Welcome to Moment Sketchers

Hello! My name is Candace, and I’m a sketch artist with a passion for helping you connect with the world through art. Pull out your sketchbook and watercolors and find your favorite view — I’m glad you’re here!

Moment Catchers Project

Happy 2017, friends!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season, and that the new year is off to an inspired start for you so far.

I just returned to Montevideo from the beautiful countryside of Uruguay, where I spent last week surrounded by open grassy fields and purple hills on the horizon. In addition to celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve with dear friends, I also had the chance to pause, reflect, and look forward to the year to come.

I’m grateful 2016 held many creative highlights for me—from illustrating a book cover for Penguin Random House to sketching Monet’s iconic Japanese bridge in his gardens at Giverny, France—but I have to confess something to you today:

I still regret that I didn’t get out and sketch as often as I wanted to last year.

Travel sketch Giverny Paris France

One of my favorite sketches from 2016: at Monet’s beautiful home and gardens in Giverny, France.

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For me, sketching is about so much more than just the finished product. The process of sketching itself helps me be more present in the here and now; it makes me pay greater attention, and be more aware of sensory details.

Whenever I’m sketching, I listen more; I see more; and I remember more from each moment.

As though it were a dreamcatcher, I love how my sketchbook helps me catch more moments from my life.

And so, as I’ve been setting goals and intentions for 2017, there is one thing in particular I am determined to change—I want to get out and sketch on-location more regularly. Setting a weekly goal seemed slightly too ambitious, but a monthly sketching challenge felt more right and attainable. But here’s the thing—I don’t want to do this alone.

My friends, I’d like to invite you to join me in the Moment Catchers Project.

Moment Catchers Project

Bringing the Moment Catchers’ logo to life at my desk in Montevideo.

*   *   *

Over the past few years, I’ve taken part in several “sketch crawls” organized by the wonderful Urban Sketchers organization. The premise of a sketch crawl is simple: A group of sketch artists meets up in a city, spends a couple of hours sketching, and then comes together at the end to share their sketches with each other.

My vision for the Moment Catchers Project is similar, except we’ll sketch on our own wherever we happen to be in the world, and then connect through social media to share our sketches with one another.

When: 

Anytime on the first Saturday of each month, beginning this Saturday, the 7th of January.

Where:

Anywhere you like, especially if it’s in your hometown. One of the greatest gifts that travel sketching has taught me is how to be more present and alive in my life—even when I’m not traveling. I hope you’ll take part in the challenge each month, whether you’re at home or on the road.

Note about cold weather sketching — If it’s particularly frosty for you outside right now, a few ideas of where to sketch include: your favorite cafe (preferably with a nice cup of steaming chai), a local museum, beautiful cathedral or historic building, or even the view from your front window.

Wrap-up:

Now this is the fun part—be sure to share your sketch online afterwards (especially on my two favorite platforms, Instagram and Facebook), and tag your photos and videos with the hashtag #momentcatchers. I’ll then collect the sketches and post a round-up of them all here on the blog, every Monday after our monthly sketching session.

I hope you’ll join me this Saturday for our first sketching challenge — and even more, that your sketchbook will be an extraordinary moment-catcher for you in 2017.

Moment Catchers Project

*   *   *

  • This is fantastic, Candace! I really love the name and the meaning behind it, too.
    Thanks for sharing your challenge and inviting us to join in!

    • I’m so thrilled you’ll be joining the challenge, Rebecca! As you already know, I’m a big fan of your mind maps, so I can’t wait to see your sketches, too 🙂 I hope you’re having a great 2017 so far!

  • jillbrowne

    Lovely idea. I’m a fan of Urban Sketchers too. I am TERRIBLE at sketching and I LOVE doing it. I don’t care how terrible I am. As you point out, the act of sketching is an act of observation.
    So, see you on the 7th.
    Good luck to us all and thanks, Candace.

