Finding Others to be Creative With
First of all, if you live in a city or town of any size – check on www.meetup.com, and see if they have any groups forming or meeting in your area. If you keyword search paint, or sketch, or art – you should get something. Also, I’d look or post a message on www.craigslist.com. Look for the Craigslist in your state or city – there is a forum listing on the left side of the page. Another idea – see if there is a SketchCrawl group in your area. They usually meet monthly as a group and descend on a place for a group sketchathon! Also, if you have any art stores – check their bulletin boards! Most artists offering workshops put a flier up occasionally.
It’s all about…PRACTICE
Well, I’d like to say I sketch daily – but I don’t. Sometimes there are weeks when I just don’t make the time for the practice – but I’ve tried to schedule mini-art retreats or creativity days when I can! Reading the book “Mastery” by George Leonard is always a good kick in the pants, as is The Creative License by Danny Gregory. Look on my Resources page for these books and others.
Also, I have a list of local (within a few hours) galleries and workshops that I periodically check for classes that I’m interested in to fuel my creativity. At least when I commit to attend a workshop, I come away with something creative, and often a few new friends and connections out of the deal, too. One good place to start looking for workshops is Shaw Guides. They have classes all over, and their search page is pretty good. www.shawguides.com
Protecting Your work
I carry my sketchbooks in my backpack, in a large Ziploc bag to protect them from dirt and moisture. While sketching, I’ll often put the bag around the back pages of my sketchbook, which keeps it cleaner. If you seal it when traveling in humid or potentially wet situations, it’ll often be enough to keep your work safe. I’ve not dropped my books in the ocean or the canals of Venice yet, but I sure hope I have the Ziploc sealed if that happens!
Composing Your Pages
Just because you’re drawing an old building or a house, you don’t have to do it all! I often just sketch portions of buildings – perhaps the cupola or trimwork around a section of a home. Details of particularly cool elements can be added to the page. Sometimes signs or lettering attracts my eye, and I’ll find ways to make it a part of the page, as well. When traveling in our National Parks, the Visitor’s Centers usually have a stamp for the date & park for people’s passports. I stamped a page in the top corner, and added elements from my park visit to the page later.
Plein Air Sketching vs. Using Photos
I usually sketch in pencil onsite, however – there are times when I have insufficient time to do more than catch a quick digital photo and sketch and paint it later. Even if you do have the luxury of time to sketch, ink or paint onsite, it’s a good idea to catch a photo anyway. The photo can be used to refresh your memory for colors, perspective, etc. Photos are also fun to use in presentations, to “morph” a photo into a sketch, or visa versa.