Corduroy Road: The Breakthrough Moment for My Creative Career

Corduroy Road
Corduroy Road, Waterloo. Urban Sketch. 2016.

I can’t pinpoint when I stopped living an inspired, creative life, but sometime after graduating University (with a BA in Studio Art and History) I lost my creative spark.  Post university I was working in customer service and pursuing motherhood and other non creative projects. It felt so empty and it felt like I had no passion or drive.

In 2016, as a stay at home mother and wife I wanted to pick up art again and I decided to try something completely new. It comes as a surprise to many people, but I had never used watercolours before this point. My arts education had focussed on drawing, acrylic painting and photography.  I had briefly experimented with watercolour, but never achieved any significant success with them.

I bought some paper and paint and studied the medium with a creative fury I hadn’t known in years. I devoured every book and youtube channel tutorial on Watercolours and discovered Urban Sketching. I  I took an urban sketching class at the Button Factory and began to develop my loose “ink and wash” style. I got my first watercolour moleskin notebook and Cotman travel palette and was hooked.

In April of 2016, construction on King Street in Waterloo uncovered a 200 year old roadway. The entire community was fascinated and people were flocking to the downtown core to glimpse the archeological site. Living near Uptown Waterloo, I frequently stopped by to view the progress with my son often napping in his stroller.

One afternoon, I sketched the road through the construction fence in my moleskin and threw on some colour with my portable watercolour kit.  I added some final details in Starbucks in Uptown Waterloo. Happy with the result, I posted it to social media and was amazed with the positive feedback I received. Many of my friends didn’t even know I had went to school for Art or that I had recently picked up watercolours. I recreated the sketch as a 10 x 13 painting, perfecting the details and was quite happy with the results.

corduroy road,

The positive feedback was encouraging and I continued to sketch and post to social media until I decided to take the plunge and pursue art as a career. This was the first time I really thought I could be an artist. I never felt that good about my art and struggled with self confidence. I never thought people would like or accept it. I never thought it was good enough.

Upon the suggestions of my friends I had prints and postcards made of my corduroy road sketch. I sold dozens of prints and hundreds of postcards through social media and local businesses and museums. I was thrilled to see my piece in Cobblestone Gallery, Wordsworth Books, the Region of Waterloo Museum and the City of Waterloo Museum. The piece was eventually purchased by the City of Waterloo Museum. It was my first major sale and still a huge point of pride. I’m happy to say my piece is part of a permanent collection at a prominent museum.

By the Fall, the corduroy road was paved over and mostly forgotten, but to me it’s legacy is synonymous with the moment I began to realize my dreams. A dream I am still following today.

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