Welcome to my blog and the very first post.
You may think Christmas Eve is a strange day to start an art blog. I’ve been thinking about keeping a blog for a while, but I was waiting for the ‘right moment’; for the planets to align, get through all the unfinished tasks, basically for my life to be perfect. Then came 2020!
I chanced upon the concept of urban sketching in 2017 whilst browsing the art shelves in Foyles Bookshop in London. A quick flick through Urban Watercolour Sketching by the Berlin-based artist Felix Scheinberger was enough – why didn’t anyone tell me about urban sketching sooner?!
I’m a clinical biochemist by day, working for the NHS. It is an immensely fulfilling and interesting role, although apart from the occasional flow chart, requires little or no artistic skill. As a child growing up in Sri Lanka, my artistic adventures were limited to the token crayon drawing every young child creates; and as I got older, ‘real’ (insert sarcastic face) studies took over. It wasn’t until 5 years ago that I realised my mind needed a distraction; something that’s not biochemistry. Something to shift the fresh grief of my mother’s sudden death. I can’t remember how or why I chose watercolour, but I did. I started with a box of student-grade watercolour, couple of brushes and a sketchbook. I was mostly mixing ‘mud’ by the time I found Felix Scheinberger’s book in Foyles a couple of years later.
A quick Google search told me that urban sketching is a global phenomenon and there was a chapter right on my doorstep in London. I went along to my first Urban Sketchers (USk) London outing in December 2017, to the V&A in South Kensington.
There was no turning back – I’ve become an urban sketcher.
I was eager to learn more; I signed up to an online watercolour course by Liz Steel – a Sydney-based urban sketcher. She, not only taught me how to stop mixing ‘mud’, but also inspired me to deep dive into this amazing activity. I travelled to Porto, Portugal for my first USk symposium in 2018. Never before, have I met so many amazing and talented people in one place – such diversity, yet a single great passion – urban sketching. I learnt so much from amazing teachers like Matthew Brehm and Shari Blaukopf. I made so many friends and met sketchers I’ve been following on social media for a while before then; and Porto itself, a beautiful city full of character.
For me, the greatest ‘aha-moment’ along this journey has been the realisation that I’ll never again be bored of waiting, for anyone or anything (train/bus/airport/cafe/street-corner), as long as I carry my urban sketching kit with me.