    • I couldn’t agree more with everything you said here, Jill! For me, the final artwork that results from sketching is the very last reward we get from it, but there are so many other gifts along the way: the way it helps us observe more, make stronger memories in a place, connect with other people while we’re sitting there sketching…I could barely draw at all when I started sketching–and my understanding of perspective especially had a *long* ways to go–but I could feel a shift inside me whenever I sketched that made me want to keep practicing, no matter how “bad” I felt at it. I’m so happy to hear you’ll be joining us on the 7th, and I can’t wait to see your sketches!

  • I’m in.

    • I only need one word here: YAY!! Will you still be in Scotland on the 7th?? It’d be so fun to see your sketches from there 🙂

      Thank you, my friend!

      • Alas, no longer in the land of the Scots (that would have been ideal, agreed) so I will be finding some aspect of East Yorkshirean life to sketch. There’s a railway bridge I’ve always wanted to draw. That might be it.

  • Great idea! I would love to give it a go. See you on the 7th. 🙂

    • I’m thrilled to hear you’ll be joining us, Serena! Can’t wait to see your sketches 🙂

  • Love this idea!! Might pop in a few times over the next couple of months to participate.

    • Lola, it brought such a smile to my face to read your comment here 🙂 I love your paintings and would be so honored to have you take part in the sketching challenge! <3

  • Great idea! Do you have any good resources to share with those of us who are beginners? I’m ok with sketching an object but landscapes / cityscapes … I’d love to do it but I’m not sure how to start

    • Thank you so much, Nikki, and thank you for your questions as well! Another reader named Brittany asked several great questions about starting to sketch as well, so I decided to put all of my suggestions together in a single comment 🙂 Please take a look just above to see my full reply, and I so look forward to seeing your sketches from the first challenge!

  • Soooo I love this idea and I secretly would love to start sketching, mainly for the reasons you capture in your dream catcher symbol. That being said, I am a truly awful drawer. Like, stick men and horrible hard lines that I can’t erase and are just utterly ugly. Any advice if I would like to make sketching a part of my travel experiences? I’ve read your e-book but it’s still too “advanced” for someone like me!! 😄 happy new year btw!!

    • Happy New Year to you too, Brittany! I firstly just have to say how much I loved reading that you want to make sketching a part of your travel experiences–nothing could make me happier. I also loved Nikki’s comment below, asking about good resources for beginners, so I thought I might reply to you both in one comment, to keep my humble suggestions in one place 🙂

      + The first thing I would suggest is making sure you have the right supplies–ones that will help you avoid those un-erasable “horrible hard lines” you mentioned, Brittany 🙂 Drawing pencils are measured on a scale according to the weight of their lead and how hard the lines appear–so I would definitely get hold of an HB pencil if you can, as well as a white vinyl eraser, which removes light pencil lines almost perfectly. I erase a *ton* at the beginning of a sketch, as I’m getting acquainted with a new scene and figuring out the perspective, so I always want to make sure I have the freedom to mess up, make mistakes, and not feel like I can’t erase those lines if I need to.

      + The next thing I thought about for you in particular, Brittany, is–my guess is that you already keep a journal or notebook, where you take notes about your day as you and Bruno are traveling…so I would suggest starting to add small sketches to the written notes or journal pages you already write. That was something I did a lot at the beginning of my own sketching journey. As I would sit and take notes in India, I would sketch a small part of the scene in front of me at the bottom of the page–and I’ve attached two scanned pages from my journal below, just to give you an idea 🙂 I think it’s often intimidating to open up to a fresh blank page and try to create a full sketch, but what if you started incorporating sketching into your existing observation practice? For instance, if you and Bruno are sitting outside your van one evening watching the sunset, you could try drawing a few small trees or hills to the notes you’re already taking.

