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

The second day of the Seminar opened up with 2 new workshops and another sketching activity.  Alex Zonis led a color theory workshop entitled Taking Guesswork Out of Your Color Work.


© Andrew Banks 2014

Meeting in what is locally known as the “Viagra Triangle” intersection of Lincoln Park, sketchers had an ample selection of views and subject matter to put Alex’s lesson to use.  The workshop provided an understanding of color when sketching on location using Johannes Itten’s color theory principles.


© Andrew Banks 2014

Sketchers braved the brisk winds and sparse sunlight of a typical Chicago Spring day, but Alex kept everyone’s attention and preoccupied them with applying her lesson to their sketches.


© Andrew Banks 2014


© Andrew Banks 2014

While the color theory workshop took place, Keelan Kaiser taught the Rapid Travel Sketch with Watercolor workshop.

The Rapid Travel Sketch with Watercolor workshop took place at the Newberry Library, around the corner from the Palette and Chisel Academy.  A professor at Judson University, Keelan has a deep understanding of architectural details and illustration.  Applying this knowledge to on location sketching, Keelan introduced the Velazques Palette of colors and Chinese watercolor techniques.


© Andrew Banks 2014

Sitting on the steps of and across the street from the ornate Newberry Library, Keelan’s students sketched a loose pencil drawing of some of the architectural features of the building.


© Andrew Banks 2014

Then, after a demonstration on the Velazquez Palette and Chinese watercolor techniques, sketchers added color to their own drawings.


© Andrew Banks 2014


© Andrew Banks 2014

The goal was not to produce photorealistic paintings, but rather to build up value, shade, and shadow with just three colors and provide sketchers with a skill set in the watercolor medium which allowed them to produce quick, information packed on location sketches.


© Andrew Banks 2014

While all of this was took place, the morning’s sketching activity met in the loop.

Wes not only taught two workshops, he also organized a laid back sketch meet called USk Sketch About at City Park Plaza.


© Andrew Banks 2014

This plaza is located at the beginning of the Magnificent Mile, aka Michigan Avenue, a bustling city landmark with incredible city-scapes in nearly all directions.Sketchers chose from beautiful views of the Chicago River, several iconic buildings including the Trump Tower, The Wrigley Building and the Tribune Building, as well as an ever changing flow of pedestrians.


© Andrew Banks 2014

Not to mention, the Wrigley Field bleacher seats provided a perfect photo opportunity for the group as well as seating while they sketched for the remainder of the activity.


© Andrew Banks 2014

Here is a 15 minute pencil sketch I made of the Michigan Avenue Bridge:


© Andrew Banks 2014

And here are the group’s sketches laid out at the end of the activity:


© Wes Douglas 2014

The second half of Sunday, and last session of the weekend included a repeat session of the Rapid Travel Sketch with Watercolor workshop as well two new workshops.

Beginning with a slideshow presentation at the Palette and Chisel Academy, Joel Berman, of Joel Berman Architecture & Design presented an introduction to his How to Sketch like an Architect workshop.  Students drew with a limited range of values, creating balanced compositions that originated from a series of thumbnail sketches.


© Andrew Banks 2014


© Andrew Banks 2014

Here you can see  the workshop sketching at various spots of the square as well as listening to Joel discuss examples of people’s work as he points out some of the successful techniques that were executed during the session.


© Andrew Banks 2014


© Andrew Banks 2014


© Andrew Banks 2014

While this was taking place, at the other end of the square, Alex and Donald led the Sketching as a Team Sport workshop.

You may be wondering what exactly that actually means and looks like.  Urban sketching is often an individual activity, even at organized sketch meets.  We usually tend to sit down and produce a sketch on our own, from our own unique point of view.  We include what we want and illustrate it using whatever media we like.  The Sketching as a Team Sport workshop challenged sketchers to make sketches that fit together to form a 360 degree panoramic view of the square.  Sketchers sat around a tree conveniently located roughly in the center of the square, faced outwards and sketched the views directly in front of them.


© Andrew Banks 2014

However, the catch was to make sure that their drawings fit in with the sketches of their neighboring sketchers.


© Andrew Banks 2014


© Andrew Banks 2014

I sat in on this exercise and it was definitely a fun and challenging activity.  The group displayed all of the sketches together to see how the panoramic turned out.


© Andrew Banks 2014


© Andrew Banks 2014

At the end of Sunday, sketchers gathered back at Palette and Chisel for some final conversations about the weekend.

Here are a few final group photos of the planning team and sketchers:


© Andrew Banks 2014


© Andrew Banks 2014

By the end of the Seminar I was blown away by the positive response and enthusiasm from each of the attendees I spoke with.  Throughout the weekend I heard people ask questions like “will you be coming back to next year’s seminar?”, “when does USk Chicago meet during the year?”, “how do I join USk Chicago? “ how did you manage to keep the cost of the seminar so low?.”  On top of that, while the workshops took place, numerous people stopped by to observe what we were doing.  They were curious and eager to engage with us.  We even gained several new USk Chicago members just from the weekend.  All in all, the Seminar was a huge success and the planning team is thrilled to hear all of the positive and constructive feedback.  For me it has been a really fun year getting to know the planning team, building new friendships, and learning a lot through the entire process.  Being able to spend the entire weekend documenting the Seminar through photographs and sketches was just the icing on the cake and the only fitting way for me to celebrate the efforts put forth throughout the year.  Thank-you to everyone to helped make this Seminar a possibility.  We look forward to meeting you at future USk Chicago sketch meets and in our online communities.

If you missed the first 2 blog posts, make sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2, which gave a brief background to the planning of the Seminar as well as the first day’s workshops and activities.

And lastly, 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
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



2 thoughts on “USk Chicago Sketch Seminar in Review (Part 3/3)

  1. Andrew, Your photos are so fab!

    Can you give me some help on posting to Facebook? I’ve only done it once with poor results. I took a “full frame” picture with my iPad; clicked upload picture on Facebook. What resulted was a 1/3 to 1/4 size of my photo with lots of white around it.

    Note that I’m not asking to be taught hoe to be as good as you!



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