Oaxaca people sketches

I’ve just finished scanning the rest of my Oaxaca sketches, and I saved my favourites for last. These are the ones I made the most effort on because they involve sketching people. I’ve said this many times as I write my blog, but this has always been the biggest challenge for me.

It’s not just because drawing people in motion is difficult, but it’s also because you have to be a little bit fearless when you are drawing someone who sees what you are doing. This can be complicated further when you can’t really start a conversation because you don’t share a common language. Take this sketch of the lady cooking tacos in the market as an example. She and the other cooks behind the counter could see me drawing, but every time I tried to draw their faces they would turn their backs. They were so shy, and yet I sensed they were flattered too. They wanted to see my drawing, but they weren’t sure they wanted to be in it. In this case, smiling and showing them the completed drawing was the best icebreaker.

The lady selling candy on the street was easier. First of all, she snoozed the whole time I was drawing. Plus she was a bit further away, so I doubt she saw what I was doing.

The hat seller was easy too. He was hiding in the shade behind his hats. At some point he got up to get coffee, and I drew the hats. When he came back I put him in.

The couple across the square were deep in a lunchtime conversation when I drew them. It was interesting to watch their body language and I loved trying to imagine what the conversation was about. He had his arm around her, and she was hanging on to that yellow bag the whole time.

I’ve already posted these last few, I know, but thought I’d add them in at the end because they remind me so much of the excitement I felt when I caught my first glimpse of Oaxaca. All the colour and movement of Day of the Dead, as well as the warmth of the Mexican people.

At the top of my list of fun experiences was sketching the brass band on our first day. Juggling my drawing tools was not easy in the middle of a crowd — I used a brush pen and water-soluble coloured pencils for this one — but it was such a thrill to capture them all with their spiky hair, skinny red jeans and shiny black shoes. When the show was over, someone who’d been looking over my shoulder motioned to them to have a look at what I’d been doing, and there were several rounds of selfies with me and my sketch. No need for a common language here. Music + art = happiness.

19 Comments on “Oaxaca people sketches”

  1. Donna says:

    You had such a fun filled trip!!!! Such color and warmth!! You have no trouble doing people. Having a very cold rain here so your sketches made me smile and wishing to go somewhere sunny.


  2. Denise says:

    The fun you had surely comes through in these sketches. From what you tell us about it, sounds like no one in Oaxaca punched your sketchbook like in Italy!


    • Denise, there was no punching at all. I found people so welcoming and so proud of everything about Oaxaca. Everyone from waiters to shop owners to people in museums seemed happy to welcome tourists and always interested to have a look at my sketchbook. It was a positive experience in every way.


  3. Lee Kline says:

    The old woman in black is sublime.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. loisajay says:

    That last photo says it all. How exciting for them to pose with the artist! I love it! I have my own story about that couple….her bag is full of candy she snuck from the vendor who was sleeping! Wonderful portraits, Shari.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Peri Nilan says:

    I love the sketch of the Mariachi Band the best. I experienced the colour and culture of Mexico extensively while I was in Art School many years ago. The love of colour, the people, and the markets were all brought back while following your blog from San Miguel. I wish I could be joining you in January, but maybe next time!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Zainab Tambawalla says:

    Love these especially the hat seller 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. TonyU says:

    Great sketches, great stories, great trip, great memories!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Uma Maheswar Nakka says:

    Good Afternoon dear friend Shari,

    It is nice seeing in the photo.

    Very beautiful sketches. But I found a different type of strokes in these images.
    They look very beautiful and the first three are really touching and specially the 3rd one.
    In this the seller face is not visible, but the rest can be easily imagined.
    Once again, you proved right with your color choice,

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful sketches.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Judy Sopher says:

    A happy group of paintings with happy colors. I especially like the couple across the square. (don’t know why) and the last of you with one of the musician is the best.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. joantav says:

    You captured the energy of the people and their poses so well. I’m sure all the vendors loved seeing your sketches. I know when people know I am sketching them there is a variety of responses, but most are positive, and it is fun to see their reaction when they see the sketch.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Gretchen Graner says:

    These sketches are delightful! You are better at drawing people than you think… I tried some watercolor pencils but was not so pleased with the results. I couldn’t manage to get as much pigment out of them as I wanted, and need to experiment some more. Could you please offer some tips on how you use them? Thanks– Gigi from the VWS workshop

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Good pictures, I really like the one at the top most with the woman working at the store.


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