Dorothy Flint's sketchbooks
Dorothy Flint is an OCA student currently undertaking the Book Design course. I have previously worked with her on the Illustration course as well as having met face-to-face a few times on various study visits. What struck me about Dorothy’s approach is her consistent use of a sketchbook as a tool to capture what’s around her.
Her sketchbooks are dynamic snapshots of day-to-day life taken from any vantage point, from a seat on a coach to a doctor’s waiting room, an afternoon on the beach to simply watching the telly. There’s a real dynamic to her drawing which focuses on trying to get to the essence of a situation or capture the gestures and movements of those around her. The fact that Dorothy is in her 80s doesn’t seem to have any bearing on her enthusiasm and energy for drawing.
I asked Dorothy a few questions about her approach, her relationship to drawing and any tips for those who might also want to draw in public spaces:
I have drawn for as long as I can remember, learning from books until I retired and went to classes. Then I discovered sketchbooks and drawing from life. The classes showed me how to look at shapes and negative spaces which was a revelation, and I learnt to look and try to draw them at every opportunity. In everyday life people are moving and I had to learn to observe and work quickly and loosely. It increased my confidence and my visual memory and this all fed back into drawing from models.
I love sketching. I have paper and pencils all over the house and usually have one wherever I go. I use them mainly for pleasure, to get information, record a particular movement or posture, place, shape or event. I value all of this, also the moods and feelings at the time.
There are so many visually attractive programmes on TV, historical, travel, wildlife, life in interesting places, costumes, etc. I have never found the pause button, so again it is working fast and observing he angle of a head or limb. I enjoy the challenge. The cameras often return to the same thing, if not exactly then near enough. Orchestras are good as well, you can try to get the way an instrument is held or relates to lips, hands, etc. It really works after a time.
In most public places places you can sit down and look for interesting groups to draw, as they are not moving so fast and may be waiting for some time. Airports and stations are good too. It relieves the boredom of waiting. My approach is the same as any sketching – you are a ‘fly on the wall’. People rarely notice you. I try not to look directly at them too often so as not to embarrass them and just get the shapes down. If you do want to draw from daily life, don’t feel embarrassed you are fairly anonymous. Work quickly and even just the shapes will give you a feeling of movement. Keep it simple. Your drawings might be quite rough, but that doesn’t matter. Enjoy it.