|Urban Twilight, Brush pen and watercolor.|
I've been an urban sketcher for about four years now. During that time I've learned a lot about drawing and about myself, e.g., perspective will always be a problem; I can't be outdoors for five minutes without a sweater; I can sketch in public (really surprised myself with that one!); and most of all, I love to sketch. From pencils to brush pens, I'm a fan. The one thing that's eluded me though is finding a good sketch group, one that equates to my writer's group and keeps me motivated.
One of the challenges I've encountered when trying to create a sketch group is that a lot of the artists I meet are actually plein air painters rather than sketchy-sketchers. They thrive on lengthy, silent, meditative solitude, going their own way and able to ignore bug bites, sunstroke, and dirt in their paint. Urban sketchers like me, on the other hand, need, well, an urban environment: strong architecture, lots of people, and most of all, speed: "Let's draw fast!"
The other day I was trying to figure out how to solve this dilemma. In the end, I decided to simply write down my wish list and see what comes of it. As they say, "Write it down, make it happen!"
SKETCH GROUP WISH LIST
1. Dedicated meeting time as a group, as opposed to everyone gathering at a specific place and then scattering to sketch solo. Two hours is a good length of time for a group meeting, especially if that time is divided into segments, say, using the first half hour to discuss a specific technique, tool, medium, or subject matter, followed by an hour to draw, and then taking the last thirty minutes to share and discuss work.
2. To save time deciding what to draw, I think it would be fun for a group to occasionally draw the same pre-selected subject or scene together, or at least work from a shared theme such as doors or windows.
3. Taking this a step further, how about meetings where we all use the same medium or tools? For instance, a meeting where we only use brush pens, or just graphite. Or we choose a specific challenges, like drawing in only two colors, or drawing in a continuous line and not taking your pen from the paper.
4. I love timed sketches and they're especially fun to do as a group. Three minutes, ten minutes, thirty minutes--set a timer and draw fast!
5. Maybe it's just me, but I think urban means urban and rarely, if ever, means going out to explore the wilderness. Not that I have anything against the great outdoors, but it just isn't my thing for artwork. That said, neither does urban mean downtown. There are hundreds of interesting, complex places to sketch that have nothing to do with grand office buildings and busy intersections. How about sketching apartment complexes, schools and playgrounds, construction sites, museums, art galleries, industrial parks, or simply the street you live on? I often think a lot of well-designed and interesting architecture is overlooked just because it's too close to home.
6. Lastly: LET'S WRITE! Sketches can be greatly enhanced by writing, whether it's to record thoughts and feelings about a place as a journal entry, or to experiment with some poetry or flash fiction inspired by your drawing.
So those are my ideas. How about you? Anything you can add to my list? All suggestions will be most welcome!
Tip of the Day: Finding a group of any kind to work with isn't always easy, and most creative people usually have to learn at some stage to enjoy their own company and work on their own. One of the best ways I know to combat any feelings of isolation or loneliness on the creative path is to watch art videos on YouTube.com. There are hundreds (thousands) of excellent workshops, demonstrations, and on-going conversations with artists at all levels. Two of my favorites are Brushes and Bunnies and Sketch with Teoh. Check them out the next time you need some inspiration as well as a new art buddy.