Street Style Sketching

Or: A rather long story with lots of pretty and colorful pictures, as well as plans of world domination

Last year I found myself increasingly intrigued, sometimes even obsessed, with clothes. Now, if I had had any money to spare (and not spent it on books and art supplies) this would probably have led to a clothes shopping binge. Things being as they are, I mostly just thought about clothes, kept my eyes open, and started (but haven’t really finished so far) some sewing projects. I started noticing well-dressed people whose styles made me sigh with pleasure on a daily basis. This obsession and excitement needed some place to go. Hence the idea was born to draw them, the well or just interestingly dressed people I see everyday. I started in November, with a new blog, Street Style Sketching.
I wanted to keep it hidden from friends and my usual audience for a while, because I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to keep up with it, posting at least five times a week, and separate, because I wanted it to be for this kind of drawing only, to help me focus. Because these drawings are different from my usual sketchbook work; they require a different procedure, and new skills. I cannot finish them on the spot like a line drawing, because they need color, and more time consuming, sometimes they need patterns, ornaments.
boots with blue stripes 1
This is why my sketchbooks has become littered with color notes: I need them to produce the more finished drawings at home. The rendering of the different structures of fabric and leather is a completely new problem to me. But the hardest part are those people who pass me by too quickly to be sketched at all, or that I spot when I don’t have my drawing tools in hand. Then, I’m trying in a slightly panicky way to keep as many details about expression, pose, garment and color in my mind as possible, taking notes as soon as I can. When I’m at home, I try to recreate them from memory, to put in everything I remember, and produce a believable person and interesting picture at the same time (as in the drawing above). Phew! I expect that it will take me at least this year to become as comfortable drawing people from memory and imagination as I am drawing people from life (and probably more to do it as quickly), but this is very, very exciting. I can feel my mind trying to grasp all the new possibilities for drawings this will provide me, the freedom that is to be discovered. And, now, two months after I started, and was for the most part able to keep up with my almost daily posting, I have this little illustration blog that keeps pushing me forward, and the chic people of this city that keep rushing me by and inspiring me to try again, even if it seems impossible sometimes. There are quite a number of drawings I had to give up on, too ambitious was the pose, to meager my skill to render it. But damn, I want to draw all those people, and all those looks!

orange hair black coat red bag
Above is the first of those style sketches I posted this year. This is an overview of what I did in December:
archive december 2010
When I realized that I would actually be able to pull this off I got all proud and made myself some spanking new moo mini cards. My drawings look so good in cute and small and printed! If I could I would just go on printing them on stuff all the time.
Moo Minicards

And I’ve started handing them out, too:

Red wool coat, yellow corduroy skirt, red nails.

When people are moving too fast, if you’re brave you can also ask them if they would mind sitting for you for a bit, which helps to avoid the pesky drawing-people-without-a-model problem. I saw her at the fleamarket with a friend, but she was moving to much and too far away to sketch. I took heart and approached her, told her I would like to draw her if she had time, and gave her one of my cards. And she actually called about an hour later, ready to be drawn! When I opened the door for them I realized that this whole drawing strangers in my own apartment thing would come much easier to me if said apartment was a bit more tidy… We sat in my kitchen, which is quite small, so I was sitting a bit close for drawing, hence the slightly wonky perspective on the legs and feet. So this isn’t only about drawing strangers anymore. Suddenly I’m actually talking to people about drawing, exposing myself as I usually don’t: if they agree to be drawn by me, that also means they get to see and judge the drawing. This is frightening and exciting at the same time.

Black legs.

What this has to do with world domination? Well, as a side effect, tstyle sketching teaches me a lot about illustration in general, aspects of picture-making that I didn’t have to take into account before. Over these two month there is already a development in style and skill visible, I think. Ultimately I hope this will prove fruitful in helping me make a living from drawing, which is pretty much my version of world domination. Other parts of this sinister plan are to get my papers in order so I can start selling my stuff online (and hopefully have lots of drawings printed on everything, maybe even a book, for example of these style sketches…), and go on a big drawing journey that will comprise most of the latter half of this year (get away from this continent for the first time in 12 years and draw all the time!). Did I mention that all of this is terribly exciting? And scary too.

4 Responses to “Street Style Sketching”

  1. [...] from a new illustrated post at The Width of a Line, an awesome blog about a young, incredibly talented artist from Berlin, who [...]

  2. I like your drawings. They work well on the small cards. I admire your bravery in asking people to pose for sketches! I’m too shy to do that yet. :-)

  3. Your passionate to observing beautiful things in realy life, consistently draw both form life and memories, will eventually lead you to a higher level of success. Your sketches are beautiful, your stories are inspirational. Thank you for sharing!

  4. @Mary: Thank you! I do have to take a deep breath first. Or several…

    @David: Thank you!

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