Umbrella Scene

Before I get into my notes about process, I want to address the fact that this drawing seems to me an entirely different style from what I usually do. Is it the medium? The way I approached the drawing mentally? I suppose it’s a combination of both things. I don’t know what this means for the future of my artistic style; I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…

Here’s where we left off from last week’s post:


Of course the first thing I did was “mess up” the drawing. Without going into too much detail about all the flaws I perceive, I will mention that I regret handling the area full of background people by simply graying it out.

Here is the “messed up” scene:


I think what I did in this case was jump in too soon without the knowledge of how to create the type of atmosphere I was going for. So what I did, after the fact, was study a few paintings by one of my favorite watercolor artists, John Haywood (Brushes With Watercolour). He always manages to create beautiful scenes containing groups of people, and I wish I had looked back at his work initially to guide my own approach. Of course this is not a watercolor piece, but I like to think that it was inspired by the style.

One thing I noticed about John’s work is his willingness to portray every single figure. Was my leaving out so many background people a cop out, or just a different method? I think it’s something in between those—I believe that that section (and perhaps some others) suffered from a lack of planning and intention, things I have been meaning to address and work on for quite some time.

Finally, using what was available to me at this point, I settled on a middle ground of suggesting more figures without giving each one the vivid detail he/she perhaps deserved. I was able to use white colored pencil and pastel brush pens to give some definition to the figures (and to tone down the mustard-colored façade in the back, which I felt detracted from the overall appearance).

Ultimately, I took quite a few artistic liberties from my reference photo. I sketched from it, and used it as a general guideline, but spent much of the time looking only at the drawing itself.

I have so many more thoughts on this drawing, positive and negative, and the process leading up to the final version, but I’d like to keep this as short and sweet as possible, so I will just leave you with this, the finished piece:


img_4239Umbrella Scene, colored pencil and brush pen on Mixed Media paper, 2019 (11×14)


  1. Hi Anna and thanks so much for your kind and flattering comments! I really like this work and had you not mentioned that there were more background figures in the reference image, I wouldn’t have looked for them! Whenever I’m painting figures, I have a whole range of different advice that I’ve read running through my mind! I think the most pertinent in this instance would be that you should only need to really focus on a few figures, the main players in your scene, after which you can be quite suggestive with all of the surrounding characters and that the viewer will fill in all the gaps for you. That’s the theory anyway! Thanks again Anna and I look forward to seeing your next crowd scene!

    Liked by 1 person

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