You are a passive, detached observer.
Anthony De Mello and J. Francis Stroud, Awareness
Yet, when I sketch on location, I transform into an active observer. In these moments, I am engaged in a dance with my subject, my pen, and paper.
I am not a passive, detached observer.
Identifying as an urban sketcher changed me. It changed how a view and interact with the world.
Identity shifts are change boosters because they help us cultivate constellations of behavior—not just one or two habits here and there.
BJ Fogg, Tiny Habits
Sketching "on location" offers deep engagement and a participatory presence to the urban sketcher. While Anthony De Mello speaks to a form of awareness characterized by detachment, the process of urban sketching embodies a different kind of awareness—one that connects deeply with the environment and aligns with the artist's focus.
An urban sketcher is an active observer who does not merely take in their surroundings passively; rather, they are interpreting, interacting, and conversing with the scene. Each stroke of the sketching tool is akin to a word, sometimes scratchy but often part of a silent dialogue with the landscape, the people, the interplay of light and shadow, or the architecture being transferred onto paper.
An urban sketch is more than a image—it's a captured performance, a reflection of an artful dance, as described earlier.
Urban sketching is a distinctive form of communication and connection with the world, one that enables others to later experience a piece of an integral dance when viewing the finished work.
While a "passive, detached observer" might seek to comprehend or observe without interference or emotional attachment, an urban sketcher cannot help but breathe some of their subjective life into their observations, marrying them with inner thoughts, emotions, and interpretations to exhale a dynamic and personal portrayal of reality.
Active observation through urban sketching adds a rich layer to our interactions with and perceptions of the world, complementing the place of detached perspectives within the broad spectrum of human experience.
¡Viva la Meseta!