Doing Stand Up, Sketcher Style

What does a street sketcher do when it’s snowing and there are 80 km/hr gusts blowing it around?  Cry in some beer?  Sketch lemons?  Sketch a recipe for lemonade?  I was at a loss.

Normal art people just head to their studio and draw or paint to their heart’s content, but I really have a hard time sketching without going somewhere first.  I know…I should take a pill to get over it, but I’m old and already taking too many of those.

So, I decided, why not do something that might help me when I do get to go onto the street to sketch.  One of my big problems is that while I’m very comfortable sitting on my tripod stool and can sketch up a storm there, I struggle when I try to sketch standing up.  I’m not sure why.  My belly is sufficiently large to hold a sketchbook, afterall.

Anyways, that’s what I decided to do – sketch while standing.  I went into my office, picked up sketchbook and pen, looked around and decided to draw the three principle books that stand on my desk.  I added a bit of the surroundings for context.  And yes, there is lots of stuff on those shelves but you think I’m going to let you see what a mess my office is?  Not a chance.

I still find sketching while standing up a struggle.  I lose not only some of my control over the pen but also some of my ability to concentrate.  The later is the bigger loss and I’m not sure why it occurs at all.  Maybe I need to stand around sketching more often.  Any tips for a stand-up-challenged sketcher?

Stillman & Birn Alpha (9x12), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Docu Black ink

Stillman & Birn Alpha (9×12), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Docu Black ink

8 Responses to “Doing Stand Up, Sketcher Style”

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  1. Elaine Pang says:

    Larry, I don’t usually stand but have done so in a pinch (don’t use a chair so it’s potluck if I find a decent spot to sit). But here are some suggestions: try loose line styles such as contour or even blind contour; try the techniques of applying blocks of color first and ink after (be as imprecise as you wish, as it adds charm! Or just spots of color well within bounds, your choice); put everything on a clipboard or artboard and secure with Velcro or blu-tack (to eliminate the distinction of balancing items).

    • Hi Elaine,
      Thanks for responding. I suppose resorting to scribbles and changing one’s emphasis might be a solution for some but it would suck all the joy out of drawing for me. I’ve tried the clipboard approach and have yet to find a solution that works with heavy sketchbooks, though it does ‘fix’ the problem if I use single sheets. Thanks for the ideas. I’ll give them some thought.

      Cheers — Larry

  2. Larry,
    I am laughing, thank you! Standing and sketching is a sad state of affairs but happens when the d..n knees no longer bend. You can do! I agree ….painting inside, or from photos, NOT! I want to go…..somewhere.
    Do let me know when the next book happens. I enjoyed #1. I made it to #2…….and retired! Writing takes time and solitude….not on my plate just now.
    Enjoy your posts.
    Lucinda

    • Lucinda,
      Glad I could make you laugh and I’m thrilled that you liked my novel. The second one is in revisions but I’m always being distracted by other things and so progress is slow. I hate editing.

      Cheers — Larry

  3. Tina says:

    I end up sketching while standing quite a bit, and I find it helps to lean up against a lamp post or wall on the side away from my drawing arm.

    • This is a good idea, Tina. I wonder if it will help with my concentration. Maybe it’s like everything else and I just need a lot more practice.

      Cheers — Larry

  4. Stacy Egan says:

    I don’t know if you are using hardbound books or spiral-bound, but whenever I’ve tried to sketch standing up, I find I much prefer spiral bound. On a recent trip I took a hardbound sketchbook and when I tried to sketch the guns on display at The Alamo standing up, I found it difficult to hold the open book to sketch. Before the trip I had been using spiral bound sketchbooks and sketching at the zoo standing up in a spiral bound book was much easier.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Stacy. I’d even say that whether standing, sitting or standing on your head, sketching in a spiral-bound book is easier than a hardbound book, particularly if the page width is more than a few inches. Balancing a landscape 9×6 is nearly impossible in my view. I think that’s why so many start sticking them on easels of one sort or the other. If not for the need to carry this stuff everywhere I go, I’d probably be doing that as well.

      The downside of spiral, of course, is when you want to store them on a shelf. They just don’t look good and there’s no way to slap a label on the spiral. I tried sliding in a label inside the spiral but the first time you want to look at something it gets scrunched.

      Cheers — Larry