Moment Sketchers – your friendly online community

Say hello:
Candace Rose Rardon is a storyteller and sketch artist based in Montevideo, Uruguay. Her work has appeared on National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel site, Longreads, BBC Travel, and in Lonely Planet travel anthologies, among others. She is also the founder of Moment Sketchers, an art and travel blog and global community of sketch artists.
1) Please explain your thinking behind forming Moment Sketchers.
The idea for Moment Sketchers came about at the end of 2016. As I looked back over the year, I realized that I’d only gotten my sketchbook out and sketched on-location around a dozen times — despite being a professional artist and illustrator. This didn’t feel like nearly enough!And so with another new year ahead of me, I decided to set myself a sketching challenge for 2017 to help me sketch more regularly throughout the year.
But I also realized that it would be a lot more fun if I opened up such a challenge to others and invited them to join me — albeit virtually, through the wonderful power of the internet (especially Instagram).Finally, the name “Moment Sketchers” itself came from the idea that for me, my sketchbook feels like a kind of dreamcatcher, that helps me slow down and catch more moments from my life.
2) How important is storytelling in today’s world? What do you think it imparts to life?
I personally feel storytelling plays a vital role in today’s world. One of my favorite books about storytelling is Robert McKee’s Story, where he essentially says that the defining character of a story is where something changes. “If nothing changes,” he writes, “nothing happens. And if nothing happens, there is no story.”The more I’ve grown as a professional storyteller, the more I’ve learned to pay attention to the changes in my life — both in the world around me and the world inside me. And even more importantly, storytelling helps me make sense of those changes, connecting each individual dot of my life and experience into a larger and more complete narrative. And that’s exactly what I feel storytelling imparts to life — meaning.
It not only helps us understand our lives, but what each moment means to us. And on a smaller scale, that’s also exactly what I love about sketching: For me, every time I sketch a scene around me, it’s a chance to explore what that scene or object means to me, and I also get to share that meaning with others.My favorite sketches in our monthly Moment Sketchers challenges are always the ones when people share a sketch of something that holds meaning or value to them — whether it was their father’s favorite reading chair or a beloved trinket in their house — and the story behind it!
3) Why is connection with each other important? How is your initiative helping achieve that?

In today’s world, I’m so discouraged by political movements that keep drawing attention to the differences between us — movements that want to build walls instead of bridges. Because perhaps even more than I love a good story, I love the beautiful feeling of connecting with another person.When I started Moment Sketchers, I really didn’t anticipate the connections that would emerge or the community that would grow out of the challenges.

But it only took a couple of challenges to see that a community was indeed growing — the same people were coming back month after month, commenting on each other’s sketches, and supporting one another on their creative journeys.Although I always look forward to seeing everyone’s sketches each month, I’m most excited about and grateful for the sense of community and connection that now forms the heart of Moment Sketchers, and I can’t wait to see how our global sketching family continues to evolve.

4) What if a person can’t sketch and is still interested in joining your community?

I firstly have to stop you right there and challenge your use of the word “can’t” 🙂 Because I don’t personally believe that a person can’t draw or can’t sketch. While my father was a trained artist and I’m sure some of his artistic inclinations got passed onto me genetically, I also know that consistent practice played a huge role in my development as an artist.
When I look back on my first sketches from seven years ago, it’s amazing to see how rough my perspective was and how far I had to go as an artist — and still have to go today.So! All of that is a very long prelude to say — if someone is interested in joining Moment Sketchers  but feels they can’t draw, I would still encourage them to take the leap and just try creating one simple sketch.
I’m so proud of Moment Sketchers for being an incredibly safe and encouraging space for beginners, and I think I speak for all Moment Sketchers when I say we love seeing someone sharing their first sketches with the world and supporting them as they grow as artists.Finally, for more info on joining our community and taking part in the monthly challenges (on the first full weekend of every month), all you have to do is follow @momentsketchers on Instagram and start sharing your sketches with our community hashtag #momentsketchers.
5) Share some highlights of your Moment Sketchers initiative.
There are so many highlights I could share here, but there’s one favorite moment in particular that immediately came to mind. Early on during our August 2017 sketching challenge, I got on Instagram for the first time that morning and saw a beautiful pen-and-ink sketch by Elizabeth, who was taking part in a challenge for the first time from the coastal city of Piran, Slovenia.This would have been exciting enough for me, as it was the first time we’d had someone join in the moment-sketching fun from Slovenia. But then I noticed there were already several comments on the sketch, and I was utterly amazed by what I read:
Welcome to the community…”  from Smita in India.
Very nice! Happy to have you join us.”  from Amber in the U.S.
Welcome aboard Elizabeth. This work is fantastic…”  from Amanda in Australia.
Welcome Elizabeth!”  from Leah in Switzerland.
As I read through the comments on Elizabeth’s sketch, all I could do was stare at my phone in wonder and surprise. I couldn’t believe that so many Moment Sketchers had already taken the time to welcome her to our community, and from so many corners of the world — from four different continents, in fact. It felt like Moment Sketchers had truly taken on a life of its own, and that’s the same spirit and support I hope other artists will experience when they join our global tribe!
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