      + Finally, I was going to suggest what Nikki herself mentioned–to begin by sketching objects. Rather than tackling a full scene at first, you could start just by drawing a single tree from a landscape, or if you’re at a cafe, for instance, you could draw just your cup of coffee, instead of the full table scene. And for you, Nikki, as you’ve become more familiar with objects, my suggestion for working into landscapes and cityscapes, is to again think of the sketch as being about an object. When you look at the full scene in front of you, is there one thing that speaks to you or inspires you from it? Perhaps there’s a particular tree or building–I would make that the focal point of my sketch, and then just start by adding a few elements around it, to place my focal point in context. In my own experience, becoming comfortable with fuller scenes and landscapes was definitely a gradual process, as I slowly added more and more elements around a particular object.

      + Two final things that I think are essential to keep in mind at the beginning–being committed to practice, and being patient with yourself when a sketch is not quite as perfect as you might like it to be…for your imperfections could even transform into your own style 🙂

      + In terms of resources, I’m a huge fan of author and artist Danny Gregory, who founded a series of online sketching classes called the Sketchbook Skool. He has one class in particular called “How to Draw Without Talent,” that’s aimed at those very new to art, so that might be worth checking out, too! Here’s a link to the class: https://sketchbookskool.com/kourses/how-to-draw-without-talent

      I hope that’s of some help to you both, and know I can’t wait to see your sketches from our first challenge! <3

    • Happy New Year to you too, Brittany! I firstly just have to say how much I loved reading that you want to make sketching a part of your travel experiences–nothing could make me happier. I also loved Nikki’s comment below, asking about good resources for beginners, so I thought I might reply to you both in one comment, to keep my humble suggestions in one place 🙂

      + The first thing I would suggest is making sure you have the right supplies–ones that will help you avoid those un-erasable “horrible hard lines” you mentioned, Brittany 🙂 Drawing pencils are measured on a scale according to the weight of their lead and how hard the lines appear–so I would definitely get hold of an HB pencil if you can, as well as a white vinyl eraser, which removes light pencil lines almost perfectly. I erase a *ton* at the beginning of a sketch, as I’m getting acquainted with a new scene and figuring out the perspective, so I always want to make sure I have the freedom to mess up, make mistakes, and not feel like I can’t erase those lines if I need to.

      + The next thing I thought about for you in particular, Brittany, is–my guess is that you already keep a journal or notebook, where you take notes about your day as you and Bruno are traveling…so I would suggest starting to add small sketches to the written notes or journal pages you already write. That was something I did a lot at the beginning of my own sketching journey. As I would sit and take notes in India, I would sketch a small part of the scene in front of me at the bottom of the page–and I’ve attached two scanned pages from my journal below, just to give you an idea 🙂 I think it’s often intimidating to open up to a fresh blank page and try to create a full sketch, but what if you started incorporating sketching into your existing observation practice? For instance, if you and Bruno are sitting outside your van one evening watching the sunset, you could try drawing a few small trees or hills to the notes you’re already taking.

      + Finally, I was going to suggest what Nikki herself mentioned–to begin by sketching objects. Rather than tackling a full scene at first, you could start just by drawing a single tree from a landscape, or if you’re at a cafe, for instance, you could draw just your cup of coffee, instead of the full table scene. And for you, Nikki, as you’ve become more familiar with objects, my suggestion for working into landscapes and cityscapes, is to again think of the sketch as being about an object. When you look at the full scene in front of you, is there one thing that speaks to you or inspires you from it? Perhaps there’s a particular tree or building–I would make that the focal point of my sketch, and then just start by adding a few elements around it, to place my focal point in context. In my own experience, becoming comfortable with fuller scenes and landscapes was definitely a gradual process, as I slowly added more and more elements around a particular object.

