Sketching in public



  • I've read quite a few statements from artists who say that sketching from life or in public places is invaluable, but I haven't been able to work up the courage to do so. I would be alone - no artsy friends - and the thought is paralyzing. But also I feel such a strong desire to give it a try.

    Do any of you do it? What has been your experience with people - do they make comments or look over your shoulder (and judge you!) or do they pretty much not even notice?



  • @Kat I haven't done it a ton, but I'd say that you need to pick a strategic spot and draw people who are fairly far away from you if you want to be less noticeable. I tried it on the bus once and everyone noticed because I think I was too close to my subject and I was in a row of seats that ran parallel with my subject. It would have been better to be in a partitioned off seat and draw someone that was farther away. I think busy coffee shops, fast food places, parks, and libraries are good because people are less likely to notice and are usually immersed in their own thing. I watched a Will Terrel video on YouTube and he said that he and his friends would sit in the fast food restaurant at Wal-Mart and sketch the people checking out at the Wal-Mart registers (not the fast food registers).



  • Yes, I draw in public all the time. Most of the time people will leave you alone, though they might look over your shoulder and talk to each other about how cool it is that you are sketching. :) Occasionally you'll get someone who strikes up a conversation with you or a kid who asks to see what you're drawing, but more often than not you'll be able to get into what you're doing and you'll become less self conscious with time. Just get out there and get started!

    Don't be afraid, bystanders are harmless. Just be cordial and pleasant with them if they do speak to you and if they start to carry on too much just give a pleasant conversation wrap up with a smile like "cool, well it was nice to meet you! Thanks for chatting." Though typically people don't want to bother you too much. Unless you live in the southern US. Then they may just want to chat because it's what people do, haha.



  • Ok guys, you talked me into it! I'm sitting in a corner of Starbucks now, hoping to be invisible...



  • @Kat Yay! Pics of your sketches, or it didn't happen. ;)



  • At first I was really nervous to sketch in public too! I was expecting that everyone would stop to look at what I was doing (because that's what I would do!) But surprisingly, most people don't even notice! Most often, the only one noticing are kids :) (adults are WAY to busy ;)



  • @TessW OMG...embarassed....but here's the proof! (Remember, first time doing this, hunched over the table, trying not to look at anyone while looking at them, totally goofy cartoony style cuz, well, I'm a goof.)
    2_1497654563823_FullSizeRender.jpg 1_1497654563822_FullSizeRender (2).jpg 0_1497654563820_FullSizeRender (1).jpg



  • Yes, Coffee shops and parks are the best places, as well as zoos (people think you are drawing the animals). I also draw in meetings (at the office) then people notice of course (they do not care though).
    If I see my "model" is starting to notice something, I will stop watching him/her and draw the rest from imagination, or switch to a different person.
    The only people who have ever spoken to me are kids. If they get too intrusive, I ask them if they want to pose for me, then I give them the drawing as a gift ;.)



  • @Kat Hey, good job! So was it fun, overall? Gonna do it again?



  • @TessW said in Sketching in public:

    @Kat Hey, good job! So was it fun, overall? Gonna do it again?

    Thanks, Tess! I wouldn't call it fun due the the anxiety level, but I was pleased with myself that I did it. And yes, I will definitely do it again! I would like to get to a comfort level where it becomes fun, and I expect my drawing will have to improve before that happens.

    @smceccarelli, I'm not even close to being good enough to draw a kid and make a gift of the drawing! That sure would be fun, tho. Maybe someday.

    I think it would be more fun if I had someone to go with, but I don't. So I'll just have to be lonesome and draw anyway ☺️



  • My wife and I saw a man drawing in the coffee shop at the bookstore today. I was happy and a little envious at the same time of his bravery. When my wife commented on his work he was thrilled to show off his sketchbook. It seemed to be just a fun hobby of his, but the man clearly enjoyed drawing people. It was encouraging to me, who wants to be a professional, to see a hobbyist in public just letting it rip. So go be encouraging to others as you get better and hone this craft. Who knows, it might get you a free coffee or nice illustration gig some day!


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