Sketching The Mundane, The Ugly, The Unseen

When I was first learning about urban sketching my mentor (though she didn’t know it) was Cathy Johnson.  I fell in love with her sketches, many of which appeared to me in books by her about nature, historical reinactment, and art books.  Another thing she showed me how interesting and beautiful an artist can make the mundane and ugly.  She’d paint broken down buildings as seen through rusty chain link fence.  She did a sketch of a bridge being torn apart.  And she did these things in a way that made you want to hang them on your living room wall.

I still aspire to have her abilities but one of the great things about being a sketcher is that with only a dollup of persistence you can try and try again.  I’ve spent more than a little time drawing the alleyways of the older parts of Quebec City.  These are cluttered, ill-maintained places that are mostly out of sight and out of mind.  While I may not have Cathy’s expertise, I do have her zeal and I’ve done another alley sketch.  Here it is, warts and all.  I really enjoyed doing it.

Fabriano Artistico (7.5×11), Pilot Cavalier, R&K Sketch Ink (Lily), Daniel Smith watercolor

4 thoughts on “Sketching The Mundane, The Ugly, The Unseen

  1. I love your “nothing” sketch (as Marc calls them), Larry! Excellent composition and bright spots of color. Some of the best sketching stuff happens in places where most people won’t bother to look.

    – Tina

    • Sorry for the delay. We left Planet Quebec and spent several days in Montreal. Just got back an hour ago. I do like Marc’s ‘nothing’ sketch but I do think he’s referring to something else and it’s a something else I could not do. Some of those paintings he’s done seem to have no subject at all. Because everything is so far away, or the field so vacant, there really isn’t a focus. I don’t have the skill to navigate such things 🙂

  2. Thank you Larry for sharing : I discover again Cathy Johnson (I might have read about her, but I forgot…) ; her sketches are very beautiful ; and as you do, I try again and again to reach the beauty of simple things which are transformed with the hand of the sketchers.

    Agnès (France)

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