Friday Inspiration: David Gentleman

The view from Primrose Hill, by David Gentleman.
The view from Primrose Hill, by David Gentleman

When I took a dive into the world of Urban Sketching over the Christmas break I came across David Gentleman. Actually having grown up in the UK I had seen David Gentleman’s work many times before, on stamps and also on Charing Cross Underground Station in London. David has been incredibly prolific over the course of his career – working in watercolors, wood engravings, illustration and design. He’s created stamps, coins, cards, books of his own work, illustrated books for others, murals it goes on and on. Impressive and something for us all to aspire to.

Primrose Hill   David Gentleman 'My City

David lives in a part of London called Camden Town and his studio is at the top of the house. Check out a tour through his studio here. Most of David’s books are out of print, some of which go for a shocking amount of money used. I’m fortunate enough though to have a couple of his books – the most recent one is ‘My Town: An Artist’s Life in London.’ Check out Danny Gregory talk about David’s Book Britain in the video.

Finally listen to David himself talk about his life and his book ‘London, You’re Beautiful: An Artist’s Year’ in the video below. To find out more about David Visit his website here.

Sketching Techniques for Artists – Alex Hillkurtz

One of the urban sketchers that I came across during the Christmas break was Alex Hillkurtz. Alex teaches a course called ‘Architectural Sketching with Watercolor and Ink‘ that you can find on domestika.org. I highly recommend it!

From his biography it seems that Alex has had a peripatetic life – he born in England, grew up in California and now lives in Paris. His sketching and watercolor work use and are informed by his work as a Hollywood storyboard artist.

Digging into Alex’s process more I was delighted to learn that he had a book recently published that details his approach.

Sketching Techniques for Artists: In-Studio and Plein-Air Methods for Drawing and Painting Still Lifes, Landscapes, Architecture, Faces and Figures, and More as the title suggest goes beyond the architectural sketching that I had enjoyed in the online course and provides a much broader foundation for the beginning artist. I particularly enjoyed the pages that are in light yellow. These are pages where it feels that Alex is talking to you as a friend and mentor, advice that helps provide some perspective on the particular lesson or example. Really great!

To find out more about Alex visit his website here and check out the video of the interview with him below.

James Richards – Urban Sketcher

I wanted to finish this trilogy of urban sketchers with James Richards. I recently got a free trial to SkillShare and poking around found James’ Urban Sketching tutorials. After that was off down the rabbit hole.

He’s an engaging teacher with a very distinct style. I especially enjoyed learning how he adds and draws people. I now have pages and pages of people in my notebooks as I learned to draw people the way James shows in his tutorials.

I find having a framework to guide and structure your thinking really helps. James has a 5 step process that he articulates in his class that makes sense to me and as I listen to others is one that many people seem to follow. The process that he follows starts with a thumbnail sketch to get a sense of the composition and contrast – light and dark areas. From that the real work starts – Eyeline, People & Big Shapes; Details; Darks; Color. It’s a learnable process that even I could manage to wrap my head around. Really enjoyable! If you’re interested you should check out the tutorials on SkillShare. Get a little taste in the video below. He also has a book that describes his process, Freehand Drawing & Discovery. For more information about James check out his website here and his instagram feed here.

The Shoreditch Sketcher: Phil Dean

I thought that I would continue my exploration of Urban Sketchers today with Phil Dean, known as The Shoreditch Sketcher on Instagram . By the very nature – Urban – it’s a little outside of what I would consider to be my subject area but I enjoy the images and the process of making them.

I wanted to learn more about how Phil approaches his drawing and hopefully learn something that could help my drawing or photography so I purchased his book ‘Urban Drawing: Sketch Club’. The book provides an excellent tour of materials, how to get started and etiquette for working on the street. Then moves on to a series of lessons and associated exercises covering topics such as composition, perspective, contrast, tone, people and adding color.

I enjoyed Phil’s prompts for subjects with sketching potential: Your environment while you’re traveling; mundanity, locals sitting drinking coffee, students doing their laundry, a dog sitting under a table; architectural mayhem, architecture that tells the story of the city, contrasts of old and new and of course vistas.

The appeal to me of drawing over photography is being able to be selective about what you include in the scene or indeed move things around to suit your composition and intent. Interesting to hear Phil talk about this and that he doesn’t really do that and was shocked when one of his students moved subjects around in her composition. Where do you stand on this?

The discussion of perspective, which of course comes up in almost every book on drawing, has me thinking about how I use perspective or view point to tell the story or add depth and interest to a scene. More on this topic in the future once it has had time to percolate.

Check out more of Phil’s work on Instagram or on his website.