Drawing together: SketchCrawl in Waterloo

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Once a season, no matter what the weather, artists of all levels of talent across the globe come together to draw the spontaneous and unpredictable world around them. Created by Pixar storyboard artist and animation director Enrico Casarosa in 2004, SketchCrawl has grown immensely since its initial inception. In nearly 200 cities around the world, sketch artists join up to travel around their community, drawing anything that interests them, whether that be the main hall of a church or a woman walking her dog.

Even on Jan. 25 in Waterloo, through the knee-deep snow, SketchCrawl participants did not quit. Alternating between the Death Valley’s Little Brother café and the Seven Shores restaurant to commence their sketching.

“One of the amazing things about this group is it encourages all skill levels,” said Tanya Korigan, a participant during the first Waterloo SketchCrawl of 2014.

The aim is to capture the art that exists everywhere in everyday life, and that’s just what Waterloo artists have been doing for over a year.

“They take place in January, April, July and October, and last year that we had bad weather every single time,” said Brenda Murray, the coordinator of Waterloo’s SketchCrawl and head of the Kitchener-Waterloo chapter of Urban Sketchers, a worldwide group that is also tied to SketchCrawl.

Murray outlined the typical day for the average sketcher.

“Normally what happens is we get together in the morning and have breakfast or coffee together and we might sketch our breakfast, but then we go outside and we sketch the city. We sketch our surroundings, the buildings, the people, and some people don’t like to sketch people, some people don’t like to sketch buildings, but we usually go out and sketch,” said Murray.

“We’re going to keep going, no matter what,” she said, holding her sketch booklet that had been hit by freezing rain.

After hosting the first SketchCrawl in San Francisco, Casarosa and fellow Pixar artist Ronnie del Carmen have stayed attached to the movement, continually supporting new participating groups around the world and keeping the website running for the international community to connect at a unified spot. What initially started as a “little experiment,” according to a post on Casarosa’s personal website, evolved into a large-reaching event almost overnight—even cities like Kyoto were participating in the very first worldwide version.

The event has also done its fair share of charity work in the past. In 2006, for the seventh SketchCrawl, they managed to raise over $2,000 for the Pakistani earthquake relief efforts; then in 2007 raised $13,000 for EmergencyUSA, a medical service for civilian war victims. They also held a fundraiser for the earthquake-tsunami relief in Japan.

By allowing artists from all over the world to artistically show their world from a local point of view, SketchCrawl reveals how far the art of sketching can reach based on different cultures and tastes, and the Waterloo incarnation is no exception. As Murray stated, “It’s all about meeting people and sketching in a group.”

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