Last Friday I received an invitation from a friend in my weekly art group to join in Emma Carlisle’s 3rd Patreon birthday bash. This was a lovely suprise! I’ve followed Emma Carlisle for a while because I love her illustrative style and the way she presents her process. So, on Friday evening I sat at my desk, my Zoom app open and ready to go, and my trusty drawing kit close at hand. It’s been a while since I’ve done any sketching, so I was looking forward to seeing what we would do.
Well, as you have probably guessed from the title, the theme was pigeons. Now, most urbanites are less than thrilled about these birds. Ask anyone in the cities here in the Netherlands and the term ‘flying rat’ is bound to come up. Me? I love them. I have great respect for any creature that can navigate the dangers of the urban sprawl and still find ways to feed themselves and be sassy while doing it. I also think they are just beautiful birds. Maybe it’s the artist in me, but I am fascinated by the hundreds of colours and shades of grey. Each pigeon is unique and just lovely, in my humble opinion. Yes, even the ones with manky legs and broken wings.
So, you can imagine how pleased I was to hear that we would be spending an hour and a half doing timed drawing sessions using reference images of pigeons in various contexts! But, I was also a little apprehensive. It’s been a while since I sketched something from a photo, and I certainly had never done it with a time limit before. Luckily, I was just one of over 140 people on the screen, so the relative anonymity was all the boost I needed to grab a bunch of Derwent Inktense pencils, a highlighter and my water brush and open up my sketchbook to a clean page.
We started with a few 5 minute sessions (although admittedly a couple went on a little longer than 5 minutes). Then we moved on to a couple of 15 minute slots, a 20 minute session, and a final 5 minute quickie. At the end of the party, I had 8 sketches where before I had none. The time flew by, but I have to admit that by the last 5 minute session, my hands were pretty tired, so for the final sketch I did a very simple drawing and gave my pigeon a few accessories instead of paying too much attention to detail, haha.
In addition to my beloved Inktense pencils, I also used a couple of Luminance pencils and Tombow Pro alcahol brush pens (the cool and warm grey are must haves in my opinion). With a bit more time, I might also have added some watercolour washes, but the sketchbook I was using probably wouldn’t have held a lot of water very well. Next time I try something like this, I will remember to use a more robust paper.
Emma was a lovely Zoom host and I had a wonderful time, and it has definitely pushed my wanting-to-draw-all-the-things button! Hopefully, when Lucy is a bit older and can walk a bit further, I can get out for a little en plein air in the surrounding countryside. For now, I am going to collect some good reference photos from my own library, and the interwebs, and I will practice my sketching in the comfort of my front room while Miss Lucy naps.
If you’re interested in joining Emma’s drawing sessions, she has a few options on her Patreon page, or you can find her online and just admire her lovely work.