I am hoping that I have chosen a situation that will present many “fleeting moments” as defined in the brief for this exercise. eg
- Opportunities not to be missed
- Energy and movement
- Colour and ideas for future work
- Concentrate on the smaller part of the story and catch the moment
- abbreviate sketches, keep to minimal lines, tell the story briefly and move on to the next opportunity
As mentioned in my previous post, I decided to go to the annual Ringwood Carnival Procession and watch, not just the procession, but the crowds lining the streets in anticipation. My main challenge was to be, I thought, drawing children. I was taking it as read that moving subjects would be tricky but children’s proportions are very different to adults – their heads are naturally larger compared to their bodies for future growth. Even some ancient paintings of religious subjects show babies/cherubs as adults in miniature rather than alluding to this fact.
First page of sketches and straight away, my nemesis – Little People! Well, it transpired, you don’t have time to worry about proportions in this scenario, you just get on with it and the more you do the more natural it becomes. Doing this, my sketches are very scribbly but that’s what seems to give them life and energy (that’s one tick!). It was difficult to decide what to draw at first, particularly as we were waiting for the procession to start for 10 minutes or so. Eventually, though, I became aware of more animated subjects. I don’t think I really described the wizard like character well enough to understand he was a stilt walker but I couldn’t really see his full figure as I was back from the road edge. As I moved on, the little ones were more engaging and I couldn’t resist. I felt I’d succeeded with the little girl sitting on the kerb with her “wiggly” (mmm I know what I mean). The first thing I drew were her curls and went from there. This seems to be a common factor when I make these kind of quick studies, I start with what first attracts me, be it the negative shape in a bent arm, style of hair or whatever, and work from that – it seems to work but isn’t how you would normally begin a portrait or life drawing for example.
I noticed that a couple had chosen a window seat in a first floor cafe across the street – wished I’d thought of that! Pots of tea and sandwiches, comfortable chairs *sigh* – I digress. They were probably a little static for this exercise but they help describe the full scene below. A street entertainer stopped in front of me and the kids loved him, laughing, squealing, oohing and ahing along with his tricks. He grabbed “volunteers” from the audience and stood on the folding arms of two dads, whilst juggling with knives, very impressive – almost forgot to keep drawing! Another guy came along with a wheeled suitcase full of “wigglies” for £1 – he must have sold out by the end of the procession! I noticed a little girl in a polka dot zipped up top waving her “wiggly” around for all she was worth, and a young lad too, he only managed to put on one sleeve of his anorak on in the excitement.
The procession began and so did the accelerated pace of drawing. Floats passed by too quick for me, with the crowds in a mini surge to the kerb and I’m sure, I think, I saw a genie balancing a crystal ball on his head – now that was a fleeting moment! The beautifully harnessed horses pulling the Carnival Queen’s float were spectacular but so much information it was impossible to catch it all – I barely managed one horse’s head. The marching band playing the bagpipes looked very impressive but on trying to draw just one of them, I’ve decided bagpipes are impossible at speed – too many tubes, bags, squeezing arms arrrgh!
I think I’ve learnt that, in this situation, a split second selection of a good subject is even more crucial that the drawing itself. Choose the wrong thing at the expense of a better subject being missed too. With this next page, I selected a little more carefully. Fleeting glimpses through the crowd of a little girl’s hair bunches was great, as the crowd in front of me, moved and swayed in and out of view I built a sketch of her in her dad’s arms and then noticed the bugler from another marching band had stopped awaiting his cue. Two for the price of one! The circus float had two trapeze artists swinging to and fro and just caught a sketch of one before they moved on.
My final page of scribbles was slowing down as the procession came to a close. In front of me was young baby boy with the roundest cheeks, gazing in absolute awe (or was it confusion?) about him. I couldn’t see his mum at first but tried to describe him, starting with the cheeks! Bizarrely this seemed to work as I then noted his collar and little dungarees, with his chubby little hand clinging onto the stick of his balloon. As I was drawing him, someone moved out of the way and I managed to catch sight of his mum too. The teenage boy was a great subject, his dark hair sprouting out of his woolly hat so typical of his age group, covering his eyes and appearing a little sullen – yet he had been patiently keeping his little brother and sister in check all the time.
Going back over the criteria, I missed so many more opportunities than I caught, but I suppose there was a lot going on. I hope I managed to convey energy and movement, it did feel as though I did. I did fall down on the colour aspect, I think I only mentioned it once with the little girl in pink and that was probably so obvious it wasn’t really worth mentioning. However, I do think there are a few select moments that may be nice to include in a future work. I also found it difficult to abbreviate sketches unless I really only did have a split second to produce something. I found I did go back and re-work a little more tone and a little more definition fairly regularly – hopefully, though this was when I had some breathing space to add more remembered detail and was not just over-egging it.
Another very enjoyable experience, which I was surprised to note only lasted just over an hour. I’m therefore, pretty pleased with the amount of drawings I came away with.