I love sketching on napkins, and have my favorite coffee shops in cabin land where I do just that. In Ely it’s Northern Grounds, in Grand Marais there’s the Java Moose and in Nisswa you’ll find me at the Stonehouse Coffee and Roastery. I’m usually dropping in just after visiting a new site for a cabin as I want to capture some of my initial ideas while they’re fresh in my mind. Nothing like a double latte to percolate the brain cells into pen and ink action.
Café napkins have a special place in the sketching world. They usually have a texture and when plied with ink from a felt pan, a casual line emerges, in keeping with the fuzziness of one’s first ideas. A little color can help, and if colored pens are not with you, try adding some coffee, katsup or mustard stains.
My sketches usually suggest an iconic image for a cabin, where roof lines might be inspired by majestic pine trees of Big Sand Lake, or the rocky cliffs of the North Shore. Drawings might also reflect what I’m considering for construction details, a built-ins near a window, or a fireplace character.
Besides coffee shops, another great place for napkin sketching is on airplanes. Given the tight seating arrangement, this usually serves as introduction to a stranger. And if perchance a child is next to you, you can entice them to join in. The parents will appreciate your bringing out the artistic potential of their child.
As projects progress sketching can remain an important method for developing ideas. In an era of computer drawings where images are rather stiff, and require a significant amount of data input, the sketch remains as a quick way to stimulate idea development and client conversations.