Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Urban Sketchers Chicago Workshops 2015

I flew to Chicago on Thursday, and moved into Laurel's room for the weekend.  This is the view from her 37th floor room. Laurel and I were going to attend the Urban Sketchers Chicago workshops on July 11 and 12.  We did an intense shopping trip to Dick Blick on Friday, I rarely get to browse thru so many art supplies in person, so it was a treat for me.

The map for the class locations, the central meeting place a fabulous old home, converted into artist studios.

We spent Saturday morning with Barbara Weeks, for her Urban Sketching for beginners.  It was so nice to finally meet Barbara in person, such a delightful lady and wonderful teacher.  Focus on the process not the product… excellent advice.

I used a red micron pen on these thumbnail sketches, influenced by some sketches Laurel had shared with me in her sketch book done with a red pen… I liked hers a lot and got myself one at Dick Blick on Friday.  Gave it a spin on Saturday morning.

Here's Laurel's pencil sketch made during Barbara's workshop.

Laurel and I had lunch in Bloomingdales then back to Palette and Chisel to meet up with Andrew Banks our Perspective and Value workshop Saturday afternoon at St James Chapel.  A very noisy corner with ambulances, and wedding parties and street noise made it difficult to hear Andrew, he gave us excellent hand outs and spent a bit of time walking around and helping everyone.  It also started to rain as our workshop drew to a close. The scene was overwhelming to me, so I just tried to do the clock on the church.

Snapped a picture of Laurel sketching the church, but didn't get a shot of her drawing.

Sunday we were greeted with fine weather, nice breezes and high in the low 80's. Our first workshop was Sketching Architecture using the Velasquez Palette of just 3 colors, Yellow Ochre, French Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna.  I was very impressed with the instructor Keelan Kaiser, and with his fabulous sketches in a tiny 3 x 5 moleskine using this palette… below is just one example of his work.

He also did a demo of his techniques using watercolor.  After a quick sketch he laid down a pale wash of Burnt Sienna (even though he said he usually starts with Yellow Ochre as an initial wash) because the Newberry library stones had a pink color showing.  He then mixed Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine blue, to lay in the shadows on the stone work.  

Finally, he goes in with pen or pencil to emphasize the lines. Below his finished demo for us.

I did a bit of practice on some of his techniques and a small sketch on this page.  I need to practice buildings, and I need to practice using this palette, I was a bit heavy handed on my sketch/painting using these colors. Check out this video on YouTube, the woman in the white Chicago t-shirt behind the instructor, is me… https://youtu.be/q0pOfGTgvTQ 

Laurel really liked this limited palette and here she is using watercolor pencils and a waterbrush on her sketch of the library.

After lunch at an Irish Pub, we met with Angie Hauch for a Capturing the Figure in Motion Workshop… Laurel is very good drawing people, I on the other hand find people a huge struggle.  To start off, we paired off to draw each other, this workshop had another young girl very close to Laurel in age, so those two paired up and made friends during the workshop and planned to meet up at the next Chicago sketchers outing next month.  So I paired up with Yao Lin and we drew each other… except for breaking his ankle I think this was one of my best people sketchers ever… maybe, having permission from Yao… to do a bad drawing of him helped me go for it.  He did a great drawing of me too…   I even attempted another woman from behind but she left which is why she only has one leg 

Next we tried to sketch people walking down the side walk toward us or away from us… only about 15 or 20 seconds on these… and we were using vine charcoal… which I did not like at all.  Even after fixative was sprayed on this rubbed off on my sketch of Yao.

We walked a couple of blocks to a tea house in a triangle shaped area.  Below are some of my attempts at the people around the side where I sat down.

When I thought it was close to time to meet up to share drawings, I walked around the tea shop and found lots of others there sketching the man singing and play the guitar.  I had heard the music but did not realize it was someone there live, he was a very good singer.  I quickly got a sketch of him, managed to ink in a few lines and then it was time to go.

I really enjoyed visiting Chicago, spending time with my granddaughter Laurel and my son-in-law Jon and an added bonus of sharing art with them.  Thanks to all the people who made this weekend possible, and especially to Barbara Weeks for letting me know about this.

Final sketch in Chicago, a beautiful young woman (I have to say that in case my drawing doesn't reflect her properly) whose thumbs were flying texting on her phone on the train… this was all I got done before she left, she never even notice me.


  1. this is marvelous to see...thanks so much for uploading it...it looks like you gained a lot of good times and inspirations...I loved seeing it

    1. Thanks Winna Jill… it was a fun weekend, I'm looking forward to using all the techniques I learned :-)

  2. It was so great to meet you in person! Next time you're in Chicago let me know so we can get together and chat and sketch!

    1. Count on it Barbara… had a blast this weekend and it was great to meet you too :-)