Patrick Vale and His Sketched Cities

2013-04-23 2

If you’re among those who were amazed with the awesome timelapse video of an artist working on a drawing of Lower Manhattan from the Empire State Building, we have a treat for you. Read on to find out more about the artist behind it and see some of his other works!

Patrick Vale’s famous Empire State of Pen

While there’s no stopping artists from using and reaping the benefits of digital techniques, many still find the good ol’ pen and paper duo capable of making gratifying works of art. Sometime last year, we showed you the fascinating time lapse video of London-based artist and illustrator Patrick Vale at work, drawing Lower Manhattan as he saw it from the Empire State Building. Watching it, you’d have to admit that it takes a lot of skill and talent to make something as nicely detailed as that, and even more so when it’s a large-scale drawing using just pen (and occasionally, pencil for faint guide lines) and paper.

Patrick has done a lot since Empire State of Pen; he just had his first solo exhibit at the Coningsby Gallery in London on April 4 -12, more or less a year since the time lapse video was unveiled to the world. Naturally, we got curious, so we got in touch with Patrick and asked him to tell us more about himself and share his other city sketches with us.

Patrick Vale during his solo show in Coningsby Gallery

1. Can you tell us something about yourself and what you do?

I am an Artist and Illustrator based in London. I spend my time working on commercial briefs as well as making large drawings of cities. I have just had my first solo show at the Coningsby Gallery, London.

2. Like everyone else who watched it, we were amazed when we saw your Empire State of Pen timelapse video on Vimeo. How did you start drawing cities on pen and paper?

I have been drawing cities in pen on paper from about the age of twelve, I guess. I would go and sketch the around the docks and city in Bristol, where I grew up. Around that time, my Dad started to travel to the USA pretty regularly, and would come back with these picture books of the cities he had visited. I would devour these books; we didn’t have buildings like that in the UK, and I would make drawings from the photographs. Now aged 33, I’m still doing the same, the only difference is that I get to visit these great cities myself!

3. What do you consider to be your tools of the trade?

Anything that makes a mark really; you can draw with anything, but mostly I draw with a lot of different pens. Technical drawing pens, old fashioned nib pens, marker pens, and brushes. Most recently though I have been re-discovering drawing with a pencil. It’s been brilliant.

Patrick’s two current favorites among his city sketches

4. Do you have a favorite so far from all the cityscapes and skylines that you’ve drawn? Can you tell us why?

I guess Empire State of Pen has been the one that has got me a fair amount of attention, but the two newest pieces, a large drawing from a trip to San Francisco and a large drawing I made of a construction site in London are probably my favorites currently. They are both pretty complex views with a lot of detail and I feel that I executed them pretty well and can see how I have progressed from earlier pieces.

5. We’re curious: since you specialize on architectural illustrations and urban sketches, there could be so many details laid out before you when you draw a particular scene. How selective are you on the details that will appear on your work, especially for the large-scale ones?

Well, you can’t draw everything. I draw very quickly so I guess its almost by instinct that I select which details to draw and which to leave out. You want to get a sense of the character of the building rather than it being a perfect traced rendering.

Patrick holding a colorized print of the Empire State of Pen.

6. What do you consider to be the most challenging aspect/s of your craft? What about the most rewarding?

It’s pretty nerve-wracking putting on things like shadows (especially large ones, like in the SF piece) at the end of a drawing especially as there might be 4 weeks of work that has got the drawing to that point. But when it’s successful it is very rewarding!

7. Urban sketching is something that many want to try doing, whether to chronicle their daily lives in the city or their travels to foreign metropolises. What would you advise those who want to be good at it?

Don’t worry about trying to be good at it and just draw for the fun of it, and do lots of it, then you will see improvements. Mix up different types of drawing, give yourself time challenges like 1 minute, 5 minutes, and longer studies. You will find that the quicker drawings will have more energy to them as you are working on instinct and not thinking too much. Then, in time, you can try and bring that into the bigger studies.

A recent sketch Patrick shared over his Facebook Page

8. Lastly, do you have any ongoing/upcoming exhibits or shows where we can catch you and your work?

Well, I have just had my first solo show at the Coningsby Gallery in London which was loads of fun. I am re-charging the batteries and then working on a couple of exciting projects that I can’t talk too much about right now, but keep an eye on my Facebook Page for updates. I am also in planning stages for a big USA-based project. Watch this space!

Thank you so much, Patrick, for taking the time to answer our questions and share your works and insights with us! We’re definitely looking forward to seeing this exciting projects of yours, so we’ll be keeping in touch with you for updates!

Head over to Patrick Vale’s website and like his Facebook Page to stay updated and see more of his awesome sketch work!

written by plasticpopsicle on 2013-04-23 #lifestyle #interview #artist #drawing #cities #illustrator #sketching #patrick-vale #empire-state-of-pen #instantcity


  1. holgardo
    holgardo ·

    Amazing artist

  2. bsdunek
    bsdunek ·

    Yes, Amazing! Thanks.

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