June 7, 2020

Just Joey botanical
Just Joey rose, May 2020 (Prismacolor colored pencils and watercolor on Strathmore cold press illustration board)

If you have been following my blog, you know that I have been talking about doing a series of botanicals. Here is the latest one. If you have no idea what I’m referring to, I would tell you that this technique/style of art is a kind of botanical. And in a way, that’s all I have to say about this piece. The rest of this post is actually another side of an artist’s story. If you want to find out what I am referring to, read on. If not, please enjoy the subtle colors and lushness of this enchanting rose. It’s called “Just Joey.”  The rose breeder of this heavenly scented apricot beauty, Roger Pawsey, named it after his wife, Joey. According to Wikipedia, it was introduced in the United Kingdom in 1972. I guess there is something called the Rose Hall of Fame in the UK and this hybrid tea rose was inducted into that Famous Hall as the “World’s Favourite Rose” in 1994.

If you are still curious about my other tale, here we go. It’s actually a kind of shaggy dog story that started when I participated in an Urban Sketchers (USk) online event last Sunday. I have often written about sketching groups I belong to, but never actually talked about any one in particular. I belong to the Los Angeles Chapter of Urban Sketchers. Urban Sketchers is a nonprofit organization that describes itself as a “global community of artists that practice drawing on location in cities, towns, and villages they live in or travel to.” It was started in 2007 by Gabriel Campanario, a journalist for the Seattle Times, as a way for artists to share their artwork. In 2008 he started a blog that soon became very popular world wide. In 2009 he established Urban Sketchers as a nonprofit organization. The whole purpose of this group is not to only create fine art (or botanicals for that matter), but more of a kind of “street” art with a definite story and point of view. And they have quite a complete, and very specific, manifesto. Here it is:

  1. We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation.
  2. Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel
  3. Our drawings are a record of time and place.
  4. We are truthful to the scenes we witness.
  5. We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles.
  6. We support each other and draw together.
  7. We share our drawings online. (I tend to not do this…mostly because such postings are on Facebook and I have really stopped engaging with anything Facebook…)
  8. We show the world, one drawing at a time.

The group is very active and regularly invites members to engage in events and/or challenges. They are also interested in educating artists and regularly present workshops and/or tutorials to help artists explore new and different techniques and materials. There are now lots of local chapters, like the one I belong to in LA. And once a year, they host a huge symposium, inviting all members from all over the world to attend not only workshops, but panel discussions, lectures and of course numerous opportunities to meet other artists so you can get together and draw on location. The first symposium was held in Portland in 2010. But they have been held in: Singapore, Chicago, Amsterdam, Manchester England, Portugal, Brazil and Barcelona. The 2020 symposium was supposed to take place this summer in Hong Kong, but was unfortunately cancelled. It was announced last November that there would be no USk Hong Kong Symposium the summer of 2020 due to unrest in the city. The Urban Sketchers Executive Board and Urban Sketchers Hong Kong were concerned for visitor safety, and fun, but hope to reinvite sketchers to their beloved city when it is back to being stable and able to ensure a great experience for everyone.

Still with me? So, back to the USk LA Sunday meeting. Most of the participants were from LA, but a few from San Diego had also joined us. But we were also joined by a lovely man, and talented artist, from Hong Kong. (I have a couple postcards of his art that he handed out to us the last time he was in SoCal.) His name is Alvin Wong. He co-founded Urban Sketchers Hong Kong in 2013 and is the founder of USk China. Mr. Wong also participated in the “Umbrella Movement” in Hong Kong in 2014, where he and over 30 sketchers recorded the event with their sketches. If you are interested in seeing that artwork of unrest, he also coordinated and published a book with their sketches called “Sketches under the Umbrellas, Hong Kong 2014.” It’s amazing. Of course we talked about world events in light of our first night of curfew in LA (that actual day). It was so interesting to hear his perspective on the world, as he sees everyday a view of the world through his Hong Kong lens. 

We went around and said what we had been doing and what art we had been working on. I had just finished this botanical, but knew I wouldn’t actually be sharing it as it does not really count as Urban Sketching. That was fine. I did mention this piece, nonetheless. And I wasn’t the only who shared that the art they had been creating was just personal stuff and meant to help us from going insane because of all the insanity around us. It wasn’t long before the moderators stopped and reminded us that art is art and whatever we were doing just now was wonderful, valued and had a place, just don’t post it on the Urban Sketchers website. (Ha! Artists are a funny bunch…don’t think they meant to be funny in that instance though.) All funniness aside, it seems one of our members has been going out to sketch the Black Lives Matter protests around town. After learning about the Hong Kong sketchers doing the same thing in Hong Kong in 2014, I might be coaxed back to see what gets posted on the Urban Sketchers Facebook page. In fact, I am doing a USk Instructor challenge this afternoon. Maybe you would like to try it too? Here it is:

Start with a Wash

  1. Start your sketch with a watercolor wash.
  2. Choose either warm or cool colors.
  3. Make a line drawing of a place on top.

One last thing.

Here is a book that EVERYONE should read: The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd (she also wrote another fav of mine, The Secret Life of Bees)

Good luck, stay sane and stay tuned.

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