My tutor recommended I should take a look at Cherie Jerrard a UK based illustrator/fine artist. To be honest I have never heard of her before, probably due to the fact that I am not living in the UK and used to look at the classical fine artists. However, I can say that I really like her work, as well as the way she communicates within her blog.
Cherie sketches people at cafes. She captivates people at everyday life and the contemporary culture of coffee and how people communicate with each other. This is what makes me attracted to making this kind of sketches too, as I love drinking coffee and sitting around in cafes, and since it was one of my tutor’s recommendations for me to engage myself to a daily sketch subject, it is more than acceptable!
As I stroll though her sketches, I see that she usually sketches with the basic lines and outlines of her forms, while in some of her sketches I understand that she uses ink and watercolor to show the shadows within the forms. She either leaves the background intact or colors some parts of it with ink and watercolor.
One of her sketches that I really like is the following:
Jerrard C., The Coffee House (feat real coffee), Shrewsbury, https://cheriejerrard.com/blog/page/1/ Assessed on 1 July 2018
What I see in the above artwork is people sitting at a cafe, drinking coffee, thinking, using their phones, talking or just hanging around. I also see coffee tables and seats, a coffee counter, artwork , lighting fixtures and a view with buildings, coffee bottles and other things needed to make coffee and the cafe’s logo on the top left corner. That is typical objects that one normally sees in a cafe.
The painting above is a mixed media art. Even real coffee has been used for the background. This is something that reminds me of my exercises in part 2, where I used coffee, too, for my paintings. Even though, there seems to be a lot going on in the above sketch, it is not confusing. It reflects how blended a cafe’s environment is, with all the people coming in, either getting their coffee and leaving or staying in. In a coffee house we see all different people, different cultures, people that may be sad or happy, people alone or with a big group company or just couples. People that love drinking coffee, or people that drink tea or juices but want to socialize with their friends that drink coffee.
That’s what first attracted me to this artwork but also holds my interest, the blending but not confusing style, the mixed media (ink and/or watercolor and coffee), the use of coffee, the color palette (it is not just a plain black and white sketch, it is a colorful artwork). It makes me feel happy and reminds me of coffee shops, of happy times spent in cafes.
My eye is first drawn to the girl at the front who is probably daydreaming. I like how the blue and red colors are used as the shadows on her face and hands, how the focus is on her face, how she is smiling. Then the eye moves to the figure on her left who is watching his mobile phone. He is left black and white, in order to balance the girl’s colorfulness.
I also like the composition, the depth shown on the work (these two figures at the front and the rest of the people at the back) and the more paleness of the figures at the back of the drawing. The figures and objects are blended with each other, their outlines blend inside their subsequent forms. It is as if you can see inside a form, a person’s body, as if the human body is spiritual. The lines follow the reality of the forms as if you could see the actual scene, but in some cases the lines are broken or just left unfinished (ie. the girl at the front). At the back the outlines are drawn with colored ink and are more delicate than other outlines with the black ink.
The shapes are basically symmetrical and proportional, except for the three figures at the left (the guy sitting in the armchair and the two people at the counter. It is as if they are sitting in the same distance from the viewer. Maybe that was intentional… in order to bring the people sitting at the counter forward or show that a person sitting alone at a cafe has nothing to be envy about from a couple. In fact, now that I look closer at the drawing I see that the figures that are at the front are all sitting alone, while the clients at the background are basically in groups. So maybe the loneliness of today’s society is to be addressed by the drawing.
The shadows on the floor and at the front are bolder than at the background, making the depth more intense. The view outside is left intentionally white, in order to draw the attention inside the coffee shop. The color palette is soft and natural, limited to brown, white, black, red, blue and green (for the lighting fixtures), since the attention is drawn to the brown color of the coffee. The subject of the drawing, that is coffee, is also used as a paint medium, so the whole drawing is coffee!!! The patterns are regular, simple; people’s figures and ordinary objects of a coffee shop. I can’t figure out what the surface is like, but since it the coffee is used as watercolor, I believe that it should be textured and matte. The color (coffee) floats within the drawing and in some cases there are like stabs on the paper.
This drawing was made on the spot and it can be seen that it is a very energetic drawing and that it was done quickly since the sketches are usually made quickly when they are done from reality. As I said before it is a contemporary scene from a coffee shop in Shrewsbury and it shows today’s coffee culture in the UK. However I think that it shows the coffee culture in the western world, and that somehow technology and today’s daily routine have alienated us from our fellow persons.
The artist is a fine artist who is also a fashion illustrator, so has been around people and can easily observe people’s behaviors and can sketch quickly and accurately. It is probably part of her illustrations of “documenting the cafe culture of our time” (Jerrard C., cheriejerrard.com, Cafe Culture, Available at https://cheriejerrard.com/2015/08/18/cafe-art/ .
The drawing is realistic and contemporary depicting the outlines and forms without being tiring for the viewer eyes and since it has a range of media it is playful and happy. This is also strengthened by the fact that not all forms are colored, some are left intentionally blank. However if other material were used, such as oil paint or acrylics, or just the ink, it would make the artwork dull, tiring and common, as the paint would probably cover more areas.
Also see her blog https://cheriejerrard.com/portfolio-2/ .
To conclude what I said above, the artist is trying to show the contemporary cafe culture in the UK and how people communicate with each other and that the modern way of life also makes people distant from one another. This artwork makes me happy but also thoughtful of our human communication. We should be closer to other people but also not fearful of having to stay alone. It does feed my imagination and gives me more motivation in continuing with my sketches in the cafes and also trying different techniques in my drawings. I can see that painting with watercolors, ink and other media can be intriguing and fun.