Thursday, October 14, 2021

T&T Thursday


Halloween Fun in Chicago 2016

Urban Sketching Haiku

By Barbara Weeks

We often talk of about the many values in keeping a sketchbook. There are many, but what about the sheer fun of keeping a sketchbook? There’s a lot to gain from that, too!

The Japanese poetry form, haiku focuses on moments in the environment and connects them to the human condition. They are concise, using only the number of syllables that can be said in one breath. They are expressive, capturing those fleeting moments for us to appreciate. 

Sounds like Urban Sketching to me!

Many of us Urban Sketchers  carry a  small sketchbook with us wherever we go. We capture fleeting moments of our days – waiting in line, catching a quick cup of coffee, on the train or bus.  We draw our connection with the world around us.There is a need to be fast and concise! Yes, but not perfect.


1. Think Small - It can no bigger than the size of a credit card or smaller.

This sketch is about 2.25” x 2” sketch of the view from Starbucks in the Presidio in San Francisco. It’s the Palace of Fine Arts. I scribbled a few lines while I waited in line and threw on the color when I got back to my car.  Pencil and watercolor, total time 3 minutes!

2. Keep It Simple - avoid details and the need for perfection. (The need for perfection can rob us of the fun and spontainaity of sketching) 
Think simple shapes and values.

Sketches done on a road trip to Mystic, Connecticut. (Another benefit, sketching in the car also keeps me from “backseat driving”!)

3. Focus - what catches your attention?

These sketches were done while waiting for my granddaughter at the allergist. I love to people watch!

What are the benefits of speed sketching?
  • Improved drawing skills
  • Focus
  • Increased spontaneity and freshness in your sketches
  • Rapid planning of ideas for larger sketches or future paintings
  • Great for fast travel sketching especially when traveling with non-sketchers.
  • They’re fun

Poetry of speed sketching –Capturing quick moments of the day and recording a response to them. 

I call them Tone Poems. 

Want to keep up to date by email? Fill in your email address in the place provided in the upper right corner under the banner. We look forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Sweet Home Chicago

Sketch of Bahái House of Worship by Alex Zonis

Let's Sketch

Chicago Architecture

 Open House

Saturday, October 16

12 PM - 3 PM

Event by Shruti Vijay and Urban Sketchers Chicago

Every October, the Chicago Architecture Center hosts one of the largest architecture events in the world — Open House Chicago. The members of Urban Sketchers Chicago usually choose an Open House site and sketch individually at the site.

This year we are trying something new.

We have 5 different locations that we can choose to sketch. This way we can sketch together and report this great event. 

How to participate:
You can choose any one of the below location and meet on Saturday October 16, 2021 at 12 noon. 

  • Wait around for a few minutes for other sketchers to show up. 
  • Sketch anything you like at this site: architecture, people, neighborhood. In the end have a throw down and take photos of people and sketches. 
  • Post your sketches and photos on our Facebook group. 

LOCATION 1: Downtown
400 S. State St.

LOCATION 2: Near North Side
126 E. Chestnut St. 
Enter at southwest corner of Michigan & Delaware.

LOCATION 3: North Shore / Evanston
100 Linden Ave.

LOCATION 4: Oak Park
217 Home Ave.

LOCATION 5: South Loop
1827 S. Indiana Ave. 
Enter via the porch stairs on the west side of the house, on Indiana Ave. 

In all the excitement please do not forget our Manifesto to draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation.

This sketch meet will not have an admin-host and will be self-hosted.

Want to keep up to date by email? Fill in your email address in the place provided in the upper right corner under the banner. We look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

For Those Who Want to Play Along!


October Sketching Prompts

  • Oct. 3 - Current sketch kit, in action
  • Oct. 10 - The People In Your Neighborhood - who remembers this ditty from Sesame Street?
  • Oct. 17 - Fall Foliage
  • Oct. 24 - Sweater Weather - capture some texture!
  • Oct. 31 - BOO!

Sketch of the people in her neighborhood by Shruti Vijay

Prompts by Gail Dokucu

Have fun!

