursday Class. October 23 ’14


Thursday Class. October 23 ’14

As usual, a gorgeous day. Lucky us.

As people entered the Studio, we had a similar response to Tuesday, what’s going on! Where are the tables!

Just take a seat and all will be revealed.

This is an exercise in very fast observation of the human form.

A model would pose for 10seconds, and you would get as much as possible down on your page.

We would do this with a number of models and increase the time to 30sec then 60 seconds and 1 minute and 2 minutes.

Why do we get back to details when we have longer!


As with each of our 5 or 10 classes, we are always covering some of those core observation skills, but in a very fun way.

Today is the figure and getting used to placing people quickly into your settings in cafes, street scenes and so on.

We had a lot of laughs as everyone had a go at being the model, and some very friendly ‘2 model’ poses. That two minutes seems to take sooo long was one comment. Depends who you are with was a reply. Much mirth!

People also give your sketch a sense of scale.

Everyone loved this whole fast sketching exercise, and suddenly the fear factor was lessened.

People are just a bundle of shapes too. Now you can feel more in charge of getting those shapes as you see them.


Let’s put some colour on now. Take 5 minutes and use any 3 w’colour pencils and get some tone on a few of them. Remember dark down the centre and white on tops and sides.

Some quick demos on sketchbooks to show the up and down movement using the side of the pencils. A vey important skill and very convenient when working fast like this.

Okay, lets head out into the sunshine and meet up on the Corso.

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This is such a great spot to people watch. Good seats, playground where Mums wait for a while as little ones play. Young surfers, office girls, cool dudes, business suits, elderly ones, in fact any style of person you wanted.

There was plenty of shady seating and we were again doing 2 minutes sketches all over our pages. Each person seemed very happy with their efforts and felt they were able to see people as a whole shape now. Not as fearsome creatures which keep moving.


The coffee word and been mentioned for about an hour or more and we laughed at such self control. Nobody had dashed off and ordered one. Too busy people sketching.

To our table at 3beans Cafe we went. Such a lovely big table in our own room, so we weren’t annoying anyone else in the cafe with our happy banter. You may have noticed. Some people don’t like happy people. We love being happy.

The food coffee and wine orders came out and many hungry sketchers tucked in. Mostly we were practicing layering the watercolour pencils. When used this way you’ll get to see the ovely colours that come through. Sometimes it’s important to go back over these techniques as a reminder.

Another very enjoyable day of sketching and everyone felt they’d benefitted from our exercises today. Some were looking like settling in for a while longer as i was leaving . Why not indeed. More fun next week.

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Friday Class. October 24 ’14


Friday Class. October 24 ’14

Today was a big day as lots of changes happening – how exciting. Where did the tables walk to? The studio is not looking as we are used to. What is going on? We want things to be varied and provide our dear sketchers with lots of different ways of approaching things.

So today is “people” day. We are going to sketch anybody and everybody we see and try to be fearless.

Yes we can do it, people aren’t scary really are they?


But salvation was here – Erin! We were all so thrilled to have Erin there in the studio and it was great fun to work together. We started with 10 second sketches and managed to find a great model – you guessed it – Erin!

Gee she’s popular today.

We encouraged everyone to be brave, keep their eyes on the subject and not on their sketchbooks.  The process of doing lots of fast sketches helps your observation skills as you have to rapidly let your eyes do the work with your hand and pen acting as an extension of your eyes.  Don’t let your brain and preconceived ideas interfere with the process.  Fast and Furious (reminds me of a film)

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We progressed from 10 seconds to 30 seconds (ooh la la) and then onto a little bit longer.  I jumped in to pose as well and one of our poses together ended up looking like we were dancing partners.  Then some folks in the class modelled as well – yes we are all feeling like Australia’s Next Top Model today (cough cough).

Both Erin and I could see clear progress.  Layer three colours with your pencils and WOW – these worked out amazingly well.  Yippee.

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Next stop was The Corso and due to the rare occurrence of rain we sat on the benches by the children’s playground – oh to be lulled by the sounds of screaming children.

Actually we just heard lots of chatter from happy children.  Patient parents provided excellent sketch subjects as they waited for their little darlings to fly down slides and climb up and down endlessly.

Oh I remember those days so well, but now my teenagers provide different challenges with ups and downs – but it’s not on climbing frames any more.

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Great, we did lots of lovely sketches, filling our pages with all sorts of folk.

But then coffee called our names of course and we headed to Three Beans Cafe which is a fabulicious place – I personally love the decor with palm tree wallpaper and a whitewashed beachy vibe and we had a great large table reserved to sit around.

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I think everyone really got into the swing of things as I couldn’t stop everyone sketching.  The marvellous thing about sketching people is that we are nearly always in the company of someone who we can sketch, so if we lose our fear we can always find a subject – if nobody is around you can do a selfie!

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What a great class, definite progress and loosening up and it was so nice to change things around a little.  A change is as good as a rest – well that’s what my Mum always said.

Until next week…………

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Saturday Class. October 25 ’14

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Saturday Class. October 25 ’14

I could hear a fog horn first thing. No I hadn’t lost my voice.  Golly it must be a thick fog for that to be happening.

Sure enough as I headed upstairs ( I was going to say, ‘wearing my divine satin patio ensemble!’  BUT I don’t have one. ) the whole harbour was a whiteout.

But this of course means there’s a brilliant day above all that.

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Get to the Studio quick fast to make sure all the seating we need is out.

No setup needed. We are the subject.

The poor students have felt withdrawal all week for their favourite table and seat.

This feels a bit too vulnerable for some. But once they’ve been part of what’s to happen, everything changes.

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Once everyone is seated – by the way, count your lucky stars – could have done this standing.

Toni is set up with the hibiscus arrangement and a new student, over there.

Over here we’re about to discover how fast a pen can go when it gets 10seconds to do a sketch.

Gasps and crestfallen faces don’t last long as I take up my modelling position and start counting down.

5 or 6 times we do this, then up to some 30sec (yes Sarah) and a few 1 minutes, with two people.

Everyone amazes themselves with what you can do when you have fire in your tail. A few more minutes was given to add some layers of colour over any sketch that you liked.


Out of here we go.

Down that hot hill towards some shade on The Corso.

Most people find seating around the kids playground. Such a lot of sketch material here. Big Mummy Daddy people, little poppet people, upside down people, sideways people.

Everyone is a subject for us today.

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Now you can add colour as you wish. Still keep the sketches quick and apply the colour just as quickly. Cover your pages with them and write what they were doing.

People at the ATM, pregnant Mum with friend, Dad on his mobile not watching his son and heir etc.

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Lunch time was upon us. Three Beans thought we were coming later, so a couple of resourceful students found another big Italian deli cafe which could take our mob. From Three Beans to Four Olives. 10 steps away.

Thanks guys. We knew everything would work out. Always does.

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Mostly now it was a matter of applying colour to earlier sketches.

What a lot of laughs we had. Sharing silly moments, admiring another’s fun sketch and so on.

Our new student has excelled herself with a gorgeous hibiscus and now the knarley old tree trunk beside the cafe. See below. She’s learned well. And like everyone today, feeling happy.


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