A student emailed me a little while ago, for advice: she was doing a project, drawing out on location. She made me stop and think about what I know and what I can usefully pass on. It's tricky, because things become second nature over the years and it's also hard to shrink all my different thoughts down into something manageable.
Despite that, here are some pointers I gave her, which I'm hoping might also give a few of you people out there the confidence to escape your comfort-zone and venture into the big world...
2) Don't attempt photo-realism: it's impossible in the time you have, so be creative. You don't have to draw everything you see: you can focus in on details; you're also allowed to leave things out; or you can do a very minimal background to throw forwards what you are really interested in:
3) If your subject moves half way though, you can sometimes create a fun page by starting again and again. Different coloured lines can make the resulting confusion easier to see:
5) Consider your sketchbook spread to be a piece of reportage, rather than just creating a drawing: play with different ways of filling the space:
6) You can incorporate little notes in your sketch, or hand-drawn text, to record what you hear as well as what you see, or to note small activities which happen in the location while you are there. I sometimes incorporate snatches of conversation:
7) It's easy to get anxious if people come up to you, but just chat to them. Consider them part of the overall 'I was there' experience (and try to remember - most onlookers are unlikely to be able to draw as well as you, no matter how disappointed you might be with your efforts).
Other stuff that might help:
I have written a post full of hot tips on drawing people in public, if that's something you fancy giving a try.
This post also gives you different techniques for drawing people: how to do speed-sketches for capturing poses.
The same post also suggests an unusual approach to drawing buildings.
Sketches That Sing talks about different ways of looking, and offers ideas to help you experiment.
Quick-on-the-Draw is a workshop I delivered last year, with techniques to help you to speed up your sketching.
Also, the short film, Lynne Chapman on Sketchbooks, explains how I got back into sketchbook keeping and talks a little about how I work.
You might get some inspiration by flicking through some of the sketches on my website. I scan them, partly because I am proud of them and want to show them off, but it's also because I remember how seeing other people's sketchbooks on the Urban Sketchers site re-lit my fire some years ago, and gave me lots of new ideas. If I can inspire others in turn, that would be great.