Thursday, September 23, 2021

T&T Thursday!

Fountain Pen Anatomy 

By Alex Zonis

Sketch by Alex Zonis

Fountain pens in Urban Sketching have become all the rage. Pen geeks huddle together at sketchmeets, show off their treasures and talk nerdy talk about “tines”, “feeds”,“converters” and other incomprehensible things that have meaning only to them. It is time to stop this and share the pen terminology with all.

Fountain pen is a complex tool with some ingenious engineering under the outer covers.

It consists of many components that come together to deliver ink to paper in a controlled fashion.

Here’s a look under the hood so to speak.

The most important part of the pen is of course the nib. The nib is world onto itself, they come in many varieties, materials, sizes and configurations, but all have common components.

Just a couple important points about the fountain pen nibs:

  • There are several shapes of the tips that make significant difference in marks making. Tips can be round or flat, as in stubs and italics. Tips can also be bent, also known as Fude, for Chinese style calligraphy marks.
  • Nibs come in different widths: EF, F, M, B, BB, 1.1mm, 1.5mm and others.
  • They come in different softness: hard, soft or Flex.
  • The most common materials for the nib are steel and gold, but other metals can be used for nibs as well.

The combinations of these characteristics can create a nib for every hand, style and technique.

The nib by itself would not be worth much if the pen didn’t have a system to deliver ink to the tipping point where the nib meets the paper. 

These are the parts of ink delivery system:

And there we have it – 

the fountain pen anatomy that makes a timeless tool for writing, drawing, sketching and admiring.

Learn Tips and Tricks here every second and third Thursday of the month!

Thursday, September 9, 2021

T&T Thursday! The Big and Little Picture

Notice What You See

By Barbara Weeks

Fall is just around the bend. Have you noticed the leaves are slowly starting to change? Do you see anything else that tells you Fall is on its way? A yellow leaf in a puddle? A backpack ready for school?

As Urban Sketchers we sketch the world we live in and visit. We sketch from direct observation whether from our cars, our homes, outside or inside. We tend to sketch the “big picture.” Often there is a small something we notice that doesn’t show up in the main sketch or painting.

Artists whose works are reproduced as prints sometimes add a small hand-done sketch in the margin of the print. It’s called a remarqueIt makes the print unique. I like do that too! (Well sort of.) Sometimes I add my version of a remarque to the page, that little something that caught my eye.  

Try it! Add a small sketch, something that caught your eye. You'll be glad you did! When you look back on your sketchbook page you’ll smile at what you see (and remember!)

Try it and post your sketches to on Facebook !   I'd love to see what you noticed. #T&T

BTW: If you would like to polish your noticing skills I highly recommend The Art of Noticing  by Rob Walker. This isn’t an art instruction book. It’s a book that sparks creativity, vision, and fun. 

Monday, September 6, 2021

Come and Sketch with Us!


Sketch by Barbara Weeks  

Let's Sketch

Lincoln Park Zoo

Sunday, September 19

12 PM - 3 PM

Hosted by

Let’s take advantage of the weather before the summer ends and sketch at the Lincoln Park Zoo. 

There are so many Animals (those living in the habitats and those walking around them) and Gardens to see. 

The Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the last free zoos in America, providing access to hundreds of animals and surrounded by amazing views of Chicago architecture. And should it rain, we can always sketch in the interior animal houses throughout the zoo.


We will meet at the north end of the Nature Boardwalk, just south of the entrance to the zoo, near The Patio Café.

There is both street parking (if you are lucky) and a parking lot at the south end of Lincoln Park.

There are also the 22, 36 and 151 buses that stop nearby on the weekend.

Want to keep up to date by email? Fill in your email address in the place provided in the upper right corner under the banner. We look forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021


September Sketching Prompts

  • September 5    Back to School                              
  • September 12  – Intersections
  • September 19  – Light and Shadow

  • September 26  – Everyday still life (those things that pile up on counters and tabletops)

Prompts by Gail Dokucu

Sketch by Rachel Pasch Grossman

Have fun!