‘People at Work’workshop (and a downloadable pdf)

As promised, a report of the workshop I taught in Porto, “People at Work“. And, a downloadable pdf. Skip right to the end if you just want to get to that.

Yet another year of teaching at the USk Symposium, a huge honor, and learning experience. This year, more than other years, I focussed on demo-ing the sort of gesture drawing I teach. Drawing people is a particularly ‘risky’ business: you never know who you will find on location to draw that day, you can’t pre-study most of what you do, so you turn up, you talk through the process, and you do a demo… but just verbalizing what you’re doing as you see it, react and capture it seems to participants. So in the spirit of showing as much of my process as I can and letting people see the stuff that works and the stuff that doesn’t, I did a lot of demo sketches through my three workshops.

Everyday at the Duoro river, we found different ‘People at Work’. On the left, a guy selling sunglasses. On the right, a Porto University student singing fado, accompanied by a guy on a Portuguese guitar. We drew little vignettes, with a focus on people, but with a feeling for the place and the tools they work with to complete the story.

porto_usk_workshop1This guy sold river cruises. See those distinctive yellow boats from Porto in the background?

porto_usk_workshop3Sometimes (on the left), you mess up. Luckily, it’s just a small vignette you’re capturing, and if you catch it early, you’re not super-invested in the drawing. So you move on and create a new piece. (You can tell I will never have the beautiful sketchbooks where every spread is gorgeous). Porto doesn’t rise early. So when my morning workshop got started, the only people around were these guys who unloaded the goods for the day from large trucks to nearby restaurants.


Sometimes I got lucky, and the same busker was there more than once.  This guy (below) with the accordion walked around, played, sang and collected money all at the same time. I had the easier task of following him around with a sketchbook, drawing and painting on the move: Because once you’re committed to an angle and a gesture, you have to stay true to it to not end up with a wonky figure. porto_usk_workshop6



Here’s someone else I got to draw twice: this guy with a life-size puppet that he danced with, collecting money from passersby in a hat. Version #1 is with a fountain pen, version #2, uses a brushpen.

And finally , here are some photos from the sessions. Many, many thanks to my assistants for helping in so many ways during the workshop. Prominently featured in these photos is the youngest participant in my workshop, a fearless and fantastic sketcher who told elaborate and colorful stories with every sketch she created.

And finally, here is a link at which you can download the handout from the workshop.

About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
This entry was posted in Portugal, Travel, Workshop and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to ‘People at Work’workshop (and a downloadable pdf)

  1. karen colson says:

    thanks for sharing the PDF, Suhita!!



  2. Bernadette says:

    Enjoy your sketches soooo much. Your gestures are so lively and show great freedom and ease. Thanks for showing the youngest of your sketchers. Surely she is on the path to success of drawing with confidence. Unfortunately, I was unable to download the PDF with handout from the workshop. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate your postings.


  3. miatagrrl says:

    Thanks for sharing all of this, and especially your “messed up” page. Most people show only the “good” pages, so it appears that they have nothing but beautiful sketchbooks, page after page. I always appreciate it when artists show their less-than-successful tries too, because it enables the rest of us to see that they make mistakes, too.

    – Tina


  4. kimbidraws says:

    Thank you for this post I always enjoy them. I live in the Caribbean and I never see any of the symposiums held close to my region so I always just enjoy the posts with class materials etc. I would love to come one day. Thanks so much for sharing the handout I appreciate it very much.


  5. sandra p mac diarmid says:

    soooooo generous of you to share the print-out.. finally, it works.. as usual, you are fun and an inspritional person.. wonderful sketches, great trip..now memories.. sandra


  6. ekfmef says:

    Thank you for the write-up and sharing the pdf! Your craftsy course and all the handouts you share are super helpful. I hope I can take a workshop with you one time :).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. margood1 says:

    So enjoyable reading through your blog. I laughed my socks off at “not being one of those people with perfect pages in their sketchbook” (words to that effect) .. I thought I was the only one with the most eclectic pages ever. Welcome to my world Suhita. x

    Liked by 1 person

  8. deb says:

    Thank you, Suhita. Always a pleasure to see and follow your amazing technique in capturing everyday people. Will look forward to going through your exercises from the Porto workshop!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Margaret says:

    Suhita. I have downloaded your pdf (I hope). Thank you. I’m going on hols next month and hope to sketch people in a better way than I do at present – I’m way too slow and if I can at least get a semblance of posture I shall be more than happy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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