TV Sketching — Murder, She Wrote

More TV sketching! As ever, the rule is I can’t pause the show while drawing.

These are for “The Murder of Sherlock Holmes”, the first two episodes of Murder, She Wrote, which is FINALLY available to watch online. The first season at least. (9Now, if you’re in Australia.)

It has a lot more fast closeups on faces — particularly Jessica Fletcher’s — than some of the other shows I’ve sketched, and I don’t have a shorthand for her yet. This is no speed at which to try likenesses!

Fancy-dress parties are THE BEST to sketch, in life or TV. Costumes are a brilliant stand-in for character likenesses or other physical accuracy (as for any sketches of Sebastian from Shakespeare & Hathaway).

Tricky perspective angles, e.g. looking at a walkway from below, are also a challenge at speed. It’s easy to rely on what I “know” (mostly eye-level) vs what I’m actually seeing.

So many trenchcoats. Also, every time I concentrate on strong lighting in a scene, I’m pleased with the result — torchlight here at lower right, or from previous Midsomer Murders the blue light from a phone and light through a chapel door.

TV sketching: Shakespeare & Hathaway

My housemate and I decided it was time for a rewatch of Shakespeare & Hathaway — Private Investigators, so I have been sketching.

As usual with tv sketching, the rule is that I can’t pause the show. These are done on the iPad, in Procreate (with a “ballpoint pen” brush, if that is relevant to your interests).

It’s a show that’s heavy on character actors, but it tends to lean more on faces than Midsomer Murders does (a lot of longer shots in Midsomer). This makes it trickier to catch at-speed.

S1E1: “O Brave New World”

Luella Shakespeare (Jo Joyner) has a lovely signature pink, which is such fun, especially since I don’t gravitate to it in drawings as a matter of course.

S1E1: “O Brave New World”

Sebastian “I was just tuning my lute” Brudenell (Patrick Walshe McBride) has a wonderful face and is almost always in disguise.

S1E1: “O Brave New World”

I do enjoy drawing crime scene investigators in full PPE on British shows.

S1E2: “The Chimes at Midnight”

This does not look like a sketch of Timothy West, but at least I can tell which sketch was meant to be him.

S1E2: “The Chimes at Midnight”

The buildings are so gorgeous and the camera rarely lingers!

S1E3: “This Promised End”

Trying to capture both the immense fun Elizabeth Berrington was apparently having AND the swoop in Frank Hathaway (Mark Benton)’s hair in the first seasons.

S1E3: “This Promised End”

Also quick-drawing a funeral cortege.

Cat sketches

Here are some sketches of a handsome and bitey cat, not mine, named Henry.

Some previous cat drawings: Cats; Twilight Cats.

Mystery 101 sketches

Here is some more TV sketching — the first episode of Mystery 101 this time. The usual TV sketching rule applied: no pausing the show while drawing.

I like the middle right (black jacket) pose, and the jaw on the guy with the satchel.

American hair, great coats.

I like the way the two bottom right poses turned out, and the light on the bottom right face. I’m not sure how much was intentional, but it looks effective.

I am hoping to get back to some Midsomer Murders, but my housemate and I have to work out which seasons we’ve seen least recently. I would sketch other shows, but we’ve but watching creepier ones and I need to keep my eyes on the screen.

Previous TV sketching:

School sketches — Concordia

My week as artist in residence at Concordia Lutheran College was wonderful (lively, inventive, intense), but without much time for drawing. So, since I finished just before lunch on the Friday, I sat out in the quadrangle and did some very quick sketches.

The uniforms have changed since I was there (ours were brown, white and yellow). (Also I hardly ever sat in the quadrangle when I was there — I mostly spent lunch hours in the library).

I don’t draw groups as often as I’d like to, but it’s always worthwhile — the different attitudes and interaction, the necessary speed.

The flocking which happens in any group of people with overlapping interests, but concentrated, like birds wheeling on the sound of a bell.

More Midsomer sketching

Here are a few more Midsomer Murders sketches (season 22 episode 4). As ever, the rule is that I can’t pause the show.

Previously on Midsomer Sketching:

Midsomer Sketching

More Midsomer Murders sketches! These are from episodes 1, 2 and 3 of Season 22.

