We have a sketching group where I live. Once a week we get together at a designated spot to draw whatever sparks our fancy. Some use pencil, some ink, others use watercolor or markers. The purpose is simply to get out and do it. It’s all too easy, for me at least, to talk myself out of drawing on location when I’m by myself. With a group, I’ve made a commitment.
These weekly sessions are so helpful. Not because I do great works, but because it’s a opportunity to draw from life. Working on location is always better than using a photograph or even one’s imagination for reference. When we work from life we deal with the challenge of representing a three dimensional world on two dimensions, we learn how to edit our subjects and we feel inspiration from the environment itself. We see the actual values, details and colors that can rarely be accurately portrayed in a photograph.
On a recent Wednesday we were at a waterfront park. A colorful scene was spread out before us with small boats from a local sailing school scooting back and forth across the bay. Other boats were tied up at the float and the old pilings from the original dock added a nice design element. I drew fast, made a few mistakes, but ultimately came away with an impression of the view and the sunlit morning.
There are many sketching groups sprouting up all over the world. Urban Sketchers has groups in nearly every major city as well as smaller towns too. There are drawing meet up groups and classes that offer drawing opportunities. If you’d like to start your own group, it just takes two people to decide when and where. It’s as simple as taking a piece of paper and pencil with you to the local coffee shop. I can’t think of a better reason to sit outside and enjoy a beautiful day.