Sometimes you don’t have to hop on a plane and travel far to find a culturally rich location to sketch. It’s amazing what may be right near home. For instance, in the Bay Area where I live, within 30 minutes I can be in a Japanese Tea garden, one of the countries largest Chinatowns, and a thriving Pakistani community filled with restaurants and unique supermarkets.
With two kids in school, my life doesn’t always offer the freedom to jet off on a whim, but I still crave sketching scenery of far off lands. Just doing a little research on the web has opened my eyes to many of these same experiences in my own backyard. For instance, on a gorgeous Friday morning, I headed up to San Mateo’s Central Park. In the park they have a Japanese Tea Garden, well maintained with koi pond, maples and even an authentic Japanese tea house.
I spent about an hour enjoying the scenery and creating a few quick sketches. There was a wonderful calmness to the garden, with only a few people milling about.
Towards the end of my sketching, I watched a few parents and their toddlers gather on one of the bridges. A park employee then came out to feed the koi. Definitely an unexpected treat.
Once home I felt quite refreshed. Almost as if I had taken a mini-trip to Japan that morning. So, if you are like me, and looking for culturally rich sketching without having to get on a plane, just do a little research of your own surrounding area. Perhaps you too have a local Japanese garden, or any other number of experiences nearby ready to sketch and explore.