Sketching with the NYC Urban Sketchers

UBSK If you've been traveling with me on this journey for any length of time, you know that I'm constantly looking for ways to "up the ante" so to speak. This past weekend I took yet another step. I joined the NYC Urban Sketchers group at the Central Park Zoo. I found out about the group through a post from someone else on Facebook. To be honest, I wasn't really sure what to expect. I had been emailing the group leader Mark during the week but aside from that I was flying solo and blind.

My experience left me so glad I did indeed join them. It was a small group this time around (about 5-6 of us). It's pretty open, as you just show up and join in. Sometimes there are a lot of people, sometimes few.

As we made our way around the zoo, we'd stop every so often and sketch whatever we saw. But this day ended up being more than 3 hours of sketching. Some great surprises were:

  • We got to interact with people visiting the zoo. Children would come up and peer over to our sketchbooks. Parents would point us out and say "see that, They're drawing. Isn't that cool?" It was a great reminder that we all start out loving to color and draw, but most "outgrow" it unfortunately. It was like having a magical connection with the kids. So great!
  • There's nothing like drawing from life - what you see in front of you. Even the most challenging, like when the animals would constantly be on the move!
  • I got to meet 4 or 5 new people from all walks of life and parts of NY (and NJ) who all love to draw. You can't underestimate the importance of being with with like-minded people, especially for artists who usually are creating in isolation.
  • A few of us went to a local pub following our sketch time, where we shared our sketches from the day, as well as pulled out some of our supplies and let each other try them out. We shared techniques and observations. Although I had just met these guys that day, I felt a bond by the time the day was over.

I think about what I would have missed out on had I let myself listen to the introvert side of me. Sometimes you just have to go for it. Experience something new. And depending on how you are wired, that may be a no brainer or it might seem completely impossible. But as I've been saying for some time now - just take the the right next step for you - where you are and who you are!

If you're local to NY and want to join in the Urban Sketching fun (no need to be a professional artist - most are people who just love to draw!) they meet up every Saturday! Go sign up to receive info. Even if you make it once, I think you'll find it well worth your time.

Oh yeah - and I was asked to do a guest blog post on the Urban Sketcher site. Check it out!




1451379_10151799033850958_1891689840_n This piece was inspired by something I read in "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron.

Remember that art is process. The process is supposed to be fun. For our purposes, “the journey is always the only arrival” may be interpreted to mean that our creative work is actually our creativity itself at play in the field of time.

(Cameron, Julia (2002-03-04). The Artist's Way. Penguin Group US.)

And then there was this on Danny Gregory's blog:

Because being an artist is a cause you choose for yourself, the rewards are in the journey, and there is no Promised Land. You have to want to proclaim your vision, to broadcast your voice, to change the world. The finish line doesn’t lie at the doors of the Whitney Biennial, it lies at the grave. Every day is a lesson and a revelation and they follow one after the other to the horizon, providing their own reward.

I was also listening to Switchfoot's song Thrive, where this lyric struck me:

Feel like I travel but I never arrive. I want to thrive not just survive.


Perhaps if you have a divine discontent, a restlessness of the soul, you can relate. I need to constantly remind myself that it's not only about the future, the end result. When the dream is attained. But I need to enjoy the NOW, the journey, even though I know I am undone. So today, I create again. I start the cycle again. And when Today comes to a close, Tomorrow brings a fresh start. And I must begin again. Every day when I awake I am back to zero. It doesn't matter what I did yesterday. The act of creating helps me live in the moment. So, I must keep creating. I want to THRIVE, not just survive.


What's your next step?

photo (1) I've been pondering the question of "What's next?" as of late in terms of my passion to create. That is, when I'm not taken in different directions in the busyness of my project lists and the tasks of life. The question is always there in the quietness, when things do finally slow down.

To be honest, I have no big revelations. At least not yet. But what I am convinced of is simply showing up and taking the right next step. Some days that's making sure I get myself in my sketchbook. Or recently, signing up to take a watercolor class (which I'm loving BTW). Still, others days, it's finishing a project I've set out to do (like the art above, commissioned to do based on a page in my sketchbook project) or reading another chapter in The Artist's Way. The only thing that is certain for me is that I must find new ways and opportunities to keep creating more. Creating the stuff that flows out of my heart, and hopefully finds a way to touch someone else.

Part of me feels like it's starting to wake up to more of what could be. I'm leaning into a phrase found in the Bible in the book of Ephesians - Immeasurably more. I want to know what that looks like in my life. For my Art to be immeasurably more that I could ask or imagine - for it to go places and touch people that I don't know.

I'm not talking fame or success. I'm talking usefulness, and being a blessing in some one else's life. I'm not talking grandiose dreams. I'm talking me - fully alive, using my gifts and abilities, and trusting God to use what He desires to - in breathing life into what I create. You might think that's crazy talk. Or prideful. But, you see, for far too long I haven't given my art the value it deserved. And at one point, I almost let it die.

So at this stage in my journey, I'm not interested in "playing" art. I'm interested in real and true creation. Creation that moves me and the people around me. Creation that somehow brings a smile, or a tear, or an acknowledgement of some beauty around us that we miss most of the time. Creation that I'm is born out of passion.

I saw the following video by artist and design Elle Luna (love her name BTW) on a talk she gave entitled "Find Your Must". That's where I am. Where I've been. Where I will continue to be... (at least for a little while I think). Finding and rediscovering my "Must" - what I and only I can & must do.

I resinate with the journey. Maybe you will too. And just maybe it will help you take the right next step on your journey, leading to a new path.