This is something I really enjoy doing and want to share it with you. It serves both as a drawing exercise and as a way to break from the daily work routine, jump out of the house and observe the world around me.
Grab your sketchbook and your favorite drawing tools. Go for a walk for as long as you want. Thirty minutes, sixty… it doesn’t matter really, as long as it gives you enough time to see a bit of the outside world. Take notice on everyone that passes by you, observe how they dress, how they behave, their posture, what expression they have, stare them in the eyes and try to figure out their character. Dance your gaze around through the crowd, letting it rest on anything that gets your attention, it can be the people, their pets, the stray cat that observes you with suspicion, the sad trash on the street, anything really…
When you think you had enough, go sit in a Café, order a drink, relax and open your sketchbook. Start doodling without thinking to much and without any clear idea in mind. Just try to put on paper what you saw. Possibly your memory will start to betray you and you will notice it is hard to draw something 100% accurate, details are slipping away, but that is exactly the point. That old lady feeding the cat that you really wanted to draw, probably you don’t remember exactly the shape of her purse or hat. Doesn’t matter. Feel in the blanks with your own creativity. Re-create the reality you saw. Maybe that old lady would look good with a completely different hat. The idea is not to draw accurate portraits but take references as anchor points to something else. Draw it in your own style, be it a silly cartoon, a half abstract humanoid, a realistic figure… your memories will merge the information creating new types of characters based on what you saw and almost always something fun will pop into your sketchbook pages.
So, go give it a try and hope you enjoy!