Sunday, March 6, 2016

Spotlight Sunday - Debbe Rigney-Hays

Spotlight Sunday is new series of interviews designed to introduce and highlight Chicago Urban Sketchers individually. Now that our chapter has reached nearly 500 members it has become more of a challenge to meet every single member in person and have a meaningful conversation. These posts will concentrate on individuals and speak in their own words.

And now - spotlight on Debbe Rigney-Hays!
Interviewed by Alex Zonis
Debbe Rigney-Hays

Alex Zonis: Why do you sketch, Debbe?

Debbe Rigney-Hays: I sketch because I like the quiet of it, the focus of my attention, seeing things I’d never notice otherwise, which is, in the true sense of the word, awesome. I also like learning tools and concepts of drawing and painting. I also like the journey of finding out what suits me best and seeing how I improve. I have never had art classes or drawn until Sketchbook Skool two years ago. My creativity was used in different places.

AZ: What is your favorite sketching tool?

DRH: My favorite sketching tool is the Lamy Safari fountain pen with my creations of gray or sepia DeAtramentis document ink or a water-soluble pen with a Pentel water brush, I like how watery they are. I am learning watercolor, but I’m not coordinated enough, yet, to use it much out and about, so when I want color, I use Faber-Castell watercolor pencils.

AZ: What is your favorite place to sketch?

DRH: I love to sketch in restaurants and cafes, busy places where I can easily sit and look around. Sometimes I want to draw the people. Sometimes a building I see from the window. Sometimes it is an architectural element that catches my eye. After the Chicago Symposium’s class on drawing figures in motion, I’ve gotten more courage to try. Still working on it. I hope to sketch more.

AZ: Debbe, you sent us two beautiful sketches. What inspired them? Why are these scenes special to you?

DRH: This past Christmas, my gift was an overnight in Chicago, by myself. I’m from downstate, with easy Amtrak access. Last month I had a great time poking around, exploring. I loved the old Chicago Library and had to breathe it in another time, but now, as the Cultural Center. The dome is overwhelming, so I drew some of the arches. I enjoy quotes, so I added some of the Center’s beautiful quotes. Last year’s Symposium classes on the Velazquez Palette and drawing architecture, encouraged me a lot for this sketch. We worked on the arches at the Newberry Library in the Velazquez Palette and in the  Architecture class, I discovered I don’t “have” to draw the entire building, just an interesting portion, if I want to. I can make it easier on myself and therefore, more fun!

Chicago Cultural Center by Debbe Rigney-Hays

DRH: After last year’s Symposium and my very exciting class on how to draw people in motion, I have been pushing myself to try this more often. So, when, I was in DC visiting family, I sketched the people around the cafe gift shop of the National Gallery. There is an open area for people to walk and children to stretch their legs, perfect for drawing people. (I also drew the Degas dancers upstairs. I had that gallery all to myself and could relax a little, but that’s another story.)

National Gallery by Debbe Rigney-Hays

AZ: Debbe lives in Galesburg in West Central Il, near Peoria. It takes her 3 hours by Amtrak train to come to Chicago for our sketch crawls. Thank you for opening our new series, Debbe, and for sharing your sketches and thoughts. Everyone, be sure to stop by and say Hello next time you see Debbe at a sketch crawl.


  1. Thank you, Alex and Debbe, for kicking off "Spotlight Sunday" with a great interview!

  2. Thanks for sharing, Debbe! We are good neighbors and good friends. Now we are also fans!

  3. Alex, Debbe,
    When I went to my first Urban Sketchers seminar 2 years ago I met Debbe, her first USk too. We found a nice place for lunch, shared ideas, conversation, encouragement and sketches. I enjoy Debbe's warm smile, talent and enthusiasm at sketch crawls.


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