Sunday, April 10, 2016

Spotlight Sunday – Muriel Christensen

Spotlight Sunday is 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 concentrate on individuals and speak in their own words.

Muriel Christensen

Interviewed by Alex Zonis

For this week's Spotlight Sunday I interviewed Chicago sketcher Muriel Christensen. I love Muriel’s sketches, portraits and her use of bold color. Thank you for answering my questions, Muriel!

Alex: How did you first hear about the Urban Sketchers community and what made you decide to join Urban Sketchers Chicago?

Muriel: On Facebook. I believe it was a pop up on the recommended page. I decided to join since I wanted to enhance my drawing skills. The best way is from live drawings and I'm not very comfortable doing that alone in public, so why not join a group and sketch together. I also wanted to do sketches other than portraits.
My husband is not a sketcher, but joins me regularly, since he enjoys venturing out to the places that we did not know exist. Maybe he'll pick up a sketchbook and a pencil one of these days.

Alex: When did you start sketching?

Muriel: I've been sketching and drawing since my childhood, don't remember the age. But mainly portraits or people and mainly from photos.
I remembered selling my sketches for 10 cents (Burmese currency) in my first grade and gotten into trouble with their parents. So, from first grade for sure.
I stopped sketching or doing art during my adulthood, busy with schooling and raising family. But started doing it seriously again after joining USK.

Alex: Funny about selling your sketches and getting in trouble! Did you have any formal training in art, drawing or painting?

Muriel: Unfortunately, no. Do the workshops count? I took several oil painting workshops at Palette and Chisel. My dad was a very good cartoonist and was a professional artist when he was single, but gave it up when he got married. His art only exists in my memory as all of his work was destroyed in the fire in Burma. I did not learn much from him as his style was more gestural, drawings which I foolishly did not appreciate at that time. He gave me some pointers when I was young, but never encouraged me to go into art. Not trying to be stereotype here, ‪but I think this was a common thing in Asian culture.

Elephants, Field Museum - Muriel Christensen

Alex: What are your favorite subjects to sketch?

Muriel: I'm into portraits and figurative. People are my favorite.

Alex: What are your favorite sketching tools?

Muriel: I've been experimenting with different tools. For sketching, micron pens, markers but started using watercolor after seeing several great watercolor sketches from USK members.

Alex: Do you have a website, blog or social media accounts where people can see more of your work?

Muriel: My website went live last December - 
I also have a Facebook art page for friends to view. Link to FB page is or the FB page is called Muriel Christensen Art.

Carousel horses, Architectural Artifacts - Muriel Christensen

Alex: Does your regular “day” job involve drawing? Does drawing help you in your life?

Muriel: No, I wish. My job is mainly technical. I believe my drawing and artwork helps me release some of my day-job stress. It helps in a therapeutic way. Drawing helps me to see things and it helps me to appreciate every day ordinary objects.  It is now my visual journal or diary and I take the sketchbook wherever I go. 

Alex: Thank you for sharing, Muriel! I appreciate your time!


  1. I enjoyed visiting your website! I'm a friend of your sister, April. Keep up the great work.

  2. Thanks Muriel, nice to get to know you a little through this interview. I like your line work, especially where you've added people to the sketch.


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