Monday, October 18, 2010

29th Worldwide Sketchcrawl

Two of us in Naples, Florida participated in the Worldwide Sketchcrawl Saturday! Started by artist Enrico Casarosa, the sketchcrawl is an international event involving artists from over 90 locations. Last Saturday, people from Tokyo to Oslo to Seattle grabbed their sketchbooks and portable media to draw and paint the world around them.

Jeanette Atkinson

Jeanette and I met at Freedom Park to ramble the walkways and boardwalks and sketch whatever came up. The clear blue skies, cool morning air, and golden sun captured my attention before I could settle down to drawing immediately.

Lake at Freedom Park
Luckily, we soon came across the perfect model – an Anhinga perched on the bridge rail. The wonderful thing about these water birds is that they sit rather still for long periods, making them much easier to sketch than the small warblers and finch-like birds we also observed. This one preened its feathers for a while before diving into the lake to fish, then later spreading its wings to dry in the sun.

Across the lake, I could see hints of autumn in the turning colors of the grasses along the shore, all pale golds and browns. Alligator flag was blooming right next to the lake bridge, giving me an opportunity to study and draw them more closely. Usually the large arrowhead-shaped leaves command attention instead of these delicately crinkled violet blooms on zig-zag stems.

Alligator flag
We visited the swampy side of the park for lunch and more sketching. A tricolor heron caught my eye, and I did several quick ink drawings while it fished in the shallow water. The water was covered in a green growth that I learned as duckweed in the Midwest – perhaps it’s the same here. I watched the heron spear shiners under the sea of green vegetation and pluck dragonflies out of the air.

I ended with a drawing of an old cypress tree, done in carbon pencil and watercolor washes, majestic in the mid-afternoon sun. I changed media after watching Jeanette draw some beautifully gnarled tree trunks with a water-soluble black pencil. I remembered some interesting drawings I’d done with charcoal, and pulled out the carbon pencil to see if it was similar.

The sketchcrawl was enjoyable on many levels. Jeanette is in the final phases of preparing her portfolio for a botanical illustrator’s certificate, and she’s very knowledgeable about flora, having been the past newsletter editor and writer for the Naples Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society. It was a wonderful opportunity to share what we knew about plants, birds, art materials, and techniques.

I felt that I learned a lot, and improved my field sketching – drawing beside another artist enhances the creative spark and inspires. We’re already planning the next sketchcrawl!

Visit my Flickr photostream to see these images as a slideshow, or visit the Sketchcrawl set to see the images larger.