Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Time-Lapse Composition

8/11/12 Copic Multiliner SP pen, watercolor, Stillman & Birn sketchbook
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my experience with sketching in public, it’s that no matter what I’m inclined to sketch first in a composition, I have to put the people in first. Compared to plants, buildings and benches, they are most likely to get up and leave, sometimes within minutes or seconds, and always sooner than I want them to.

This scene outside a Starbucks is a good case in point. Sitting at one of the patio tables, I spotted the guy in sunglasses seated on the right side of the bench. He seemed to be relaxing, or perhaps waiting for someone, so I was hoping he'd stick around a while. I had framed the composition in my mind to include him and the bench in the background and the planter in the foreground. I was tempted to sketch the bench first – something solid to seat the guy on – but I resisted. Just as I had barely finished a rough line contour of the guy, he got up and left. Although I had not yet drawn the bench, I knew where the seat would be because I had sketched his hip. I was still fleshing him out when the bearded guy sat down – what luck! – on the left side of the bench. They never shared the bench in reality, but my sketch turned out to be a time-lapse composition.

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