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. I was frustrated with my life and felt like I had no passion or drive.

In 2016,  I wanted to pick up art again and I decided to try something completely new: watercolours. It comes as a surprise to many people, but I never really used watercolours before this point. My arts education had focussed on drawing, acrylic painting and photography and I had only experimented in the medium a handful of times.

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, expressive “ink and wash” style. I began taking my sketchbook everywhere I went and capturing my surroundings in watercolour became a passion.

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 the construction site to view the progress, with my son often napping in his stroller.

One afternoon, I sketched the road through the construction fence in my sketchbook and threw on some colour with my portable watercolour kit.  I added some final details while sitting in the adjacent 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 went to school for art and that i possessed this hidden talent. I recreated the sketch as a 10 x 13 watercolour painting, perfecting the details and was quite happy with the results.

corduroy road,

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 art 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.

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 that I could be an artist. I had never felt that good about my art and struggled with self confidence.

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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