Urban Sketching at the Etsy Holiday Market

Once upon a time, I used to sketch from life often. The last few years it has fallen by the wayside. That is something I’m hoping to change. So this past weekend my wife and I went to the Etsy Holiday Market at Atlantic Place here in St. John’s. She wanted to do some shopping and I wanted to do some urban sketching.

Being a little rusty I wanted to warm up before I got to the event. So, on the bus ride down I surreptitiously sketched a couple other riders in a Pocket Portrait Handbook Travelogue Journal. People on the bus, or planes or trains, are pretty good subjects. You know they’ll be there for at least a little while and new subjects are always arriving. I did these two sketches with a fountain pen using water-soluble ink. I then went over them immediately with a water brush to add some tone. Finally, I added the colours once I got home in Clip Studio Paint EX.

Once we arrived at the event I found a spot near the windows and got to work. I remember sketching like this being fun and, sometimes at least, almost effortless. Today it felt forced and awkward. But like any skill you have to power through and keep at it. I knew I was a little rusty so the feeling wasn’t unexpected.

In case anyone is wondering, I did the following two sketches in a Handbook Grand Portrait Watercolor Journal. It’s the one I’m using in the above photo. I ordered mine on Amazon.ca; you can’t buy them locally as far as I know. The watercolours are a Cotman set I picked up a few years back at Michaels.

I did this first sketch in pencil and then finalized it with a ballpoint pen. Little spots of darker shadow were added with a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. Finally, I added watercolours.

In this second sketch, I wanted to try something a bit different. After doing a quick sketch in pencil I went back to my fountain pen with the water-soluble ink. Like with the bus sketches I then went over it with a water brush to add tone. I added the colour in this sketch later, at home, using Ray Frenden‘s watercolour brushes in Clip Studio Paint EX.

While completing the second sketch some friends of ours arrived. After chatting for a bit we went to Afghan Restaurant for lunch and finished out the afternoon with a visit to Fixed. I had the vegan pumpkin muffin (which you usually have to ask for) and a peppermint tea.

It was a fun day and I’m glad I got some sketching done. I’m definitely going to try and make it a more regular activity. As I read somewhere (maybe the Famous Artists’ Illustration Course): The only way to truly see something is to draw it.