TO DO | ACTIVITY
As I used to love art classes at school, a looong time ago, a message about sketching workshops drew my attention. After choosing the date and village, I dusted off my sketchbook, watercolour pencils and paint brushes. These tools hadn’t been used since last Summer when I decided I wanted to start a travel diary, including a sketch every day. Way too ambitious, because I didn’t touch a brush again after that… So, off I went on a beautiful Spring day, to meet up with Annette Morris of Sketch Languedoc and some of her students.
Upon arriving at our meeting point in Pézenas, I was warmly welcomed and immediately provided with the right tools by Annette. Although I brought some of the stuff myself, I was very grateful I could use Annette’s watercolour pencils with cooler colours and her special water brush. We started our workshop indoors, by picking one of five photos of typical Pézenas detail, like old doors, elaborate balconies and cobbled streets. Each of us had to sketch each photo in about 10 minutes. Annette stressed that this exercise was meant to warm us up and it certainly wasn’t about perfection. “Drawing is all about looking and understanding where you are, and it shouldn’t be a competition. By creating a sketch, you make memories that will last for years!” While working with great concentration, we hardly had any time to sip our coffee or tea.
After our indoor session, Annette took us outside to one of the beautiful picturesque squares in Pézenas. As Annette explained: “Sketching on location can be overwhelming and feels completely different than drawing inside from a picture.” However, because there were five of us, it didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. I was completely drawn into the scenery in front of me, trying to get it onto paper. Annette suggested that we started to roughly set up our sketch with pencil first. That way we could make our choices about what to draw, and -maybe more importantly- what to leave out.
It took us about an hour to get our sketches done. Which brought us to another fun part of the day: lunch! While ordering our food, we continued working on our sketches by adding some colour. Instead of using the watercolour pencils, we opened our little watercolour travel palettes. I would never do this by myself, sketching on a busy terrace. But sitting in a group, it didn’t even cross my mind to worry about what people might think of us. Nor if my sketch looked beautiful. I was completely caught up in the moment and tried to let go of my perfectionism… Annette explained that while drawing you needed to let go of the logical left side of your brain, and use your creative right side more. This takes practice, like training a muscle, and the more you do it, the better you will get.
After we had added our watercolour paint, we went back to include some watercolour pencils a bit more. And finally, we finished our sketches by outlining some of the highlights with a fine marker pen. Annette is a wonderful teacher, who explains everything clearly and helps her students. It didn’t feel like an ordinary art class, it really was a day out. Besides the Sketch Languedoc workshops, Annette also set up the Languedoc group of an international nonprofit organisation called the “Urban Sketchers”. These meet-ups are free and offer practice drawing on location for anyone interested. You can always join both the Sketch Languedoc workshops or Urban Sketchers meet-ups, no matter your level of sketching. I found it great to meet new people with the same interest, and somehow everybody learned from each other. Utterly pleased with this day of creativity, I think I have found myself a new hobby!