Monday, September 22, 2014

Please, Have A Seat

One of the many benefits of attending an Urban Sketchers Sketch Crawl is discovering the many different ideas and workarounds that other members have developed for their particular way of sketching. Case in point: where does one sit when sketching “on location?”

The obvious answer is often “find someplace to sit and sketch what is in front of you.” This simple solution may present you with such options as a park bench, café tables, the half walls of a landscaping terrace, sidewalk curbs, a sturdy fence, a tree stump, a fire hydrant (good luck with that one), a pier or boat dock, a plastic 5 gallon bucket and the back seat of your convertible car (weather permitting, of course). It makes the most sense since most urban sketchers operate by the motto “travel light” and would prefer not to carry any extra weight.

When presented with an unknown setting, however, an experienced urban sketcher likes to come prepared. This can mean providing seating arrangements of their own to insure there is a place to sit. Therefore, I have assembled a collection of seating options which I have gathered from other savvy sketchers and perhaps you will find one that meets “The Four C’s of Sketch Chairs: Comfort, Convenience, Compartments and Cost.”

Comfort: Sketching can often take an hour or two so you want a seat that will support you without having to sit too low or cut off your circulation during that time.

Convenience: Ideally you will want a seat that will fold up to fit inside of your backpack, art bag, or large purse if you are able. Sometimes there is a trade-off for a seat that is both comfortable and convenient, so you try to find the best of both.

Compartments: Having a chair that provides some kind of storage to hold the art supplies you will be using is especially handy if the ground around you is either wet or gooey-dirty. Who wants to set their supplies in the mud and then pick it up again to use on their sketch? Pockets, zipper pouches, and cup holders are all welcome additions to a comfortable chair.

Cost: Assuming that you do not have an endless cash flow and do not possess the crafting skills to make your own perfect chair, then cost may be important for you to consider as one of the determining factors.

Many of the following chairs can be found in an assortment of outdoor, sporting goods and garden shops in addition to art supplies stores. Here then are some of the more popular personal, portable, sketch chair options and where you can find them. Find one that you like and please join us at one of our next Urban Sketchers' Chicago Sketch Crawls. Happy shopping.


  1. Very helpful! Thank you, Wes! I've been eyeing the Coleman stool myself. And now Barbara got it… A timely post!

    1. Yes, I just bought the Coleman stool and really like it. It's compact and comfortable. It's also a good height for me. I have a tripod stool that's good, too. It's sturdy and comfortable but a little high for me to easily reach my sketching materials if they're on the ground – which they usually are.

    2. Thank you Alex and Barb for your comments. I have that blue cube seat with the compartment underneath and I do like it but rarely bring it on the sketch crawls for some reason. Probably because it is a "cube" (i.e. bulky) but it does have a strap to sling over the shoulder. Back support can be an issue over a lengthy period of time for most of these without a seat back but that is the trade-off I guess.

    3. That Earth Products Fishing Chair looks like a nice alternative to my blue cube has a backing on it and all my supplies fit right under the seat (off the ground).

  2. i have Coleman too - comfortable, light - i put it over the tote (between the handles) - the whole thing fits nicely over the shoulder...

  3. Thank for sharing your experience Helena. Several members in our USK Chicago group agree with you and have latched on to the little Coleman event stool, while others seem to like the Three-legged Folding Stool (upper left). As I was told, the advantage of the Big Agnes is that it folds down to the size of one shoe, which sounds pretty darned convenient and it includes a comfy bucket in which to sit. For many it seems to come down to a matter of a comfortable height and what their knees can handle :)

  4. Thanks for this! The right sketching stool can make a big difference.
    A group of my sketching friends in Portland would like to encourage your group to
    Apply to host the next symposium. Any chance of that?
    We would love to come to draw your wonderful city and we think it's time it was back in the US for the many who can't afford the more exotic locations!

  5. Thank you Dailysketches for your words of encouragement. Hosting a USK Symposium would be an honor and we have a core team focused on making sure we put our best proposal to the decision team possible. So keep your fingers crossed, rub your lucky rabbit's foot, throw salt over your shoulder or whatever you like to do to bring us luck. I know I would love the commute if it was in Chicago :)

  6. Good luck,Wes,we will all think good thoughts out here in the Pacific Northwest!

  7. :) You really offered plenty of solutions when it comes to finding something to sit on :))) I laughed out loud when I read the fire hydrant being an option! Now, this can all be avoided if you have a handy backpacking chair that is light and easy to fold. You might find this article I stumbled upon on the web very useful. It talks about how to know to pick the right backpacking chair for your needs, where to look for it, and it offers reviews of some of the best models. You can check it out here:

  8. Bleacher seating is the type of seating system that you have seen at football stadiums all of your life. It is rows of seats that gradually get higher and higher so the people in the row behind you can see the arena just as good as you can.


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