|6/29/20 squirrel dining at a bird feeder (motivated by|
If you spend any time observing the work of urban sketchers who share their work regularly, you’ll start to see what motivates their sketching. (Aside: The term inspires is often used as a synonym for motivates, but in this context, I avoid inspires because it seems to evoke an external intervention – a fickle Muse or a bolt of lightning from the heavens. I think of motivation as coming from within, not the sky.)
For many, it’s obviously color – the multi-hued flower garden; a red house with a yellow door; the elusive hue of a near-black, reddish-purple tree. For others, it’s subject matter: distinctive architecture; an ancient pickup rusting in a field; an iconic landmark. Sometimes an intriguing play of light against shadow is enough to motivate a sketch. Or perhaps seeking an interesting composition in an otherwise dull scene can be motivating because of its inherent challenge. And most of us, at some point, are motivated by nothing more than art materials themselves: Having a new pen, pencil, sketchbook or even a new sketch bag is enough to get us out the door.
|6/12/20 cement mixer (motivated by this super-soft pencil)|
At various times, I’ve been motivated by all of the above. Perhaps the most enjoyable sketching of all is when more than one element is a motivating factor, like a beautiful old building with dramatic light and shadows; or an exciting composition of trees bursting with pink blossoms. Who could resist a quirky landmark that is also colorful?
Now that feeling safe while sketching on location can be a formidable challenge, I’ve noticed that some sketchers have stopped altogether. I think the sketchers who have adapted the best to these challenging times are the ones who are motivated by a wide variety of elements and are even exploring new territory. For example, I’m impressed by Virginia Hein’s recent experiments with Brusho (as described in her USk Talk), which keep her motivated even when she’s still sketching mostly around her home. And I’ve been motivated myself several times by creative prompts that USk Japan has come up with to help its members keep sketching, even if the familiar scenes they see every day are not necessarily “inspiring.”
I see myself as an adaptive sketcher with many motivators. What motivates you – especially during our corona times? Please share your ideas in the comments.