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    The last few posts have touched on my gradual transition out of fashion illustration and into Urban Sketching as a focus for my art work. I want to talk a bit more about how the momentum really started to roll.

    2015 was a year of transition. I lost my mom in March to cancer and my world came crashing down around me. I had my first experience with trauma and was completely unprepared for it. Not sleeping, loss of short term memory, inability to keep my days straight. I was off work for a month after she passed. Days were a bit of a blur but I know I attempted routine, working out at home, going for walks and taking a lot of afternoon naps. I also found myself in a new to me art supply store one day and on a whim, purchased two sketchbooks, a Windsor and Newton travel watercolour kit and a few Micron pens.
    I started to sketch and paint again, but still timidly. Still using my ruler, still agonizing over proper perspective.

    I went back to work at the end of April, and stepping completely out of character, did something I’d always wanted to do and bought a second hand bicycle. Endorphins and physical exertion really helped to get me out of my head in the months following losing my mom. It was surreal a lot of the time. But biking did another unexpected thing – it opened my eyes to my surroundings again. I started to appreciate the streets I would ride on in the early mornings and afternoons, the way the trees hung high over the roadways, the way people would decorate their doors.

    The summer passed into fall, and I picked up my phone randomly one day to see someone post their first urban sketch for Inktober. It was October 1st. I hadn’t bothered to sketch regularly for a few months at that point, but Inktober – a sketch each day for 31 days – what a concept. And to finish it in a day meant it would be simple, couldn’t take more than an hour or so at most. I had other things to do.
    Well colour me surprised, but I actually stuck to it. For 31 days, I produced a small pen and ink sketch each day, which I would then post to Instagram. Some days I would simply stop my bike on the side of the road to sketch what was in front of me. I took my birthday off that month (as I do) and played around with watercolor in my sketch that day. I was hooked. I was forced to loosen up, drop my ideals of perfection, and the best part – on the days I didn’t feel like it, I DID IT ANYWAY. A simple 20 minute sketch would easily turn into an hour, and I was almost always pleased with the result. I finished out October tired, but proud. And the best feeling? Those two sketchbooks I had purchased in April? Were full. I had finished my first TWO sketchbooks in that challenge. I took myself down to Mona Lisa art supplies and rewarded myself with a massive 12″ x 16″ Moleskin sketchbook. Determined not to be intimidated by it, I was sketching again by November 3rd after two days off.

    Inktober taught me what I strive to teach any student now in my watercolour classes. A sketchbook is a perfect place to start. Pages are small and can have a throw-away feel to them. No piece of artwork need be perfect, ever. And in your sketchbook, your safe place? If you don’t like how it’s going – turn the page. Start a new one. Don’t be afraid to draw ugly pictures. This is how they get better. This is how your style emerges. This is how you break out of your rut, get over the hump and just start moving.

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