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

Research 3.1

Updated: Sep 23, 2021

A Reportage Case Study - Veronica Lawlor

Veronica Lawlor's work is confident, well executed and clear with decision making. Such confidence in using ink on location, such energy in the drawings, you feel as though you are sitting with her sharing the same view in which she illustrates. The magic is what she chooses to include in the drawings, and what she leaves empty. Examples of this confidence that I found are here:

I wanted to see her process in action. I wanted to see how she is sitting outside and what she uses. What kind of sketchbook is she using for example. I decided to make a search on YouTube to see if there would be any content that brought me closer to Veronica.

I found one video that shared a small insight of Veronica on location. Beside seeing her in action, it was also an opportunity to learn more about Veronica, from Veronica herself. Whilst watching, I got a sense of her calm character, which shows signs of patience, something I didn't expect given the fast paced nature of her practise.

What was incredibly useful and interesting (which I found a lot of the comments to reflect my own thoughts on Veronica's work), was a live stream interview that happened on the 10th January 2021. An interview lead by Rob Sketcherman for Urban Sketchers. He would often use terms like confidence in the line work, knowing what to include and what to leave in terms of the information Veronica captures. I loved listening to this interview, and although didn't see Veronica in action, I felt to have learnt more about her and the work she creates.

Veronica interview starts 23:00 into the video.

What was also great in this interview, is seeing the selection of the tools Veronica brings on location. Much of the tools are ink related, fountain pen or ink nibs, and then a pencil case of coloured pencils and a small watercolour set. As I am currently on the look for knowing what tools I would find useful when on location (following Research 3.0), I felt I was a desperate sponge wanting to get a sneak look at everyones kit and somehow soak up all the tips and tricks I could in the process!

40:09 into the video, they discuss a particular illustration full of movement. The topic is surrounding style at this stage, and how to capture the motion when it is happening. Being confident in the decision making, something I felt I had recognised when looking through Veronica's work prior to watching the interview. A quote that I thought perfectly summarised the topic of decision making.

"Confidence is sort of believing it and realising that you can't do anything to change it anyway."

I felt the power in this line. I could sense the years of practise and battles from Veronica in accepting the work she observes, which in it self screamed a certain confidence.

"Style is what you can't help but do" - a quote Veronica repeated from an earlier interview with Fred Lynch. Incredibly simple, and yet completely accurate. I often feel I lack a style in art work, and constantly feel pressured into thinking it is something I must develop, yet when that pressure is gone and mindfulness sinks in, your style comes through. You just can't help it! I love this.

"Observation, and trusting your observation" - Veronica continuing to explain the topic of confidence. I think this could be understood in a few ways. Firstly, trusting your observation on the moments that skip by quickly leaving you with just an image in your mind to work with. Do you trust it? And if so, be confident in that and create it. It's like trusting the action you've witnessed, and trusting the history you've stored in the memory library over the years. Secondly, you may observe something that someone has not witnessed in the same moment. Do you trust what you observed?

You hear it often, don't get stuck on the details, especially when considering a practise such as reportage. It seems to always come back to trust in yourself, trust in your observation, believe in it. When needing to work quick, making correction can lose the moment, so this quote of realising you can't change anything, is totally the key to accepting the fate of the drawing as it is. Reportage study is more than a photo, it doesn't capture the realistic details of every person, it captures an energy. You get a sense of time when looking at the drawings, and you get a sense of Veronica's time. How long does she spend on each can be noticeable.

After seeing and hearing these videos / interviews, I felt I had a better understanding. I felt closer to understanding the reason, the technique and what reportage illustration is all about. I had already made a start on the "urban sketches" of the life outdoors for the exercises in this part, and felt I lacked the confidence. I hated the results because they're not perfect, or not looking like Veronica's work. By this I mean, figures in motion appear to be more defined in her work, whereas I felt I couldn't even get a shape down quick enough! That said, I feel inspired to try again. Try drawing people in a crowd.

LINKS - 29.03.21 - 20:07


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