Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Having Fun at Domestika!

Work in progress: Watercolor sketch of Albuquerque's Sawmill Market

Hi Everyone! Today I'm excited to share a website for an online learning course that has brightened my locked-down life considerably:

Always looking to improve my urban sketching style and skills, several months ago I was browsing through in search of a good drawing video. The one I eventually found started (as most Youtube videos do) with an ad, which I first thought of skipping, but then--crazy as it sounds--it completely hooked me in. Maybe it was the music, the background color scheme, I don't know what it was that caught my attention, but after a few seconds I realized the ad was for an online class taught by an artist whose work I have long admired: Alex Hillkurtz. The class he was offering was on architectural sketching in ink and watercolor, just what I was looking for, and he was in PARIS! Oh, wow! No two ways about it, I had to sign up on the spot.

Although the course didn't actually include a trip to Paris, everything else turned out better than I had hoped. I enjoyed the progression of lessons, from sharing in the members' forums to learning about creating thumbnail sketches and framing our finished work. There were also many added bonus features such as photo references to download and suggestions for books to read during, or after completing the class. Altogether it was just the prescription I needed to get me through these dreary months of isolation and limited activity.

Since finishing the class with Alex, I have signed up for two more with other artists: one on experimental watercolor technique and another on naturalist bird drawing. Neither was an easy choice. There are so many courses to choose from I could barely make up my mind and kept wavering between "Sumi-ink design looks like so much fun!" and "Yes, I really do need to take that one on picture book narrative." In the end I decided to go with the basics first and then tackle sumi, picture book layout, and character creation later.

Most impressive to me about are what I consider the very low cost and the quality of instruction. Perhaps best of all is that once a class is purchased, it's yours and you can go back to watch and review each lesson as many times as you need. (For me it's the one on perspective which despite the clear and precise guidelines will always elude me.)

Thumbnail sketch of the Sawmill Market.

First practice sketch on "good" paper.

More practice sketching. This time the Wells Fargo building . . .

The only, and very small, negative about the site is that with the exception of Alex Hillkurtz, the other instructors I've enrolled with present their classes in Spanish. This has been both a good and bad thing--the bad is that I have to turn the sound off and only read the subtitles the first time I watch the videos. For me personally, it's a tad confusing to try to watch, listen, and read at the same time. However, once I get the gist of the lesson, I then turn the subtitles off and listen to the Spanish version. I'm amazed at how many words and phrases I can recognize as I go along: Spanish lessons while I learn to paint. Now if I could just take my travel journal to Spain everything would be totally perfect!

Tip of the Day: Reaching the end of your tether? Learn something new and re-energize yourself in preparation for a creative and happy 2021. If you're a writer, try painting; artists, go for some writing. Good luck and remember, never give up! We will get through this; one sketch, one story at a time.