Let’s Sketch on Location

by Glenn Vilppu

Glenn Vilppu.
All drawings in this article
are by and © Glenn Vilppu

This is the first in a new series of bi-monthly articles about sketching on location. The articles are based on my Sketching on Location Manual.The manual was developed as a series of lessons that I use on my guided sketching tours of Europe, and that I use as material in my regular drawing classes. As such the lessons can be part of a regular course or can be used by individual students as a practical learning guide.

These lessons are meant not only for the beginner. More advanced students and possibly professionals will also find useful tips, new approaches and reminders of old ones neglected.

Each lesson in this Sketching on Location Manual is a practical approach that will help you get more enjoyment out of your sketching, improve your skills, and give you more of an understanding and appreciation of artists of the past. The lessons are not only "how-to instruction," but are actually a series of visual tools that help you organize what you see in ways that create drawings that are interesting to look at and express your feelings for the subject at hand.

You will see a variety of materials and techniques used. There is no one correct way to sketch, as there is no one correct kind of individual. There are no rules, just many tools that can be used in as many ways as there are artists using them.

These eleven lessons are organized so that each lesson builds upon the skills of the previous one.

Initially, these lessons were developed for the students that accompany me on my sketching tours and regular classes of eleven or twelve weeks that I teach. Now I also have in mind the many students around the world that have the Vilppu Drawing Manual and have asked not only for material related to sketching figures, but landscapes as well.

As a professional artist the approaches that I develop in this series of lessons are the same as those that I use in drawing from imagination, the first lesson being the exception. The rough quick indications, the use of ink and wash, the contrasting of textures, and all of the other elements that I discuss are methods that have been used by artists for centuries.

Point to Point
Point to point is one of the most fundamental developmental and useful skills for sketching anything, be it a still life or the interior of an airplane.

The main skill you are developing is being able to reduce what you are looking at to a simple two-dimensional image that can be drawn. In doing this, you sharpen your perceptive skills by having to judge angles and lengths two dimensionally from three-dimensional objects.

Since this is the first lesson, and much of what follows is based upon it, I will give several different examples explaining and demonstrating the approach.

I am presenting this approach in the context of making a sketch where you are trying to capture a specific subject before you. The experienced artist may approach his subject using the exact same method, incorporating concepts of design and composition. The selection of what elements to put in or leave out becomes the element of individual expression. In later lessons you will also make these considerations, but now I wish to concentrate on the point to point method.

On a sketching tour the first place you generally find yourself is at the airport, in planes, trains and coffee shops.

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