Thursday, April 8, 2021

T&T Thursday

Are You Ready?

By Barbara Weeks

It looks like there’s a light at the end of the Covid tunnel! During the pandemic Urban Sketchers-Chicago has been happy to welcome many new members to our group. The Urban Sketchers manifesto says “we draw on location”. It’s my hope we’ll be able to gather together and do that soon!  In the meantime we can sketch outside on our own. Please wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines.

Some new members are new not just to USk-Chicago but to sketching in public as well. Those who have never sketched in public may be a bit weary, at least I was when I first started drawing out in the open. It may also give us veteran Urban Sketchers some pause since most of us are a little out of practice drawing in public.

A few things I’ve learned:

What equipment do you need?

Keep your gear to the minimum. It’s easier to manage in small spaces, easier to keep track of and easier to gather up when the day is done. 

Here are two of my on-the-go kits.

1. Always with Me Kit. 
I keep it in my purse for those random chances to sketch (on line at the post office, waiting for the bus, etc.) 

2. Intentional Sketch-Outing Kit.

It’s what I use when urban sketching.

Where to Sketch (Anywhere!)? 

Inside a coffee shop is a great place to sketch especially when you’re just starting out. So many people are busy on their computers, tablets or phones they don’t even notice what you’re doing. 
Added benefits - you have a comfortable seat, a table and something to eat or drink! 

Outside, try to fine a spot where people can’t come up behind you. Position yourself with a wall, corner or post at your back. It gives you something to lean on, too.
Be brave , bring a camping stool and just pick a spot to sit and sketch. This works inside, too.

What about the public? 

  • People are curious when they see someone sketching. They’re also usually very complimentary and respectful.
  • Children are fascinated and love to watch.
  • If you don’t want to be interrupted wear ear buds and listen to music (or pretend to) and avoid eye contact.
  • Sketch with friends. There is a comfortability in numbers. 

Benefits of Urban Sketching:

  • Sharpened powers of observation.
  • Learn to work quickly.
  • Teaches you to take risks and improvise to get the sketch down. 
  • Overcome self-consciousness and become a more decisive painter.
  • Have fun meeting and learning from other sketchers.

Post your location sketches on our FaceBook page. The encouragement and feed back from other urban sketchers is invaluable.

“Show the world one sketch at a time!”

When we’re back to regular USk Chicago meets the current date and place is posted on our FaceBook page, Instagram, and here on the blog. There’s also a tab “Sketch Crawls” on this blog’s navigation bar that will tell you where and when we’re meeting next. 


  1. Great tips and sketches Barbara! Thank You!!

    1. Thank you! I can’t wait for the time we can all get together and sketch!

  2. This blog is such a gem! Pearls of wisdom generously and eloquently shared! I love it, learn from it, am inspired by it! Thank you, Barbara ❤

  3. Thank you! Hope it won’t be too long before we can share and learn from each other again.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.