top of page
Helen Capewell
OCA Learning Log
Student Number: 522802
Degree: Illustration
Current Level: 2

Drawing on Location

Exercise Three

I find drawing on locations both daunting and inspiring. It is certainly something I wish to improve on as I love seeing peoples sketchbooks that are so well filled with illustrations from their travels. My book still feels like drawing on location is new to me, the confidence isn't completely there and the comfortable style that I can fall back on is lacking. I'm still learning, this also includes learning what tools are working for me best.

Typically I am not someone who likes to draw with sketch pencils. I'm not exactly sure what it is but I can say that I prefer things (including pens) that are slightly more chunky. I do also like variation in line thickness and pressure and sometimes when I work straight with sketch pencils I find the piece is just very basic as it lacks that variety or texture. I tend to work with a blue coloured pencil, then build the drawing up. with all that said, for some reason when drawing on location, all that goes out the window and I end up going against my own comforts. I don't like that it does, and I think it's why I am not completely happy with what I do when using my sketchbook on location, but I tend to go for the sketch pencils purely because it's minimalist to carry. I wish to get to the point where I can draw with pen only, but it will take time for that goal. The sketch pencil I have been using recently is the simple 2H pencil. It's very faint and you can't really go too dark with it no matter the pressure. I'm not a fan of this, however it does allow me to get anything down fast so that I can erase it if it's useless or go over it in the tools I do prefer to use.

Posca pens have ticked many boxes for me as a tool to use generally and I have recently tried to bring them into the drawing process when on location. I have slowly started collecting a few of their pens but find myself reaching for the 0.7mm black the most. I love how juicy it is when you get it on the paper, to the point it kind of feels to spill out of the pen.

As a painter, getting blocks of colour on a page is definitely something I like to do. In fact, bringing paints on location is really something I would like to do more of, however the convenience of this isn't always practical. I've yet to invest in small travel sized paint supplies and palette so in the meantime, using watercolour pencils has come to be the surprise hero in all of my art supplies. I like that I can scribble on the page, use different variations in thickness and all that good stuff, keep it all dry and then add the water later. Sometimes I will bring a brush and a small jar of water, but really adding the water later seems to be working nicely for me.

For this exercise, I took a few watercolour pencils with me, different sketching pencils and the Posca pens. The place I was going to tackle was the Lavender Fields! I have been before so knew what to expect in terms of busyness so felt it was the perfect opportunity to complete this exercise!

Like any time, I felt I needed to warm up. I needed to find a groove with being able to ignore the weird feeling of drawing in public. I started in the cafe whilst having lunch. I started firstly with an object, I gathered it would be the easiest as it doesn't move. This helped me relax slightly, so then I moved on to people watching and picking out a few subjects. Here is the result of this, and as you will see, it is a shy first attempt with the 2H pencil.

Oh it frustrates me that I am not able to draw from life so well. The bizarre thing is, life drawing classes work out so different! The challenge speed drawings that usually happen at the beginning with only 3 minutes to draw or less, I can do with no problem! So why when out with sketchbook do I go back to my teenager days of drawing on a train? They look the exact same and it pains me!

After lunch I upped my confidence with sketching in the fields. Only when I applied the colour did this start working for me, as before this I was again out with the basic 2H pencil. I very quickly learnt that what I was attempting to draw with the pencil was not translating well enough. I remembered the illustrations I found during Sketchbook and felt inspired.

Artist Charlotte Ager has an ongoing series of swimming studies that are typical done in coloured pencil. It was her work that came to mind when walking through the rows of lavender and see how people would be spread out in groups throughout the lanes. When standing at the side looking across you only see the top half of people, giving the impression that they are swimming through lavender.

I applied the mixture of purple pencils over the pencil sketch and could instantly see how it changed everything. I had one page of super quick sketches from observing the people interact with the lavender. Once I applied the purple, the page transformed.

I now felt like I wanted to create a study inspired by Charlotte Ager, with this idea of it feeling like a swimming pool full of people doing laps or playing.

It wasn't quite the style I wanted to achieve, but for quick studies they were sufficient. I would love to explore these further, being more confident in drawing the people as I see them walking by, or summarise what I had seen with memory.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page