      + Two final things that I think are essential to keep in mind at the beginning–being committed to practice, and being patient with yourself when a sketch is not quite as perfect as you might like it to be…for your imperfections could even transform into your own style 🙂

      + In terms of resources, I’m a huge fan of author and artist Danny Gregory, who founded a series of online sketching classes called the Sketchbook Skool. He has one class in particular called “How to Draw Without Talent,” that’s aimed at those very new to art, so that might be worth checking out, too! Here’s a link to the class: https://sketchbookskool.com/kourses/how-to-draw-without-talent

      I hope that’s of some help to you both, and know I can’t wait to see your sketches from our first challenge! <3

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/235d003da129108732c77f5845a7de78d367a1805e655cdb4c3b7c93d3faa6ae.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bfa7c76e62d7e559c1ae4889786bef838faa06102af0846e38f9f9e0942bfe4d.jpg

      • Ok thanks so much Candace! I’ll give it a go ^^

        • You’re so welcome, Nikki! Can’t wait to see your sketches this weekend 🙂

      • Dear Candace.

        As I just wrote in my email to you, your reply totally has me in awe. Thank you ever so much! I think your advice is great. You’re right – I DO keep a journal! I tried once, long ago, to draw a giant baobab while in South Africa. It was hideous. But I’ll keep trying. Sketching doesn’t need to be shared, after all. It can just be for me, because what I think I want from it is the lingering experience of being somewhere for more than a momentary photograph, of blending in, slowing down, seeing what a place brings my way. We used to do the same in the African bush – park our vehicle for hours and be totally still, until the animals couldn’t differentiate us from trees. That’s when the magic happened – like rhinos scratching themselves on the front of our vehicle or leopards (my first ever) coming to drink at the water hole!

        I think it will be a long while before I share my own sketches on your project, but I will be a silent follower, nonetheless. Thank you for my first art lesson – let’s make the next one face-to-face ok? 🙂

        • Brittany, I just have so much love for everything you shared here. I’m so glad I could be of help with a few pieces of advice, and I especially love how you put this: “I think I want from it is the lingering experience of being somewhere for more than a momentary photograph, of blending in, slowing down, seeing what a place brings my way.” I’m not sure I could have written a better mission statement for sketching myself–it’s so perfect! Finally, the comparison between sketching to setting up your van in the African bush is such a fun one to think about–and what a great way for you to view sketching, through the lens of another activity that is so dear and familiar to you. I hope you have a blast sketching this weekend, and know that whenever you feel comfortable sharing them, I will be eagerly awaiting a glimpse of your sketches 🙂

  • Treava

    Hi Candace….another great idea! I actually did a travel sketch today when I went to Algonquin Park (a famous park in Ontario, Canada) to do wildlife photography. I just wanted to take time to sketch – like I used to do.
    I want to do this challenge!

    • Treava, this all makes me so happy to hear, and please know I’d love to see your sketch from Algonquin Park, too 🙂 I’m also thrilled to hear you’ll be joining our first challenge on Saturday–it’ll be wonderful to have you be a part of it!

  • Chuck Dillon

    Wonderful idea. I will do my best to join in.

    • Thank you, Chuck! It’d be an honor to have you join our first challenge from Boston 🙂

  • Victoria Hannah

    This is an absolutely fantastic idea Candace. I think it gives everyone who wants to sketch but ‘never has the time’ the incentive to do something. Hopefully I will get a drawing together this Saturday. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words here, Victoria, and I’m so happy to hear the challenge might be just the extra little push some people need to get their sketchbooks out…myself included 🙂 For me, it’s often hard to set aside an hour or two to sketch–but once I do, I never regret the time it took. I’m hoping this regular commitment to sketch helps us all make more time to be creative in 2017!

  • I love this idea! This is the perfect motivation to get me out there sketching again and living more in the moment. Thank you!

    • I’m so happy to hear that, Erin! It will be lovely to have you join us and catch some moments from life this weekend 🙂

  • Sunny Christian

    OK, I had to give this some thot, but I’m in. My favorite kind of artwork is to sketch onsite. Weather here is crapola right now and nothing looks very nice, but that will just challenge me to find something nice to sketch! this will be a good push for me. Looking forward to what everyone has to share on Saturday. Thanks Candace, this and you are awesome!!

