Friday, February 24, 2017

Doing Urban Sketching to Music

This was a first for me: Listening to music while doing urban sketching.

A friend once told me he always wears headphones while painting whether listening to music or not. He's learned it creates a barrier which causes most  people from coming up and 'bothering him' when he's painting. I understand his purposefulness, as he paints against a clock for his gallery shows, in the rare and treasured hours around the edges of his full-time employment. He works in oils, creating large, realistic panorama cityscapes. I think it is creative that he's discovered a way to create a private outdoor studio for himself simply by wearing these headphones. When he's not painting, he's a pretty gregarious guy....although I suspect he's an introvert.

Unlike my friend, I am retired from full-time employment and I only paint 'against time' when I go to an Urban Sketching outing. We USk-artists usually have two and a half hours to sketch, minus the time we spend sharing  announcements and checking in with other sketchers for a few moments, before each of us heads out alone to find our preferred sketching location for the day.

I usually, these days, don't paint or draw in order to hang work in galleries or to enter shows. (....though that's not to say, I won't do that from time to time....When I do, it's more of an afterthought rather than my original initiating purpose.) These days, the only pressure I apply to my art endeavors is my desire to learn and improve and meet challenges I have set for myself.

As an extrovert,  I am fed by interacting with people. No headphones for me. Headphones would cause me to worry that I was 'missing something.'  I experience people coming up to talk with me when I'm painting or sketching as a rest break after some intense looking at my subject during the 'getting to know you phase', followed by the intensity of making decisions about how I want to represent the present subject in my picture. A chat with a visitor can be a time to move around, and literally, get some distance from my work, and further, to find some new energy.

Today, in my mind, was extrovert-heaven! An extrovert artist's heaven!  I sat a mere few feet away from these blue grass musicians who were jamming in the 2nd. floor lobby of the Bellevue Hyatt Regency Hotel during Wintergrass. I listened to them play, and they took an occasional peek at my sketches of them. I was surrounded by and floating on and over and through a constant flow of fantastic music I could have listened to all the rest of the day... and tonight too! A couple of times musicians chatted with me during their short breaks.  I was shocked that I finished two good-size sketches (water-soluble graphite, with Micron ink pen, and water-brush) and ended the sketching all revved up, with my energy-tank topped off.

Best regards,



  1. Wonderful sketches. It's interesting to try a new medium. I, too, welcome people stopping by to chat. They'll often apologize for interrupting to ask something or offer an observation (usually a compliment). Frequently my response is, "that's OK, I'm waiting for paint to dry" as I work almost exclusively in watercolor!

    1. Thanks, Kate. I know from experience how generous when a stranger stops to chat with you....that's how we met.

  2. These are really atmospheric in that you captured the mood of Wintergrass -- the circles of musicians enjoying jamming with each other. Though I was very sorry to miss this year's outing, in the past I always felt I was sort of jammin' along with them -- me with my sketchbook, them with their instruments, all enjoying the making of our respective arts.

    -- Tina

    1. That was exactly my feeling too! I was sorry you couldn't join us. I look for ward to seeing you on the sketching trail, Tina!