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

Research 2.0

Sophie Peanut


When looking through Sophie's work, I see that she has developed a strong skill in filling sketchbook pages on the move. Her pages are filled with many doodles, and rarely do you see blank space. She's an illustrator with many interests, but mostly it seems to be the urban surrounding and people that go about their business. She talks about how she is obsessed with all things creative, which, from observing the works on her website, I find she includes many mixed media elements in her work.


Sophie, in some ways, I may describe as a documentary creator. You can see how travels from one place to the next through the range of sketches she makes throughout. People, landscapes, objects, including conversations etc. There's passion in her work, and a real interest and love for the world.


The 5 Minute Sketches


I've found myself in this position before, whilst sitting on a train and finding the victim to sketch. Make a bad judgment and find the victim to be the biggest fidget ever, or that someone else comes along and blocks your view. In the early days when I'd travel on the train more often for work, I was very slow in drawing. Or I always tried too hard to make a good job of it, which as a result took longer than needed! But then I would often just use the time to "switch off" from the surroundings and noise. So going slowly was ok for me, and not finishing wasn't a stress. I would definitely use the time more wisely now, and listening to Sophie as she encourages the wobbly, getting messy and experimenting, I would be excited to get the sketchbook out and having fun.


Other artists with rapid style.


I thought this part of the exercise to be quite challenging. It was difficult to find artists online that use a rapid style. Perhaps my searching wasn’t up to scratch but this definitely wasn’t easy. In saying that, I managed to find artists with a loose style which I felt looked to have been done in the moment.

Charlotte Ager’s illustrated style looks to be intricate with simplistic child like characteristics which sometimes appear to have been done quickly. A series that I had found to be of particular interest on this topic was her swimmers series. Although each piece looks to have time spent on them with the coloured pencils, the layers of numerous people swimming in different areas of the pool gives me the impression she’s watching from the side and drawing them gradually and playfully to build a scene. Focusing on shape and colour rather than details. It feels blocky, rapid and lively. I really enjoy looking at this series.

I wonder how quickly one could draw with different tools at hand. Jumping through colours and mediums to get blocks of shape down like Charlotte. Can this be done in 5 minutes or less? There is something that is slightly more attractive in developing rapid sketches in this way rather than pen. Pen I’m in two minds with. I love clean lines and outlining for cartoons etc. To sketch, I find them too dramatic and final. Perhaps it’s the black on white, or maybe that they’re very fine lines. Using pastel for a rapid sketch feels more appealing, as does charcoal. The way we handle these mediums may also be what appeals to me. I can be loose and theatrical with these, I can scribble blocks of colour in a large space quickly, and not be too precious. It totally opens the playing field for me.

Discovering Charlotte very quickly broadened the results I was finding. I found more artists creating works in the same style using colours rather fine line pens or biros.

Edith Carron became the next artist I discovered. May not be rapid, but I felt a sense of confidence oozing from Edith’s work. The lines are purposeful yet spontaneous. I took particular interest in her journal work as this felt as though it was sketchbook work. Somewhat rapid but also finished.




An artist I felt had a similar style to Sophie Peanut’s rapid 5 minute sketch is Pia Bramley. I felt the illustrations by Pia were very quick observation studies that reflected on her daily life and thoughts. The style feels scratchy and almost unfinished, leaving a lot room for interpretation.



Another artist that would definitely fit with the theme of this project!


I found myself marvelling at many illustrations by Wilhelm M.Busch during the research. From still life studies to more rapid observational studies of live scenes such as at a circus, Wilhelm was a wizard with a pen! So much life is captured in his illustrations, they're lively and full of action, they seem chaotic, and real. I really admire how accurate even the quick sketches seem in terms proportion and perspective. You can get a sense of the environment and his position in the moments he illustrates by the view he presents. We stand with him, look through his eyes, wide as they are.


“Busch didn't care about making pretty drawings here, to capture the essence of the moment was the most important thing. There is thorough observation and an honest truth in them, that makes it easy for the viewer to relive those moments.” - 12.03.12 https://andreasdeja.blogspot.com/search?q=Wilhelm+M.+Busch




This series of illustrations at the Circus brought me back to the points Sophie Peanut had made in her blog post, “Embrace wonky” and “Not all drawings will be finished”. Those points I feel are the essence of Wilhelm's work, and what makes them magical.



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