Technology brings communities together. Networking sites like Flickr allow artists to share their work and at the same time build up a community of like minded artists. Mostly these are remote communities in which you develop ‘friendships’ in all corners of the globe, but sometimes there are opportunities to meet face to face and share and exchange experiences about art. That’s how I ended up spending a whole day sketching in the old covered market in Sheffield. A disordered little network of men and women, young and old, easily spotted with their anoraks, folding stools and rucksacks and keen looking faces met at the windswept bleak entrance to the market. Some tentative beginners clung to the sides of the more experienced, others were keen to wander off on their own and get started. We met up at lunchtime in a market cafe and again at the end of the day in a pub to compare sketchbooks. Some didn’t get their sketchbooks out, others were keen to share what they’d done and chat about their work.
The market stall holders weren’t shy about making comments: ‘Don’t draw my ugly mug!’ and ‘Come and show me what you’re doing Picasso!’. Three times I was asked ‘What ARE you doing?’ What do you say to that when its perfectly obvious what you are in fact doing? When I responded that we were all there because we simply all enjoy drawing, I got some bemused looks.
All the resulting work will eventually find its way to the Sheffield Sketchcrawl website and some of it onto the international Urban Sketchers website. I found it immensely valuable to spend time with others doing the same activity: its inspiring to see the huge difference in approach people take to such a task, and the multitude of views of market activity.
I’ve been musing on the fact that as a sociable person I found this event hugely enjoyable, and that I often find it hard to motivate myself to work in my studio just because I am on my own. However, I know others crave the quiet of creative activity, and that this kind of event would be an anathema.
For those that fancy it though, I reckon setting up such meet ups for creative activity, can feed creative impulses, especially for those studying with OCA who find studying from home a lonely affair.