Monday, September 23, 2019

Escaping the confines of the artist studio

On Sundays I teach an Urban Sketching class at Crealde School of Art (600 Saint Andrews Blvd, Winter Park, FL 32792). I have some very talented students in this class and my goal is to just loosen them up so that they can capture a scene quickly and then focus on a few details to help sell the story behind the sketch. The temperatures have finally dropped to a reasonable degree so that we can sketch outside sometimes without baking while trying to finish the sketch.

One student showed me an absolutely gorgeous pencil rendering of some shells. It was photo real and highly detailed. The trouble with sketching on location is that a sketch must be done in the time allowed. I tend to judge when a sketch is complete based on how much by butt hurts. Perhaps that isn't a great measure of good art but it is practical.

So many of my lessons are about how to put multiple  people into a sketch. I usually dash off a quick sketch like this to demonstrate the principle while also circulating around and doing individualized sketched that show how "the bones" of a composition might be strengthened. By the end of the course I hope that each student will learn how to manage their time so that a watercolor sketch is completed in the time we have. My tips and techniques are mostly about how to speed up the process and focus only on the details that tell a story.

Each of my students are unsatisfied with what they can capture n a sketch right now and I have to point out that that feeling never goes away if you really want to produce great art. As Michelangelo said, “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

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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