Sketching Savannah’s Historic SquaresPosted: March 24, 2019
I’m just back from Savannah today, and in uncharacteristic style, all my sketches are already scanned. It was a great week in the city, the workshop went really well and before school starts up again tomorrow, I thought I’d do a little summary of the week.
I had a few days on my own to sketch and plan the workshop before we started on Wednesday. The plan for the three day event was to sketch every morning and every afternoon in a different square, and try to capture something unique about each place.
I’ve already posted my sketch of the fountain in Franklin Square, but here’s the scanned version.
I also spent an afternoon in Reynold’s Square. This is a great place for people sketching since lots of walking tours start here, and there are often groups hanging around waiting for their guides. A central feature of the square is a statue of John Wesley, founder of Methodism. The head and hands on the statue are oversize, making it really hard to draw, both for me and for my students who struggled with it later in the week.
The historic Owens-Thomas House is located across from Oglethorpe Square. The morning I sketched it, my hands turned blue from the cold and the wind. In fact, it was unseasonably cold the whole week, but that was really the coldest day. When I look at the sketch now, it seems fuzzy and lacking details. I attribute that to my frozen hands.
After warming up that day, I dragged a chair out of my rental apartment and sketched the view down East Jones St. I found a sheltered spot to draw the shaded sidewalk that’s between the lovingly maintained historic houses and the strip of tended gardens in between the sidewalk and the road.
My workshop demo on the first afternoon was the fountain in Columbia Square. The lesson was about values, so naturally the dark fountain and falling water set against a backdrop of trees was a perfect subject.
On the second day of workshop we met in Franklin Square, facing the First Baptist African Church. I was sketching the morning light and shadow on the facade of the church when the doors opened and a woman in a blue shirt and red pants came out. I quickly added her in to my sketch, but didn’t manage to capture her leaning pose very well. She really didn’t look that short!
On our final morning of the workshop we drew a series of small vignettes in Wright Square. There’s no shortage of things to draw in each of these locations — from lampposts to signage to flowers —and it was interesting to see what each participant chose to capture the feeling of the square.
My last demo was the sunlit dome of Savannah City Hall, seen from Johnson Square. It was a good challenge for our final afternoon, and the sketches that everyone did of this were superb.
Savannah was as amazing as I hoped it would be for a workshop. The city squares offer plentiful shade, spectacular landscaping, endless views of architecture and a non-stop parade of people. Luckily the weather cooperated too. When I’m teaching I often forget to take photos but I did manage to get a few of my students in the different squares. Thanks to all of you for working so hard!!