Exercise 3 – Drawing an event

Exercise 3 – Drawing on location – documenting an event.

Drawing on the familiar – for this exercise I used black marker, oil pastels, chalk pastels, pens and colour pencils.  The marker was the easiest to draw with in the moment.  It gave a strong black line and it looked good on the sketchbook.  The oil pastels gave an impression of noise on the page.  This worked well but only for messy and busy situations or environments.  The pens and pencils were easy to use but didn’t leave a strong enough impression.

For this exercise I wanted to try digital drawing as I could adjust the brushes quickly and draw on layers so that the event unfolding could be adjusted for size if layered.  It would make it easier to fit on a full page if each captured moment was put onto a layer.

Note:  lockdown restrictions were in place so it meant that events were not in person and often not happening. 

Gaming – draw as I game

The Event:  We have a weekly gaming group that meet on Zoom.  We began this a year ago when the first lockdown started in March 2020.  It has been going on ever since.  We were starting a new game with a new book so I chose to record the event in images while we were playing it.  This meant that I had to take part in the game while also trying to note down key moments in the game that would be drawn.

The outcome:  It was a challenge to get in the images and the information.  I had to discern what information was important to keep and what should be drawn.  As it was my first time playing this game I wasn’t sure how the action would unfold.  In order to make it easier for me to understand, I allocated a sequential approach for the story telling, in stead of a mind map.  It wasn’t a TED Talk, and I’ve seen live drawing events where the artists have created a mind map of the event and the key important topics during the talk.  This was a little different as it was an event but it was a story being told and the manner in which it unfolded was dependent on the actions taken by the players.

The game was 2 ½ hours long and I drew for that time and noted the important details on each layer.  Then I saved it to a single image.  I could save each page and create a comic out of it, but I couldn’t publish it as it would have spoilers on events.

Colour played an important part in the images, as did speech bubbles.  I tried to keep it consistent with the pages but as you can see, some pages were blank as I had to engage with the game fully and couldn’t draw an play at the same time.  This was during combat mostly.  I did try and capture some of the combat moments and had to draw on different layers then adjust the sizes.  In some instances I could copy the layer and flip it to show another turn of that player.  The silhouettes were useful for character size referencing and showing variety. 

Irish Literature Festival – an interview with Ai Weiwei

The Event:   The Irish Literature Festival had an event on in 2020 where Ai Weiwei was in conversation online, discussing his work and his beliefs and his life.  I tried doing a reportage illustration while listening, to see what would happen and try and record some of the stories I heard.

The outcome:  It was difficult to watch the interview and draw so I ended up drawing while listening, creating smaller images related to the stories he told.  For the main part of the page I tried to get a likeness of him down so that the words and smaller images could be placed around him.  I used pen and paper, kept it simple and then imported it into Procreate to add some light colour around it.  It was a challenge to identify the most important parts of his interview, I would be drawn to one story and then find that the topic had changed while I was lost in imagery for that story.  Trying to maintain a focus and clarity was a challenge.

Was it as good as exercise 1?

Looking back on exercise 1, the use of pencil, marker and oil pastel did give a different finish to the image.  It was more energetic.  It worked for drawing on location.  For an event, if there are lots of people moving about, I would feel that the ipad and using Procreate is a more helpful tool.  You can adjust layers quickly and not worry about making decisions on paper.

If I am drawing something familiar, I feel that pencils and even watercolour might be the best tools.  For drawing events, I feel that at the time of drawing the event, digital tools work best for me.  The brushes can be changed but there are basic brushes for this that I used that would be similar to a marker or acrylic paint but as it is digital it works differently.  I don’t have to worry about how the paint would interact with another tool or how colours overlapping would impact the drawing.  In a watercolour format that overlapping of colours can create a very beautiful form of noise on the paper.  That might work best in Exercise 1 but Exercise 3 feels more suited to drawing digitally.

When working quickly with pen on paper, there was no real opportunity to introduce colour onto the page while the Ai Weiwei interview was occurring.  The reportage illustration was being done in real time with no option of screenshots to review over for later sketches.  I wanted to challenge myself to be in the moment and do it at that time only.

It did capture some of the energy of the moment but when I added colour to it later, it popped a bit better.  It was definitely a push out of my comfort zone.  A brush pen or dipping pen might have created a  better line and more noise however, so a better range of tools would be a good thing to adapt for when doing this again.

Overall I felt that it was a good exercise to see if :

  1. Could I actually draw in real time and record an event accurately.
  2. Was drawing digitally easier than simply putting a pen to paper.
  3. Did I enjoy it or was it causing a distraction which meant that I wasn’t fully engaged with either activity properly.

The outcome was:

  1. I was able to record in real time and record accurately, for the parts of the game that required us to listen and engage with decision making.  For the action sequences, it became a bit more difficult as the round was quick and responses to character interactions fast.
  2. Drawing the interview was challenging as I had to listen and determine what images to draw and what to leave out.
  3. I really enjoyed engaging with drawing while playing the game.  It enabled me to listen to the descriptions of the characters and places and try and draw my own impression of them.  In some cases, there were reference images to help with that and it was definitely an advantage when that happened.
  4. Drawing on larger paper might have helped to loosen me up and capture quick images of the subject.  Charcoal or brush pen might have been a better choice too.
  5. I was able to draw in real time but did find myself distracted with the drawing so when it came to fully engaging with the game and the players, there were times when I might have appeared a bit distanced or spacey.  I was still engaged but possibly not as much as I would be without drawing.
  6. The distraction during the interview was down to imagery of a descriptive part of the interview and getting lost in that imagery.  When the topic changed suddenly that was fine, but if I was trying to capture a sketch of his gestures it became difficult when he constantly moved about and his arms and hands were near his face then down by his side.

There are artists that create mind maps for live events as a way of drawing an event.  There were a few artists researched that had a fantastic way of documenting live events and had a control over what was heard and how they visually communicated it.

I’ve included them as a form of inspiration, as I can see the visual communication and how clear they are, but I am not at that stage in my learning that something of this magnitude could be done. I have drawn at live events before, but that was with a plan of action and wasn’t based on listening and drawing.

However, what I can learn from their method is that colour plays an important part in how they communicate their drawings.  In some instances there also seems to be a borderless panel and sequenced story to their visual interpretation of the event.  The sequencing is something that I could use and possibly do, the mind-map, however, remains something that feels elusive to me.  I can do mind maps, but on a very basic level and certainly not to the extent that Jenny has done.

Jenny Leonard live event – image sourced from http://www.jennyleonardart.com
Fintan Taite live drawing event – image sourced from LinkedIn Fintan Taite newsfeed