Calligraphic Sketching with Melanie Reim

I’ve wanted to take a workshop with Melanie Reim ever since I got a sneak-peek at her teaching in Barcelona. I love that she draws inspiration from her surroundings to explore mark-making and composition and I am fascinated by how much color and texture she brings to her works in black and white.


We started the workshop by looking at Chinese calligraphy and discussed works- from Hokusai’s sketchbooks to contemporary illustrator Yuko Shimizu – to see how calligraphic mark-making is incorporated in their work. After looking at and trying our hand at making marks inspired by Chinese calligraphy, we tried using those same marks as inspiration to draw the people we saw on Waterloo Street. Here are some of my attempts.
sing_melanie-workshop2 sing_melanie-workshop5

It was quite a challenge! My biggest struggle? Lifting my pen off my pages to design a figure using a series of calligraphic strokes instead of using one continuous line like I usually do.

The other big thing that stuck with me was learning to draw from the inside out. I am going to have to think about this one and work on it a lot more. Watching Melanie draw is like watching a dance performance on a page: She goes back and forth between drawing the visible figure and recording gestural marks the figure suggests, really bringing a figure alive (See her quick little demo on my sketchbook page below).

Next up: putting all that we learnt together to create a composition, inspired by anything we saw on Waterloo Street. I started with this first one and abandoned it when I noticed I’d ended up composing a very horizontal and static piece with an even distribution of light and dark marks.

I then created two more pieces and I learnt something from each of them.


Best of all, I came away inspired to explore and use mark-making a lot more in my work and maybe even hold the color once in a while. (If you know my work, you know how gigantic a challenge that would be for me, but I’m going to try it!)

Thank you, Melanie Reim for a workshop that pushed me outside my comfort zone, inspired me, and raised lots of questions for me to think about: That’s quite a feat for 3.5 hours!

About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
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5 Responses to Calligraphic Sketching with Melanie Reim

  1. lackerley says:

    Really enjoyable and informative post Suhita; Please ensure Melanie does a similar workshop here in Manchester next year!! I was wondering, are you using two different pens: looks like a fountain pen vs a brush pen? Drawing from the inside out: a whole other approach to think about! Many thanks


    • For the first exercise, Liz, I’m using just my Pentel Brush pen. For the 2nd one, the composition with multiple parts to it, yes, a brushpen and a fountain pen, I think it was my Lamy Safari.


  2. Virginia Hein says:

    So natural, Suhita–these are great!


  3. Shawne says:

    wow suhita, love this exploration. and particularly love your last experiment–positively poetic.


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