first rooftop sketch – and the struggle of calling myself an Urban Sketcher

Rooftops-1

I’ve seen images such as this all over Pinterest and Instagram and was on the lookout for rooftops to try.  I was initially put off of this one because of the snow on the rooftops (see my last post!) but ultimately decided just to go for it.

Here’s the other funny thing about me (okay, like any of us have just one!).  Labels?  Really trip me up.  Totally off the sketching topic for a second, I got a new belt in capoeira last year.  When I was going up to the stage to accept it they called me Graduada Baqueta.  I’m a graduada – a graduated student.  We don’t use that as an official title in our school – others do, and I think it’s a big deal.  I’ve seen videos online of other Graduado’s/Graduada’s, and a ton of them could kick my arse in a second.  I think because of both of those I shy away from calling myself Graduada in and around capoeira.  Shouldn’t I feel like I know way more?  Can DO way more?

Transfer that over to my art.  The first three years of this blog I was doing fashion illustration.  Was I a fashion illustrator?  Maybe.  Sure.  Why not?  It didn’t bring me joy, in fact at times it was downright boring.  I can see in my own work the initial improvement and then the fall off where I fell out of love with it.  It wasn’t until the end of 2014 that I stumbled into Urban Sketchers.  All that time spend online and it took three years to stumble onto my first urban sketch.  I think it found me when it was meant to.

Urban Sketchers did start following me on Instagram at the end of 2015.  Then they started reposting my work.  I was over the moon!  My followers have grown which has caused my confidence in trying things to grow.  It’s been a positive growth relationship – until I started overthinking the title.  Urban Sketcher.  Right in their manifesto, it says you draw on site.  I’ve done that.  But not all the time.  So does that make me a fraud?  Not sure!  These rooftops.  They’re from a photo.  Sure I could find a high point in Calgary and draw some of our rooftops, but these ones are way nicer.  And this was a daunting subject to tackle! No clear perspective, angles didn’t necessarily connect to anything.  I spent hours on this and was hesitant to post it, because is it technically not an Urban Sketch if I didn’t do it on site?  Even though it is an urban scene?  Even though I did it, all alone, and brought a piece of the world to life in my own perspective?  What about drawing from photos I’ve taken?  They’re totally mine and I make them into a painting…a sketch, an urban sketch, no?  Lots of Urban Sketchers will state something was drawn on site and coloured later in the hotel.  That’s legit then, isn’t it?

Tough – for me –  to say.  I read books, so I’m a reader.  I rarely go more than two days at a stretch without drawing or painting, and if we call that doing art then I am an artist.  I do yoga several times a week, making me a yogi.  I am a capoeirista, even if the title of Graduada sits pretty heavy on my shoulders.  But an Urban Sketcher?  Even if I don’t draw on site all the time, I think I am an Urban Sketcher.  Just trying to clarify for both of us.

 

As for these rooftop sketches – they were hard, and fun, and challenging, and enlightening.  I want to try again with different cities, with different approaches to the watercolour and with integration of the colour theory I’ve been slowly but diligently trying to study.  So…there.  Urban Sketcher or not – I am giving myself permission to keep working on anything and everything that brings me joy.  And in the back of my mind – one day I will draw these from life.  One day.  Until then, there’s always that internet.

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