I’m really enjoying these speed-sketches. I started them mostly to get/keep in practice using the Procreate app (I’m sticking with a traditional media base for my art, but there’s always some digital editing). TV sketching, however, does require faster reflexes than actual cafe sketching, because while the models viewed from a cafe do walk out of view, the scene is rarely actually cut mid-stride, and there’s no fancy camera work. On a show, however, the views and clothing are more varied, and occasionally the camera angle and lighting are dramatic. Also, it’s cool to look back at a few pages from a single episode and see if there are patterns or colour themes.

(And of course it remains a useful way to draw when excursions are limited.)

The rule continues to be that I am not allowed to pause the show while sketching.

Previously on Midsomer Sketching:

Sketches at GOMA — European Masterpieces

Last week I snuck out to visit GOMA with Shayna, and see the exhibition of European Masterpieces from the Met. They’re renovating, we’re briefly not in lockdown…

I don’t sketch much when I’m visiting galleries with friends — there are important conversations to have, the backgrounds of Renaissance paintings to examine, people with cameras to dodge.

But I did get to do some of my favourite gallery sketching, which is sketching OTHER people sketching.

But I did get in a sketch of one of my favourites — which is MUCH larger than I imagined. I like it because it is so direct and frank, odd in its blank expanses and then unexpectedly detailed, not unlovely but far more concerned with what the sitter is doing. And if you look at it too long, it feels exactly like when a friend is drawing you and staring very hard at you but never quite meeting your eyes because they’re fixated on the shadows of your nose.

Here is the portrait — you can find out more about it on the Met’s page.

Marie Denise Villers — Marie Joséphine Charlotte du Val d’Ognes (1786–1868) 1801

TV sketching — backgrounds

Midsomer Murders — The Sting of Death

I’m practicing with the Procreate app by sketching during shows. Usually I draw people (see: Beyond the Main Event and Sketching Mysteries), but this time wanted to shake myself up and test my (very low) tolerance for drawing backgrounds by sketching sets and buildings instead. The rule for TV sketching is that I can’t pause the show, which makes this mostly painless.

Midsomer Murders — either The Point of Balance or The Miniature Murders

Also my visual memory is indifferent, so I can’t tinker with the drawing for very long after the scene changes. But sometimes it also means I only capture the telling details. Sometimes. (See also: Lots of little bad drawings.)

Midsomer Murders — The Sting of Death

As with most sketches, I find a little colour can do a lot of work — explaining, unifying, contextualising. Colour, more than line alone, is a great aid to memory — both for recalling what I was looking at, and for remembering (or wanting) to look at that particular page of sketches.

Midsomer Murders — The Sting of Death

It’s also been illuminating to work out which bits of architecture I can and can’t extrapolate. Dormers I can work out from first principles, but windows are a more chaotic proposition.

Leverage — The Underground Job (I think)

Art/writing exercise:

  • Try to capture a range of settings from a TV show without pausing the show.
    • This can be in pictures, as above, or in a few jotted sentences — the things that leap out at you, the way you’d capture and describe that place.
    • It’s an interesting little workout, and a pleasant way to keep my hands busy when I don’t want to completely zone out during a show. Also, even if it’s a show set in places I like, I still find it makes me draw (or describe) places I wouldn’t ordinarily choose, and adds them to my mental thesaurus. (So far, I find murder mysteries particularly good at rolling through a range of interesting sets in an episode.)
    • (This is kind of what Travelogues is, of course, if you replace a TV screen with a train window.)
  • Bonus step: Make a note of what was easy and what was difficult (architectural terminology trips me up), and what you enjoyed and resisted.
    • I find this part of exercises occasionally surprising, sometimes affirming (I don’t want to spend my life drawing horizontal blinds), and frequently a checklist for deliberate research.

Next Library updates

Photo: State Library of Queensland

The fine people at the State Library of Queensland have now posted at length about the Next Library Camp, including sketches (by me!), photographs, and some of the presentations and creative projects: Next Library.

There are also shorter posts about participant experiences on the Public Libraries Connect Blog, and many photos at the Next Library Camp Flickr album (in case you’d like to compare them to the sketches.

Photo: State Library of Queensland

Here is my earlier post with details from the sketchbook: Library sketching — Next Library Camp at the State Library of Queensland.

The sketch page I was working on in the photo above (and the State Library photographer, Leif Ekstrom)