Christopher Darling's Sketchbooks

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday August 9, 2017

The 2017 Summer Invitational: Pimp Your Sketchbook, in which artists show their personal work and open a window onto their creative process, continues with Christopher Darling, who lives and works in Cleveland, Ohio, where he is on the faculty at Kent State University in the School of Visual Communication Design.

My favorite thing to do in any sketchbook is to draw people—to me, they are the most interesting subjects. You can tell a lot about a person by simply observing—like what type of mood they are in, how their day, or even life is going—you can gather most of this information through facial expressions.


I gravitate towards faces and portraiture in my sketchbooks for this reason, whether it is a life drawing session, or sketching on location. The key is to not let people notice you are staring at them; this takes practice, or sunglasses. The thing is, most of the drawings are quick, like under a minute. I may come back later and add some color.


I think it is more difficult to draw people when they have an awareness that they are being drawnthings become unexplainably intimate. Another problem occurs when someone sees the portrait you drew of them in your sketchbook. They are either like, "OH, my God! I love it!" or "You should quit art! I look nothing like that and I do not have a big nose". So sketching portraits is really like pulling hangnails, you have to go about it carefully.


I mentally bookmark characters I sketch and like, working them into my illustrations. The process of sketching and my illustration process could not be more different; however, there is always a sensitivity to the way people, or characters, are feeling. For me that is the continuity between sketching and illustrating. 


Christopher Darling received an MFA in illustration from the School of Visual Arts. Some of his clients include the United Nations, Sony Music, and the New York Museum of Natural History. His paintings and illustrations have been exhibited internationally and he has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Communication Arts, 3x3, Creative Quarterly, The Pixie Awards, and the Association of Illustrators. He currently lives in Cleveland, Ohio and teaches illustration in the Visual Communication Design program at Kent State University.


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