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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 own 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 where several geranium bushes 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.


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Worth a 1000 words

What a delightful workshop. I too sketch when I'm out and about. But I've never really done it to "remember a day". I'm about to change my journaling. Thank you! And I love the first sketch!

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That's wonderful, Sharon.

That's wonderful, Sharon. Isn't it great to be able to combine our different forms of expression? The instructor showed us some sketches that she came across of a woman who went to China and she drew many sketches and in her case, she added a few words to say what she saw or a few facts about the place she was visiting. When the woman got back to her hotel room, she would add color using her compact water color set. I thought that was a wonderful idea. Her images, although simple line drawings, with few details, were captivating and really put me in the places she visited. She later took all of her sketches and bound them into a little booklet to share with her friends and family. Thank your for dropping by and for your comments.

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Color me happy

You know, Rebecca, that little reply makes me see that there are a myriad of ways we can add joy and peace to our lives. What a delightful idea...and water color is my favorite medium.

And I love the idea of sharing with her friends. I once went to a restaurant 'The Gate Keeper' and the waiting area had large sketch books and pencils.The patrons were asked to write, sign, or sketch something while they waited, and to please date it.

I was astounded at some of the entries. It was an absolutely delightful way to pass the time.

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Yes, nicely said, Sharon:

Yes, nicely said, Sharon: "There are a myriad of ways we can add joy and peace to our lives." I would like to get more comfortable with water color. It's not a medium I'm used to. Usually I muck everything up, but I think part of the trick for me is using the little compacts rather than the tubes. I didn't do so well with the tubes of water color for some reason.

'The Gate Keeper' sounds precious. That is such a wonderful way to connect the different patrons that passed through. Lovely.

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Wonderful sketches Rebb -

Wonderful sketches Rebb - you are certainly talented and these, the drawings are captivating. It sounds as if you are exploring all avenues...enjoy-lucky you. m

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Thank you, m. It was

Thank you, m. It was interesting too that at one point after we had done several sketches around the farm, we all came back to the benches and the instructor said that we should each select one that we like so far and leave our sketch pads open to that page, so everyone could see. Of course you can imagine, every single one of us let out a small groan. We didn't want to put ourselves out there. The instructor said, wait a minute. She was kind, but firm. In short, she told us that art is meant to be judged. That's what we do. And then she said, "So go ahead an pick one that you like. We enjoy what is before us and we also learn. We see how this person handled his or her  shadowing techniques; we see how they interpreted their object. We shouldn't be afraid to be judged."

I love looking at other people's art on the spot. Some people are very meticulous in their lines, while others are little more loose. It really shows a lot of personality. And of course, this extends to any artistic endeavor...writing. That's why we all love your writing so much, m. There is so much to be taken in. So much heart, soul, craft--everything!

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Watercolor and Dufy

Yes, definitely you are channeling Dufy! Some of his work in the Art Institute of Chicago at this link: http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/search/citi/artist_id:51 … You have a similar spontaneity and joie de vivre that he was known for. Good for you!
And that problem with the tubed watercolors. You have such a light touch, the tubes are more concentrated than the cake colors, and some of them can act more like gouache, more opaque, so they may give you more color than you had expected. A case of experimenting with your materials.
You really have an eye, Rebb. I genuinely enjoyed the art, and as always, your introspective writing. Thanks.

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I appreciate your insights

I appreciate your insights so much, Mara. I couldn't think of a way to describe my style, except that I recognized a certain "chunkiness" to it. But, how you put it, yes...I do feel a spontaneity when I engage with art. You make me think of when I worked for the flower shop. The owner was letting me make arrangements to see if I had any potential. She said my style was too "wild,"  that my arrangements looked like I went out and picked wildflowers and then arranged them  very loose-like. I just didn't like the perfect and tight arrangements. So, your comments really help me see my own style in a fresh way.

Thanks also for explaining the tubed watercolors. Yes, I better just start experimenting. I'm glad to hear they can act like gouache. Now I don't have to necessarily go out and buy gouache paints. I've long been curious about them.

Thank you, Thank you, Mara!

And thank you again to Sharon for her term, "Second touch." I sure feel like I've had many. Thank you all!

I almost forgot…thanks again for sharing more of Dufy’s art. I really like his watercolors, how he uses line and color. It’s wonderful!