Invitation Sketch Workshop. New York School of Visual Arts

Friday October 26 ‘18.

Some time ago I was invited to present my Travel Sketching Workshop concept to the Art Therapy dept of the very prestigious School of Visual Arts New York.

Val Sereno attended one of my Sketch Holidays in Provence in 2015 and we really resonated. She was with the SVA at the time and we talked a lot about how therapeutic sketching is for people. Any people. That’s the point it’s for anybody at all.

We’ve stayed in touch since then and her role is Special Projects and Programs Co-ordinator of the Art Therapy dept here in NY.

The date set was Friday October 26 2018 and it would would be a 3 hour Workshop starting at 10.00am sharp. And it was in the diary.

We’d completed our extraordinary sketch tours this year to French Alps, Spain and Morocco, Workshops in Languedoc with Annette, visiting family and year old grandson in Boston. Sooo adorable!
We had a lovely Sunday Workshop in Boston and now this very exciting one in New York, for the alumni of SVA.

Val had organised the sketch kit so everyone had what they’d need. She had also brought in pumpkin flavoured lattes. She knows my weakness for coffee! That coffee was so big it lasted me till lunchtime.

The first sketch is the one I call the warmup.
Something to get you in the mood and in tune to start sketching whatever is to follow.

We started with a continuous line sketch of Fall leaves Milton had collected from Union Square. This keeps the context of where we are. New York in the fall. Leaves like this and their colours are just right for us trying the two mediums we’d be using.

Half the sketch was done in watercolour with chinagraph whites. The other half in aquarelle pencil with a dash of water brush. We also mentioned the Posca pen for clean white lines added later. A good way to try both mediums early in the piece.

Most of the students hadn’t experienced some of my essential art kit.
They began to see how having limited materials meant it all fits in your bag.
How letting the pen do the sketch and not worrying about the outcome enhances the fun.
How using chinagraph to areas of a sketch where you want white space, before applying paint saved time. How aquarelle pencils are so convenient in small sketch locations.
How using layers of colour one of the other gives such vibrant colour.
That working quickly prevents getting too caught up in detail.

It’s an impression only. Not a technically accurate copy. Whew.

Our next sketch, now that everyone had grabbed the ‘looking for shapes’ concept, was an outdoor one. Nearby was a very nice brownstone with pumpkins on the doorstep and stoop. Very America. Very halloween. Just right for a quick impression.

I did the demo starting with a very fast thumbnail, then straight into the portrait version. Get the main starting shape. The door. Build your shapes around it and like a jigsaw, place your other pieces where you can see they fit. Certainly by abstracting what you’re wanting to sketch, you’ll get it down quickly - and that’s the point. Sketch in the time you have - and we had 30mins.

Everyone was pretty loose by now and did just that. We then trotted back across those busy noisy NY streets to the studio.

Here we’d toss on some chinagraph and apply watercolour. Each separate colour is applied one over the other. Let it rock and roll and apply your other colours. Keep the stokes big and minimal. No fiddly painty painty here. By not putting colour on in the location, we concentrate more on how we’d like it to look rather than trying to match it.

That was pretty much all we had time for. Everyone produced very successful impressions in their own style and loved it. When we put the sketchbooks down for everyone to see, you really see how marvellous they all look together, and totally different. I can’t sketch like you and you can’t sketch like me.

Thanks to everyone who attended. We’re talking about a longer Workshop next time. All that we’ve practiced today can be incorporated into your classes to help simplify and make for happy students who feel they’ve achieved something.

Happy sketching.

Erin Hill