Friday, January 6, 2017

Urban Sketching is...

A Memory Aid
More often now, I feel I'm slipping away from the world when I can't remember your name or what you said this morning. The act of drawing adds metadata to the finished product. When I look at it in a few weeks or months, even years, I feel the place, I hear the person talking or what kind of music was playing in the background. I remember how that Macchiato took me to cloud 9.

At Caffe Ladro, Bothell, WA.

A Meditation Tool
Drawing a building or other man-made objects for me is a big challenge. I prefer organic structures like landscapes instead of cityscapes, people rather than cars. Urban sketching is mostly focused on buildings. That's what 'showing the world on sketch at a time' means for me. Buildings and cityscapes and street scenes identify a place. People sketches must show context, which means, the buildings, exterior or interior, around them. So, drawing things with straight lines and perfect curves force me to pay close undistracted attention. To focus like a laser-beam while staying relaxed and mindful of the breath. And that in a nutshell, is also meditation.

Country Village, Bothell, WA.

A Compassionate Practice
When I draw people, not only do I see them more, but oftentimes I feel them as well. If I am trying to sketch a sitting person leaning toward another she is talking with, I sort of mimick her pose, to feel what muscles are active or not, where the center of gravity is. Somehow, I also feel their situation in life. Or maybe, it's my situation in life. And that invites me to say a little blessing for them and for everyone else going through the same situation.

Caffe Ladro, Bothell showing a mom taking care of her special needs daughter and a guy trying to focus on his task.

A Group Therapy Session
Sketching among fellow sketchers is like being home for the holidays, like having a reunion with your high school soccer team or book club or gym buddies. It is doing what you love to do with folks you love to be with. Like Jim Bumgarner said at the last West Coast Sketchwalk dinner, urban sketching is, if I remember correctly, 40% sketching, and 60% socializing. 

Tacoma USketchers at The Buttered Biscuit in Sumner, WA.

At least, that's how I see urban sketching.

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