Slowing down and taking in our surroundings – the proverbial stopping to smell the roses – is oft discussed but seldom acted on. The measures put in place to slow the coronavirus have certainly provided us with the opportunity to do just that, however.
That’s certainly the case for Della Stroobosscher, who’s got more time for her newly-found passion for sketching, and for putting on paper her view of the sights around her Conestogo home. The likes of the old steel bridge on Glasgow Street to Chip’s Garage have been captured, not only committed to paper but spread far and wide thanks to her online connections to likeminded artists around the world.
Stroobosscher is part of an “urban sketching” movement that’s been growing for about a decade now. She began sketching in earnest about two years ago.
“I’ve been doing photography for years, and I thought it could be kind of cool to draw those things I’ve been taking pictures of,” she said.
It’s no coincidence, then, that here first sketch was of her camera. It’s a subject she’s revisited regularly as she’d honed her skills. From there, she’s tried her hand at a wide variety of subjects, drawing what she sees, from what’s sitting on the table in front of her to what’s out in the world.
It’s a work in progress as she learns the ropes.
“I think you just need to be patient with yourself,” she said, noting perseverance is the key.
“I started doing some urban sketching a while ago,” she added. “I’ve tried to keep that up regularly.”
Stroobosscher has met likeminded people via online groups, some of the same people who took part in a workshop she added last fall in New Orleans, organized by a group called Studio 56, for instance.
“It’s an interesting way of meeting people from around the world with similar interests,” she said of the online forums, which included a local Facebook group for urban sketchers in Waterloo Region.
While her trip to New Orleans predated the COVID-19 outbreak, she was forced to cancel another one planned for Barcelona over the March break.
“I had hoped to sketch there,” she said, noting that was off the table as the pandemic set in, and Spain was particularly hard hit.
Sticking closer to home, she had Conestogo as her subject matter.
A member of the township’s heritage committee, she’s well aware the village has a stock of old buildings, not just intact but in good shape, that make for great material for “sketches from around Conestogo.”
With the pace of life slowed down, and physical distancing limiting time outdoors to the likes of solitary walking, there’s a chance to take in your surroundings, perhaps noticing details you might otherwise miss if you take a look – “have eyes to see … what’s out there.”
As with others in the urban sketching community, she’s been putting on paper portraits of her community and sharing the work with others online.
“The feedback is overall very positive,” she said, noting others have been sharing sketches of their hometowns. “It’s been a neat way to learn about these little towns.”