Saturday, November 15, 2014

In the Zone at Third Place Commons

11/15/14 Diamine Chocolate Brown ink, Canson XL
After attending a meeting at Third Place Commons this morning, I stayed for lunch and a little sketching. I wish this place were a little closer to me – it’s ideal for practicing sketches of people of all ages. The huge space with lots of tables is congenial for small, informal meetings, chatting over coffee or just staring into one’s laptop screen. Although I’ve sketched there several times (most recently last summer when I sketched Ciscoe Morris), it had been a couple of years since I was there without a specific event as the focus.

Today I didn’t even try to give these “floating heads” a story or context as I often try to do when sketching people in the urban landscape. I had my choice of so many faces that I just sketched whoever sat in front of me. (I probably could have paid a little more attention to proportion when drawing the woman reaching for her daughter’s salad – her arm looks about 10 feet long!)

This type of sketching is, for me, what Liz Steel refers to as “reflex sketching” (which, for her, is usually of teacups): being mostly on autopilot and in “the zone.” I think it’s the only subject matter that can kick me into the zone immediately, and I find it completely relaxing and meditative. I really lose all sense of time and space. I could have stayed there sketching people all day! (Unfortunately, I couldn’t.)

I wish I could move that quickly and easily into the zone with any subject matter. I usually do get there eventually, regardless of the subject, but with architecture or complex scenes, it takes me a while to get past the technical processing (where is the vanishing point?) or internal arguments (Don’t sketch that! That’s too hard!) before I can get into the pure pleasure of the eye-brain-hand connection.

What kind of subject matter puts you in the zone immediately?


  1. Nice sketches. I guess landscapes put me in the zone...can you tell? lol

  2. I'm exactly the opposite, Tina. I have to sketch half a dozen people before they even start looking like people as I'm not in that 'zone' of which you speak. Give me a statue, building, car, or fire hydrant and I'm there immediately. Not sure why.

    WIth respect to your building sketching, the solution to 'where is the vanishing point' is not to ask the question. Draw the shapes in front of you just as you could your people. All that vanishing point stuff is for people who aren't actually looking at what they're drawing. If you're looking at it you can just draw the angles you see and let the vanishing points be damned. Do you think about foreshortening when drawing your people? I doubt it but the books say you're supposed to be worried about that :-)

    Now it's your do I get into the zone immediately when drawing in the food court :-)

    Cheers --- Larry


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