So pleased to see the August/September issue of International Artist magazine with my step-by-step article about painting snow scenes. It was a lot of fun to break down my painting process into steps, and since this is a topic I never cover in workshops (can’t fit everyone in my car!), I was happy to have the opportunity to write an article about it. Available on newsstands now.
Shortly after completing this drawing I received my daily post from James Gurney’s blog Gurney Journey called “Sketching animals from Life” . It was excellent timing because Gurney is writing an article for International Artist magazine and in his first installment he discusses getting started by drawing sleeping dogs. Since I’ve completed step one, the next installment will be to draw some farm animals. If you aren’t aware of his blog, be sure to check it out. It’s one of the best art blogs out there, and there’s different content every day. Sometimes it’s Gurney’s own drawings but there are also posts about art history, illustration, perception, colour, etc. I learn something new every day from reading it.
I was recently asked to contribute to Drawn Poetry 2020, an international project launched by Isabel Carmona and Jeffrey de Bruin. Contributing artists are creating a postcard with an original image on one side and the accompanying poem on the other. I chose one that brings tears to my eyes every time I read it — In Flanders Fields by Canadian poet, soldier and physician John McCrae. The postcards (hopefully over 100 in all) will be printed as boxed sets and also exhibited when the pandemic is over. As well, the original postcards will be sold to raise funds for Medicins Sans Frontiers. The poppies are still a few weeks away from blooming here, but I had some photos that I took last year, so I used those as reference.
A few other nice bits that you might be interested in reading: an article about a the benefits of drawing by a man who has drawn the dish rack in his kitchen over 1000 times, and an article about a woman who learned to draw as a way to engage in a more meaningful way with the world around her. Both of these are in the NY Times, but even if you don’t have a subscription, you can still read a few free articles every month.
For those of you who have been following this blog for some time, you might have come to realize how important Urban Sketchers is to me. When I discovered urbansketchers.org just over four years ago, it changed my life. Since then I’ve both attended and taught at the international symposia and met people from around the world who share the same love of drawing on location as I do. Sooooo…. if I won $1000 and could donate it to the art charity of my choice, it would naturally be Urban Sketchers.
Who would you donate your $1000 to?
Here’s the thing. Craftsy.com is having a promotion in the next few weeks in honour of National Craft Month. If you register for any class during the two weeks between February 29 – March 13, using the links below, you will be entered into a draw and one student will win the opportunity to donate $1000 to the craft charity of their choice (UrbanSketchers.org perhaps?).
In honour of National Craft Month, we Urban Sketchers/Craftsy.com instructors are banding together to share this opportunity…
Cover feature in “Watercolor Artist”
I was thrilled to have my work featured on the cover of Watercolor Artist — especially as the article showcased my winter paintings. The occasion gave me a chance to share my techniques for capturing snow and winter’s distinctive light. You can learn some of these techniques yourself, by taking my instructional video, Sketching Winter.
Article in “Artists Magazine”
I can’t deny that it’s been an exciting month for me. Besides the release of my book, I’m honoured to have my Montreal sketches published in the June 2019 issue of Artists Magazine. Thanks to Anne Hevener for creating this special issue featuring cityscapes (in ink, watercolour and oil), and Austin Williams for the great interview. It makes me proud to see my city here.
Interview in “The Art of Watercolour”
I’ve been buying the beautifully produced “The Art of Watercolour” magazine for many years on the newsstands, so when they contacted me a while back for an interview, it was quite a thrill. As always, this issue is packed with great articles. The print edition will be around until May 2018, and it’s also available as a digital download. Many thanks to Caroline Duchesnes for this!
The following article appeared in the Montreal Gazette on May 25, 2012:
Shari Blaukopf, blogger with a sketchpad
A graphic design teacher who started posting a daily drawing or painting online is connecting with her surroundings, other artists and new opportunities
BY SUSAN SEMENAK, THE GAZETTE MAY 25, 2012
MONTREAL – “Sometimes, the best things are right under your nose, or even in your own backyard.”
That’s a simple truth that Montreal artist Shari Blaukopf discovered when she got out her sketchbooks and set out to capture the snippets of her life in watercolour and ink – one drawing at a time.
Last fall, Blaukopf, a Beaconsfield resident and graphic design teacher at John Abbott and Vanier Colleges, started a sketchblog. It’s called The Sketchbook. Like other bloggers, she posts daily entries on her blog, chronicling the minutiae of her life and immediate surroundings. Unlike most of the tens of thousands of other bloggers out there, Blaukopf does so not just in words, but in whimsical and brightly coloured watercolour and ink drawings and paintings. Her posts are all sketched on location in a Moleskin sketchpad, sometimes finished up at home, and then scanned into her computer.
