Monday, April 19, 2010

Journal Sketching Workshop ~ Reflection One

This weekend, I spent part of my mornings in a journal sketching workshop. The idea of the class is to learn how to make quick sketches, so that if we are traveling or out and about with our notebooks, we have a better handle on how to get down our observations quickly. The focus is not on detail, but on getting the idea on paper, so that when we see it, we can say to ourselves, “Yes, I remember that day exactly.” I thought this would be a wonderful compliment to my writing journals. I’ve sketched a few things and dabbled in different mediums, but I wanted to feel more comfortable with knowing how to approach quick line sketches.

On the first day, the instructor went through some basics. We did some 45 second sketches; 1 minute sketches; and then towards the end, we did a 2 minute sketch. This is my 2 minute sketch that I first did in pencil and then I went back and put in some defining lines, and shadows. I didn’t know we would be adding any color, but was happy to hear that the instructor had intended for us to add color to our longer sketches, once complete, so she brought lots of supplies.

I appreciated very much that she reminded us, “It doesn’t have to be perfect.” We’re jogging memories.” She shared her sketch books with us and as she held one up said, “You may not recognize that, but I can tell exactly where I was when I drew that.” She also had words alongside some of her sketches and words dispersed throughout randomly. She found her pictures much more interesting to look at than the words on her pages. For her the images were much more telling. Even though her journal contained words, she was first and foremost a visual artist. Her preferred mode of expression and recall was through her sketches and painted images.

The most challenging object for me to sketch was a pinecone. I tried three times, and I’m still not entirely convinced my last sketch looked like what it was, but I suppose when I look back years from now, I’ll know it was a pinecone. I’m going to pick one up on one of my walks and study it. It will be a fun challenge to keep at it until I can make sense of the shapes.

The second day we met at Borges Ranch in Walnut Creek and it was beautiful. I used to hike the hills of the surrounding area, but I had never stopped in at the ranch. The gorgeous rolling green hills took my breath away. I had to keep my eyes on the very narrow road, lest I topple over. This day, we would sketch animals, barns, and any other parts of the ranch that caught our fancy. We talked more about shapes and how a lot of what we see is shapes, but the instructor really helped me to see the shapes a little better. It’s difficult though for my mind to overcome seeing a sheep standing in front view as a series of overlapping shapes, but when she demonstrated it on her large pad, I could see it.

Our last drawing of the day was a 5 minute sketch and then we would add color once we were done. I was pleased with how this one turned out because it jogs my memory and I can tell what it is. It was very hot and I chose to sit in the grass near a visitor house and the geranium caught my attention. The instructor sat for a moment with another student, so I put them into my sketch and you’ll see they are just lines, but you can tell that there are two people. I wasn’t able to do the geranium justice, but I can remember how lovely they looked and I can remember how the sun was beating down on my head and face and how warm my body felt and how peaceful I was in the surrounding environment with others scattered around trying to capture their experiences that day. My last drawing that I was somewhat happy with, is not perfect, but it’s a start.


keiko amano said...


I love the pictures. And the lines of the flowers and the vase warm my heart. And I have to give you extra point for my favorite combination of colors. Yes! Yellow and purple. I adore it. Thank you for this blog. I feel as though I took a beginning sketch class. Maybe, later on, I’ll try it.

The other day, I wrote your name and other fellow bloggers’ names in hiragana. I wrote them in different ways to show personality. Maybe, I’ll take a photo of each and show them on my blog. They are not great or anything. I just suddenly felt like writing them using a regular ballpoint pen.

Rebb said...

Keiko, I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures. Purple and yellow are such happy colors. Yes, I can see a beginning sketch class on your list.

How wonderful, Keiko. I would love to see the names your wrote. I hope you will post them to your blog. So many ways to be creative and express personality!

jiturajgor said...

They are good sketches.You have got a good chance to learn. Use it fully.

keiko amano said...


I love your new photo. It's beautiful and cozy.

I was afraid my ballpoint pen letters wouldn't show up, but I think you can see. I did make a new blog, hiragana. I wrote all the fellow bloggers' names in hiragana.

Rebb said...

Jitu, Thank you very much for your encouraging words. I appreciate it.

Rebb said...

Keiko, Thank you for your kind words on my new photo. I figured it was time for a new one :)

I visited your hiragana blog and left my comments. I love it!

Vincent said...

I'm so glad you published this photo of yourself. I don't remember any previous one. As with the sketching, your boldness in this might inspire me to do likewise.

In your essay you very clearly express your objective in sketching: something that I hadn't stumbled on in my brief pastel episode. I was too hung up on the primitive magic of producing a likeness (even if to my eyes only).

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 and learn a new perspective. I've dabbled in different mediums for fun at different times. I really hope you come back to your pastels and share your creations!

Vincent, No I had not previously posted my photo. Partly because I was shy and private about it, but I am at a point in my life, where even with these little things, I am coming out of my shell. At first I thought to myself how awkward it would be to see my own photo each time I commented, etc. But I got over it.

That's just it, Vincent, we must not always try to be perfect with certain artistic endeavors. There is a time for perfection and there is a time for just doing it. We must allow ourselves the freedom to make mistakes and to be silly. I do hope you pick up your pastels and just let go!

I have a few paintings of faces that I've done that I posted to my RR. Perhaps in due time, I will post here. They were done freeform from inside of me and painted to music. They are not perfect, but they reflect the moment. And one is literally quite primitive looking. One of my first and I love it. I remember right where I was when I painted it.