Dancing Lines in Seattle!

(L to R: The Workshop announcement, KK & Melanie’s simultaneous dual sketch at Seattle Center.)

In mid July, I had the good fortune to be one of 30 sketchers enrolled in the Dancing Lines workshop in Seattle.  It was an inspired pairing of 2 phenomenal urban sketchers—Melanie Reim from New York City and Ch’ng Kiah Kiean from Penang, Malaysia (better known as “KK”).  The workshop attracted students from as far away as Vermont and Costa Rica!   Put together by Seattle Urban Sketchers Gail Wong (Workshops Program Coordinator for Urban Sketchers worldwide) and Jane Dillon Wingfield, the workshop proved to be a relentlessly challenging and inspiring experience that has continued to keep my head spinning 3 weeks on.

Melanie is professor and chair of the MA in Illustration Program at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, an award-winning illustrator, and a whirlwind of an urban sketcher.  See examples of her work on her blog.  She is a experienced teacher who put us through the paces.  Some of the topics covered:  The importance of thumbnails in evaluating composition (10 in 10 minutes).  Drawing groups of people as a single shape (add more defining detail if time permits).  Emphasizing the planes of the body for shading and definition.  Expressive linework using very mixed media (brush pens, dip pens, ArtGraf, colored pencils, etc., etc.)  Depicting people doing repetitive actions using multiple images superimposed.  Using an empty outline for background or foreground elements to dramatize a subject and a composition.  It was a full 2 days.

(L to R: Melanie talks body planes and surfaces while drawing up-side-down and backwards,  KK’s Pikes Market demo in progress).

KK, an artist with equally lively linework, is known to Urban Sketchers as a magician with a twig.  See his website to be directed to his work on various online sites.  KK supplied each student with a Water Jasmine twig, 2 prepared containers, and his preferred Chinese ink to fill them (he brought sufficient supplies from Penang for all his students here and in his several Chicago Symposium workshops).  KK primarily draws with a twig.  However, he punches in darks near the end of his drawing with a Chinese brush and adds shading with a drybrush technique.  He then concludes by often adding watercolor.  Although he carries an extensive palette, he is very restrained in using only a few colors in any individual piece—often emphasizing muted complementaries.  His technique is challenging to a beginner like myself.  I was convinced that my stick and ink bottle were to blame, until KK crouched beside me, took the stick from my hand, and begin to weave his magic on my paper.  Oh well, more practice I guess!

(L to R: My first twig sketch of MoPOP,  Seattle Center drawing chosen from my 10 thumbnails.)

(L to R: Repetitive motion–the flower sellers at Pikes,  2nd twig drawing with watercolor of Pikes Market.)

This entry was posted in Classes, Seattle, Urban Sketchers, Workshop. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Dancing Lines in Seattle!

  1. magus1111 says:

    What an exciting, life changing opportunity, Mel! Thanks for sharing the essence of your learning experience with Melanie and K.K.


  2. Margarita Cain says:

    Enjoyed seeing your experience with Dancing Lines, Mel…you were inspired by KK and Melanie and we are inspired by you! Thank you for sharing. I hope there will be more sketches from that weekend???


  3. redharparts says:

    Excellent write up on the workshop.


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