    • I wish I could “love” this like you can on Facebook, Sunny! I’m thrilled to hear this challenge will be a good push for you (as it definitely will be for me, too), and I already look forward to seeing your sketches 🙂 Sending a big hug from Montevideo!

      • Sunny Christian

        you are such a sweetie! so glad I have made friends with you!!

  • Veena

    I love this idea! I’m not sure how great I’ll be about sketching – I am more of a doodler – but I will color one picture in my coloring books each Saturday 🙂 Hope you had a lovely holiday and your 2017 is off to a wonderful start! xxx

  • Genevieve

    In! My 2017 calendar now has each first Saturday of the month marked, reserving time for The Moment Catchers Project. I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone’s contributions, thank you for such a wonderful opportunity Candace! … Is it Saturday yet? 😉

    • Genevieve! I was so hoping you might take part in the Moment Catchers project 🙂 I can’t wait to see your sketches from this weekend, and from throughout the year–wishing you a wonderful, inspired start to 2017! <3

  • Amanda Thompson

    Looking forward to being involved with this project and seeing what others are seeing on a monthly basis. I plan to learn lots and am most interested in observing the changes of seasons around the world as the year progresses. I am going to try to capture the month each time – but seriously that might be too ambitious. Will just see where things take me. Thank you Candace for leading us down the road with this task. I am pleased also to see that many other beginners are keen to be involved. My initial hesitancy was about putting myself out there with ‘the experts’. I have set aside a brand new journal for this project.

    • Amanda, it’s wonderful to connect with you here, and I’m so happy you’ll be joining the Moment Catchers project this year (and as a fellow journal lover, it was especially fun to hear you’ve set aside a journal specifically for the project!). I also love your idea to try and catch the seasons as they change throughout the year. I had toyed with the idea of setting a specific subject or theme to sketch each month, but thought I would keep the project as simple and organic as possible at the beginning…however I’m definitely going to keep your seasons idea in mind as I look for a subject each month 🙂 Thank you again for joining us, and I so look forward to seeing your sketches from this weekend!

  • Pauline Susanto

    VERY COOL project, Candace!! I want to join but I BARELY know how to draw, let alone sketch! AAHHH…

    • I’m so happy to hear you love the project, Pauline! I didn’t want to load up the original post above with too many thoughts, but one thing I almost mentioned was–if someone wants to take part but is looking for options other than drawing or sketching, you could also set aside a little time during each challenge for some art journaling…i.e. instead of a sketch, you could write about the scene around you, create a collage of memorabilia from one of your journeys, or any other kind of creative expression you’re comfortable with, as long as it has you moving more slowly and intentionally through the moment that day 🙂 I’m not sure if that helps, but I so hope you’ll join us this weekend! <3

      • Pauline Susanto

        Ah, I see. Okay! Thanks for the ideas.

  • Lyn

    What a fun project! Thank you so much for the inspiration!

    • I’m so glad the project resonates with you, Lyn! And I hope you’ll be able to join us throughout the year 🙂

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  • Roberta Charles

    What a great idea! I’m going to pass this on to one of my nieces in England, who is a budding artist. I’m sure this will inspire her join. Happy New Year, you dream catcher you.

    • Thank you so much, Roberta! And I so hope your niece will be able to take part in the project–I’d love to see her sketches from England 🙂 I hope you had a joyous holiday season, and especially that 2017 is off to a wonderful start for you so far! <3

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  • Joan T

    Love this idea. I try to get out with the NYC Urban Sketchers once or twice a month, but I’m always out even if it is by myself. In the winter I sketch a lot from my “mobile studio” which is usually warm enough to do a sketch if there is a good parking place somewhere. I’d love to take part in this since I know I will be sketching anyway and I can share my part of the world with all of you.

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