August 22, 2020
This week’s challenge is to draw from a street scene or market. This may be a colourful shop front, still life of a market stall with colourful flowers and vegetables, a stand at a car boot sale or a wider view of a busy road or market.
Including figures in your work may seem a bit daunting but whether you work from life or from a reference it’s a good idea to start by drafting in the static elements of the composition first. The main large shapes; the buildings and/or market stalls, and of course the road or square they stand on. This can be done very lightly in pencil but do not record any detail at this stage. Leave that to subsequent work with the pen, however you may like to draft in the odd figure just to gauge the relative size at an early stage. Again remember not to be detailed: you are not executing a portrait so just indicate a rough shape and note where the top of the head and feet are located. Groups of people are best drafted in as one shape and sorted out as individual characters later.
This week waterproof or non-waterproof ink may be used but think about whether your colour washes need to be kept as clean bright colours or whether a more subtle effect is required. You may also choose to work in monochrome adding wash to non-waterproof ink as plain water or by diluting the ink for the washes if using waterproof ink.
Don’t worry at all if some of the lines used to delineate buildings dissect any figures included. Once colour is added the lines will seem unimportant; such is the power of colour. Reportage artists working from life know this happens inevitably, and often as a consequence of people moving off or new characters arriving that they would like to include. It is a good reason for not making all the lines of buildings and stalls too strong at an early stage.
There are very many ways of treating these kinds of subject. This week I have restricted my choice of refence artists to two reportage artists as this approach may inspire your sketchbook studies on location.
This week’s artists for reference
Examples of works by this week’s reference artists can be found on my Pinterest Ink and Wash board at:
George Butler; extraordinary reportage artist who has worked in Syria and Afghanistan. Mainly India ink and watercolour. Note limited and stategic use of colour and amazing draftsmanship. See his work at
Lucinda Rogers; also a reportage artist who has made many drawings of markets, street scenes and garage workshops. Rogers visited New York in the aftermath of the collapse of the Twin Towers producing poignant studies there. Works with ink, marker pens, crayon and watercolour. Note how freely the colour is added but usually again limited to a few areas giving interest and emphasis to parts of the drawing.
This week’s drawings, mainly of market scenes are lively and reflect some interesting journeys to faraway places as well as markets much nearer to home!
Angela used Unipen Fine Line pens; 0.1 and 0.8 and watercolour on cartridge paper. Angela has done a good job here, as when working on cartridge paper washes must be laid with the minimum of brush strokes. This paper is very fragile when wet and can scuff up making unsightly blobs if the paper is ‘scrubbed’ too much. If you need to add another layer of paint wait until the paper is completely dry first.
This drawing references a visit made to Samarkand and gives a great idea of the hustle and bustle of the market. Waterproof ink was used alternately with watercolour washes.
The space in Roger’s drawing has been very well constructed with regard to tone focusing attention on the middle area where a dark clothed figure is talking with another market in paler dress. When my gaze left them I felt led clockwise round the picture to the meat stall and the foreground lady in red, before the strong diagonal took me to the left taking in all the other stalls and lit doorway before returning to the figures where I landed first.
Great composition Roger!
For both of her drawings Barbara used pen, India ink and watercolour.
Pen and India ink with washes of dilute ink and of watercolour
The composition was brushed in with watercolour and allowed to dry before drawing in the detail with a Rotring Art Pen. Further ink and watercolour washes were added to finish.