Documentary drawing class

Today my 10-year-old daughter Ling and I spent the afternoon at a “documentary drawing” class at Abbotsford Convent. The Pop-Up School class was taught by the talented Lily Mae Martin.

Lily is a visual artist and writer who produces detailed pen drawings (and some oil paintings) of expressive faces and figures, reflecting her fascination with human anatomy. A few years ago, finding herself in Berlin with a new baby and limited time to work in her usual style, Lily began sketching everyday things around her: buildings, interiors, objects, her child. She recorded her observations in a blog, Berlin Domestic. The blog has recently been decommissioned, I think, but some of her Berlin sketches can be found on Lily’s website.

The 3-hour class focused on this style of observational drawing. Working with lead pencils, we did exercises on hatching techniques, drawing the outline of an object without looking at the paper (to develop hand-eye coordination), sketching the negative space around an object, quickly blocking in shapes and shadows (a useful technique for drawing changing scenes from life) and filling in details from memory. Everyone brought a small object from home, so we had plenty of still life subjects to share.

The class was great fun. I wasn’t sure if Ling’s energy would go the distance, but she was totally into it and did some gorgeous work.

I took a few quick phone snapshots at the end, which give a sense of the quiet, focused and creative atmosphere. The last two pictures are of my final sketch; the shape of the jug is pretty wonky, but I was more interested in drawing the keys and their reflection in the shiny surface of the jug.

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