USk Chicago Sketch Seminar 2014 in Review (Part 1/3)


USk Chicago Sketch Seminar Group Photo on Palette and Chisel Stairs © Andrew Banks 2014

© Andrew Banks 2014

© Andrew Banks 2014

On June 7th & 8th, 2014 Urban Sketchers Chicago hosted its first Sketch Seminar in and around the Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Arts located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago.  62
sketchers and 12 planners and instructors gathered for a weekend of 8 workshops and 3 sketching activities.  Situated within a 15 minute walk to downtown Chicago and surrounded by an array of beautiful parks, architecture and vibrant activity and city life, Palette and Chisel served as an ideal venue for the Seminar.  On behalf of the entire planning group and seminar, I would like to extend a huge thank-you to Palette and Chisel for providing us with such a generous use of their space for the weekend.  Your willingness to open your doors to us was recognized by everyone who attended and we are grateful for the opportunity.  Thank-you!

As the correspondent I had the privilege of seeing the Seminar from a really unique
perspective.  For both days, I rode my bike between each of the workshops and activities, photographing and sketching the events, talking to and meeting seminar attendees and learning from the instructors lessons.  It was a really exciting and rewarding weekend that proved to be more than worth the year long planning process.


© Andrew Banks 2014

In 2013, Alex Zonis (USk Chicago’s founding member) and Donald Colley began brainstorming the idea of a USk Chicago Seminar.  These early ideas of inspiration eventually developed into a planning team that had its inaugural meeting following one of USk Chicago’s monthly sketch meets.  All of us met over dinner in China Town as we listened to Alex and Donald’s visions for a Seminar.  A real sense of excitement and enthusiasm quickly grew for the possibility of something like this to take place in Chicago.  All of us were familiar with USk’s global symposiums and wanted to see if we could make something like it a possibility for the Midwest.  With Chicago’s large art scene and nearby USk chapters like USk Midwest, we certainly thought there would be an interest.  Over the next year, 12 volunteer planners and instructors divvied up responsibilities and tackled all of the details in their own spare time, meeting in coffee shops and in online planning groups.

From the very beginning we wanted to create an event that was accessible to as many people as possible and that provided a great atmosphere to teach and learn urban sketching.  So, this meant pushing for a low cost registration fee and a close proximity to the city.  Everything else seemed to fall into place from there.  Along the way, we were able to bring in the support of our amazing sponsors.

Our sponsors provided us with very generous gifts including sketchbooks, pencils, pens, markers and t-shirts.  Many of the sketching materials got great use over the weekend.  I personally got to start a fresh new Stillman and Birn Zeta book which I carried around with me the entire weekend.  Here is just one of several sketches I made in this sketchbook.


© Andrew Banks 2014

After much anticipation, the planning team arrived ahead of time to set up for the weekend.  With the sun out and hardly a cloud in the sky, I knew that the weekend would get off to a great start.  The weekend kicked off on Saturday morning with a brief opening message from Alex Zonis followed by a group photo on the Palette and Chisel stairs.


© Andrew Banks 2014


© Kelly Brown 2014


© Andrew Banks 2014

Make sure to check back tomorrow for part 2 of the 3 installments of this post, for a full review of Saturday’s workshops and activities.

In the meantime, you can view many more photos and sketches from the Seminar on our following pages:

Facebook: Urban Sketchers Chicago
Twitter: @USk_Chicago
Instagram: @USkChicago
Pinterest: Urban Sketchers Chicago

And if you haven’t already done so, make sure to follow our group blog.


Andrew Banks
USk Chicago Correspondent


7 thoughts on “USk Chicago Sketch Seminar 2014 in Review (Part 1/3)

  1. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! Your vision and hard work was evident in every aspect of the Seminar. It was great fun and I learned a lot (not that it shows in my sketchbook).

    My only gripe is that Alex let the weather get a bit out of control Sunday Morning in Viagra Park! Brrrr.

    Ps…my hat enjoyed being photographed!

  2. Pingback: USk Chicago Sketch Seminar in Review (Part 3/3) | USk Chicago Sketch Seminar 2014

  3. Was wondering if there is another workshop planned for the future and how can I get on a mailing list.

    • Hi Claudia! Thank you for your interest! We are talking about possibly planning another Seminar, the date is still in discussion. To keep in the loop, send us an email to USkChicago2014 [at] gmail [dot] com. You can also subscribe to this blog, follow us on Facebook: Urban Sketchers Chicago and Twitter: @USk_Chicago.
      If you live in Chicago, join our group on Facebook and come sketching with us!

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