I haven't done any life drawing since college, when I spent a ridiculous amount of time drawing in coffee shops and around campus, drawing people who either didn't notice me sketching them or didn't care. This guerilla sketching style forced me to get used to drawing people who moved around a lot, resulting in distorted or fractured drawings like this one:
The actors in last night's opera, however, moved around significantly more than someone sitting in a coffee shop, so it was a major challenge trying to capture a pose. Because of this, my first sketches of the night are kind of a mess:
Realizing that I didn't want to end the night with a jumble of frantic half-drawn sketches, I decided to try a blend of life drawing and imagination. I took a mental snapshot of something that happened on stage and stuck with that pose, even while the actors were busy moving around standing in different positions. I also thought it would be fun to incorporate lines from the opera, translations of which were conveniently shown on a screen above the stage. So here's the result of the less-lifelike, more imaginative set:
A note on materials: These were drawn on 80 lb Strathmore drawing paper (the sketchbook with the brown cover) and I used sepia Pitt brush pens for the linework and Copic markers for the tones and color.
The only downside of the night is that I spent so much time focused on drawing that I failed to grasp exactly what was happening on stage. But whatever plot was lost to me was made up in a greater appreciation for all the little details in costume and background that I don't usually catch when watching a performance like this. All in all a terrific experience and I highly recommend that other cartoonists jump at the chance to do this should the opportunity come up again.
Thanks to Tempo and the Black Hat folks for allowing us to sneak in and draw for three hours. It was a blast!
Update: MinnPost's Max Sparber wrote a review of "Mary Stuart" and he even mentions our little sketch troupe and includes a photo of yours truly.