This first and only (that I know of) sketch crawl OKC went down Saturday afternoon. First off, for those of you who have never heard of a sketch crawl…..it is a gathering of sketchers who meet in a specific time and place to sketch their surroundings together. If you are intimidated to sketch in public, I highly recommend trying one. I found that having other people around doing the same thing alleviated some anxiety I had about urban sketching. This particular one was hosted by the Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City and directed/instructed by artist, Debby Kaspari. You can view her work and learn more about her on her blog, Drawing the Motmot.
Seven sketchers, including myself, met in the gardens to sketch with Debby. We learned some warm-up exercises, drew quick 1 minute line sketches of some potted plants, then went outside to sketch at 4 different locations around the gardens. Debby taught us how to see values, do thumbnail sketches, sketch with markers, and keep our pencil lines from smearing as well as sharing tips on perspective. She showed us her favorite tools, including a watercolor sketch box very similar to my new Sennelier set. She even handed out much needed binder clips to keep our paper still on such a windy day. I am not sure how Debby got any sketching done while teaching and encouraging all of us, but she did!
Now since inquiring minds want to know, here are my top 10 do’s and don’ts of outdoor sketching:
- Do bring a hat. It will keep the sun from glaring in your eyes and you may be able to ditch the sunglasses. I find that sunglasses distort my sense of color while I sketch.
- Do wear sunscreen and dress in layers. It was quite warm and humid at first, but when the wind picked up, it felt a lot cooler and I was glad I brought a jacket.
- Don’t bring all your favorite sketching supplies….just your favorite essentials. You will feel weighted down and disorganized very quickly. I brought all my favorite supplies, but I wish I had brought just one pencil, one pen, 2-3 paper towels, my watercolor kit, waterbrush, and small container of water.
- Do bring binder clips, especially if you live in a windy climate. Even if it’s not windy outside, you can use one to clip your paper towel to your book.
- Do bring something to sit on……unless you like sitting barefoot on a rock or the ground like one sketch-crawler did. This is something I would have never thought of. You can bring just a small towel or cushion that fits in your bag or a folding stool like the Travel chair or the Walkstool that you can carry over your shoulder. We borrowed folding chairs from one of the Myriad Gardens classrooms. We looked quite ridiculous carrying these bright white chairs all around the gardens and attracted even more attention to ourselves. One guy even asked me, “Ummmm ….art class?”.
- Don’t be intimidated when people stop to look over your shoulder. Just smile and keep working. They won’t stay long. People are fascinated by something different. Chances are very high that they only wish they could sketch like we do.
- Do give yourself a time limit. Setting your watch or phone timer for a reasonable time can give you a sense of urgency to finish more quickly and move on to your next spot. Debby gave us roughly 30 minutes at each location. I found this especially helpful because it is so easy to lose all sense of time while sketching.
- Do choose a safe location to sketch if sketching alone. Speaking of losing all sense of time and space…..you may get so absorbed in sketching that you don’t notice danger. Choose a place that has the ‘right crowd’ of people around.
- Don’t worry about creating a masterpiece. Sketching outside is all about remembering where you were, how you felt, and simply being in the here and now.
- Do get outside and sketch! Start in your backyard if you must, but go absorb some sunshine and practice your sketching. It’s fun!
Until later, my fellow sketchers…..this is KristyMichele signing out.