Workshop R: Capturing Chaos: Drawing a Crowd

Instructor: Suhita Shirodkar (USA)

Location: Waterloo Street (by the Chinese Temples)


This workshop is about embracing and capturing the busy street life and markets of Singapore.

Do you walk into busy crowded places and feel overwhelmed at the idea of drawing them? Is it hard to see where to begin a sketch of a place so full of people, movement and chaos?? Do you wish you could capture the scene without being overwhelmed by it? This workshop will help you do just that by breaking down the into a series of simple steps.

We use a process of alternating between two very different modes of seeing and drawing: one more structured, the other very loose and gestural. Together, we will combine these two processes for a sketch that is loose and spontaneous and captures the energy and activity of these places without ending up as a bewildering mess.

Workshop Schedule

We will start with a discussion about the qualities of busy places that we would like to capture and all the elements that go into making the scene.

We’ll follow this up by a short demonstration of how we are going to use alternate methods of structured and unstructured drawing and painting to capture this busy place in sketches. We will use the first half of our workshop to work on a set of short exercises using this method. To create a single-colored sketch of the location, we will:

1) Create a STRUCTURED underdrawing

2) Overlay it with UNSTRUCTURED, loose line drawing

3) Overlay this with STRUCTURED values to create depth and focus

At the halfway point of the workshop, we will meet, share our work and discuss it, talk about what worked and what didn’t and what we learnt from the experience.

The instructor will do 20-25 minute demo which will pull together all the steps discussed so far, plus add in the next step of overlaying a value sketch with loose color and detail for a final, complete piece.

We will spend the last hour of the workshop using this 4-step process to create a sketch that captures the crowds, vendors, temples, color and chaos of Waterloo Street, all in one scene.


Learning goals


Please bring

1) A medium sized or larger sketchbook

2) Graphite pencil

3) Eraser

4) One or two different kinds of pens for making marks: a fountain pen, a sharpie pen, a brushpen or any other kind of pen with waterproof ink

5) A small watercolor kit and brush

6) Additionally, you can bring any other coloring media you would enjoy working into the mix: pastels, colored pencils, colored pens, gel pens etc.

7) Bring a portable stool if you like, to sit on while working.