While artists often task viewers with stepping outside their comfort zones to explore new concepts and ideas, sometimes artists must do the same. Daniel Granger has done just that by taking on a leadership role for the weekly Sketch Jam hosted by the Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library each Monday.
Cammry Lanka founded the group based on her passion for art and sharing ideas. The Sketch Jam brings together artists of all ages and skill levels to create together.
“It’s just more of a thing for me to meet people that are in the same mindset and inspire that creativity and passion for life that comes with art,” Lapka said a year ago.
When Lanka left the group early last year, Granger took over.
“I had never drawn around others; I was really nervous,” Granger said. “I couldn’t draw anything initially.”
Granger said he has no experience as a teacher, but friends suggested he try leading the group. Now, he brings an idea to each Monday session. He’ll bring books based on a specific theme, but attendees can really draw whatever they want.
“I was really uncomfortable the first few times,” Granger said of leading the Sketch Jam. “I was really trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing.”
Regular attendees tend to be young, but sometimes adults participate in the meetings, too. Granger emphasized that anyone who is interested can participate.
Granger uses his role to try and help artists stretch themselves. Often, children and new artists become really skilled at drawing one thing. So, each time they draw, that’s what they create. Granger aims to encourage those newer artists to try drawing different things.
Typically, fewer than 10 artists attend the weekly session. Sometimes, nobody shows up, so Granger draws by himself. No matter who comes or when, though, Granger is prepared with supplies for anyone who wants to try out drawing and sketching but maybe doesn’t have the supplies.
One of the most interesting aspects of the weekly gathering is that while many attendees draw the same things, each creation looks different. Sometimes, Granger will utilize some of the techniques others used in the Sketch Jam in his own work, practicing and conquering new skills. He notes that no matter what you draw, if you don’t like how it turns out, it’s OK because you can start again.
In addition to teaching and leading the Sketch Jam, Granger has worked to become a better artist himself. The Big Horn native said he never showed much interest in art in school, but when he turned 21 years old, he moved into a house with his brother and found himself with space. So, he set up a drawing table and he started to draw.
“I locked myself in that room for a couple of years and just started drawing like crazy,” he said.
The drawings and paintings cover a wide range of topics and mediums — pencil, pen, paint and even beeswax. He’s also done a little bit of work with wood to create sculptures.
While he understands the need to attend school for art if you create for others in careers like graphic design, Granger said he feels that if you’re dedicated and disciplined and put in the time, you’ll get there. In addition to leading Sketch Jam, Granger has displayed his own work at the library. His next display will begin in February and will include all of his work from 2017. Granger set a goal of creating 100 pieces during that year in order to stay sharp and avoid letting his art slide.
“It’s so easy to get lazy and not focus on it,” he said of art.
This year, the young artist — who also works at Bighorn Design Studio — said he has the goal to focus on one painting each month, building a skill set he hopes to one day make a career.