Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sketching at The RA - The Friends Room #3

The Friends' Room
11" x 16", pen and ink and coloured pencil

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Another sketch from inside the Friends Room at the Royal Academy of Arts. This one is slightly larger than the others as we had our mandatory pot of tea after working our way through two exhibitions in October 2007!

This is the view from very near the counter looking down the full length of the room - sofas either side and at the end under the window - with tables and chairs down the middle and near the counter.

How to sketch people in a room like this

There were lots of people coming and going all the time.

I find in places such as Friends Rooms, tea room and cafes that the flow of people through seems to fairly constant. If you like something you see, you need to draw it immediately - because there's no guarantee it'll still be there when you get to that part of the sketch!

That means there is an imperative to think about the composition as a whole all the time - even though you don't have a clue what it's actually going to look like at the end at the point at which you start! I find it's just a process of continual adjustment - if you're flexible so much the better! Practice makes a lot of difference to confidence when working like this.

As usual I sketched whoever was around when I got to that bit of the sketch - or waited until they moved if I didn't like the 'shape' they were making in relation to the composition or other shapes within it.

If you want to know more about how to sketch people, try reading a post on my other blog which provides some guidance - 10 Tips for How to Sketch People.

When sketching with "he who must not be bored while I sketch" I tend to draw first - and then work out how much time I have left for adding colour. This depends on how interesting his book is or what else he wants to do.

With this sketch I decided to limit the colour palette. Partly from a practical perspective (this is a large sketch) and partly because local colours are always affected by backlighting and are usually more subdued and muted.

If you'd like to read about the exhibition we saw, see the original post on Making a Mark where this sketch was posted BritArt in History - RA exhibits admirable collections of British drawings - or click one of these links below.
Yesterday we visited two exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Arts - An American's passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy and Making History - Antiquaries in Britain 1701-2007. Both had excellent and unusual examples of drawings made by British artists, often of British places or British historical figures. It was BritArt of a completely different kind.
Making A Mark - BritArt in History - RA exhibits admirable collections of British drawings


  1. As soon as I saw this, I was there with you again at the counter waiting for our coffee, resisting the cakes ;) These Friends Room sketches have long been among my favourites of yours, Katherine but now they'll always take me back to a wonderful day.

    I commented yesterday on the lovely composition of your previously posted sketch, and it seems to have disappeared. Is Blogger being a pain again? Anyway I basically said I thought it was well worth developing into a bigger drawing. I'm imaging charcoal for some reason;.

  2. Nope - it's not there. Just a comment from an anonymous person.

  3. Aaaargh - clicked too fast!

    I thought you'd like a reprise of these Robyn - I've got a little corner of Piccadilly on my blog now!

    [Note - for those who don't know - Robyn sat on the sofa on the right last Monday morning!]


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