When I worked full-time there was little time to be creative. Even when there were free hours I was often mentally exhausted and craved passive reading or TV watching. I kept up some creative efforts by going to weekly classes. I always vowed that I would practise during the week, but most of the time I didn’t. When retirement came along I knew that I would love it. I was made for retirement!
While I stil fritter away time, I have so much more of it. One of the things I love to do is creative play. Botanic art is my foundation. It is an art form that is controlled and detailed, usually working on small areas. Now I have had time to explore in other ways, to play with watercolour paint, mixing colours, making washes, learning that often wonderful art comes from the unexpected, uncontrolled.
Today I wanted to tell you about another challenge of my artistic life, my sketching. When I first started drawing as an adult I drew regularly. It was a practise that really helped my artistic hand-eye co-ordination. For some reason — time? TV? — I stopped. Now I have taken it up again, but I don’t sketch as regularly as I would like.
I have always loved sketchbooks, their fluid drawings, their exploration of ideas, their colour and vibrancy. Don’t you love to look at sketchbooks of artists, professional or other wise? Turner’s sketchbook on display at a recent exhibition of his work was a treasure. I have a Pinterest board devoted to other people’s sketchbooks, my version of eye-candy!
For about a year I have been a semi-regular sketchbooker. I have had help from online courses. One was Sketchbook Skool, an initiative of two wonderful, but very different, sketchers — Danny Gregory and Koosje Koene. They have brought together a range of talented artists to tutor the courses. Some I had “met” online, some were new to me. All were inspiring and definitely worth the price of the course.
Liz Steel is another sketching artist who is a great inspiration. I am about half-way through her course, Foundations and I am very impressed with her through preparation for each lesson. As the name implies her lessons are designed to give the basics, the foundations, for drawing confidently out of doors. So far we have explored edges and volume, contour drawings and blind drawing. She has encouraged us to understand my equipment better — I have even done a colour mixing chart in my book! For each lesson there are written materials, videos, PDFs and homework challenges. Liz generously gives more of her time to answer questions and offer advice.
One of my sketching challenges is to take my sketchbook out into the world. Actually, that should read “to take my sketchbook out while I am in the real world”! Sitting on the couch and drawing the things I see in front of me is easy. Sitting outside and drawing the things I see in front of me is much more difficult. My challenge is to get myself out of that comfort zone.
Liz’s homework has been a big help. Like all good homework the exercises are to help understand the concepts covered. One part of the homework is inside, but the other part is an outside task, such as drawing letterboxes or my front door. And you are going to help me meet that challenge too. I am going to post my outside sketches here, and I know that you will be positive and supportive, even of the wonky lines!
I will leave you with some outside sketches from the last few months. Remember there will be more to come!