I am just back from a week in sunny California (followed by a few days on the couch to recover from the fun!). We were in Pasadena, CA, the site of the first-ever SketchKon. Our unconventional convention drew over 400 people from around the world who came together to share our art — in real life (IRL).

The event kicked off on November 1st with full-day workshops focused on particular aspects of drawing — from urban sketching to donuts. Then we had three chock-a-block days of presentations, demonstrations, keynotes speeches, mini-workshops, sketchcrawls, shopping for art supplies, and parties.

Each hour brought fresh presentations from artists, weaving their portfolios and experiences into inspiring stories full of wisdom, humor and emotion. We dove into a line-up of life-drawing workshops, including Pasadena Noir, a wonderful series of poses that together told a murder mystery. Top stars of the Urban Sketching world led us on sketchcrawls around the marvelous architecture of Pasadena. And the leading manufacturers of art supplies were on hand to school us in how to best use their products. We got samples galore and played with ink, watercolor, colored pencils, and more.

Then we had a sprawling Day of the Dead party with costumes, burlesque models, mariachis, cocktails, snacks, a piñata full of prizes, and an impromptu concert by Prashant Miranda and his drunken guitar.

But the most powerful part of the rich, three-ring circus was the community — hundreds of artists gathering to share their sketchbooks, their experiences, their enthusiasm and their friendship. We received so much feedback from everyone insisting that we immediately start working on the next event. Lynn Cohen summarized the experience of so many of us:

It will take some time to wind down from my last four and a half days …. to process all I experienced. Obviously I am a people person so one highlight for me was putting names to faces and greeting and being greeted by so many wonderful people. Then realizing that they are all artists. The workshops and panels, the presentations and sketch crawls, the interaction with teachers in real life, listening, learning, trying new things. Sometimes failing miserably, but knowing I can go home and try again. …Coming home with new friends, new t-shirts, new stickers, art cards, zines, books, etc etc etc. probably new pounds from all the rich food I ate!

SketchKon far exceeded all of our expectations and our brimming sketchbooks will remind us of the lessons and the fun for many years to come. Well, or at least till SketchKon II!

-Danny Gregory

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