Sep 13, 2013

Island Sketching

Grenville Bridge  Vancouver BC

Through out my life, I was always finding ways to be creative. It seemed to be in my nature. I didn't always succeed with everything I tried, but whenever there was an opportunity in front of me, I jumped.

In my younger years, I used to have fun with drawing and sketching, 
among other things. But that was before I got really busy in the film business. Then, I'd jokingly tell film producers I could film, photograph or sketch their scripts, but they never took me up on the offer to sketch.

Now as I age into antiquity, the film business has slowed for me, so I started sketching again. It started with simple drawings. One a day. Then I became the "mad sketcher," filling small sketchbooks with pencil drawings, pen & ink and water-colour creations. I began to search the Internet for other artists and sketchers who loved the art like me, and I was really inspired when I found the Urban Sketchers group from Seattle. This is a group started by an illustrator/reporter, Gabriel Campanario who works for the Seattle Times. He has inspired a world of closeted artists to go out, find their "tribe" and sketch together.

I didn't know there was such a pent-up demand for something like this, but it certainly inspired me. You don't have to be a really good sketcher to join the group. But, as with most things, the more you practice something, the better you get. The Urban Sketchers website now has a huge following around the world.

So, I was looking for an associate group in my city, Victoria; but I found none. Victoria is a wonderful little city filled with artists and artisans of all kinds, but there was no group that regularly met together to sketch. However, I did find a Vancouver group. They are loosely associated with Urban Sketchers, and I noticed that the organizer had a familiar name.

Sigrid was a classmate of mine at a teachers college in Vancouver. We hadn't seen each other for a couple of years, but I emailed her anyway and asked for advise on how to start a sketching group. She told me that I really didn't have to be associated with Urban Sketchers: I could start a unique Vancouver Island group through a website called Meetup.

It was three months ago I started "Island Sketching." Three months and eight sketching meet-ups later we have twenty-six members and counting, and it's slowly growing, with about half of them being regulars. Victoria is filled with great places to sketch, so we have no problem finding interesting locations for the group, i.e. Fisherman's Wharf, St Annes Academy, Craigdarrock Castle, Cadboro Bay, etc. The list for future locations is endless.

Island Sketching group members range from expert, seasoned artists to total beginners. We all learn from each other and the many drawings that emerge from this group show a wonderful, artistic range. Artists can look at the same thing, but the variations in artistic work are amazing. People are having fun and we arrange to have a creative discussion after each sketching at a local coffee house. Here, we comment on each other's work and take photographs for the website. It truly is a great feeling to have started something that people of all ages and vocations can enjoy together.

Sigrid is our Guru and sends us encouragement across the Straights of Georgia from time to time. Her group in Vancouver is so successful that it has now grown to more than 300 members. I recently asked her what she would do if all 300 showed up at once. "Head for the hills," she told me.

Sketching is a meditation, a mind clearing, a "NOW" activity. And to be around others who just like to draw is very refreshing. Here you see artists in their raw state, at the beginning of their art. Most artists are introverts and work very easily on their own. Then, there are individuals who will hesitantly join groups like ours and enjoy being in the company of like-minded people. It's about being a part of something bigger than yourself that recognizes you. It's about getting up, getting out, leaving your egos at the door and doing.

As Woody Allen said, "Eighty percent of success is in just showing up."

"Just Do It" - Nike

"Every artist was first an amateur."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Make art into a regular part of your everyday life."
- Danny Gregory

Island Sketching:
My sketches:

Urban Sketchers:
Seattle Sketcher:

Vancouver Urban Sketchers:
Sigrid's personal website: