"Sketching is like yoga", says Smitha Shivaswamy in a very serious tone. Having been hanging around with this group of sketchers for a good part of a precious Sunday morning, I cannot but agree. I am talking about Pencil Jam, a sketching club whose members every Sunday to do what they like to do best, sketch.
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Smitha along with George Supreeth, and Prabha Mallya run an illustration firm called Pencil Sauce. They open up their Sundays to jam sessions, inviting anyone who is interested to try sketching.. They are just five sessions old, but they seem to be quite popular in the Facebook community.
As Supreeth, Pencil Sauce’s Creative Director, guides the amateur artists to draw what they "see" and not based on techniques, it is easy to see why sketching is like yoga. You lose yourself in the subject and the city life takes a new meaning as you study the details and nuances of the scenes around you.
You suddenly notice the two girls sitting on a park bench, indulging in an animated coversation, the way lights and shadows play beneath the tree canopy at Cubbon Park, the quick moves of the sweeping lady. It is a great stress reliever and that is what Pencil Jammers aim to do, help people connect with their artistic side and the scenery that is right in front of their eyes. A typical session starts off with Supreeth giving some quick notes on what sketching is and how to sketch. Smitha usually brings some extra sketch books and pencils for the first-timers who might have come unprepared. Through cups of teas and biscuits, they sketch anything and everything – people, daily scenes, trees, animals and lots more.
The onlookers watch curiously, first from a safe distance, then getting closer and closer. Some are bold enough to strike a conversation and even borrow a sketch book and try their hands at sketching. Then there are local vendors, who make interesting subjects for illustration. However, they also try to get some business out of this strange group.
Supreeth, Prabha and Smitha are open to everyone’s questions and help the sketchers with their techniques. "We felt we were not sketching enough and this seemed to be a good way to do so", says Prabha. She adds that it is refreshing to meet folks who are not professional artists and watch their techniques as they attempt to sketch.
Pencil Jam sessions and venues are announced on the Pencil Sauce page on Facebook. Try them out for your next weekend and you may realise that pencil power is not beyond you.