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Capturing Cafe Society

Capturing Cafe Society

Central Saint Martins
Taught by
Bill Wright


Enhance your ability to portray authentic people and locations through this course based on London's cafe culture. The focus: capturing with pen, pencil or brush the buzz of human activity where people eat, drink and interact. Fieldwork in street cafes, espresso bars, pubs and parks is interspersed with more reflective studio time and discussions of drawing technique, point of view, body language, overlapping/moving subjects and composition. Tricks of perspective and 'guerrilla drawing' that simplify capturing scenes in public are also reviewed. In each session we’ll explore cafes and gathering spots in another of London's fascinating neighbourhoods.  Studio time includes individual and group critiques but also allows the development of drawings done in the field in greater depth or in other media - for example, turning line drawings into water-colour paintings or collages. Beginners and accomplished artists alike should benefit from immersion in the dynamic atmosphere of London's cafe society - from charming to chic - where subjects and settings are ideal for artistic interpretation. Allow a budget for cups of tea!

Topics covered include:

  • Being at ease when drawing in public
  • Seeing and capturing body language and expression
  • Combining foreground and background elements
  • Capturing the feeling and flavour of locations
  • Scope, framing, composition and cropping of a drawing
  • Guerrilla drawing (drawing with stealth)
  • Reportage drawing and illustration
  • Using new and different drawing materials
  • Simple tricks of observational perspective
  • Online-based drawing/sketching groups and tutorials
  • Developing drawings into more finished illustrations

Course outcomes:

  • Confidence in your ability to draw in public
  • Drawings you’ve done that will help build a sketchbook or portfolio
  • A knowledge of interesting places to draw in London
  • A better grasp of foreground, background and perspective
  • An ability to develop field drawings into more finished illustrations
  • Improved ability to capture character, activities and places
  • Drawings that express a time, place, characters, activities

Level: All levels welcome

Entry requirements: None

Who should take this course?

If you’re someone with a zest for observing people and would like to hone your skills in depicting them and their surroundings, this course is for you.  Any artistic level is fine and those interested in broader fields of endeavour, such as painting, illustration, reportage illustration, fashion illustration or compiling a portfolio or sketchbook will find this course a good springboard.  Whether you’re a beginner sketcher, art  or design student or a professional in fine art or illustration, what you’ll get from Capturing Cafe Society is something you’ll be able to take with you, enjoy and expand upon indefinitely!

Please note: This course is for students aged 18 and older

Tutor Description

Hi, Bill Wright here. My professional background is varied, from architectural illustration to storyboards for films and TV. As for my teaching, I’m a strong believer in practical steps in creating images that can be shown, absorbed and applied, and I’m thrilled when I see this happening with students.  Yes, creativity and soul are important in artwork, but ‘how to’s,’ tricks of the trade, pragmatic methods, the use of tools and technology, these - along with encouragement and attention to each individual’s progress - make a huge difference between where a student stands at the beginning of a short course and then emerges at its end.

I’ve taught in the Central Saint Martins BA Illustration program for 10 years and on many CSM short courses. I’ve done literally thousands of drawings and illustrations for both enjoyment and pay, and love passing along to others ways and means to improve their image making.  I’m passionate about drawing and illustration, and I hope some of that rubs off too.


Please bring with you to the first session:

  • A4 cartridge pad - spiral bound is best - or an A4 sketchbook
  • Drawing pencils (HB, 2B, 4B and 6B)
  • Felt-tipped pens (fine, medium and/or bold)
  • Pencil sharpener 
  • Rubber and putty rubber (a/k/a eraser and kneaded eraser) 
  • Please bring other drawing materials you like or would like to explore. 

Studio Materials:      

There will also be studio time during which drawings produced in the field can be developed with paint, inks, collage or other means. We’ll have lots of these materials in school, so you don’t have to bring anything for this part of the course. 

Available dates

If no dates are showing then please Enquire about this course and we will contact you when new dates are published.