A month ago I started the above, a new and separate mishmashlearning adventure. It is a blog about my sketching, a hobby I have embraced especially since the start of the school summer holidays. Recently while clearing a dusty corner under a desk at home I found an old notebook with three sketches from 2009,2010 and 2011 – 3 sketches in three years did not qualify as a hobby but I wouldn’t have taken the time out to apply myself to developing my skills.
I have liked scribbling ideas down, drawing diagrams in the classroom for years. In 2015 I have taken time to discover the restorative qualities of sketching, be it a corner of a rail carriage on the way to London or an architectural detail in a fine building or recapturing the awe behind a photo I took or I saw and wanted to emulate.
I have to thank Lucie Golton principally for helping me open my eyes. We have linked online and met now a few times, usually around hunting for large models of Aardman animation characters. She recommended sketching as a creative outlet and also the group known as Urban Sketchers or come from a broad brushstroke of life to sketch/paint/… live. When I started Lucie reassured me that I would see my output (refuse to use word #work) develop over time. She is 18 months ahead of me. I am now in my sixth month of sketching most days and it has given me a new outlook which I value dearly.
Yesterday I travelled to London, drew sketches on a train, in a crypt, out of the National Gallery window looking across Trafalgar Square and then inside the gallery. The other artists came from a wide variety of locations and backgrounds. Amateurs like me upto professional artists who earn their living from it, this is most noticeable when we gather to compare and discuss, if we wish, our pieces. The overriding atmosphere though is a shared love of using art to record. Previous meets have seen discussions on techniques, which paper/ pad /sketch pads to use; equipment – pens, pencils, obscurely name items that I am learning about; where did you purchase said equipment? – comparison of favoured shops / stockists. I am learning a new language and a new shopping habit, I confess I have the full colour selection of Cass bag for life bags (up to date on 12/12 anyway); pencils, pigment pens, alcohol based markers, bleed proof pads, sketch pads with bound or spiral bound spines, erasers, white pencils, art books, …Christmas will see money gifts that will be given for me to develop new techniques like water colouring in 2016.
Yes I am hooked. This has become my mindful release. When I am sketching I am absorbed in the task, I am not easily distracted, other worries are left in picking up my sketch tool. I have blogged about it, talked about it with a range of people especially educators on Twitter. In October I even seemed to have acted at least as one of the inspirations for #teacher5adaysketch which was a great honour amongst a growing community actively promoting teacher wellbeing. The fact that I was signed off work due to my mental health breakdown just emphasised why I needed a distraction that took me away from work. If something doesn’t move it is fair game to attempt to sketch it.
What do you do to relax, switch off work, take time for yourself? Please share.
London Urbansketchers Sketchmeet yesterday – 2pm photoshoot, picture from Alexa Ramsaroop.