Monday, May 28, 2018

I Bought a Sketchbook

We were in New Orleans a couple of months ago, a city I truly love. I could live there, I think. I love how vibrant the city is. And of course the food, the music, the fact that I can walk down the street with a cold beer and no one cares.

And I really love the art scene in NOLA. There are so many wonderful galleries, it's true. But the places I love to go to see local art are the artist co-ops, the outdoor art markets, and the wrought iron fences that surround Jackson Square.

We were at the Palace Art Market on Frenchmen Street on a Wednesday night. Perfect weather, warm but not humid, little bit of a breeze. I picked up a couple of prints I adored and Cin bought a lovely, slim leather cuff for her wrist. Then we happened upon a booth where the artist had these postcards for sale. When I picked one up, I knew immediately what I was looking at.

"This is a page out of your journal, isn't it?!" It was a scene at Cafe du Monde, captured perfectly. It depicted a crowd of people and I could feel the bustling atmosphere just from his drawing. But at the same time, I felt like I was sitting a table or two away from him, watching him sketch and jot down his observations. The drawing of a very busy public scene was at the same time quite intimate.

He answered, "yeah, it is. I brought a bunch of them for people to look through." That's when I saw the basket full of his sketchbooks. I picked one up and flipped through it. It was wonderful. I wanted to just pull up a chair and sit down so I could peruse every single page in every single journal. But I was too self-conscious to take a really close look at them. It felt like such an invasion of his privacy. I know - he offered them up to share. But I just couldn't do it.

I'm sorry about that now. I would love to have seen more of his sketchbooks.

What I did see, though, inspired me so much. I purchased three of his postcards to put in my travel journal. I pulled them out that night after we got home and pored over every detail of the sketches, noticing everything I could.

The next day, I took a Lyft to New Orleans Art Supply and bought a new sketchbook and a few pens, all inexpensive...on purpose. My theory was that if I didn't invest a lot in the supplies, it would free me up in my sketching and allow me not to strive for perfection (a chronic problem for me). Then I went back to Jackson Square and just started drawing stuff. And I was right. I just drew. I wasn't focused on the outcome, wasn't worried about anything being perfectly in scale, perfectly drawn, perfectly perfect. And guess what? My sketches were wonky, imperfect...and so free.

I'm happy to report I've been sketching every day - something I've talked about doing for a long, long time.

So, thank you Trey Bryan. I loved meeting you and perusing the little bit that I did of your art journals. Thank you for being so generous with them.

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