Looser sketching style

I’ve been sketching people and objects in cafes and bars for about 3 years now and have seen a significant improvement but like many artists out there I still long for a looser style that is less about replicating real life and more about capturing the essence of a moment. The more I learn about carrying a sketchbook the more I understand that to think of it as a photo album would be an injustice – it is a record of personal moments and thoughts. It’s about looking around and thinking what can I take away from a scene to capture a unique visual, auditory or sensual record? It’s about capturing a narrative that means something to me and that I may or may not use to inform my practice at a later date.

I came across the wonderful the work of Adam Riches who uses a beautifully loose drawing style of spirals to create portraits that I find quite intriguing. There is detail but there is also space and I find myself flitting between seeing an image and seeing just random curves. There is tension, energy and chaos all mixed up that seem to tell a richer story than would the same portrait in a realistic style.

So I made an attempt to replicate this style as you can see below. The first two sketches were for Inktober 2019 and were more of a scribbling style. I think they work well. The self portrait was a swirling style which seems to generate more energy – maybe because there are no sharp corners along the lines.

I found both approaches actually easier to construct drawings than the more traditional sketching I’ve done previously. With this new style I found myself focusing more on the tonal areas and basic forms and building up the drawing from there. I found it easier to correct inaccuracies as you can simply go over an area many times until you create the marks you’re looking for.

I’ve learnt that good life drawing is about seeing basic forms and tone rather than detail and this drawing style forces that approach – you can’t be precious when you are scribbling lines and can’t take your pen off the paper. So give it a go!