Documentary Sketching

Running out of inspiration? Try to step away from using landscapes as your inspiration and look to what’s happening in the world around you. Urban Sketching Handbook: Reportage and Documentary Drawing shows you different ways sketches can be used as documenting.

Documenting events as they take place can be an exhilarating experience. You are in the moment, carried along with the emotion, and putting things down on your page as they happen. Whether the event is a joyous celebration or a tragic circumstance, drawing it fixes the memory, both for yourself and for your audience.

As a form of collective memory making, documentary drawings can be some of the most rewarding you will ever do as a reportage artist. And those drawings may even become a part of history. Artists can make an important contribution to the world when they choose to be witnesses to life through their work.

Political Events
From the sad to the joyous, and everything in between, political events tend to be momentous occasions, and playgrounds for urban sketchers!

political, Urban Sketching HandbookArtist Dominick Santise captures the excitement of the crowd gathered on a cold January day in Washington, D.C., to witness the inauguration of President Obama.

Courtroom Reportage
The American tradition of not allowing cameras into courtrooms has created an entire area of work for reportage aritsts—courtroom reporting. To work in this form of reportage you need to have a quick hand and be a great student of body language, to get that story on the paper under pressure.

courtroom, Urban Sketching HandbookCourtroom artist Ted Michalowski makes good use of the hand gestures and body language of the lawyer and defendant to show the intensity of the relationship.

The Whole Event
When covering an event in the documentary style, you want to walk someone through it. Artist Julia Sverchuk takes us to a basketball game in Brooklyn, from the outside of the stadium to the bird’s-eye view of the inside to the players.

It’s good to think of yourself as a reporter in these kinds of situations, and ask yourself who, what, where, when, why, and how. Answer those questions with your drawing, and you’ve covered it all!

the-whole-thing, Urban Sketching HandbookA bird’s-eye view of the Brooklyn Nets versus the LA Clippers basketball game. JULIA SVERCHUK, Barclays Inside

Some events go beyond the single person to affect an entire community. Hurricane Sandy battered New York City in the fall of 2012, throwing downtown Manhattan into a weeklong blackout. As a native New Yorker and longtime city resident, I decided to document the events from my own point of view, rather than trying for a more objective position.

journalisitic, Urban Sketching HandbookA few days after September 11, 2001, a Muslim imam held a press conference in Union Square Park, calling for peace.Press Conference

Times of Conflict
In times of conflflict, it can be hard to pick up a pencil and draw, but bearing witness to events like these is an important task for artists.

times-of-trouble, Urban Sketching Handbook

Rob Sketcherman documented the umbrella revolu- tion: the political freedom protests in Hong Kong during the fall of 2014. The protesters used yellow umbrellas to protect themselves from tear gas used by the riot police as a way of restoring order. Tensions Mount

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The Urban Sketching Handbook Reportage and Documentary DrawingDevelop your own creative approach, no matter what your skill level with The Urban Sketching Handbook: Reportage and Documentary Drawing.

The third volume in The Urban Sketching Handbook series, Reportage and Documentary Drawing, is about drawing as a form of journalism or documenting life. This includes drawings events such as parades, music performances, sporting events, speeches, and can include everything from newsworthy political events to simply documenting a day’s adventures. It’s about being attentive to your surroundings, and telling that story through your sketches.

Artist Veronica Lawlor explains how to use art to find and tell the stories around you. From visual journalism to simply sharing your emotional experience of a place, a reportage illustrator has something to say to their audience. Just as there are all types of written stories to be told, mystery, horror, romance – this volume of The Urban Sketching Handbook series reminds artists, sketchers, doodlers, and illustrators that there are all types of visual stories waiting to be told. And the next step is to go out and tell them!

Some of the key concepts explored in this volume are:

– Observation

– Context

– History

– Ritual

– Understanding

– Storytelling

– Drama

– Documentation