Nutcracker in the Dark

Last weekend I went to my very first Nutcracker performance. Sketching anything moving is challenging. Add in the fact that it is so dark you can’t really tell what colored pencil you’re using and can barely see your pen lines on paper. And you get little scratchy figures that you hope capture the spirit of a really grand performance.






I wish I’d captured the 52-piece orchestra in action, but they were in the pit below. Next time, I’d love to sketch them and  the performers backstage as they prepare for the show.


About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
This entry was posted in california, Close to home, Everyday Sketches, san jose, Silicon Valley and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Nutcracker in the Dark

  1. Bruce says:

    Always grateful for your blog – in fact look forward to it. Movement is sooo hard to catch. I have spent an number of hours in the past weeks at a large shopping centre nearby sketching from, I’m embarrassed to say, Mr. Donuts, McD’s etc and have almost filled my recent Stillman & Birn sketch book with “‘poses”‘ from customers who keep reasonably still at the counter making their selection or paying. But then they move into the traffic and I am left with half a sketch. Tried to sketch members of a school orchestra, the trombolists who were performing on the first floor, from the second floor view. How to draw perspective from above and movement and facial impressions most difficult. Just have to follow you even more!


  2. Karen says:

    Suhita, these are absolutely stunning for the conditions under which you did them. And from my perspective, they are stunning and all I’d want to be able to do during a live performance even when sketching it in full light!! I’d love to learn about your strategy, your approach, any changes you make to your way of working when you can’t really see the page well? Under the conditions you described, I am challenged to keep the images on the page, to not overlap images (unless I choose to), and to be able to add another layer to a sketch such as color to a brush pen sketch.


    • Karen, it’s dark enough to not be able to tell the colors on your colored pencils, but just enough light to see where you’re landing to the paper. So that keeps the images from overlapping. But they’re little sketches with no details. I draw them mostly because I see the performance better and hear the music better with a pen in my hand.


  3. Andrea R Huelsenbeck says:

    Congratulations on your first Nutcracker! We took our kids several times when they were young. Now that we’re empty nesters, my hubby wants to go again. Maybe next year…


  4. Anke Wagner says:

    What a great way to enjoy the show !
    Can only imagine what could be sketched off stage ….all the cologurful costumes ,the frenzy ….and lights;)
    I have been following your blog from our remote living situation in Alaska ,for quite some time and very much enjoying it
    Thanks for sharing


  5. Thank you for my first nutcracker . . on-line.


  6. M. L. Kappa says:

    Can’t say you’ve done too badly here💕 Lots of life and movement. Well done!


  7. Lee Kline says:

    These are wonderful. Last year we visited our Saratoga Granddaughters and enjoyed the Nutcracker (my first ever) in San Jose at a large municipal auditorium. it was wonderful and I too, sketched in the dark. I loved the mouse king.


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