After the army cleared away the protesters that have been camped out on the streets of Bangkok for the last few months the school finally opened and with me being around so much movement, I thought I would have another go at the fleeting moments exercise in the last project the Moving Figure. This time I tried to use as few lines as possible to suggest the person’s movement.
How did you manage to create a sense of the fleeting moment rather than a pose?
I’m not sure I was successful with this or not, I tried to create a sense of the fleeting moment by drawing as quick as possible, or at least I started off that way, then got carried away. I would have been more successful doing rougher more abstract sketches like in the Sitting and Waiting exercise. Like that exercise oil pastel may have also been a better medium for this exercise.
For me, I think the best drawing for the Fleeting Moment exercise was the watercolour pencil sketch of the soldiers as it was very smudged which helped me to create a blurred image.
How successful were your attempts to retain an image and draw later?
I didn’t give myself much chance to do this as I made quick sketches just after, to help me record the image. I have a very good long term memory but my short term memory is none existent so this was necessary.
Where you able to keep to a few descriptive lines to suggest the persons movement?
I made a sketch and a drawing for each image. In the sketch, yes but I weren’t satisfied with them and followed up with a drawing. I refrained from using oil pastel in this exercise as I have used it a lot in this project but looking back at the drawings I have done through this would have been the best medium for this exercise.
On the day I started this exercise I woke up to the first day of my second coupe d’etat while I’ve been in Thailand. Not bad going. The TV wasn’t exactly blank, there were 5 military logos on there with some old be proud of Thailand, very fascist sounding music on from a bygone era. The whole country was on curfew and I was wondering if it was safe to go out. If you ever want to know what it feels like to be on curfew at the start of a coupe d’etat, watch iRobot, because the ‘stay in your homes’ scene is quite close.
So anyway, while I was on lockdown, that first morning a memory came into my head that I thought I would try and get down on paper, It was the first day I met my girlfriend, September last yea, to be exact. I remember what we were both wearing, where we were and if she was the first up the escalators from the underground train or not. I just couldn’t quite pull it off in an abbreviated drawing, But it was worth a try.
That morning I was supposed to be teaching 3 students in a private class but everyone had cancelled, luckily for me I had made some very quick pencil sketches of the three students the day before noting their height and frame and how they were sitting and decided to go over them with a more detailed sketch from what I could remember, clothes, hairstyle etc. I haven’t taught them since so I haven’t been able to check if there was any likeness there.
All but one class had cancelled, which was my 4-6 pm, so I decided to take my spare computer down for repair in the early afternoon and just as I was having some breakfast preparing to get ready the army allowed the first TV broadcast of the day.
The scene on the TV was the yellow shirts who had been occupying the area near my school for the last 7 months, being cleared off by the army and their was a small, chubby, Chinese/Thai guy doing the reporting. The thing that made me want to draw him was that everything about him was that even though he was fat, which you would associate with being round, everything about him seemed to be square from his head to his microphone. After making a quick square sketch of him, I tried to draw him exactly how I remembered him but changed him a few times as his head wasn’t in proportion and I wasn’t sure if he was holding the mic with two hands or not.
That afternoon on my way to taking my computer to repaired I got my first glimpse of the army, stationed (or hiding from the sun) under the flyover at Pinklao intersection, two of them stood on top of the bridge with their backs to me and three of them stood by a Chinese knock off of a hummer. I made a quick drawing of what I remembered about the three stood by the hummer while the guy checked to see if my computer was worth repairing.
The sketch wasn’t up to much so I made a larger drawing with watercolour pencil in my sketch book the next evening. It was really messy, but by then so was my memory of the whole scene.
On my way back from my 4-6 pm private I decided to take a taxi, only to find that their was a traffic jam, after 20 minutes of sat in very slow traffic I got to find out what the hold up was, a man and a woman taking their market/food stall out for a jog.
I made a really quick sketch of them while I was still in the taxi and the following night I tried to replicate the scene with a better drawing.
Finally the last drawing was of two of two motorbike Taxi riders who I have known for the best part of 12 years, I made a very quick sketch of them while I was at the motorbike taxi rank and improved on it when I got home. Unlike the others I went over the top of the initial sketch so you can still see the rough sketch underneath.
I’ve been completely messing up on hands so far in this Part 4 : Drawing Figures, and so far there hasn’t been a project that has let me practise them so I decided to have another read through ‘Bridgman’s A Complete Guide to Drawing from Life’, particularly the hands section for some research and to get myself some practise.
After giving up at the park the first time and going home and doing some drawing from the Bangkok Post, I felt I was ready for going back to the park and doing some more drawing of moving figures.
In a Sketchbook Walk and 360 Degree Studies, I had done some drawings in Suan Rod Fai (Railway Park) so as well as taking my sketchbook to the park I took some photocopies of those drawings with me, just to try something different. After cycling about 7 km to the park and riding round to find the places where I had done the original drawings I parked the bike up, took out my drawing tools and my photocopies and started to draw.
The park was very busy and apart from a guy with a walking stick most of the people traffic was fast moving but I did manage to draw quite a few figures on the first photocopy and hone my technique which was to draw them in one spot but to keep watching and drawing as they moved.
The next two efforts were a bit more difficult as the photocopies were quite dark so I sketched the figures in white pen and then went over them in felt tip. The colours were a bit off but the figures were actually quite good and in proportion.
