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Capturing the atmosphere and energy at a gig!

I already had initial thoughts of which locations I wanted to start drawing at. Conveniently, I was already going to a concert in the same week of being briefed on this project. At first I was unsure whether I should attempt to actually draw at a gig, because of the difficulties surrounding it, such as being in a huge crowd, being surrounded by intoxicated people, not having a secluded space to draw in, constantly being nudged and so on. I managed to convince myself that it was worth a try, even if it meant I didn't have successful drawings, I would have learnt valuable things from the experience.

I prepared for the event in the sense of considering which materials I was going to use, what paper I will be drawing on, whether I’ll create any digital work, thinking of possible positions I can draw from, etc. The gig I went too was at Alexandra Palace in London, which has a capacity of 10,000 people. I figured it was evident that I would not be able to take an A1 sketchbook with me in the hope of creating any drawings, as this would simply be impossible. This meant I only took a small A5 sketchbook with me and a few pens and coloured chalk. I wanted to incorporate colour in my drawings but was aware that I couldn't draw with wet materials, so I only brought a small selection. I did however bring my iPad with me as well, because digital drawings are easy to manipulate. This was mainly as a backup, because I didn't know whether I’d even use it.

To be completely honest, my first drawings looked absolutely dreadful. The venue was completely packed, and it was difficult to get a good place to stand, let alone to draw in. The gig was held in low light too, which meant I could barely see my sketchbook or any subjects. As there was minimal light throughout the entirety of the gig I came to the conclusion that my drawings would have to focus on the outlines of the people in the crowd over anything else. I was too far away to draw the main act in any form of detail, so I decided on capturing the atmosphere at the concert instead. A gig is a shared communal event in which strangers unite together to share a certain excitement and energy like no other. This is the atmosphere I intended on depicting.

I was pretty let down with the way my first attempts came out but didn't want to give up straight away. Although I wasn't planning on using my iPad to draw at the event, I decided I could at least try a couple of sketches, and maybe amend them once I was home. And anyway, they could hardy turn out worse. The difficult thing about drawing from life is that everyone is constantly moving so your subject is never in the same position. This is even worse when you're in a confined space trying to draw something and you have nothing to lean onto.

Overall the experience was both positive and negative. I did end up with a couple of drawings that I do in fact really like, but these were only developed after I failed drawing in my sketchbook. Rather than focusing on any great detail, I aimed more towards simplicity and the outlines of subjects. This turned out much more successful as I could do it quickly and be less intricate. I definitely need more practice.


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