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The importance of fast sketching and how I teach it

After Music, drawing is likely the second language we instinctively learn to communicate what is going on in our heads to the outside world. Everyone can draw, and as with language, you only need good guidance to master it.

Knowing one, or at best, several tools to unravel and embellish stories, is of great advantage (specially because most of us have only boring experiences to tell! about). Take Kitty Crowther, a half deaf person with a "normal" life and nothing special to tell and who gained hearing at the late age of 6 (that is likely the most story-worthy part of her life!). She has been making comic books for children for over 20 years now: “Writing is like drawing and drawing is like writing.” so said her at Aalto University in early 2016. When we grow up, we are pressured to build up on accuracy. Most of us abandon, what during childhood was a natural method of expression, music and drawing. Kitty's drawing and stories work, because they have a sense of simplicity, as a kid would draw it, but it has the careful composition of a matured person. Likely a good example of a balanced transition.

I was lucky enough to make a "right" drawing at the "right" time, praised by adults which in return, strengthened my self-confidence and thus eased up my hand's agility. Later, while studying architecture in Darmstadt, I attended for several years, weekly courses on figure drawing, anatomy drawing and sculpture. After publishing my first comic novel, I have now started in Helsinki my variation of what i believe could be a useful "therapy" for that traumatic experience of "drop it, you are not an artist".

I believe fast sketching is essential for communicating your thoughts in a comprehensible way, as many times, words are not enough. Croquis (from the French, sketch) release us away from the pressures of a perfect outcome. It helps us to observe and to focus on the essence of the observation.

We need to re-teach to let go of the detail and to think of the story. Croquis drawings are quick and sketchy drawings of a live model. So we start from 4 Min poses and end each session in 30 Sec ones. We then take all the drawings and turn them into animations! Animating the drawings is a fundamental part of the process. It, again, will put focus on the the story and abandon the detail.

Croquis Session at Forum Box. Photo by P. Aibéo

Drawing naked humans is a great way to do so. We see the most details in humans as in any other thing. We see humans in clouds, water, waffles and constellations of stars. Drawing a person allows us to change positions swiftly, it denotes movement and it engages curiosity, which is never satisfied. The thirst for discovery of our own bodies comes also from its differences, self-discovery, sensuality, growth and decay. The short duration of the poses allows models to endure more challenging ones. A standstill of a movement. As most of us can't freeze on mid air, such comes rather handy to describe a moment you had a glimpse of, in real life or in a dream.

Nude models offer not only all of that but also, nudity creates a ceremonial ambiance so important to the drawing process which many of us lost in the passage to adulthood.

Back now to the drawing board...


Pedro Aibéo is a trained Design Architect (M.Sc., Dipl. Ing., TU Darmstadt, Germany) and Civil Engineer (M.Sc., Licenciatura, FEUP, Porto) with over 50 buildings designed and built on 15 countries. He is also a Visiting Associate Professor at UNAM University, Mexico and at Wuhan University of Technology, China, and a Lecturer, Research Assistant and Doctoral Candidate at Aalto University, Finland on "Architectural Democracy". He is the founder and Artistic Director of “Cidadania” theatre+games group, Germany, with written and directed theater plays at the United Nations and the Staatstheater Darmstadt on urban slavery and astronomy. He is a professional Musician at "Homebound" and the founder and Artistic Director of the "World Music School”. He is a drawing teacher at the croquis nights in Helsinki and a comic novel writer on mathematics. He is a published current affairs author in several newspapers.

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