These are sketches I made at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair this year. The fair is enormous fun. It’s a whole day of theater. The costumes are fabulous, and everywhere you look there’s something happening. It bubbles up all around you. I call it immersion theater. Dickens’s characters are all there: Scrooge and Marley bicker in the streets, Miss Havisham wanders through the lanes, Fagin teaches Oliver to pick pockets in an alley, and a cast of extras exclaims over the scandalous window models at the Dark Garden (Ok, so the hilarious window undressings are not really Dickensian, but those models are terrific).
This is the first time I’ve taken my sketchbook to a very public place and sketched. It was fun! And I was happy with my short sketches.
I have to admit, I was nervous about it. I’ve mostly been embarrassed to draw in public, but after these last three years of practice at the atelier, I’ve built my skills to the point where I’m much more confident.
Why so shy? Because anyone can—and will—look over your shoulder at your painting or drawing. We all know not every painting or drawing is a success, but when you work in public, good or bad, it’s on view for all the world. And the world is remarkably free in dispensing comments and criticism.
To be an artist in public, it takes a thick skin. You must get used to every kind of comment, and take none of them, even the good ones, to heart. You must be brave.
The Great Dickens Fair seemed like the perfect place to begin being courageous.
I keep on working.