Graham Carter - the voice of age and experience

THE days when I was young enough to go on a pub crawl may be long gone, but I am glad to report that you are never too old for a sketchcrawl.

A what? Good question.

A ‘sketchcrawl’ is the word coined by a group called Urban Sketchers Swindon for their little excursions to locations around town to do some sketching.

Until earlier this month I had never been on such a thing, although it wasn’t for want of trying.

Then I was contacted by one of the organisers of the group, who asked if I could arrange for them to do their November sketchcrawl at Radnor Street Cemetery.

I was able to use my connections to get hold of a key to the cemetery chapel and open it up, in case they needed some shelter. And that was the perfect excuse I needed to have a go myself.

More than a dozen people turned up, and although it was freezing, the chapel wasn’t really required as they did what intrepid sketchcrawlers do, which is take their sketchbooks and their drawing boards outside, get out their pencils, brushes and insulating tape, and sketch.

That’s right: insulating tape.

Anything goes on a sketchcrawl, and one lady captured an impression of the chapel by laying down tape instead of paint, on paper that I think was green.

It sounds unlikely, but was surprisingly effective, and one of my favourites.

I am guessing the background was green because I am colourblind and can’t tell, which does rather put me at a disadvantage when it comes to art.

Not that it stopped me doing a lot of (mostly) black-and-white drawing when I was younger, and it was only because life is always so busy that I haven’t really picked up a pencil in earnest or anger for years.

I had actually joined the sketchers’ Facebook group months ago, but the sketchcrawls kept coming up when I had something else on.

I would thoroughly recommend finding time to go on one, regardless of how little ability you think you have. It was only the second time in my life that I had been brave enough to get out and sketch in public, so it was a bit daunting for that reason, but you soon get over it.

Then the Urban Sketchers turned out to be a talented lot, with lots of different skills (as well as taping), which you might think could be intimidating too.

On the contrary. I think it is probably one of those situations - which happens quite often, really - when you do something and fear you might be out of your depth, but some of the others’ ability is virtually guaranteed to rub off on you.

And anyway, they were also an extremely friendly lot and very supportive of each other, and it was a shame I got so consumed with trying to finish my drawing in the two hours allotted to the sketchcrawl that I didn’t have much time to be sociable.

So I would definitely recommend giving a sketchcrawl a go, and will definitely go back soon, even though my wife is threatening to come with me next time.

You know when people laugh and say they can’t draw for toffee, apart from matchstick men? Well, she really can’t draw for toffee, apart from matchstick men. Seriously: if she can have a go at it, anybody can, so what are you waiting for?

Swindon sketchcrawls happen on the first Saturday of each month, and you can easily find out more details online if what I have written above has been a bit too… um… sketchy.