I’m Ian Fennelly and I am an artist and more specifically an urban sketcher; or to be even more precise – I make art in a busy location while looking at buildings and street furniture.
I’ve always been drawn to the urban environment: where people interact with the busy spaces that surround them. I try and draw people without actually putting them in – partly because they never keep still. But I like drawing the spaces they’ve been in, or the cobbles they’ve walked on, the windows they’ve looked through and the street signs that have ordered them about. I love location drawing as it enables me to record the experience of being in a busy place.
I generally begin with a painted wash to break up the space in front of me. This establishes the broad shapes of my composition. This is a very emotional part of the process as you are dealing with colour which affects us all in different ways. The Inktense Paint Pan Set are perfect for this part of the process as they soften easily and create a wonderful layering effect which enables me to build up tones and glazes of colour.
Then I work on top of the colour with brush pens which adds depth and tonal value to the image. Then I use liner makers to add the texture and detail. This is a big part of the creative journey as recording the detail of an urban scene really forces you to look and notice things. This brings in the very human element of simply being out on location and fully experiencing and enjoying the world around you.
Finally, if I am lucky, it will be complete. In between all this I’m constantly jumping around, bouncing up and down, nipping to the toilet or buying a coffee and cake. I tend not to sit still, so the angles can change. If a car or van parks up in front of me, the choice is to draw through it, or move around it – either way you have to get fully involved in the scene, both physically and imaginatively.
My urban sketches typically take around 2 – 3 hours to complete. I used to be a lot quicker but I notice more details than when I first began urban sketching now. The more you look the more you see the more you understand.
The best advice I can give is throw yourself into the scene and get obsessed with tiny details, patterns on brickwork, the lighting. Whatever inspires you about a place – new, old, dilapidated or recently built – delve into it and put yourself directly in the scene!