Halloween – Urban Sketching Style

This is the time of year that sketchers post beautiful sketches of pumpkins.  I love them all.  I figure this to be my first Halloween as a sketcher.  Last October I’d just started try to move pointy objects across paper and I wasn’t up to the task of sketching pumpkins.  So, a year later, here’s my first set, done with a black ballpoint pen that blobbed on me more than a few times, adding “character” to my sketch.

Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook (6×8), Pentel RSVP ballpoint, W&N watercolors

But I’m an urban sketcher.  I sketch buildings, lamposts and fire hydrants.  I guess a group of pumpkins sitting on my kitchen table is ‘urban’ but you have to mentally squint to see it.  So I thought I should do something else and I found the ideal subject as I walked the main street that runs through our port area.   What could be better than an orange building with some black Halloween decorations on it.

Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook (10×7), Pilot Prera w/Noodler’s Lexington Gray, W&N watercolors

When I sat across the street to sketch it, though, I had an immediate problem.  There is considerable vehicle traffic on this street and when sitting low on my tripod stool, it was hard to see the lower front of the building.  I’m not good enough to sketch moving vehicles so I sat, looked and pondered.  Then I sat, looked and pondered some more.  What to do.

I got out a 3H pencil and started laying out where the building and stairwell would sit on the paper and marked out the door location.  Then I picked up my stool and walked down the street and found a place where I could sit the ‘right’ distance from a car.  I sketched it as though it was moving in front of my, as yet to be drawn, building.  Then I moved back to the building and sketched it.  I’m not sure I got car and building sized properly relative to one another but it’s close enough for me.  Hope you like it.  Happy Halloween.

Cheers — Larry

4 Responses to “Halloween – Urban Sketching Style”

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  1. Ruca says:

    Well, Larry, it works for me. And it’s a perfectly sensible way to deal with the problem. And it seems you were able to match the shadows from one location to another, which, if done incorrectly would have been a give-away. That always seems to be the first tell-tale in a composition that’s been photoshopped together.

  2. Possibly I wasn’t clear, Ruca. The big advantage of sketching over photography is that you don’t need Photoshop to do this. I drew the car in front of the building, not as a separate sketch. I just used a car ‘down the street’ as a model. So, when it came to adding shadows I just did the car shadows relative to the building shadows.

    Cheers — Larry

  3. Ruca says:

    Sorry, Larry. It is I who was unclear. I certainly didn’t think you had photoshopped anything. I was just making a correlation to photoshopping two photos and how some people who do, sometimes don’t take into account the possibility of there being a difference in angles af shadows. What I was trying to say is that in any medium, when one is composing a piece but using source material from different locations, these things need to be considered. Clear as mud? 🙂

  4. Oh…ok. I’m sometimes slow on the uptake 🙂 You’re right, of course. My big concern when trying to do it in a sketch was getting the relative sizes and orientation correct, which I may or may not have accomplished.

    Cheers — Larry