I love the Internet. There are so many interesting opportunities in the ether that I sometimes have a hard time restraining myself from committing to too many projects. However, an idea has been brewing in my mind the last month or so, and it brings together a few of my favorite recent things about the Internet.
The Virtual Paintout – You may have heard of sketch outs and paint outs, where artists gather at a specific location to sketch together. It’s a social activity meant to encourage community while giving you an opportunity to practice your sketching or painting skills on location. The Virtual Paintout works on this idea, except in a virtual environment. Every month, they choose a general location – this month, it’s Bulgaria. You visit the location using Google Maps Street View. You just zoom in close, put the little man down on the map, and start walking around until you find something you would like to sketch or paint. You can choose to share your work in the online community via the blog/Facebook page. This is something I’ve wanted to try for over a year, because who couldn’t use an extra incentive to sketch more?
One of my favorite blogs is by artist, Roz Stendahl. I found out about her when she taught a free online workshop through Strathmore Artist Papers’ Virtual Classroom a couple of years back, when they released a new mixed media sketchbook aimed at artists who journal. She sketches everywhere she goes, working primarily in ink and gouache, and her blog is full of great inspiration, product reviews, and some other surprise things. Roz runs a project she calls International Fake Journal Month. Every April, she creates (and encourages others to create) a character or alter ego, and for the month of April, keep a journal as though you were that character. The idea is that keeping a short-term journal with a completely different mindset might free you from some of the fears you experience while working in your usual journal. It can lead to fresh experimentation and new discoveries simply because you know it’s temporary and “not really you.” I have been fascinated by this idea for a couple of years, but I hadn’t really figured out how to participate.
My most recent favorite thing is a web site recently put up by a friend who loves a good long-distance, through-hike – Walking4Fun. Many of us own and use a pedometer, and at his web site, you can choose a hike and log your daily steps. As you input your steps, you advance along the trail as though you were hiking it, and the web site includes a map so you can see your progress, as well as photos he has taken, so you can see some of the sights along the way. I’m on the Chemin Le Puy in France, right now, which is a stretch on the legendary Camino de Santiago de Compostela. And guess what? The route has lots of places to walk your little man from Google Maps Street View.
So, I got to thinking, I am likely NEVER to take such a hike for real. It’s been kind of neat traveling the road virtually as I walk my steps during my regular exercise. I could use some more practice sketching, because I sort of stopped in the madness at the end of the year. I’m going to give this year’s International Fake Journal Month a try. I will start my walk over and I’ll be sketching in a travel book as a hiker on this famed road for religious pilgrims. I will sketch from photos at Walking4Fun (with permission) and also from Street View a-la-Virtual Paintout. I think it would be fun to learn about the country along the way. I’ll share some of the work here on my blog.
It may seem kind of nutty, but I hope it is as fun and interesting for you as it will be for me.