Day 2, #oneweek100people2017

I totally get the idea of doing pages and pages of little observational sketches,  and when I teach a workshop, we spend the first half of our time doing just that) but every so often I start to get fatigued and the process seems a little robotic. That’s when I remind myself that this is just the warm up, the practice. Drawing people from observation is what prepares me to be able to tell the stories I see and want to tell in sketches.

Two of my favorite books on the subject of drawing people and telling stories through them are The Urban Sketching Handbook: People and Motion by Gabriel Campanario and The Urban Sketching Handbook: Reportage and Documentary Drawing by Veronica Lawlor. If the idea of telling stories seems big and difficult to you, these books will really redefine your idea of a story, and will make you think of what you want to say with every gesture you draw. people_day2_book

Back to today’s sketches…I had much, much less time to sketch today. So I stuck to simpler media and started with quick gesture drawing while waiting in line to get my coffee. Here are a couple of pages from today.

These are my quickest sketches, the prefect warmup to any day of sketching for me: they take only a few seconds each.

The sketch below took a little longer. I remembered to take a picture of it halfway so you can see how it was done.

These two people were having a really intense conversation over coffee. So I decided to sketch in the shape around them to make sure I captured their lean-in postures. I drew this with a water-soluble Sketch-and-Wash pencil, and then I ran a wet brush over the background and worked some of the greys into the figure to capture the shadows. After that I just added in a little bit of linework.

The rest of my sketches from today? They’re all on instagram @suhitasketch .

2 days down, 3 more to go. How are you doing with the challenge?

Posted in california, Close to home, Everyday Sketches, people, Portrait, san jose, Silicon Valley | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Day 1, #oneweek100people2017

Today is Day 1 of the #oneweek100people2017 challenge. I did more than 20 sketches today, I think. (I’m not numbering and counting) But that’s because I know tomorrow is going to be a busier day… I’ll probably go really simple tomorrow and do quick gesture drawings. And I think that’s part of the learning from a challenge: How to do you anticipate and work with what you’ve got? Given the time you can make in the day, what tools will you use, and what aspect of people sketching will you focus on?

I’m posting my sketches all day on instagram @suhitasketch, but here’s a couple of my favorites from today.

This guy was reading a newspaper. That’s such a rare sight these days when everyone is on their smartphone. So I figured I had to sketch him. Drawing in watersoluble pencil (you can see how I greyed out some stuff by running water over my lines) and watercolor.


I drew people for a while but eventually I got bored of drawing just random passing people all over the page and I did this sketch at Whole Foods Grocery store. A bold foreground, remembering to work in layers and adding in people in the distance: those are some things I work with when building a sketch like this.

I collect far too many art books. Some I just look at for inspiration, some I read. I thought I’d post a few of them this week. Here’s one of my favorites.


This book is life drawing: how to portray the figure with accuracy and expression. By Robert Barrett. And the bit at the bottom is one of my favorite parts where the author talks about the importance of exaggeration.

I can’t promise anything as ambitious as this on day 2, but I’m still looking forward to it…I hope you’re sketching too!

Posted in california, Close to home, Everyday Sketches, people, Silicon Valley | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Little Sketches from last week

It’s Monday, and it’s Day 1 of #OneWeek100People2017…Not too late to join in!

Here are random little sketches from the last week. Rainy weather means more then the usual number of days at home. I ended up drawing my family way too many times this week.

Here’s a few sketches from an evening of the Blues with GG Amos and her band at the Poor House Bistro in San Jose.

And a few sketches from my first ever Cat Show.

And lunch afterwards at Nopales Restaurant, where the walls were brighter than my sketch.

Lots of people drawings last week, the perfect warmup to #OneWeek100People2017. You can follow the sketches all week long on instagram, or just see them in batches here on the blog.

Happy Monday!

Posted in Close to home, Everyday Sketches, people, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

My new pocket palette

This is not a review. I just haven’t used my new palette for long enough to be able to review it. But I’m excited about it, so here goes.

