Open a journal of one of the Whidbey Island Sketchers and details of local life spill out.
A colorful teapot for sale at Island Thrift, a portrait of orcas at the Langley Whale Center, wandering chickens, winking gnomes, waves of lavender fields, rolling farmland.
“We sketch libraries, thrift stores, nurseries,” said Barbara Barry, who’s been with Whidbey Island Sketchers about five years. “We’ve even gone to WAIF and we sketched costumes in storage at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts.”
The group’s been around since 2009 and meets at 1 p.m. every Friday. They meet at indoor venues during colder weather with between 8 to 20 members.
Whidbey Island Sketchers is mostly female but not by design (so to speak). On a recent Friday, Declai Wynne stood out as the only male among 14 women.
“There should be more than one man,” he declared in his distinct Irish accent. “There must be more male painters on this island.”
The group is divided into teams and each month a new team finds new venues. It’s loosely organized with a Facebook page announcing where to meet.
Once the sun comes out, so do more sketchers as the group moves outside to paint Whidbey’s natural beauty, beaches and bays. And barns, boats, lighthouses, farms, churches, outdoor markets, gardens, nurseries, concerts, wildlife, alpacas, goats.
Have brushes, will travel.
No matter where they land, happy hour follows with a glass of wine. Many in the group say they’ve formed close friendships and that they appreciate the relaxed ‘do your own thing’ atmosphere.
Barry said she started as a novice and got an art education by watching others and their respective styles.
“You learn by osmosis and copying,” she said, “only we call it stealing like an artist.”
All levels of sketchers are welcome — from those who don’t to those who teach those who say they don’t.
Tell one of the Whidbey Island Sketchers you don’t sketch and they’ll add the word ‘yet’ to the end of your sentence.
“I didn’t know how to sketch at all when I started,” said Pat Brookes, who now loves to sketch in a journal when she travels. “It’s so much more meaningful than snapping away on a camera.”
Liesel Lund, who teaches drawing, said adults need lots of encouragement to pick up where they left off as kids.
“Every child draws with enthusiasm,” she said. “But then in school they may have been told they’re drawing outside the lines and they stop.”
Faye Castle, who’s taught for many years, including at Whidbey workshops and the Art Institute of Seattle, takes the ‘Just Do It’ approach.
“I know the fear people bring with them,” she said. “I give them the tools to get rid of that fear. My best advice: Dive in and make a mess.”