Friday, September 26, 2014

Urban Sketching

Panhandle State Bank taken from Monarch Mountain Coffee sidewalk seating
September seems a difficult month for my art group. With only four of us, we can be flexible and move the date around if a conflict comes up for one of the group. But September often finds one member out of town and scheduling problems for the others. Thus, even though we had moved the date once, a second member had to bow out at the last minute. Meg and I decided the least we could do was meet for coffee, enjoying the outdoor seating on an unseasonably warm day. We sat across from the Panhandle State Bank building, this view which I had identified just the week before as one I wanted to sketch from just this spot before the weather turned cold.

One of the challenges of sketching on location is training the eye to frame the subject matter. When using a camera, the frame is right there and you can move it around, zoom in and out, until you have the perfect shot. Without the camera, the eye takes it all in and sometimes doesn't know where to stop. So I studied the building for a bit before starting. This is what I thought I wanted to include.

This is what I sketched. Another challenge is scaling what you want to include to the size of the drawing surface. And as you can see, I was way off. I have yet to figure out the blocking-in thing, definitely didn't sketch in enough loosely before taking off on details. I essentially worked from the top down and so the size of those first windows determined how much else was going to fit. Still, there were plenty of angles and light play to keep me busy for an hour.

Today I did some touch-up, darkening lines and adding more shading and some color with Prismacolor pencils, still struggling with this tan toned paper and graphite pencil. I either need to use a larger sketchbook or learn to draw smaller!  Wouldn't hurt to look at a book or two on the subject either because, of course, they are available as this urban sketching thing is all the rage right now.

Or...there are always on-line classes. I found out about one called Storytelling being offered by Sketchbook Skool (starts October 3rd) through this blog post by one of my favorites, Mattias Inks. It sounds exactly what I could use and features 3 other instructors besides Mattias. Each style is different so I think it would be great fun and very worthwhile. Unfortunately, time and money are in short supply at the moment, so I will just keep plugging along, learning as I do.


Sherrie Spangler said...

I learned something -- this is the first I heard the term "urban sketching." Love your drawing.

Michele Matucheski said...

I hadn't heard the term "urban sketching" before either. Kinda like street photography--but it takes longer. It's a good sketch for what it is, Sheila. Sometimes that inner critic is helpful; sometimes she stifles us. Sometimes our skills are aren't up to what we wish they were, so we practice. But sometimes happy accidents come out of what we CAN do, and it takes us in another direction ... kinda like that jazz improv we were talking about earlier. It's a good sketch!

Chris said...

I do like your sketch. It might make a good art quilt....something to think about. When I retire I think I might have to do some urban sketching!

The Idaho Beauty said...

I think it was Donna from my art group that introduced me to this movement. When I researched it, I was astounded at how big it is. I suppose there are many out there who have no idea how big our quilting movement is either. Just depends on whose circles you run in I suppose. If you'd like to learn more, you can check out and their blog. They also have a Facebook page with contributors from around the world. Fascinating viewing even if you are NOT an urban sketcher.

As for my own drawings, I'm not going for perfection or a presentable final product but using this as an exercise to train my eye and hand and learn with practice using a subject that interests me. The inner critic is merely pointing out what I need to work on to get better results (or rather the results I want. Lots of room for growth here and developing my own style. I think it is also helping me to understand what it is about a certain composition or shape or confluence of lines draws me and how that might translate into my art quilt designing. At any rate, thanks for your encouragement!