Friday, February 15, 2013

Sketching at a Medieval Tournament

I went to the Wellington Sketchers meetup at the biannual Harcourt Park World Invitational Jousting Tournament. The weather was a beautiful, calm sunny day, and we had a great time. 

There were many people from the Order of the Boar, the Shire of Darton ( from the Society for Creative Anachronism), and other historical reenactment groups. Everyone there had gone to so much effort, it was amazing. A medieval village was also set up, where many people were camping in costume for the weekend.

Above: A lady works a historically accurate loom in the medieval village. The circles at the bottom are weights. She very kindly told me some of the history of weaving and textile arts. Her friend below also very kindly let me sketch her.

There were so many things to sketch at this event, it was hard to choose. The great thing is that people who are dressed up in medieval costume are aware that people will want to take photos of them. So I felt a lot more comfortable asking people if I could sketch them. Everyone I asked said yes, and I could therefore sit close enough to comfortably sketch them.  Here is the lady at the loom taking a photo of my sketch of her afterwards.

 I also sketched at the lathe and woodworking area. This was a great area to sketch, as when someone is engaged in some sort of work they return to the same position frequently, making it easier to sketch them. Below is a sketch of a man who was showing people how medieval lathes and woodworking worked. He and is family were staying their all weekend and cooking using medieval methods. I was going to sketch his wife cooking, but unfortunately ran out of time. I was very thankful that he let me sketch him working for so long!

Quentin carving the wooden rests, which are part of the lathe.

He demonstrated how to use the medieval lathe, turned by moving one's foot up and down, thereby moving the string attached to the long stick about his head - I am not sure how it worked after that. The one where he is sitting is a medieval woodworking clamp. He built all these himself. Onlookers were always a bit shy at first, like the guy I drew above, but all the people in the medieval village were very welcoming and put people at ease to ask questions.

A small stool constructed using medieval methods.

I did the painting at the event for the first time, with quite a few people looking over my shoulder. A few people came up and spoke to me, and one little girl came up, all dressed in medieval costume, told me all about her drawings and her big brother at home, which was sweet.

The tiny girl who came up and spoke to me as I was sketching. 
This was done with Noodlers Black Ink and Copperplate Dip Pen Nib in a wooden holder. 
This is the only sketch in this post that I did at home.

My next plan is to re-sketch some of these sketches as if they were medieval woodcuts. I'm still researching the right eras, the hatching style, and the distortions of perspective etc to be able to re-sketch them in a medieval woodcut style.

Things I learnt about urban sketching today:

When sketching people so close up, I didn't draw my usual stick figure of their pose, thinking that as they were sitting there for a while I would have enough time. I think I should have. Although people unconsciously return to a pose frequently, their stance can be slightly different, but look so similar that you kind of don't notice until afterwards (should that arm really be over there??). I was caught out a few times, where I drew something that didn't quite match with the original pose. That's OK - practise practise practise. I think it is best to catch the original pose as a stick/shape figure asap, and then fill out the details when they return to each pose.

As I am working fast, and completely in pen (no safety net!), when I say ¨draw a stick figure¨, I kind of just do it in quick dots & fine dashes rather than firm lines, and then these marks would just blend into the final pen drawing without being too noticeable.

I also found that when doing work in pencil, the speed of the work means that the pencil is blunt about half way through. I think I should use my Derwent Onyx pencil when drawing on location next time, which stays sharp much longer, or have a sharpener out and ready before I start sketching. I am getting an idea of what size paper and pen combination I like to work with, which is great. With the exception of the little girl above, these were all done on location in an 15cm x 18cm sketchbook, with 0.05 technical pen.


art alive said...

loving your blog - found you via flikr - thanks for sharing your ideas. I'd love to end up sketching a bit more but I am a very new sketcher and blogger so have a lot to learn :)

Kiwibear 153 said...

Thank you!! :o)