I did not need a new palette. But I’ve wanted the Pocket Palette for a while now, just because it is so beautiful. And I got one along with a bunch of extra pans in different sizes so I could customize it. Most people tout how small and lightweight this palette is. Totally true, but my bag holds 3 sketchbooks (including a large hardbound Stillman & Birn Beta journal) so the size and weight issues of my kit are not going to be solved by my palette. My current palette is pretty small as is. See these side-by-side shots of my regular palette and the new Pocket Palette. The new palette is much lighter and slimmer and smaller, but my old palette isn’t very large to start with.
palette-play8babSo I thought I’d put my pocket palette to use by using it in addition to my old palette, to try and focus on something different.

I played with different configurations for a while…

And then I decided to build a “modified split primaries” palette. When in need of anything watercolor-pigment-related, I start at Jane Blundell’s site. I didn’t want to buy new pigments, though, so I drew what I could from her split primary recommendations and then substituted with colors I had. (Note: For a more exact and thorough understanding of pigments and primaries, use her site, not my colors.)

Here’s my palette. 3 cool primaries. 3 warm primaries.(including a color called Permanent red that I received as a sample and have never used before… but it looks warm enough ,so in it goes.)
thinking_paletteI work a lot on location and one of the things I find most frustrating about a primary palette is how much mixing it takes me to get to dark tones. So I threw in 2 little pans of ‘cheat’ dark neutrals to help get my mixes there quickly: Payne’s Grey for cool darks, and Sepia for warmer ones.

Here’s the obligatory color wheel done with the colors. The colors at the bottom are the darks mixed by adding dark neutrals to the 3 color mixes.

These are my first little studies done with the color palette.

It’s really obvious to me from the color wheel and little studies that getting a range of colors out of the small primary palette is not a problem. And with the addition of dark neutrals I don’t spend forever mixing either.

But there is one problem I didn’t anticipate when I filled in a tiny palette with a limited number of colors: Mixing space. The less pigments you start with, the more mixing space you need, or you end up with mud on your palette really quickly. See the mixing space (below) on my palette after just one tiny painting? One idea I have is to go back to the original little pigment holders for my colors. That would leave me a little less than half the palette space empty, and if I filled it in with empty pans, I could use that space as color mixing space. If you have other suggestions that don’t include carrying an additional palette, I’d love to hear them.
palette-play5So do I think I will carry around this little palette in addition to my regular one? I think so. Using a split primary palette forces me to think of color quite differently form my usual palette. It makes me think more of the mixes that are in a color I see and them temperature of the color, both of which are good for me to focus on.

But most of all, like I said at the start, it’s a beautiful little palette (You can get it here), and it’s a real joy to handle. And that, I suspect, more than anything else, is why it’s going to stay.

Posted in Drink, Everyday Sketches, Food, supplies, Supplies and Materials | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

One week, 100 people: A challenge

Maybe you’ve heard of it already? The ONE WEEK 100 PEOPLE challenge?

Here’s the super-short version:  Marc Taro Holmes and Liz Steel are presenting a one-week-long challenge where you draw 100 people over 5 days. No pressure, not result oriented, just a little game in which you draw and post sketches of people on instagram with the hashtag #OneWeek100People2017.  For more on the challenge including details, ideas and what the idea behind the challenge is, read this post on Liz’ blog or this one on Marc’s.

I love the idea, but was apprehensive about whether I could fit it into my work week, so I gave it a little spin today. On a day packed with work and appointments, how much time could I eek out to sketch? What if it were only at my local coffee shop?  I’d love to do more action-packed stuff but some days I don’t get any further than the coffee shop, and sometimes not even that far… then I’ll just have to draw my kids over and over again).

These pages were done over the day, in little bits. And in the spirit of the challenge, they’re all here, the ones that worked out and the meh ones. Some are gestural figures, some are portraits. Some are of the same people drawn over again and all the pages together took just over an hour to work on.
And the day’s not done yet, so I could squeeze in a few more, I suppose… I think I can make it.