She finds beauty and interest in the oddest places – while heading for work, or clearing up after breakfast, or even waiting for her car to be repaired at the garage. Blaukopf’s drawings and paintings are vivid quotidian bits to make you sigh or smile: Kiddie-coloured gum balls in their dispenser; her dog Hugo curled up on his cushion, waiting for a walk. A fisherman in his parka by the lighthouse in Lachine, hoping to get a jump start on a fickle spring season. There’s a rusty wheelbarrow in her backyard, criss-crossing electric wires near Atwater Market, Pointe Claire Village on a rainy day, a row of buildings in Griffintown.
In a post called Ugly Season, dated March 11, she captured a city’s winter-weariness in a pile of dirty snow by a red-painted bench.
“If winter in Montreal is all about the cold and snow, then spring is about the mess that is left behind when it melts,” Blaukopf wrote.
Every single day since October she has sketched a scene.
Her vantage points are as varied as her desk at work, her kitchen table, the car, or the market. She’s up past 200 sketches now.
It all started as a way to paint more often, to find time for art in a busy life, Blaukopf says. As a teacher and graphic designer with private clients, and a mother of two grown children, she was finding little time to paint, even though it is a lifelong passion. “There was no time for art, except for some vacation drawing and painting. I was really missing it,” Blaukopf said.
She had recently read a book called An Illustrated Life, by New York art director Danny Gregory. A testament to what Gregory calls “illustrated journaling,” the book offers a peek into the private sketchbooks of 50 artists, illustrators and designers from around the world. Soon enough, Blaukopf was looking for her own way back into drawing and painting. Last October, she created a blog using WordPress, hoping the public commitment to post daily would impose the required discipline. At first she hardly told anyone. Then a few friends and relatives began looking at it.
And then Blaukopf stumbled onto the worldwide sketchblogging movement. On urbansketchers.org, she found a four-year-old international community of sketchbloggers, many of them architects and graphic designers, all of them posting with varying degrees of regularity. She became a member, and before long she met a fellow Montreal sketchblogger, Marc Taro Holmes. When he posted a link to Blaukopf’s blog, her number of views jumped from 8 to 800. Suddenly, she had followers from as far away as Portugal, Sweden, Australia and Russia peering at scenes from her backyard, posting comments, asking about her technique. The blog’s popularity has taken Blaukopf by surprise and steered her in new directions. She’s been invited to lead sketchblogging workshops in Paris and Portland, Oregon, this summer. And she’s offering a Montreal workshop, too.
Finding the time to paint every single day has proved a challenge. On a harried day in February, when Blaukopf failed to find sketching time, she simply drew the cucumber she had sliced up for supper. Bed-ridden with a bad back, she painted the laundry piling up in her room. All winter long, when nasty weather prevented her from heading outdoors to sketch, she’d pull over by the side of the road and paint from the driver’s seat of the family Subaru, sketchbook propped up against the steering wheel, paints in a plastic travel pallet in the console by her seat. Now that it is warmer out, she plunks herself down on the grass to sketch the blue, early-blooming spring scillas that carpet the lawn.
Most of us are so busy multi-tasking, texting, talking on our cellphones, that we don’t really see what’s going on around us, Blaukopf laments. The daily exercise of looking for a new subject to sketch has honed her artistic eye, Blaukopf says. But it has also enriched her everyday life. She finds beauty in mundane moments now in a way she never did before. A road crew on Cartier Ave. in Pointe Claire caught her attention because, at work on their ladders, they looked like praying mantises. When heavy, low clouds move across the sky, they are more to her than bad weather.
“When you walk around, mostly you are just daydreaming, or involved with the thoughts in your own head,” she said. “But if you slow down and really look around, it can be quite meditative. You find things that are so amazing.”
Sketchblogging, she says, makes her ask herself: “What’s unique about this day?” The answer might be as simple as a basket full of chili peppers or evergreen branches heavy with snow.
To see Shari Blaukopf’s sketchblog The Sketchbook, or to sign up for her summer workshops, go to shariblaukopf.com
I’m a former graphic designer and teacher who found herself spending too much time working on the computer and not enough time drawing and painting. I have always kept travel sketchbooks but daily drawing was not part of my life until just a few years ago. Now that I have started, I can’t really stop. I began posting daily sketches in October 2011 and kept up that punishing pace for quite a while. My sketch blog was, and often is, about everyday stuff I see around me in Montreal neighbourhoods, but also glimpses of other places, when I am fortunate enough to travel.
While my career was in graphic design and teaching, my true love has always been watercolour. I started painting as an adolescent, travelled to many places, took lots of workshops and then put my paints away for a long time. I am thrilled to have dusted off my brushes and to have the opportunity to share my work here and on the Urban Sketchers international blog.
I have been lucky to give in-person workshops in many countries, and to have met hundreds of people along the way, who share my passion for drawing and painting. More recently, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, I have begun to produce my own online classes and to give Zoom workshops.
Many things have changed. But sharing my love for putting pencil, pen and brush to paper remains the same.
All images on this site are © of Shari Blaukopf.
No rights of reproduction, nor any rights to the paintings/images, unless permission is granted by the artist.