A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon in the loop, riding my bike, sketching and taking photos. One of the reasons I love living in the city is the ability to hop on Lake Shore Drive bike path and just ride and see where the day takes me. After a recent guided kayaking tour I took with my wife on the Chicago River, I was inspired to return to one of the major stops, near Merchandise Mart and the recently finished river walkway. I found a nice spot on the Franklin Street Bridge. With a great view east, down the river towards Michigan Avenue, I started off with this loose ink sketch of the skyline. I normally like to lay out my sketches in pencil, but just decided to go for it in ink with this one. I tend to be a perfectionist. I like to spend my time making a sketch work well, often times, too much time. However, diving right into this ink drawing was a real nice change of pace and really freeing, creative experience. Instead of making sure each line was completely straight, I allowed the pace of my drawing to dictate the characteristics of the sketch. All in all, I was really pleased with how it turned out and was able to capture the essence of the skyline with gestural lines, stippling and some hatching.
The beautiful thing about being in the Loop is that there is nearly an endless supply of things to sketch. Having finished the skyline sketch, I stayed in the same spot and sketched the Franklin Street Bridge House, which was a lot closer to me and allowed for some greater attention to material, proportion and detail. The lighting and shadows were changing very fast so I penciled in a rough outline and indicated where the shadows were at the time. By the time I finished the pencil sketch, the shadows had already changed and disappeared. I then inked the drawing with a fountain pen and Faber Castell Cold Grey IV 233 PITT artist pen.
These two sketches were both done in a Stillman and Birn Epsilon sketchbook, which has become my go to sketchbook for pen and ink sketching. For a long time, I have had a tendency to go back and forth between one sketchbook and another. I would bounce between a sketchbook geared toward watercolor, to one with ivory colored paper to another with grey toned paper. But, I've enjoyed this Epsilon paper so much, I've been diligent in filling it up. This sketchbook is shaping up to be one of my favorite collections of sketches yet. I look forward to filling it up and seeing where the rest of the pages take me.
You can see more of my work and sketches on Instagram: @abillustrator and my professional website www.AndrewBanksIllustration.com.
I am trying to savor the last precious days of nice outdoor sketching weather before Chicago winter returns.
Until next time!