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SKETCHBOOK: a creative tool and a way of life that celebrates design and drawing as vital ways to see and value culture, to discover ideas, and to envision a better world.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Drawing as Discovery: Capturing the Spirit of Place

For the upcoming Urban Sketching Summer Retreat, August 16-20, 2021 at the Madeline Island School of Art, I'll be teaching alongside my friends and world class sketching instructors Shari Blaukopf, Paul Heaston and Uma Kelkar. My session is called, "The Goods: Keys to Lively Travel Sketches." And yes, since I live on a small island off Florida's Gulf Coast, sketching beautiful Madeline Island in Lake Superior will qualify as both urban sketching and travel sketching. 

Travel and sketching have been inseparable for me for decades.  More than an avocation or hobby, travel and sketching are a perfect pairing, like great food and fine wine. Together, they can heighten our senses, expand our creative awareness and greatly enrich and intensify our experience. When you carry a sketchbook, you're no longer a tourist. You're a traveler. The world is your studio, and your sketchbook is your passport. 

When I travel, sketching on-location becomes a tool for exploration and discovery. And though my sketchbook collection spans five continents, there's a common theme: the search for places--historic districts, traditional towns and villages, scenic landscapes, pockets of wildness--that retain a sense of authenticity, with roots in their native landscape, history, cultures and traditions. As an artist, I'm less motivated by communicating my own emotions than by searching for and capturing this genuine spirit of place. 

On Madeline Island, we'll identify a great subject area on the island itself or in nearby Bayfield. We'll take note of the geology, the vegetation, waterfront character, architecture, building materials and details. We'll learn to spot and capture these quickly in our sketchbooks as "visual notes," and create small sketches of how they come together to convey a distinct character. Then we'll learn a flexible 5-step process to employ composition, line quality, dramatic darks and expressive color to build a lively eye-level perspective sketch. Finally, we'll enrich our drawing with some of the details, found objects and notes we've collected to convey our impression of what makes this corner of Madeline Island like nowhere else.

I'm very excited about this opportunity to experience and capture the character of this very special place. Come join us! Here's the link for more details and registration.