Years ago, drawn to getting outdoors to make art, I tried to be a plein air watercolor painter (among other things). I found that I was too restless by nature, especially IN nature. I wanted to move before I could finish the painting. Well, maybe I couldn’t deal with the environmental issues either, like hot sun or wind or bugs or cold or. . .
I think that’s why I found sketching with pen and watercolor to be a better fit for me when I’m outside the studio. I get very stimulated by new environments, seasonal changes, people in public and want to try to capture as much as possible in quick sketches.
With the gorgeous sunny weather this week my sketch buddies and I headed to the Laguna de Santa Rosa trail for a hike/sketch day. The Laguna is “the biologically diverse landscape of Sonoma County’s largest freshwater wetland. Internationally recognized for its ecological importance, the Laguna’s marshes, vernal pools, riparian woodland and valley oak savannah are rich habitat for wildlife and plants, including the special-status California tiger salamander, Sebastopol meadowfoam and Lobb’s aquatic buttercup.”
At our first stop I set the timer for two 15 min. sketches so we wouldn’t get too carried away.
When we ran into too big a puddle to cross without waders, we drove around to the other end (Occidental Rd) to walk a bit and make another sketch stop.
When I saw this massive unclothed oak bordered by the shimmering water I forgot my intention to keep it simple and got totally and quite happily bewitched by the tree!
Another day I brought my sketch bag and stool along on a walk near my home for a quick study of the vineyard geometry, the reds and greens, and Albert Einstein-like mops of impossibly gnarled vines. This is one of my favorite times in the vineyards when the “bones” show. I used my Lamy Joy fountain pen for the black and Uniball Signo white pen for the sun catching highlights.
Yet another day this week I sat out by my studio, back to the warm sun and totally overworked this sketch while my cat Phil kept bumping me to elicit a more attentive response.
Just now as I was out doing some garden clipping I realized that a lot of people shy away from sketching because they mistake it for an activity that’s about making a realistic representation of what you see, like (we think) a camera does. And so of course that becomes an obstacle to doing it, because we always fall short of that. In many ways I don’t think my drawing has changed/improved all that much over the many years I’ve been doing it, but my enjoyment of sketching just keeps growing.
That’s the part I want to share, the enjoyment of telling the personal story of our lives, or as the Urban Sketcher motto says “to show the world, one drawing at a time”. And if you’re interested in participating, there’s so much coming up this spring! There’s both my workshops locally here in Sebastopol and Urban Sketch workshops around the world and particularly here in the S.F. Bay Area. Stay tuned for more about those tomorrow. Here are the ones I’ll be teaching locally.
Regardless of your drawing ability you can enjoy sketching with some simple tools and skills and some like minded folks to sketch with. For more information and to register, visit my website, email me or call the number above!