With only 17 days until spring, there is light at the end of this wintry tunnel, and before you know it you will be able to sketch this incredible city outdoors again. Every year around this time, I start getting antsy for the upcoming spring and summer months. After being cooped up and restricted by the subzero temperatures, short days and lake effect snow I am ready to get back outside and fill up new sketchbooks. I am sure all of the Chicago sketchers can relate. For those of you who have the privilege of sketching in a warm climate all year round, this may enlighten you to the struggles of a Chicago sketcher in the winter:
You might be a Chicago sketcher if....
- You have sketched the view from your living room window this winter more times than you can remember.
- You look out this same window hoping something new to sketch magically appears so you can satisfy your sketching needs.
- you have had to out-sketch mother nature freezing the ink in your pens or watercolor pallets
- you have put on more than three layers of clothing just to stay warm on a sketch outing
- you have spent hours flipping through sketching blogs, galleries, books and old sketchbooks in anticipation for warmer weather and more sketching opportunities....
Every once in a while it is well worth our time to look back at old sketchbooks to see where our sketching journey began, what artistic thoughts were running through our mind, what types of media we were experimenting with, and which techniques worked and which didn't. Did you take notes about some valuable insight you discovered in the process of creating a particular sketch? The nature of urban sketching is so spontaneous that we often move onto the next sketch, forgetting all about the sparks of genius that happened in our past sketches. There are so many opportunities for us to learn from and build upon our own work. Taking a look at our past sketches is a great way to see how much we have grown, to be reminded of where our creative process was at different stages of our lives and how it has evolved.
So, while we wait through the rest of what Chicago winter has to throw as us, my challenge for you is to dig up the very first sketchbook you ever kept and flip through it.
Go through the rest of your sketchbooks until you get to your current sketchbook (or most recent sketches). What are your gut reactions? You will be reminded of all of the great work you have already done, all of of the places you have seen, and all of the techniques you have tested. Here are some more questions to ask yourself while doing this. I hope these will start turning some wheels about how much you can learn from your own sketchbooks:
- What kind of things did I sketch? Do I need to add variety to my choice of subject matter?
- Have I challenged myself by choosing subject matter that is out of my comfort zone?
- What different types of media have I tried?
- What have I learned about my favorite pens, paints, markers etc...and how they react to different types of paper?
- What kinds of improvements do I see in my technique and how can I continue to build upon this?
- Which artists or sketchers influenced my work early on, and who influences my work now?
- What are 2-3 techniques I have always wanted to learn more about, but still have never gotten around to trying?