Friday, November 7, 2014

Book Review: The Urban Sketcher

Marc Taro Holmes has written and illustrated an instructional book called The Urban Sketcher: Techniques for Seeing and Drawing on Location.

The book builds on Holmes' experience drawing and painting in ink and watercolor. His sketching travels have taken him all around the world, most recently to an international gathering in Paraty, Brazil.

Marc is based in Montreal. He writes the Citizen Sketcher blog and contributes to the popular group blog Urban Sketchers.

Marc Taro Holmes, Havana Necropolis, 10 x 14 inches.
Urban Sketchers is a grass-roots movement with the following manifesto:

1. We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation. 

2. Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel. 

3.Our drawings are a record of time and place.

4. We are truthful to the scenes we witness.

5. We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles. 

6. We support each other and draw together. 

7. We share our drawings online. 

8. We show the world, one drawing at a time.

The new book offers practical approaches to manifesting those principles. The text addresses the reader in an informal, encouraging tone designed to inspire everyone from beginners to advanced sketchers.

Each chapter shows a series of step-by-step demos, beginning with simple motifs like statues, cafe still life scenes, or museum objects, and ending with more challenging problems, such as complicated street scenes with moving figures.

In the first part of the book, Marc demonstrates pencil and pen techniques, allowing the line to move freely in and out of the form in a relaxed handling.

In some exercises he emphasizes line alone, and in others, he encourages the reader to spot areas of blacks, or define shadow shapes.

Marc Taro Holmes, Lisbon, Jeronimos Interior, 15x20 inches
Several of his step-by-step demos present the "Three-Pass" approach. In watercolor, those passes are:

1. Overall light wash, called the "tea" wash, covering the whole surface with a varying color that's more or less the local color of the object.

2. Next pass with more pigment, called the "milk" wash, defining forms and shadow shapes.

3. Final pass with thicker or stickier pigment, called the "honey" pass, adding accents and smaller details and adjusting edges.

The book ends with a gallery of about a dozen full color paintings, some reproduced large across a double page spread, so it feels like looking through pages of a sketchbook.
Details: Publisher / North Light Books. Softcover, 144 pages, 8.5 x 11 inches, retail $26.99. 


larin said...

Thanks for the review. I've been looking at it and wondering if it would be helpful. --LaRinda C.

Keith Parker said...

Cool! I may look into this. I've always loved drawing whatever I find around me!

Frohickey said...

Marc is a personal friend of mine and in spite of that, has developed great artistic abilities.

Mike Porter said...

Thanks, James, for this review and giving Marc the credit he has earned. He works hard at his craft and is a selfless teacher to all. I recommend his book and for folks to look into joining their nearest Urban Sketcher's group. If you don't have one in your town...well, then, start one!