Get involved in reportage drawing

Drawing on location is a fun activity that you can do in many different environments, taking inspiration from the things around you. Location drawing is all about capturing a moment, showing a time and a place through the hand of an artist, what caught their eye.

From the everyday scenes shown by the Pitman Painters, to special events like Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation drawn by Feliks Topolski, both are important to document the world around us.

This activity can be done in your home, on your local high street, in a park, in your garden, along the coast, on a walk – anywhere that you happen to be. The idea of working on location is to take inspiration from the things around you, not creating a ‘perfect’ drawing, but making notes of little things around you that catch your eye.

Here are some suggestions for locations, but you can do this exercise anywhere you’d like or that COVID restrictions allow.

  • Coastline
  • Parks or garden
  • Riverside
  • Local landmarks
  • High street / shopping area
  • On the bus or train
  • At home – kitchen, living room, bedroom etc

Go to your location, and sit or stand somewhere you will be comfortable for around an hour.

Tips to get started:

Warm up – Don’t look!

Get your pen/pencil and place it on your page. Look up and without looking back at the page, draw the outline of the scene in front of you. Follow the lines with your eyes, and try to bring your hand along with that motion. Add in more things you can observe around you, still while not looking at the page and not worrying about drawing over what you’ve already done.

Try and do this very quickly, only taking around 5 minutes. The idea behind working fast is to take the pressure off your drawings and to focus on getting your hands and eyes working together.

Can you spot…?

Depending on your location, pick three of these options and draw each group on a separate page. Think about what you might see in your chosen location, try to challenge yourself about what you might spot! Take around 15 minutes for each group, but feel free to take longer.

  1. Draw 5 birds
  2. Draw 3 people walking
  3. Draw 2 people sitting
  4. Draw 4 animals
  5. Draw 3 landmarks
  6. Draw 5 objects
  7. Draw 4 bits of typography or signage
  8. Draw 3 items of clothing
  9. Draw 3 modes of transport
  10. Draw 2 buildings

South Tyneside Scenes

You can keep working in the same spot or move to explore a new view. Make sure there is enough in front of you to keep you interested, the key to drawing on location is being nosey!

Take a few minutes to really look at what is in front of you. Drawing is all about looking, so what can you see? What interests you about your chosen location – is it the buildings, the scenery, the people? Once you decide what you’re interested in, that can be the focus of the drawing. Instead of making a perfect drawing, when we work on location we try to describe a moment or tell a story about what was going on at that moment in time. Keep coming back to your focus, the story you are trying to tell – seagulls pinching people’s snacks, a pub garden, people swimming in the sea.

Work on one drawing that describes your chosen scene, adding in any details that might help tell your story – bits of overheard conversation, signs, buildings or landmarks – without feeling the pressure to draw absolutely everything in front of you.

Think about the warm up activities and what you found helpful or interesting. Try to stay in the moment and have fun making your drawings. You can work on these for as long as you’d like, and make a few drawings, or try this in a few different locations if you’re enjoying it. Laura would suggest taking around 30 – 45 minutes for each drawing, but it is up to you.