Photos C/O Sara Sandham

It all started with an illustration of Mulberry Coffeehouse at the end of July. From there, the Instagram account Hamont Doodles has accumulated 1720 followers, from local businesses to Hamilton residents.

The account depicts iconic Hamilton spots, such as Westdale Theatre and Bayview Park. Dotted between the streets and businesses everyone knows are illustrations of pretty Hamilton houses, mostly commissions from one of the account’s hundreds of followers.

[spacer height=”20px”]Sara Sandham is behind Hamont Doodles, the Instagram account showing off Hamilton’s good side. Although she’s been drawing since she was young, art was never something she seriously considered as a career. It was only during this past summer that she was inspired to pick it up.

“[M]y brother had been in the hospital for a couple months and I just needed something to do… [H]e had this amazing corner room with the craziest view of the entire city. So while he was there I… started drawing and then he was basically the one who [said to] put them online,” Sandham recalled.

By putting up her pieces online, Sandham has formulated a supportive community. She’s been able to meet people who love her work and have personal connections to the spots that she’s depicted.

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Sandham didn’t grow up in Hamilton. Her mother moved to the city when she was in university and by spending summers in Hamilton, she grew to love the city and its unique character. Now the city has grown to inspire her art.

“[A] lot of my colors and subject matter just come from photos I take when I’m out and about. So if I’m out around golden hour and I see a nice sunset, I’ll take a photo of the sunset and then use those colors from that photo later in another piece,” Sandham explained.

Sandham draws digitally, using her photos of Hamilton as reference images. She starts with an outline, moves on to perspective and then works on the colours.

During the month of October, Sandham challenged herself to depart from reference images by participating in Inktober. The drawing challenge encourages artists all over the world to ink daily, using a series of 31 prompts.

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She’s fallen a bit behind, but Sandham asked her followers at the start to be patient. It’s been a busy month for her. In addition to Inktober and her commissions, she is balancing two jobs. On top of that, Sandham challenged herself further by choosing to make all of her drawings Hamilton related in theme.

Sandham has been creative in how she’s done this. She started with a bottle of Ticat Tears for the prompt poisonous, drew a chicken crossing the Pride Sidewalk for the prompt chicken and drew buildings on James Street for the prompt precious.

The colours are one of the features that makes Sandham’s doodles so visually appealing. While she’s found Hamilton to be several shades of brown, those aren’t the only colours that can be seen in her illustrations. She changes up the colours, tinting browns with orange and turning greys into teal.

Sandham leaves drawing her favourite part, the sky, for last. Taking inspiration from Hamilton’s stunning sunsets, she incorporates pleasing purples and warm yellows into her skies. Most interesting is the way she formulates the sky in a series of geometric shapes.

Her followers await the colourful illustrations she will concoct in the future as Hamont Doodles continues to grow.

Honestly I think it’s happened so fast that I feel like I haven’t really given a huge amount of thought to the future. I mean at some point I’d love to have my art in the Art Gallery of Hamilton–that would be a pretty cool accomplishment, but honestly I just want to make my art more accessible to people,” said Sandham.

Her following would love that as well. The beauty of Sandham’s doodles is the love and joy with which she depicts Hamilton. Everyone wants to own the snippets of the city that she creates.

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