Lesson 1

The purpose of this lesson was to get students to consciously explore and identify what is interesting or important about a place or what is happening in a location. It’s making deliberate choices about subject and design.

The likelihood of achieving excellence in either of these things by just sitting down in the first comfortable spot you find and sketching what’s in front of you is not high. I know this, but I still frequently do it.

In other words, make time every time to pay attention to what you pay attention to.

Part 1 – Thumbnailing using a viewfinder

Location 1 – Hunstanton Fun Fair

I love Hunstanton Fun Fair. In the summer it’s wonderfully hideous; tacky, kitch, glittery, plastic, flashy lights and shallow.

I made a series of drawings there in the winter when everything was shutdown, grey and melancholy, but until now I’ve never had the courage to draw with the place full of people.

I spent and hour walking around the location and an hour drawing. I could easily have spent more.

Hunstanton Fun Fair – viewfinder thumbnails 01
Hunstanton Fun Fair – viewfinder thumbnails 02

Location 2 – Polesden Lacey

Polesden Lacey is a beautiful National Trust property, with a large house and gardens.

The day I visited was a hot Bank Holiday, with many people picnicking and lying in the sun.

I was there for just over 2-hours and again could have easily stayed for much longer, but had to leave as the gardens were closing.

Polesden Lacey – viewfinder thumbnails 01
Polesden Lacey – viewfinder thumbnails 02
Polesden Lacey – viewfinder thumbnails 03
Polesden Lacey – viewfinder thumbnails 04

Part 2 – Thumbnails from the same view

These were the final thumbnails of the day, all drawn from the same spot.

Polesden Lacey – single view thumbnails 01
Polesden Lacey – single view thumbnails 02

Putting it into practice

After handing in the lesson artwork, and before receiving the next lesson, I spent time putting it into practice.


  • Deliberately allocating time to look and not draw made me see things I wouldn’t usually have seen
  • It gave time to work out the story – what is it I find interesting
  • Using the cardboard frame helped me to remember to consider compositional elements – shapes and structures
  • I began noticing different elements of the story I’d like to combine – when is reportage not reportage?
  • There is a point where I stop looking and start reacting. Design has to happen before that point – or at least there needs to be a plan/framework to react within
  • Caricature/people/ personality – how do I combine this more chance-based activity with more formalised framing?
  • Design is most important – I know and believe this but don’t do it. How do I learn the lessons learned? How do I make this so important that it becomes part of my everyday practice?

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