Artist FAQ

What I’m doing is called sketching, or urban sketching. I’d love to talk with you about it but then I’d miss out on time to sketch, so I made this handout for you. Thanks for understanding.

I use watercolor pencils.  I sketch dry and add water later. There are other ways to use watercolor pencils – this is just the way I like to use them.  You can see the finished sketch @betsybeadhead

Yes, I am an artist. Anybody is if they make art. Being creative is part of being a human being.  I also work a full-time job. I don’t get paid to be an artist.  I still make art, because it makes me happy.

You may say “I can’t even draw a straight line.” That is not an excuse to not make art. Get a ruler. Or notice that how little in nature is composed of straight lines. Straight lines are boring anyway.

Nobody’s art looks great at the beginning. It takes years of practice to be good at it. That is not a reason to not make art. If you want to get better at anything, you have to practice it.  Making art is just like learning how to play the piano.  Make a “play date” with yourself – schedule time to make art.

You can get books from the library (subjects: sketching, urban sketching, art journaling) and learn how to do this. You can also take a class for free through the Nashville library system. You can get a free library card even if you don’t live in Davidson County.  You don’t need a card to attend a class.

The fact that you are interested in what I’m doing means you too are an artist. Go make art!

Tips and tricks for art journaling

Don’t worry about it.  You can’t do it wrong.  Whatever you want to do is correct. This is an excuse to play and express yourself in a new way. Nobody has to see it, so you don’t have to worry about it looking “right”. You don’t have to be an artist to enjoy art journaling.

Remember “A picture is worth a thousand words”?   You can often express yourself in ways you’d never have words for by doodling, scribbling, or splashing paint on the page. 

Cut and paste is a totally legitimate form of expression. I use magazine cut-outs all the time.

This doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby.  Often it is best to start out with a simple inexpensive journal that you don’t especially love.  If it is too precious, you won’t feel free to cut into it or paint on it.

It is good to pick a journal that you enjoy holding and is portable if you are going to sketch away from home.  I like one that has a spiral spine so I can work on just one side at a time.  Good paper matters – you want something that will hold up to what materials you are using.  If you are using wet mediums you’ll want to use thicker paper so it won’t warp.

If you are going to be gluing things into your journal, go ahead and cut out every 5th page before you even start.  This gives the journal room to absorb the extra bulk without making it splay open or breaking the spine.

You can combine scrapbooking, journaling, and sketching.  There are no limits to this art form.  You can glue in concert tickets or menus from a memorable evening.  You can take photos and print them out and glue them in. 

If sketching people who are moving (like musicians or workers), watch them for about 5 minutes.  They will have a ‘default” position they will return to. Roughly sketch that position.  When they move out, sketch what is around them.  When they return, add more to that part.

Most people won’t even realize you are sketching them because they are so distracted by what they are doing.  But try to be polite and discrete about it anyway.  People are best to sketch when they are being themselves. 

Sketching isn’t about making a photograph. You’ll need to leave some things out. The goal is to capture an impression – not to make a perfect replica of what was there.

Leave space in your sketch to write in notes.  Things I like to include – day, time, how long the sketch took, location, what was going on (why was I there – was there a special event?) and weather conditions if I am outside.  Consider using an interesting ink color.

There are many different materials to sketch with.  I like using watercolor pencils.  They are portable and easy to work with in the field. I add water using a small brush later.

Maundy Thursday sketches

The morning of Maundy Thursday this year (3/29/18) I went to Centering Prayer at Providence UMC in Mt. Juliet.  I used to go home after that until it was time to go to work, but I’ve started staying out, looking for a place to sketch.  I wasn’t sure where I was going to go with not a lot of time, but I needed to go to the post office to check to see if we had any mail.  It was raining a little, so I decided to stay there and sketch.

img_0817Then to work.  I got off at 6 (using vacation time) to go to the Seder presentation at Celebration Lutheran.  This is outside, looking at the prayer garden. The trees are green with lichen. The light was amazing.

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I brought my sketch tools in to sketch the Seder presentation.  It was just a demonstration, not set out for everyone.  But then I was asked to participate!

 

 

 

 

 

Cinco de Mayo (place, not day)

This took three trips – from November 2017 to March 2018. Fortunately we have a lot of “buy one get one free” coupons.  The service is very fast here, so I quit sketching when the food came.  Thankfully we were able to get the same booth so I could continue the sketch.  In reality – there are a LOT more chairs, but I left them out or it would have been too busy.  The bar area to the back right is luminous with green lights from neon.

The photos were taken around Christmas time.