Thursday, March 26, 2015

Teaching Urban Sketching at China Garden.

At Elite Animation Academy (8933 Conroy Windermere Rd, Orlando, FL), I have been teaching Urban Sketching to three very talented students. Megan has her own car, so she is in a perfect position to find places and events to fill her sketchbooks. Mathew absolutely loves the idea of going out into the community and sketching. He said, that he had waited his whole life for this chance. Samuel, who was usually accompanied by his father, tended to be uncertain when I suggested warm up sketch exercises in the class room. When we went out on location however, he was a natural. He would boldly sketch in a scene directly in ink, and I admired his approach.

On this day, we went to China Garden (8833 Conroy Windermere Rd, Orlando, FL) to practice cafe sketching. Megen and Samuel sat in a booth and Mathew joined me at a center table. In this class I had introduced everyone to watercolors and I let them go for a solid hour and a half as they focused on completing a sketch. At Elite we use office paper that has been three hole punched to fit on animation peg bars. This keeps the sheets of paper flush to each other so the animation stays in place. Unfortunately, office paper is very thin which makes it less than ideal for watercolor washes. I kept advising students to invest in nice sketchbooks with at least 100 pound paper. Samuel was the first to get his own set of Urban Sketching supplies while Mathew and Megan limped by on the office paper. I decided to do a sketch on the animation paper to see how it wrinkled.

I ordered a General Tao's chicken as a late lunch to eat as I sketched. The order took forever to arrive. People sitting at a table next to us had been sitting there since our class arrived and they were grumbling about how long they had been waiting. The woman noticed Mathew sketching and she said, "Be sure to catch my good side." Students had to borrow my water brushes which are a bit dried out it  hard to squeeze the water out of them.   I saw Megan squeezing her brush like she was trying to strangle it death. I gave her more water, which helped. She joked with me that she expected to see herself strangling the brush in my sketch. She is right, I missed a golden sketch opportunity there. I offered Mathew my fortune cookie, and he popped it into his mouth without cracking it open to check his fortune. He ate his fortune! I don't know if he will ever know what it was.

I'm proud of each of these new Urban Sketchers. Megan came up with a strong composition in which the details in the figures she drew were offset by large open spaces of the booth backs. Samuel is like a focused machine when he works on location and Mathew has a strong eye for gesture and composition. If they each develop the habit of sketching daily, they will be grow in leaps and bounds outside the confines of a studio or classroom. Unfortunately there were no enrollments for the next 10 Urban Sketching classes, but that is just as well since I will be sketching in Turkey for three weeks as Terry and I explore this ancient country.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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