Have you ever wandered around in a public space and stumbled up a group of people sitting in chairs, sketching their surroundings? Probably not, as this tends to be a charming European activity. However, this might become a more common sight in Waterloo Region with the launch of KW Urban Sketchers.
Earlier this year, Brenda Murray, and some fellow sketchers, Ruth Scheffller, Victoria Arnott and Cathy Amos, started a local chapter of this international association, which has grown to 48 members in just a few months. The group gathers monthly to draw urban landscapes and to record a specific moment in time, while on location. “Accuracy isn’t so much emphasized as sharing an experience with others,” Brenda says. “Artists often work in isolation and it’s very motivating to sketch with a group. We learn a lot from each other: new techniques, styles and materials, and develop great friendships.”
Typically the artists draw in a sketch book and record the immediate scene in front of them. “I might make a quick sketch as I eat lunch in a cafe,” says Brenda. “I would sketch my croissant, my friend, and the surroundings of the cafe.” Sketchers date the drawing, record the location and write something about their experience in the white space on the edge of the page. Then they post their sketches on the group’s Facebook page to share their work and incite conversations. Some of the members are full-time artists or designers, but most just like to sketch on-location as a creative outlet.
For Brenda, on-location sketching is a unique way to get to know a place. “As I sketch, my eyes examine every square inch of the scene in front of me,” says Brenda. “The details of the place are forever etched in my mind because I’m absorbing the details of the scene.” It’s also a way to create a visual diary, especially if you travel to places like Barcelona, for the International Urban Sketchers Symposium, like Brenda did earlier this summer.
Each sketching meet-up usually draws 8-10 people and their group’s Facebook page is active with sketches the members post. While still in their early days, Brenda says talk of a KW Urban Sketcher’s exhibition is on the table. In the meantime, you can get your local art fix by attending Brenda’s other pet project, the Artist Alley in Uptown Waterloo on September 6. (Yup, there is art in an alley outside the Button Factory in Uptown Waterloo.)
Have you ever created art in a public space or stopped to watch someone sketching/painting/sculpting in a public space? What was your reaction?
P.S. Brenda’s favourite topics of conversation: art, fiction, technology, travel and food.