Thursday, August 4, 2011


I recently became re-acquainted with my watercolor Moleskine and went on a little sketching spree. It all started quite innocently--as most of my art adventures do. I was working on my second adventure journal, and although I think these little journals are a great way to record the events, memories, details, and ephemera from a trip, the one thing they lack is a sense of "place." Since I envision these adventure journals as baby steps to real travel journals, I realized that I need to learn how to sketch.

I'm not talking about sketches like these. I'm talking about the kind of sketches featured on the urban sketchers blog. Holy moley! I want to be an urban sketcher when I grow up! I've been on a few sketch crawls in the past and found them to be incredibly challenging events resulting in mediocre sketches. Instead of feeling inspired and motivated to make progress, I felt like it was just another art form I would probably never be able to master. I've spent my entire life thinking I can't draw worth a darn. (I think that's why I find abstract art so appealing.)

But I also spent a lot of time hating my attempts at hand lettering and never thought I would be good at that either. A lot of practice turned that around and I'm now quite happy to write to my heart's content. I have to believe that I can also improve at sketching--or anything else I set my mind to--if I'm willing to work at at without giving up. My friend Cathy and I are now on a mission to become urban sketchers. We're dedicating a few lunch hours a week to get outside and sketch.

This is one of my first attempts. It's a building that is being demolished. At this point the windows had been removed and they were starting to demo the interior. The day after I sketched this the whole section with the doors was gone. My main objective here was to practice perspective since that's always been a struggle for me. It's not too bad but it feels pretty lifeless to me. After this sketch I tried to concentrate on a looser, more spontaneous and colorful style. Cathy went on vacation and the weather was crappy, so I had to resort to sketching at my desk where I did the salt water taffy and my paint palette.

We got together after work one day and decided to see what we could accomplish in 30 minutes. We set a timer and stopped sketching when it went off. (I added the text later.) That night I did the travel watercolor set and the wine bucket. It was so hard for me to stop at the end of 30 minutes because I have a tendency to want to add "just a little bit more." But I'm happy I forced myself to stop because the sketches are definitely looser than they would be otherwise. I wrote the name of the wine we drank on the sketch. It's good stuff and you can find it at Whole Foods.

Imagine my delight when I discovered that The Sketchbook Challenge theme for August is EVERYDAY OBJECTS and I just so happen to have a group of them right here. What a lucky coincidence, eh?

I'm still trying to figure out the best way to go about sketching and have been experimenting with different tools and techniques. I'm viewing this as a true challenge and learning experience. I know I won't be happy with every sketch, but hopefully it will get me closer to becoming the awesome urban sketcher I'm hoping to be.


kass said...

Pat I don't even know how to describe how much I love these images and your journal - I would *kill* to see them first hand. Thanks for your ongoing inspiration!

lori vliegen said...

hello urban sketcher!! i love, love, love your have such a great style, and now it's coming through loud and clear in your watercolors! i've been wanting to be a bit more sketchy, too.....i never thought about setting a time limit......thanks for sharing that tip!! your moley is looking fabulous.....stay loose, sweet art girl!! xoxox

p.s. saw your comment over at my blog.....i use the koi watercolor field set. it would be perfect for you to take out with you....comes with a waterbrush, too! i bought mine at hobby lobby with a coupon, but you can also find it here:

upstateLisa said...

My heart just skips a beat (or two) when I look at your sketches/paintings in your journal. so lovely!

Chel said...

Ahhh... I love these sketches! You've inspired me to get out my unused Moleskine watercolor and try a few sketches. Thank you!!

aimee said...

i love 'em! you have such a way with watercolor!

Candace said...

Drinking wine and sketching...sounds good to me. Everything's a little more fun with wine.