George Couros asked if I could sketch something for his keynote with a theme of “Playing in Public”. My first thought was, “Are you serious?”. He was.

George also asked if it could be a video, e.g. a video of me sketching. As if!!!! I did immediately think that a stop-motion style would be the way to go.  My first idea was of a musician busking and more and more people gathered and enjoyed the music played.  George was thinking more of kids playing so I told him to leave it with me as well as share more about his own theme.

Technically, this is my first commissioned art work.  That it’s pro bono is beside the point!

Et voila!


medium: pencils – 2B, 4B, 5B, 6B

time: about 1 hour

The Concept

Who doesn’t have memories of playing on the beach, building sandcastles?  Balancing the blend of water and sand, incorporating bits and bobs found on the beach, making do with whatever container we have to shape our temporary sculptures.  Happy memories.

Playing is about fun and challenge. It involves imagination and creativity. Playing could be fun on one’s own or with others.  Playfulness is a mindset, i.e. not tied to age.  The element of risk is there – will this work or fail?  Playing is a process too; we don’t mind that our sandcastles get washed away because there is joy in building them.

Do you still build sandcastles? in the air?

The Process

Once I knew what to draw, the next step was to find inspiration.  I was searching for CC-licensed images when my husband suggested to use our own collection. Bingo! Then, I spent a couple of hours searching through years of memories and that was fun!

I couldn’t really find one I really liked so I created a collage of various photos of my girls through the years, playing on the beach.  The final sketch then, is a composite and comes with many, many memories of my girls growing up….all on one page! That’s magic.

Because I haven’t sketched for ages, I avoided doing faces and hands and feet (if you check out works of masters, you’ll see them practice those a lot!).  For this, sand, wind and hats were my friends.  The approach also made the kids more generic and hopefully help the ‘audience’ evoke their own memories of sandcastle-building and playing in public, rather than be ‘trapped’ in mine.

Shading was challenging for 2 reasons. I was smudging everywhere. Also, with a composite image, the sun/shadows on the photos were inconsistent.  If you look closely, you’ll probably find such inconsistencies as well.  

Maybe, if I spend more time on this….BUT, George needs the video.

The video

I stopped to take photos every 5 to 10 minutes, when I surfaced from my mojo enough to remember that this was commissioned work (haha) and that the video was the thing!

Photos were imported into iMovie. I added titles, credits, transitions and original music from my talented musician friend, Samuel Wright. I’m not sure it’s CC-licensed but he licensed it to me for this purpose (I’m lucky, I know!).  So for this post, you actually get to see my work in progress, with orignal music to boot. Enjoy!

also available on Vimeo.


P.S.  Participating in the 2012 The Sketchbook Project World Tour – AND having this companion blog – is me playing in public.  EVERYTHING I said above about playing applies.