It's a familiar sight at galleries and museums to see someone, pencil in hand, glancing back and forth from a little black sketchbook to some ancient artefact or work of art. They scribble what they see before them for safekeeping or later reference, this scene is often accompanied by an interested onlooker or two. What is it that makes this pastime so pleasurable and intriguing?
Not too long ago we found out about the awesome Oxford Doodle Club and the cool events they've been running at several of Oxford's top museums. The events are aimed at anyone with the slightest of interests in sketching and drawing with any level of ability. We got in contact with Mat and Laura from the Oxford Doodle Club and asked them some questions about what the club does and how you can get involved.
Tell us a little about yourselves and why the Oxford Doodle Club got started.
We’re 3 professional illustrators (Mat Roff, Laura Hope and Alex Moore - soon to be 4 with artist Jason Chester joining our team) who all wanted to get out of our studios, sketch more and meet people. We are all freelancers and spend a lot of time on our own… We all got to the point where we were becoming increasingly creatively ‘stuck’ and isolated so turned to online communities and connected with one another through those.
The idea came about in February 2019 when Mat went along to Geo Law's Doodle Club (Sheffield-based illustrator's monthly drawing meet up) and saw how fun and engaging his set up was. This inspired him to take the idea of a monthly meet up and customise it for Oxford.
Mat was already visiting a lot of the local museums by himself to sketch, so his idea was to take a solitary activity and open it up to other artists in the same position as us.
Who is the Oxford Doodle Club for?
It’s aimed at everyone. We welcome all artistic abilities. We wanted to create a club where other illustrators could connect but also somewhere that amateur artists and even people who’ve never drawn before felt welcome. It’s important that illustrators don’t just talk to other illustrators, or amateur artists don’t just talk to amateur artists. Meeting people from different walks of life is what helps to bring about new and exciting projects and ideas.
How important is it for Artists to meet with each other?
Vital – creativity doesn’t grow on its own. You need to be around other people and their ideas, not just online but in person, so you can bounce off one another! Something someone says in a throw-away comment might just inspire your next masterpiece or feedback you get from a fellow artist could finally push forward a painting you’ve been struggling with for months.
What difficulties does a roaming doodler encounter when it comes to choosing the right art making materials? Are there any restrictions for certain venues?
Some of the venues we go to don’t allow wet materials, which can be hard for some artists who like to sketch in inks and watercolours… Being a ‘roaming doodler’ also means that you have to be able to carry all your materials around with you, this means you’re restricted by the size of sketchbook and the amount of pencils/crayons/pens you can doodle with. However, these restrictions can sometimes be a gift rather than a curse because they allow you to spend less time thinking about your materials, and more time drawing. Also, it means trying out a new material which you’ve never used before!