Sometimes I forget how inspiringly beautiful Connecticut is. Last week I was in the Mystic/Stonington area and every glimpse of sea water or downtown community made eager for a spot to be part of it. Last night I ventured out to Torrington, CT for an event in a gallery I had wanted to visit. Part of the Torrington downtown happened to be blocked off for the start of their weekly summer Main Street Marketplace and it allowed me to walk slowly and admire the stunning architectural details. It was a street full of vendors, and families with great local music playing in the background and yummy smelling food getting served.
Recently I have noticed a trend, or maybe more like a revival of downtowns in CT, it’s very uplifting. Each community is doing their part to become closer and stronger. What are some of the things I have noticed? A bigger art community everywhere, more local restaurants (even farm to table ones), community gardens, etc. These are all great elements to engage a community and create a sense of solidarity of which the world could use more.
Moving on…The gallery was Artwell Gallery, a small space intending to show art from artists all across the country. As it were, they were preparing for an opening reception tonight for a national juried photo show. It was nice to get a sneak preview of the show since I won’t be able to attend tonight. However, I must make plans for their next reception because I hear they are a fun time.
So what was this ‘Marketplace Sketchers’ event they were advertising on FB and their website? I had yet to find out. As we sat and waited for any other artists that might show up, I met and spoke to the artist instructor Janet Galasso. She happens to be an art teacher at Berlin High School with a background in graphic design. As she introduced herself she also explained the sketch session was inspired by the group “Urban Sketchers,” a group of artists who have started a movement of quick, live, in the moment sketching on a regular basis, and then blogging about it.
Janet’s goal is to captivate a group of artists with the idea of coming together in a culturally interesting scene so that they can start sketching. Another important aspect of this exercise is to also collaborate with each other and constructively criticize each others’ work. Opening a platform for dialogue among artists is one of the utmost important elements to grow and feed off each other. Only then, I believe, can we start to form a world perspective that will inspire us to create world-changing art.
As an artist the idea of putting your skills to the test is a must so that you don’t lose motivation but also you may discover bigger and better potential you never thought you had. Janet Galasso is on a quest to keep sketching. Her goal? She wants to do a live sketch of the 169 towns in Connecticut. What an amazing objective, so check out her website and check out what she has so far.
Today’s event was centered on the marketplace sketching. Why? Because you can easily find many interesting things and people at a town event like the one happening in Torrington last night. A quick doodle with as much detail as you can fit in a well-defined and thought-out composition was the goal. She explained about the purpose and I became more enthused about idea of quick sketches everywhere and anywhere. It was a great exercise in skill, a conversation starter, and a great self-marketing tool for an artist because, as she explains, there’s always somebody that will approach you with curiosity about what you’re sketching or why.
So we went out on the field and started sketching. We thought it might be easier to start sketching architectural components than people. We sketched for about 10 minutes and I already wanted to start my drawing over. As artists sometimes we get caught up in trying to get perfection, and perhaps that is why I never went further in drawing/painting because I could not get it to look photorealistic. Janet’s response to that was the same as her advice to her students: artwork does not have to be photorealistic to be good. In quick sketching, especially, you can quickly and easily (if you’re committed) find a style that is your own.
Here’s an image of the three artists’ (including Galasso’s) sketches done last night. You can tell who has done it longer than a day.
As I reflect back on last night, I am still very enthused with the idea and I will try to keep up with the sketching, however, last night I did not feel ready. Low confidence issues? Perhaps a little, but only enough to keep me grounded. I did feel ready because it is not the medium I am accustomed to using. My sketch book was also too big and intrusive for the type of sketching. Next time I will be ready. Today I will go into an art store and buy a few items that will be helpful like a smaller sketch book, and Janet’s Niji waterbrush that will make a great team with my watercolor pencils, what a great little tool!
Things I learned? Sketches don’t have to be perfect. A loose painterly sketch can be just as successful, if not more interesting, as any photorealistic piece.