Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Reflections on being an Urban Sketcher

Correspondent: Beverly Choltco-Devlin

My fellow sketchers' work that is polished, together and done quickly and efficiently, as mine never are, still, provides boundless inspiration.  I am learning though and striving to get better.  If it was not for Urban Sketchers - Tacoma, I might have despaired of my art when moving here.  Art has been an abiding passion since childhood, but I have not spent the time needed to excel in the ways of fine artists who have the talent and are able to do art for a living.

Yes, I have completed a handful of works over the past 50 or so years that I can say are finished and which I am proud to say I have created, but I literally have boxes and boxes of work that are, to me, less than successful and, even more often, unfinished.

So... I have learned the following about myself and my art since discovering urban sketching.

  • Art is process not product.  Urban sketching has taught me that the process is what counts, the doing, not the finished piece.  
  • Urban sketching has cured my paralyzing fear of sharing my work. This beautiful movement glories in letting others see our vision, in learning from viewing others work and celebrating the community of art.
  • Documenting my life through urban sketching in a way that is immediate and important, if not immaculate, brings a freshness and a clear sense of what has occurred.  
  • I can do art every single day without the imposition and inhibiting wall that comes with believing one must create a work that is complete and formal and finished.  
  • Urban sketching has helped me to grind my need for perfection under my heel, to fling my untutored, but undeniably fresh and spontaneous expression to the world.  
  • I can learn over time to emulate those whose work I admire, to develop the technical chops I want to acquire, i.e., perspective, shading, cross-hatching, continuity and a sense of style, drawing people with abandon.  
  • The support of my fellow urban sketchers, the encouragement and fellowship are truly magical.  No criticism, just creation.
  • Most important, and this is, after all, what I believe art to be: I am able to continuously capture the emotions and impressions that accompany the varied events in my life, both simple and profound.  
By example I offer some of what I was able to accomplish in the past two weeks:

Sharing the holiday decorating of my parents' gravestone in NJ this past November with my beloved sisters. We had not all been together for quite a few years since my Dad's tragic and unnecessary death at the hands of one who abused and used him. This was a very emotional visit for us.

An ad hoc outing with some of my fellow urban sketchers to commemorate World AIDs Day in Tacoma where I remembered my beloved friend, Ken Stevenson who died from that horrific disease in 1986.

A spectacular and beautiful Thanksgiving with both our sons courtesy of the generosity of the family of one of our son's partners on San Juan Island. Our beautiful Pacific Northwest is truly remarkable.               

And, finally, a fun evening at Daniel Smith studio and Schooner Exact Brewing Company with Gabi Campanario and Stephanie Bower, whose vision for this urban sketching movement has provided me with a salvation that I not thought possible for my love of drawing and art.  

If you love drawing and sketching and would love to join us, please consider attending one of our outings. Your life will change!


  1. Beautiful post, Beverly. Your thoughts resonate strongly with many of my own about Urban Sketchers.