Workshop 26: Puzzling Out the Picture

Instructor: Veronica Lawlor

Workshop description

Many times, when a sketcher arrives at a busy urban location, there is a sense of being overwhelmed.

So many people moving in so many different directions; so many buildings towering above; so many shops; so many cars; so many signs; so much of so many! This workshop will teach you how to puzzle it all out, bringing the pieces together in a wide picture full of dimension and graphic expression, which ultimately can tell the story of a place.

We’ll begin by employing the thumbnail as a way to explore the space around us, and the people, buildings, and objects within that space. We’ll discuss how to organize so much information into one picture, and how to explore the storytelling possibilities of those pictures, in a sense, as a filmmaker does with a storyboard.

Once we have established our point of view, we will work on a selection of one or two larger sketches that cover the situation, telling the “big picture” story of our urban setting, and using the idea of a focal point to focus on some of the people within. We’ll also see how a combination of line and marks, with (perhaps) a little color for emphasis can help create our focal point.

Learning goals

  • How to embrace the “overwhelmingness” of an urban setting and find your focus in a picture
  • How to use dimension, and work with entrances and exits in picture-making
  • How to combine people, buildings, plant life, and objects in one picture, differentiating them with line, shape, and texture.
  • Capturing the overall story – roughly, describing the ‘vibe’ of the place and the people within

Workshop Schedule

First half-hour: lecture (with handouts) and demonstration: thumbnail sketching and describing the dimension of a place. We’ll discuss how to convey a mental projection of dimension in a picture.

Next 60 minutes: participants work with dimensional design in their thumbnail sketches, and how to place people, buildings, trees, objects, etc. into the picture space. Instructor will walk around for one-on-one instruction and demonstrations.

Next half hour: critique of thumbnail sketches, followed by a lecture and demonstration of how to create a focal point within a picture, to help tell the story of the location.

Next hour and 10 minutes: Participants work on larger pictures. Instructor will walk around for one-on-one instruction and demonstrations.

Final 20 minutes: Participants lay their large drawings out for group review and instructor feedback

Supply list 

Bring a small and medium (or large) pad of paper. Any kind of pens are good – especially fountain pens or dip pen and ink, for a solid line. (No penciling in first!) Brush pens also help give variety of line widths. Also good to bring would be a few different graphic tools for expression, such as soft graphite pencils, a few colored pencils, a few pastels (pencil or stick form) and a small watercolor kit.

Also bring a small stool for sitting, if you prefer.


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