Falling in love with the world, one sketch at a time

[Guest post by Jane Wingfield in Olympia, Seattle, Centralia, Chicago and New York] I was reading a fellow sketcher’s blog a while back, and she
posed the question, “Why do you sketch?” It’s a question I ask myself often. It
can be a nagging question – why?

“Why are you doing this?” I hear my monkey-mind say.
“You’re not getting paid. You’ll never be a great artist – why waste your time?
You should be developing your own business or working for peace or delivering
blankets to the homeless – or at least making soup for shut-ins. But sketching?”

I’ve always had a rebellious streak, so I keep going. I snub
my nose at my monkey-mind, grab my pen and have at it.  

I’ve come up with plenty of rationales: 

It keeps me from missing my grown kids, and now grandkids,
who live thousands of miles in different directions.

It helps me remember where I’ve been. While sketching we
experience it all – the sounds, sights, smells…exhaust fumes, french-fry
grease, perspiration dripping down your back…

Chicago hot dogs

… or the smell of nail polish remover as I sit at the local
nail spa.

At the nail spa

I’ve sketched since I was a kid. That’s a good reason – I’ve
always done it. I may still have a sketch of my feet done when I was 12 while
sitting on the front stoop of our apartment on the south side of Chicago. 

To keep from getting bored: Work meetings are perfect opportunities
to study slouching body shapes. 

Morning meeting

Waiting in long lines is perfect for analyzing which
hip rises and which falls with a bent knee.

The original Starbucks, Pike Place Market, Seattle

It also steers me away from judgments and frustrations.
Instead of wondering how anyone could choose that outfit to wear in public, I
notice how the orange shape of the top contrasts so vividly with the purple
hippie skirt. Add a blue sky for background and the colors are
operatic. My daughter says I notice the strangest things. 

Ikea ferry to Red Hook, NY

The other day, however, it came to me: I sketch
because it makes me fall in love with the world
again and again and again. A
pop of color here; a rusty texture there; the orange, yellow and green fence in
front of the blue store; the way the sun paints an ephemeral shadow-shape on
the side of a building. Or the shape of the truck as it blocks my perfect view.

So I sketch. I take it all in. I get excited about the
variegated pink of Easter egg radishes. I love the bulbous shape of the
vendor’s belly as he reaches to pick out the best apple at our local farmer’s
market. I constantly search for a good angle and analyze the shape
of a building as I both flatten it out in my mind and try to add depth on my
paper.

Flatiron Building, New York City

I wake up in a new city excited – no, chomping at the bit – to
discover new neighborhoods, new storefronts, another red door, an abandoned
streetcar, countless new people on subways – each shape unique and each story
lending worlds of depth to what I see. 

Red Hook, NY

You could say I’m obsessive. Or captivated. Or a rebel. All
apply. One thing’s for sure. I just can’t won’t stop falling in love with the
world and sketching whatever I can.

Jane sketching at Joshua Tree National Park

Jane Wingfield lives in Olympia, Washington, USA. She is a long-time member of Urban Sketchers Seattle, helps organize sketch outings and co-administers the USk Seattle blog. She has contributed numerous guest posts to the USk blog. You can see more of Jane’s sketches on her blog.

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