The Social Side Of Sketching

Many artists toil away in studios and much has been written about the solitary life of an artist.  Some of this seems to spill over into the sketching world too, mostly because people are unsure of themselves and reluctant to sketch outdoors or with others.  I suppose that’s understandable.  And as unfounded as those fears are, they are a barrier to the real fun of being a sketcher.

When a sketcher takes the plunge, hits the streets, sketches in public and then with a group, they find not only acceptance but great benefits to sketching in the midst of other sets of eyes.  It’s not about being told how great you are, though.  What quickly becomes important are the small, friendly conversations that you have with passers-by on the streets or with your sketching buddies.  With the world and Facebook (are these different) seemingly going mad all around us, those conversations bring hope and a feeling that humanity isn’t lost.

And so it was when Yvan invited our Thursday group to his place for a sketching session.  Yvan has a studio that’s jam-packed with eye candy because he collects everything from plaster heads and bones/skulls to vases and animal figures as potential drawing subjects.  Everywhere you look is inspiration and if you are overwhelmed by the potential, he’s got a library of art books that exceeds that of the Quebec public library system.  Oh, and he had homemade soup and bread for lunch.

Six of us arrived at 10AM but we probably didn’t start sketching until 11AM because of all the stuff to see and talk about.  But ultimately we grabbed something to draw and the room went quiet.  We were in sketchers-ignore-everyone mode buried deep in the neural connections between eye and hand.  I started by drawing the backside of a dog statue that Louise had decided to draw from the front.

2016-11-28dogBy the time I finished some conversation had re-emerged but I started doing a quick sketch of some of the things on a shelf in the window.  I include it only to keep the story complete as it is unfinished, not good, and I smeared the ink as I worked.  Besides, by then I was engrossed in a conversation about Craftsy courses and how face shape, more than eyes or nose, identify a particular person.

2016-11-28bottleThen it was time for lunch and what a lunch it was.  When we schedule our Thursday events, we’re all on our own about lunch so everyone brings sandwiches and such.  But on this day, Yvan had made a wonderful lentil/veggie soup that was spectacular and he’d baked fresh bread.  The sandwiches stayed in our bags.  Louise brought a bar of gourmet chocolate for dessert.  Conversations ensued and another hour or so passed.  I spent some of the time looking at Yvan’s two-volume set of Van Dyck’s Antwerp sketchbooks.  Amazing and certainly worth further study.

Eventually, though, we got back to drawing.  I was in the mood to be challenged by an odd shape and I saw several sketches of a deer vertebra in one of Yvan’s sketchbooks.  I asked him about it, he presented it, and I tried to draw it.  Yep.. I was challenged.  There’s at least one major error and, I’m sure, a bunch of minor ones.  But such things sharpen the eye and if you take time to compare the end result to the original, you can teach the brain a lot about how to see.

2016-11-28vertebraThings were starting to wrap up and a couple of our group started packing to leave.  I thought I had a few more minutes, though, so I started sketching my tea cup.  Very quickly I drew the basic shape and then started slathering it with oranges and leaves.  It was lots of fun and a perfect end to the day.  Sketching in a group is special.  I hope you get a chance to do it, and do it often.


4 thoughts on “The Social Side Of Sketching

  1. All so very true!
    Everyone should get involved with a group especially if there is an Yvan in the mix 🙂

    Your skills are increasing in leaps and bounds Larry, great work


    • The social side of sketching isn’t something that I anticipated as I started putting line to paper five years ago but you’re right; becoming part of a group is wonderful, both for your mental state and to improve your sketching skills.

      I’m waiting for those leaps and bounds, Alan. Haven’t seen one yet. While I agree that I’ve made progress, it’s been a one line at a time progress and I’ve laid down a LOT of lines 🙂 When tourists say to Yvan, “I wish I had your talent” he often responds with “The first 2000 drawings are the hardest.” I think he’s got it about right and the sooner you get those 2000 done the sooner you can start on the next 2000 🙂

  2. This reminded me of our lovely sketch and chat last year in Quebec City. There was much to talk about but little sketching got done. Still, a favorite memory.

    • Ah…that was a special day, Paula. Sometimes the social does limit the sketching but I enjoy the whole package. In that case, I could sketch Quebec City anytime. I only had one day to talk to Paula Raudenbush 🙂

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