Sunday, April 25, 2010

Journal Sketching Workshop – It’s a Wrap

Like art, life is a series of shapes, of lights and darks intermingling. If we keep squinting, keep looking, those shapes begin to form before our eyes, into our sketchbooks, into our minds.

Today was the last day of our four-day journal-sketching workshop. Our last sketch spot was a shopping plaza. I found a cozy spot and decided to start out with a circular cement seating area with a statue in the center. As I walked to my spot, a security man on one of those upright two-wheel scooters asked me if there was a scavenger hunt going on. I told him what we were up to; he smiled and scooted on.

Today, I found myself slightly frustrated with not being able to fully grasp perspective. Of course, this is not a class in perfection. It’s a class in getting that idea down on paper, of jogging memories. So I have to keep reminding myself: Be gentle with yourself and do the best that you can. And have fun!

I really like how quick sketches force me into my subject. It feels a bit like free writing. If I am able to push myself and get out of my own way, I find my “flow.”

Our assignment for the day was to go out on our own through the plaza and find different objects or scenes to sketch, and then we would meet at a central location after an hour or so. Once we met back up, the instructor went over a few things. She talked about water coloring shadows for trees and how rather than make the cast shadows black, she would add a little violet. She also said that the form shadow for the tree bark should have some violet in it also. Browns and violets. “Can you see the violet,” she asked when she pointed to a tree in the near distance. I squinted. I could not see the color she saw. To my eyes it was grey and brown.

Before class wrapped up, the instructor sat with us each individually to look at what we had sketched. She offered praise and suggestions. She helped me see the layered shapes of the water fountain that I had sketched a bit askew. After class concluded, we each went away with a little more confidence to sketch. I’m glad that the workshop wasn’t too long, four sessions was perfect for my temperament. But in this short period of time, I feel like I’ve gained a lot. The best part is she had us sketching right away, rather than getting caught up in details. That’s really the only way to learn: By first jumping in and then having a guide ready to give you a helping hand and encouragement.

I packed up my supplies and walked to the grocery store to get a snack before heading back home. On my walk there, I felt that I was seeing everything a little clearer. The outlines of the different trees, the way each had a dark side and a light side, and how I wouldn’t have to put all the details in to be able to “read” that it was this or that tree I was seeing. I was getting it—I was seeing what the instructor was saying. During our sessions, I was able to capture these concepts somewhat, but now, walking without sketching, I was able to truly see what she meant. I saw the different flowers, in their little clumped shapes and again, their light and dark areas. I saw more distinctly how the cast shadows appeared. And when I passed a few trees, I did indeed see the violet in the bark.


Here are a few sketches from today.

This first one is a pencil sketch of a different water fountain. I decided to leave it as is.

This flowerpot was done with black pen and shaded with dark and light grey. I could have added color, but I thought I would keep the color in greys.

The last one is my favorite and it's not because it has color, which does add to it. It was done in pencil and I really felt like I was able to capture this moment, and I love palms like this. I added color when I got home using watercolor pencils. I don't want to mess it up, so I probably won't be adding water to blend it so that it looks like a watercolor.


Vincent said...

Lovely reflective essay, and sensitive drawings too, which capture the moment of your experience. I hope you keep up the sketching! You may even inspire me to take up pastels again. I started three years ago (on my own, no class) but abandoned it too soon.

Rebb said...

Ah, Vincent, thank you so much for your kind words. I hope you do take up pastels again. I don't do well with full blown art classes. I tried to take a semester (5 months) drawing course and dropped after maybe two classes. I didn't have the patience and realized I wasn't there to perfect drawing. That was at least a decade ago. So, when I saw this four day (3 hrs per day) workshop, it was perfect just to get me jump started. I've dabbled in different mediums for fun at different times. I really hope you come back to your pastels and share your creations!

keiko amano said...


I love the moment you described that your instructor pointed out violet in the tree trunk you saw. Without seeing anything from here, I beleived her. She is great. And with your confirmation on violet at the end was comforting.

Violet anytime!

Luciana said...

Love your sketches, Rebb! And love your photo, too!:-)
I´m trying to re-learn(if there´s such a thing) to draw, and you´re an inspiration to me! Your description of the workshop is,in itself, a wonderful list of tips for everyone else. Thanks for sharing that!

Rebb said...

Thank you, Keiko. Yes, she was a great and encouraging instructor.

Violet anytime. That's great!

Rebb said...

Thank you, Lu! It makes me so happy to hear that you’ve been inspired to re-learn to draw! Oh, yes, Lu, there are lots of re-learning and learning opportunities forever. I certainly had to re-learn to ice skate. Just knowing that we can always come back to and leave our interests is in itself comforting. They will be there when we are ready.