But before we get to the European trip, I still have some other sketches to post, other stories to tell. Galaxy’s Edge in June, San Francisco in July, and a whole bunch of sketches at an Indigo Girls concert that I probably won’t post for some time yet. I sometimes think that the blur of life is not a story worth telling, or maybe one not worth listening to, but I suppose that the reason I like to sketch is because everything is worth taking an interest in. Sometimes I’m not sure this makes a lot of sense. I like to draw to keep my habit of drawing sharp, to push myself further in my sketching, but mostly because I just like to draw things that I see. It is ok not to draw. It is ok not to feel the need to sketch experiences, just because we have the ability to do so. But drawing illustrates the world I live in. It gives me a chance to spend time looking, really looking, observing and understanding, even with my poor eyesight and distracted mind. I look at other people’s work and I get inspired to keep going, to do more, to expand my skill set and keep sketching, but it’s hard not to compare, to feel like I need to ‘catch up’, to get frustrated at my own deficiencies and inefficiencies, and forget what actually makes my own sketching unique to me. I go through phases where I’m highly uninspired by my own work, maybe it’s the paper, maybe it’s the materials, maybe I need to mix it all up again, maybe I am drawing myself into a corner. Other times I feel like I knock it out of the park inning after inning while blowing bubble gum. A few times I am so pleased with a sketch that I hear Hermione Granger’s voice in my head saying, “you’re a great wizard Harry.” Other times I get so frustrated with a sketch that I hear Severus Snape saying “ten points from Gryffindor”. Sometimes I just get bored drawing Davis; sorry Davis. If it makes you feel better I am sure I would get bored drawing London too, even London, if I lived back there. Sometimes I get bored of drawing, for about five minutes or so. What’s it for, all this sketching? Because I like sketching, that is always the answer. It’s not for a book, it’s not for a workshop or a demo, it’s not in the hope of selling it, it’s not for anyone else. I show it here because I think it’s important to share our sketches and inspire each other, as I always learned from seeing the sketches of others online, and seeing their progressions too, seeing how they learned. That is how Urban Sketchers started, and why one of the core tenets was sharing your work for others to see. We learn from each other. That’s why I like to run sketchcrawls as non-judgemental spaces, places to come and draw and encourage each other, just enjoy the art of location drawing. We pick up all sorts of things from seeing others work. My love of slightly shaky lines for example comes from something I saw Martha McEvoy doing on a sketchcrawl in Berkeley in like, 2007, and I just liked the style. Of course in the above sketch it’s partly because the train is moving but that then seeps into the sketch, as opposed to taking something away. The experiences you feel are part of the result. So anyway where am I going with all of this? Yes, why we sketch, or why I sketch. We humans are complicated beings and for me, sketching is mostly about finding my calm place. Sometimes I beat myself up about going somewhere and worrying about sketching too much, like I need a certain number of sketches before I can feel satisfied. Like as if I need to show people afterwards that look, I got five good sketches so it was worth expending the day, whereas actually I could have just spent a bit less time sketching and more time looking through the corners of that old bookstore. It’s good to find a balance. Often when I travel with my family I find the balance by getting up early and sketching before they wake up, or sketching when they are resting, or even after they have gone to bed I will go out and night-time sketch. Anyway, there are days, like on the 6th of July this year, when I get up super early and feel the need to catch a 6:25 train out of Davis and down to San Francisco for a day of exploring and sketching. So that’s what I did. Am I bored of sketching on the Amtrak train yet? Evidently not, so there’s the sketch, with a little bit of story to go with it. It’s not story in which anything happens, there’s no great anecdote or a hilarious yarn about a ticket inspector’s wig falling off and being stolen by a chihuahua, but nevertheless it’s words on a page. I have more sketches from the day to come, and I covered a lot of ground that day, but I’ll save all that for another post.
5 thoughts on “sketch the day away”
absolutely love this, I have been struggling with why to sketch myself and how my sketches look and if I should share them and all that. your post encouraged me, thanks a lot.
it’s a funny thing, but I remember back to when I first started sketching again, like more often, and it was after I started seeing other people post their drawings on their blogs back in the mid-2000s, and I was just inspired. Normal working people with families who just found the time to draw somehow, and I was just like, what’s my excuse? I love drawing, just do it. I think seeing other people sketch gave me the excuse to keep sketching myself. At one point in Amsterdam (more than once, really) I did have to stop and say no more rushing about, stop and get your headspace back, and when I did that, my sketches actually got better. I skipped out on the final workshop because I just wasn’t up for it, after all that heat and rushing about I just needed to relax.
I can relate to everything you wrote, including getting bored of a place (I was so inspired by Europe but now I’m back in boring Boston, lol).
Let’s keep sharing our sketches. Let’s keep working at it. Sometimes it’s boring but maybe all that boring practice pays off when we finally get to travel somewhere.
I also relate to sketching on family vacations. Most of my sketches end up being of places near my hotel for that reason, for those early morning or after dinner sketch breaks I can manage to take.
Definitely sounds like post-symposium-itis! 😄 We got back to Australia having spent an extra 2 weeks in the Netherlands. I also have had to shake myself out of the idea that I am back in my boring home town. So I have challenged my fellow chapter members to go and sketch around the city and suburbs as if they had to show a foreign visitor interesting places to sketch. The kicker is that they can’t choose any major public building. I have already identified 4 places in my suburb alone that I think qualify.
That’s what our chapter leader said this week – draw Davis Square like you’re trying to describe it to someone from Japan.