Saturday morning kicked off with 2 workshops and an uninstructed activity. Taking place at the iconic intersection of Michigan Avenue and Oak Street, just a stones throw from Lake Michigan, Wes Douglas and Barbara Weeks led A Crash Course in Urban Sketching.
In A Crash Course in Urban Sketching, Wes and Barbara gave a brief history of the Urban Sketchers movement, clarified what counts as an urban sketch, taught how to fill a blank page and turn what they observed into to a well designed sketch journal page. Introductions to Urban sketching also informed sketchers about urban sketching books, blogs, websites, the USk Manifesto as well as the instructors favorite sketching tools. The course culminated with sketchers spreading out to create their own drawings in the nearby streets, and sharing their work at the end of the workshop.
While workshops like these each took place at one general outdoor location, Allana Pierce led the Architectural Walk activity and took a group of sketchers for a tour of several churches including the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Christ the Savior Church, Holy Name Cathedral and St. James Cathedral just to name a few.
I caught up with the group at the St. James Cathedral where everyone sat and drew different points of interest of the church building.
At the same time, Donald Colley’s workshop Creating a Rich Drawing took place on Wacker Drive and Dearborn St. along the Chicago River in the Loop.
Donald’s class tackled the challenge of creating a rich drawing by encouraging sketchers to use a wide variety of sketching tools. Instruction went beyond sketching individual objects, scenery or people to discussing how to suggest mood, light, season, weather and even time of day.
I had the chance to sketch a bit during this session. Here’s the sketch of one of the workshop students sketching on a balustrade overlooking the Chicago River.
While doing this sketch, I talked with a newer member USk Chicago as she sketched the Marina City Towers (aka. the corncobb buildings). Here is her sketch:
The weather was perfect (at least for a Chicago native, especially after this past winter). Being able to take thirty minutes to sit, sketch and take in the beautiful weather was just really relaxing for me. My sketching partner agreed, and said that urban sketching was a great way for her to forget about the stresses of a busy schedule and to simply focus on and enjoy putting marks down into a sketchbook. I really enjoyed the conversation and thought it was great example of one of the benefits of urban sketching.
During the lunch break I caught up documenting some of my other sketches. Here are a couple more sketches I completed during the morning sessions:
The second half of Saturday was just as busy as the first. While Donald held a repeat session of Creating a Rich Drawing (due to popular demand), 2 new workshops and another activity all took place at the same time.
In Allana’s Supply Speed Dating activity, sketchers had the opportunity to test out one another’s pens, inks, paints, pencils, and sketchbooks. In a rotating circle, sketchers spent about 20 minutes with someone else’s travel sketch kit and then rotated to the next kit. You don’t often get the chance to do something like this and it was great to see the conversation and knowledge sharing take place at this activity.
One of the great things about this seminar was that it offered a wide range of workshops which tailored to a variety of interest and skill levels. In Urban Sketching with an iPad, Wes gave a great overview of sketching on electronic tablets and shared a few of his own tricks he’s learned along the way. Wes broke the ice by having each sketcher stand up and give their own brief introductions, telling the group a little bit about themselves, why they sketch and what draws them to the sketching on electronic tablets.
Wes’s workshop helped sketchers understand the variety of tablets, styli and sketch apps available on the market, demonstrated how to build a “hand bridge” that prevents hand interference and unwanted marks on your sketch as well as best practices for working with an iPad.
The final activity on Saturday was Alex’s Sketching Scavenger Hunt. With arguably one of the most creative minds in the planning group, Alex gave this group of sketchers the challenge of searching out and sketching storefront manikins.
Sketchers walked to Oak Street, set up their chairs and got some great figure drawing practice.
After the first day of the Seminar, a good number of sketchers gathered at Mity Nice restaurant at Water Tower Place on Michigan Avenue for the Dinner and Drawing event. Over food and drinks, all of us got the chance to sit down, rest and talk about the highlights from the day, share some of our sketches and participate in a raffle drawing where people won a variety of sketching materials and T- shirts provided for by our sponsors.
The T-shirts (which were a huge hit), were made by Chicago based screen printing shop, Monkey Pencil.
Thanks for following back up today. Tomorrow’s post will cover Sunday’s workshops and Activities.
If you haven’t already, make sure to check out USk Chicago’s other pages, where you will find many more photos and sketches from the weekend:
Facebook: Urban Sketchers Chicago
Pinterest: Urban Sketchers Chicago
And if you haven’t already done so, make sure to follow our group blog.
Andrew Banks, USk Chicago Correspondent