Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sketching people viewing Kuniyoshi

Time out from viewing Kuniyoshi
8" x 11", pencil and coloured pencils in sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

After my visit to the Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters this week (see Exhibition review: Royal Society of Portrait Painters 2009), I walked up to the Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly to see the Kuniyoshi exhibition.
Kuniyoshi was a major master of the ‘floating world’, or Ukiyo-e school of Japanese art, and, together with Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) and Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1864), dominated nineteenth century printmaking in Japan. Prolific and multitalented, Kuniyoshi considerably expanded the existing repertoire of the school, particularly with thousands of designs that brought vividly to life famous military exploits in Japan and China. Kuniyoshi developed an extraordinarily powerful and imaginative style in his prints, often spreading a scene dynamically across all three sheets of the traditional triptych format and linking the composition with one bold unifying element - a major artistic innovation.
RA - Kuniyoshi Exhibition
I'll be reviewing this exhibition next week on Making a Mark - this post is just about sketching. Or rather it's about sitting down after you've spent a long time on your feet viewing paintings, drawings and prints in exhibitions!

I needed a sit down and chose the end of one of the benches and started to draw people looking at the prints. This is great for mastering the 10 second sketch and awful when you haven't done it for a bit - which is why I make myself practice this from time to time. If I've got a good view then I can create a totally fictitious scene - although all the people were in the room and their stance or posture is as indicated at some point.

I hasten to add most of the people in the sketch are genuine;y 10 second sketches. If was lucky I got a minute. I had a very rough sense of perspective in my head rather than on paper while I sketched.

A navigation tip!

For anybody wanting to travel with their sketchbook - and walk from the Mall Galleries (in The Mall) to the Royal Academy of Arts, which is at 52-55 Piccadilly, this is the route which I always take which avoids most of the traffic! As indicated it takes about 15 minutes.


  1. You've achieved very natural poses, Katherine even if you were working at the speed of light.

    Can't wait for the review of this exhibition. Did you get a catalogue?

  2. No - unfortunately I didn't as I was being turfed out as the exhibition closed and of course all the shops were already closed.


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