Workshop 4: Hunting & Gathering: Sketching Vignettes & Lists

Instructor: Fred Lynch

Workshop Description

We’re all familiar with drawing scenes, but that’s not all that a sketcher can do to capture perceptions, or to share observations. In this workshop, we consider two alternatives – which focus on the parts before us rather than the whole, and allow for us to talk about things differently. We explore two age-old vehicles of visual communication: the vignette, and the visual list.

A vignette is an irregularly shaped image on a page – one that doesn’t extend to the edge of the paper. Vignettes isolate and focus attention on a particular subject that’s before us. We see them in books in magazines all the time, but what are the design principles behind them? In this workshop, we’ll learn how vignettes, visually, are like letterforms – interacting with the white of the page (negative space) and responding to a viewers need for a sense of gravity. We learn too, to carve out vignettes before us, in order to focus interest and communicate clearly.

A visual list is a page that features an arrangement of a series of vignette sketches (also called “spot illustrations”) that make a singular statement. Imagine, for instance, a page filled with little sketches of taxicabs, pub signs, or public sculptures. A list can reveal more than a single scene. It’s an interesting alternative for describing a place or sharing an interest. In this workshop, we’ll build on our new knowledge of vignettes and learn to design and create visual lists that express our own enthusiasms.

Workshop Schedule

First we’ll sart with
introductions and a brief discussion about the topic at hand.

We’ll talk about the interesting
observations made by participants thus far on their trip. (Best works are
always made as an expression of enthusiasms and interests.) We’ll wonder, what
are possible personal subjects worth exploring in this workshop? The group will
then set out from our host institution to hunt and gather sketches that support
our interests in two ways and in two sessions: vignettes and visual lists.

We’ll start by examining vignettes
and seeing how they work. We’ll look at examples and the instructor will
demonstrate some approaches. Sketching and applying our new knowledge will

In our first, short session we’ll
create studies, paying particular attention to blocking out simple silhouetted
shapes in monotone.

Following our session, we’ll
regroup and discuss results.

Then in longer session we’ll create
a more refined, more finished
drawing, perhaps from a previous sketch. We’ll use materials of our own
choosing and focus on creating a “telling” image through our vignette.

Finally, we’ll gather to examine
the participant’s works and talk about the results and lessons for the future

The second half of the workshop
will build upon the first – using small, vignetted “spot” drawings to create
visual lists. The instructor, again, will show examples of thoughtful and
well-composed sketches that gather interesting observations to form a singular,
interesting statement. In this session, participants will create a single, more
substantial page of sketches. They’ll hunt for subject matter to investigate,
and gather them onto the page in a systematic way.

Through it all, we’ll be focusing
not just on the how of sketching, but
also the what, and why. We’ll come to understand that
drawing is a means of writing as well as showing.


Learning Goals

Picture design, drawing, communication, selection and visual authoring

Workshop Location

This workshop intends to use the symposium’s host institution as a base, and it is intended that participants will venture off into the immediate neighborhood for subject matter for hunting and gathering.


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