Much of the time, making art is a solitary activity - even if the artist is in a public space.
“I used to try to be sort of surreptitious about sketching,” said Jane Wingfield, organizer of Olympia’s first Sketchcrawl, happening Saturday at the Olympia Farmers Market. “I’d hide and not want people to know about what I was doing.”
But when a group sketches and shares its work, art becomes fun and social, said Wingfield, who recently began sharing her art with Seattle’s Urban Sketchers.
“We get together and sketch and then we share what we’ve done and get comments and different ideas,” she said. “I like the social part of it. It’s much more satisfying. It’s a different kind of activity than doing private art.”
That’s the impetus for the Olympia Sketchcrawl — and one of the missions of Urban Sketchers, an international nonprofit organization started by Seattle artist Gabriel Campanario. Its aim: To show the world, one drawing at a time.
Wingfield of Olympia is already planning more Sketchcrawls, including one at the Procession of the Species on April 24, and she wants to start an Olympia chapter of the sketchers group.
“I’ve been sketching all my life,” she said. “In a meeting, if I’m bored, I’ll sketch to keep my mind awake. Sketching is just focused doodling.”
As that suggests, no experience is necessary. In fact, Wingfield’s sister Beth Larkin of Seattle has been sketching with the Seattle group and is new to the art.
“We’ve had a really big range in Seattle, from a professor of architecture to people who have never sketched,” she said. “A lot of people say they like to sketch, but they don’t go do it on their own,” she added. “They don’t think about it. If there are people to meet and talk to and there is subject matter to focus on, people are more likely to participate.”
And that’s true even for trained artists.
Wingfield quoted from the book “Art and Fear” by David Bayles and Ted Orland. “The authors talk about how many artist upstarts give up after art school because there’s no continuing support system,” she said. “They propose the following in their ‘Operating Manual for Not Quitting’: ‘Make friends with others who make art and share your in-progress work with each other frequently.’ ”
Urban Sketchers has a manifesto, which includes that the drawings are truthful and taken from direct observation.
Seeing is a big part of what sketching is about.
“I love sketching when I travel, but sketching your own hometown is fun,” Wingfield said. “When you look at the world with the idea of sketching it, you see so many ideas that are so much more interesting. Sketching the place where you live is a way to get to know it differently and more intimately, too,” she said. “When you sketch, it embeds things in your mind. I can look at sketches of places where I’ve been, and it helps me remember the feeling of that day.”