Workshop 12: What & How: Creating Your Story


Instructor: Marina Grechanik 

When we draw from observation, we’re not just copying reality, but
trying to transfer something else to the viewer: an idea, mood, feeling,
impression. Instead of letters which connect to words, which in turn connect to
sentences, we have dots, connecting to lines, connecting to shapes and so on.

In this workshop we will concentrate on and play with two big
decisions every sketcher makes when they start a new sketch: what and how.

It’s true that because sketching is a spontaneous and sometimes
very quick form of visual art, we often don’t have time to think while we’re
capturing an immediately changing reality. But even then, we do make decisions
about “what” and “how” instinctively, and the more experience
we have, the better and more accurately we can make these decisions.

By doing a series of fun and quick exercises we can go over the
basic terms of sketching: what do I want to say and what is the best way to do

In the last and longest exercise we will try to apply what we
learned in the previous exercises: we will consider the rules but will not
hesitate to break them if we need to in order to be spontaneous, and to leave
room for chance and “mistakes” because that’s the beauty of sketching
from observation!



We are all familiar with the phenomenon of a group of sketchers
sketching from the same spot yet creating totally different sketches – everyone
finds in the same view something different they connect to and are interested

This series of exercises should help us observe our surroundings
differently, find subjects for sketches, and understand that there are no
boring spots – it is all about the point of view.

Every participant will get the same list of subjects for their
sketches and will try to make as many quick sketches as they can (5-10 minutes
for each sketch).

We won’t concern ourselves with the choice of tools, but with the
content, with choosing the frame.

One condition – our sketches (at least some on them) should
include people. 




In this exercise we will deal with the “words” that will
build our “story”. We will touch and play with lines, colors, shapes
and composition, and will try to understand how all these can help us deliver
our ideas.


We will sketch the same view through different filters, for

    1. use of tool/technique

      • lines only (use different strengths and thicknesses)
      • without lines, shapes only (black & white, washes of one color)
      • three colors (choosing the palette and deciding on the role of each color)

      2. use of aspects of composition

      • format
      • scale
      • staticdynamic (from the same point
        – feeling of stability or movement)

      And again – we’ll include people in our sketches!

      Final exercise

      We will create a sketch applying the insights we have drawn from
      the previous exercises:

      • observe the surroundings and choose the subject/idea/feeling
        you want to transfer
      • give a name to your future sketch 
      • choose the format and the composition that best fits 
      • choose the tools and technique that strengthen your idea
      • don’t hesitate to break the rules
        if needed, to be spontaneous, and to leave room for chance and
      •  include people in your sketch 
      • tell us your story

      At the end of the exercise participants will present their
      sketches and will explain the artistic choices they made.


      Learning goals (What are a few of the most important skills and concepts you’d like your participants to learn from their experience?)

      • not to simply copy reality, but to transfer our thoughts
        through lines, composition, colors and shapes
      • to deal with two important artistic decisions:

                       what I want to tell the audience

                       how to deliver my message

        • to try to understand through a series of fun exercises:

          how we make decisions

          what attracts us to a particular

          how we can find interesting topics

          what are the influences of the
          basic composition rules on our message

          how specific tools or techniques
          can strengthen the ideamessage

          • to enjoy the activity, to
            improvise, to be spontaneous
          • to create works with impact and



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