Seeing a lack of active art groups in the Northwest, and wanting artistic outlets for themselves, Marana residents Robin Laurel Fraser and Sandra Travers rehashed a group and created the Sketchbook Brigade.

Since March of last year, the group has gathered 53 members who formally meet on the first Sunday of each month, with occasional other meet-ups throughout the month.

Up until recently, Fraser used to be an art teacher at Doolen Middle School. Late in her career, she found even though she was around art a lot of the time, she didn’t have an artistic outlet for herself.

“Watching the students create their artwork, I realized I was missing something myself, and I needed to do it, too,” Fraser said.

Travers, who, like Fraser, is versed in many different art mediums. In her past, along with creating many works of art, she used to do forensic reconstruction for Pinal County Sheriff’s Department and the Marana Police Department. 

The two saw that the group wasn’t very active and neither was the art council in Marana, and felt they could fulfill the void, not just for people in the Northwest, but for those looking for a free and an artistic outlet all around Tucson.

With multiple members of the group having a history in teaching, they teach each other without having to pay a large fee for an art class.

“The people in this group are amazing,” Fraser said. “It’s positive. There is just this joy that comes out of it, and I think that’s why we keep getting new members. It is such a positive group.  When we share our art, we do critiques, we teach each other about materials.”

Even though the group’s name is the Sketchbook Brigade, they touch on all mediums of art, from colored pencils to watercolor. They simply felt the name spoke to the core of art and how all artists begin with sketching.

Currently, the group meets at the Tucson Museum of Art at 10 a.m., on the first Sunday of each month. They pick an area to draw and paint, then share and discuss followed usually by a free walkthrough of the museum.

Looking forward, the group hopes to hold art shows and art sales. They also want the group to evolve into having a series where there is a theme and they focus on teaching everyone in the group a medium like watercolor, or have a segment where they focus on a famous artist’s style.

“I think our overall objective is to keep consistently creating and learning,” Travers said. “And learn by doing.”

As Fraser told her students, and they told her when she was starting to realize she wasn’t taking a chance with her art, “If you don’t take a chance, you don’t stand a chance.”

To find out more about the group, the Sketchbook Brigade can be reached at

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