And what if I don’t end up completing it? I’m guessing I’ll still get a substantial amount more drawing done by pushing forward than if I don’t take the challenge. Which is great practice. And practice is everything. Not convinced? Watch this little 5-minute video on how to practice effectively and what practice does for you.


Ready to give it a shot? Lets do it! Use this week to think up some locations, make time in your day next week, sharpen your pencils, throw away the excuses you’re going to come up with to not draw…
Remember, it’s ONE WEEK 100 PEOPLE 2017, March 2017, Monday 6th – Friday 10th.
The goal is practice, not perfection. And hashtag those sketches: #OneWeek100People2017

I’ll post all week on instagram all week long and then do a blogpost here about the experience at the end of it. If you sketch too, maybe we can swap notes and ideas on what we learnt when we’re done?

Posted in Everyday Sketches, people, Portrait | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Last bits from Pune: India 2017

It’s always sad to post the last sketches from a trip. Kinda feels like the trip is coming to an end, all over again. (I have been back from India since the middle of January 2017, but it’s taken me this long to get to blogging it all)

This is from one last day in Pune, on my way back to Bombay to catch my flight back to San Francisco. I met up with the Pune Urban Sketchers. They’re an amazing bunch of artist the friendliest of people. Thank you Sanjeev Joshi for organizing this!

Here is my quick little sketch at Pune University. It’s a gorgeous campus and there were  the last traces of the morning mist when we sketched.

Later that day Nilima took me to the beautiful Pataleshwar rock-cut temple because it has a fantastic tree outside it. I love when friends know what I do and then find me interesting places to draw. I started on a sketch but was quickly told not to sketch there. Silly me, for not taking my own advice: I’d heard of this “sketching ban” in India ( read more about it at the link that follows, it’s not really a ban) but never experienced it. Other sketcher friends had, so I wrote up this post with a link to a document to carry around when you sketch in India.

This is as far as I got with my sketch inside the temple before I had to leave.
But the tree outside was something else. Ficus trees are the best!

That was my last sketch in India. Hope you enjoyed my trip through the sketches

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Bijapur, Part 2: India 2017

More from Bijapur. Big monuments and little ones. But first a horse carriage. Drawn quickly while eating lunch. Whenever possible, I’ll sit by a window because you never know if something interesting (and sketchable) will pass by. This horse carriage, mostly used to take tourists around to different monuments around the city, paused for a while outside our restaurant window.

This is my niece sitting opposite me drawing with only a small fraction of the audience that gathered to watch her draw. On the table, our art supplies and our dosai.

The Gol Gumbaz might be Bijapur’s most famous monument. But the Adil Shahi dynasty’s monuments dot the whole city. This  is the Gagan Mahal, a huge audience and performance hall. I sketched it while lounging on the grounds in the shade of a big banyan tree.

The Jal Mandir by comparison is relatively small and stands in what is now a dried-up pond. I don’t know what I enjoyed more: sketching this strange and fascinating little structure, or capturing all the people who passed by on the busy street in front of it.

This small masjid stands on the outskirts of town. It was sketched in the evening as the light faded. Buffaloes grazed on the grasses  and buses destined to be taken apart for scrap stood nearby.

By contrast, the Jama Masjid is a large mosque that stands by a big (but now empty) tank. There were a lot of tourists the morning we visited and the little kids loved jumping in and out of that large tank.

Visiting a place just doesn’t feel complete without a visit to the local market. This is a street market with vegetable vendors doing brisk business involving lots of bargaining. A buffalo grazes on watermelon rinds amongst the shoppers. One of the joys of sketching in India is that you get to interact with everyone wherever you are. While we sketched, vendors chatted with us, we got offered slices of watermelon to sample and a little girl brought us roses that her mom was selling.

This small roadside shrine with indecipherable (to me) markings sat among the fields of bajra and pomegranates a short drive outside town.

This was my very last sketch in Bijapur, but this scene could have been just about anywhere in India.

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