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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > Aug-17 > Street life

Street life

David Questa reveals how he expresses movement and energy in his plein-air drawings of busy city streets
Little Italy, New York, mixed media, 19¾×19¾in (50×50cm)

I have always enjoyed on the spot sketching, particularly the urban landscape – street corners, junctions – busy places that enable me to observe and record the ebb and flow of what is going on in the city. The drawings are an accumulation of fleeting moments as well as a record of the more permanent aspects of the place.

Drawing quickly imparts a sense of movement but I became quite frustrated at not being able to recapture the energy and immediacy of an on-site sketch in the subsequent drawings and paintings that derived from them. So I decided to develop my on-site sketches into more finished works so that there is more of a direct connection between the drawing and the location. Time spent in front of the subject offers so much more than working solely from photographs, and the drawing process becomes more subconscious and intuitive. I may still produce small preliminary sketches using a small pocket sketchbook and a fine line pen or pencil.

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About The Artist

Watercolourists will love award-winning featured artist Janet Kenyon's city scenes and learning more about her approach and working methods, whilst practical watercolour articles include Paul Riley's focus on the importance of the negative shapes within your paintings and Paul Talbot-Greaves' inspirational demonstration showing how to place the warm and cool colours for best effect in your landscape compositions. Paul also sets you this month's painting challenge. More watercolour articles by Judi Whitton show you new ways to capture the effect of summer foliage, while Barry Herniman reveals the contents of his plein air sketching kit and demonstrates a bright summer scene featuring woods and water. Jo Quigley shows how a systematic approach can help to achieve a realistic seascape in acrylics, Haidee-Jo Summers explains how to exploit shape and suggestion in your oil paintings to maintain a painterly style, Martin Kinnear demystifies perspective, and we welcome back Aine Divine who provides an infectious account of how to complete a mixed media flower painting that you'll definitely want to try for yourself! Ian Cryer suggests that a break with old habits can open the way to refresh your painting style, Phil Tyler encourages you to explore the art of the self-portrait, Liz Seward shares her love of working with watercolour pencils, and David Questa shares his love of busy urban scenes that will see you reaching for your drawing materials. All this and more to keep you inspired and full of new drawing and painting ideas over the summer months!
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