Having used oil pastel in the first part of this exercise and being quite happy with it I leaned against a bench on the other side of the path in the drawing above and started to sketch in 4 girls walking down the path, I worked from left to right sketching in the limbs then the shadow colours on the girls T shirts and shorts. I only managed to draw three of the girls as they were moving to quick. I then touched up the drawing after they had passed with shadow on their arms legs and faces and added hair then added the background, which was basically the view straight in front of me.
The background in the next sketch wasn’t that great but I was pretty pleased with the job I did mixing two joggers into one the legs and body of the guy in the foreground were actually from two different joggers.
I admire people who know their overweight or out of shape and do something about it and the bandaged guy in the next drawing was struggling but he kept going and he gave me a great opportunity to make another sketch.
The last sketch was of a guy, dressed as a woman, walking through the park praying. I actually think he was posing for me but he was walking quite fast so it half of it is from memory.
For this exercise I was to take every opportunity to practise drawing people. Looking at magazines and TV to get the practise that I need. After sitting and studying people in my last research point ‘People Watching‘ I thought I would get out and try and sketch some real live moving people, how hard could it be?
My girlfriends son was in Bangkok for the school holidays so we decided to take him to the railway park that I had visited for ‘A Sketchbook Walk‘. After a few laps on the bicycles he was ready for some ice-cream and I was ready for some drawing, so while his mum fed him in a nearby restaurant I sat down on a mound focusing on a part of the path where bicycles weren’t allowed to be pedaled and tried to draw as many people as possible.
The easiest to draw were the ones doing absolutely nothing of course or standing around stretching. I really struggled with the ones walking around because…they were moving!
After ten minutes of being bitten by ants and getting cheesed off with people walking round the back of me to see what I was doing. I decided that it was best to go home and do some practising from the newspaper.
The next day at work I went through a copy of the Bangkok post and cut out what I thought were the best photos I could find for practising drawing the moving figure.
The first newspaper article was from the international news section, about the riot police in China having drills, so in a 6B pencil I tried recreate the image depicting as much movement as possible,
The second scene was a bombing in Nairobi, three rescuers carrying a possible fatality away from the blast. I chose to draw this in oil pastel as fast as possible and I think I did quite well to depict movement in the very rough sketch.
The next drawing was about the Nutcracker ballet in Bangkok I chose charcoal but I reckon with a more appropriate medium I could have done a lot better.
The next drawing was from a news article about some politician being nicknamed Santa Claus in Thailand’s troubled south. I built up the scene from the guy in the bottom right hand corner and worked my way around the table, from there I drew in the main character, hence not in proportion and then went onto draw the background.
The next newspaper article was about the Burmese fire brigade dressed up as civilians for some demonstration or other. I worked very quickly in oil pastel again with this one and then went onto draw in the background.
Tesco Lotus Shopping Center
In Thailand, Tesco is known as Tesco Lotus, Lotus being the Thai partner and the supermarket is usually always in a shopping mall. On Sunday I work at the language centre on the 4th floor. Last week my first afternoon student cancelled so I decided to sit outside for two hours and draw the passers-by.
It took me about twenty minutes to draw the shop fronts inside the mall across from the language centre then in colour pencil I began to sketch people as they walked past, a lot of the time having to remember how they were stood seconds before as I couldn’t draw them fast enough.
I tried drawing in both colour pencil and pen this worked well superimposing the shape of one of the Thai teachers over the top of the other people. But then I made the mistake of drawing two people in the very background in pen, as they should have looked more faded than the others so I went over them in a white pen to fade them out a bit.
The worse mistake I made here was trying to draw the ceiling in afterwards which was a network of suspended panels ,lights and pipes.
It’s hard not to watch people in Thailand, I’ve been here 14 years and I can’t say there hasn’t been a day gone buy where I haven’t studied them, scrutinized them, complained about them. The speed they walk, how loud they talk, picking noses plus a multitude of other habits that makes the Thai race just what it is, unique!
Last Friday was one of the best opportunities I had to sit down and make notes about what I saw. In the school holidays, February to May, I work at the language centres, which are in shopping malls and in one of the malls, ‘the Central Plaza’ they usually have sales in a roundish area by the entrance on the basement floor right outside Macdonald’s, but on Friday the whole area was clear for the first time in months, so I grabbed myself a Mac-fish set and sat at a table right at the open entrance of the fast food restaurant so I could see people coming and going.
From where I was sat I could see people going up escalators, people going down them, people meeting their friends but mostly people dawdling about in slow-motion staring at their mobile phones, they were probably very active in their online social world but to the bystander, me, the scene that was coming together in the empty floor space reminded me of AMC’s Walking Dead.
I made quite a few notes about my findings, as you can see below however in my notes I stated that Thais have less types of walks than westerners. To be truthful they probably have more. All the gaits that you’d find in the UK plus a good few of their own as I mentioned below, You just don’t see many people walking fast in Thailand.
Although it it could be fare to say that technology is making people walk slower all over the world as they spend more time looking at the screen while they’re walking down the street.
I also mentioned in my notes that the locals actions and mannerisms make them seem more immature than those in the west but then again, how do I know, I’ve been in Thailand 14 years, I look on Facebook and see photos were the subjects can’t pose without making hand gestures, and I’m not sure whether it’s insecurity or immaturity brought on by technology. I know it makes me act younger.
One thing I do find here in Thailand is that there is a unique class of people who I have named the ‘drama queens’ a group of young woman who dress, act, walk and talk like the characters on Thai soap operas, over-the-top-characters that have had a massive influence on teenagers and young women, not just in the way they act but in everything else.