Thursday, October 28, 2021

T&T Thursday! In a Rut?

Getting Unstuck

By Gail Dokucu

As much as I love my art practice, occasionally I feel like I’ve hit a wall.
It seems that  all motivation and creativity have evaporated. I’m sure a lot of you have had a similar experience. I’m a big fan of Skillshare classes so I thought I’d share an exercise I learned last winter that helped get me back on track.

This exercise came from a class taught by one of my favorite teachers, Ohn Mar Win. While she’s not an urban sketcher, she does have a strong sketchbook practice and several of her classes center around sketchbooks. 

Ohn Mar Win “Daily Art Practice: 14 Day Mindset Challenge

Ohn Mar’s process is pretty simple: 

  • Every day, spend 6 minutes sketching one object.  Set a timer when you start; if you draw the object once and still have time left, start again from a different angle.
  • At the end of the 6 minutes, take a break, then come back to the sketch and do a short critique:  What worked?  What didn’t?  Did you enjoy the process or tool? 
  • Each day use a different tool - various pencils, pens and paints.  

I did this as well my first time through. As I went through the class, I did the 14 day challenge following her guidelines. I enjoyed it so much that I extended the practice and kept it going for another 7 cycles, filling an entire sketchbook.

Keep Going!

At the end of the first 14 days, I decided that I wanted to spend more time exploring various brush pens.  For each 14 day period, I chose a different brush pen - Pitt B, Pitt SB, Pentel ArtBrush, Pentel Pocket Brush and Tombow Fudenosuke - and stuck with it for the whole period.  

During the challenge, I realized that one of the things that keeps me from a daily practice is not knowing what to draw.  So I made a list of objects for the entire 14 days before I started; I did 14 days of art supplies, and got over a month out of things pulled from my kitchen drawers!

When I had filled the entire sketchbook, I went back through it and made some notes on my observations. 
  •  I found I had a strong preference for very soft, flexible brush pens like the Pitt SB or the Pentel Pocket Brush.
  • Sometimes I avoid sketching because I don’t have much free time, but I found 6 minutes to be a sweet spot that I could get to every single day. 
  • Having the list premade helped keep me on track too - no time spent each day trying to decide on a subject.  
  • While these were not urban sketches, the process certainly benefited my urban sketching practice.  It kept me sketching during a period of low motivation so that my hands didn’t forget how to sketch.
  • And the brush pens felt unwieldy at first, after 3 months I got so comfortable with them that they are now one of my favorite tools.

Even doing one round is a great way to get familiar with a new tool; six minutes doesn’t seem like much but it adds up and makes a difference over 2 weeks!

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.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Winter in Chicago!

Sketch by Barbara Weeks

Can you believe the winter months and indoor sketching are nearly here?!

We are planning a new indoor sketching format so we can be considerate of our members’ health and tolerance levels. 

Here’s what it will look like:

  • Winter indoor sketching months are November - March
  • A FB event with a meetup location will be posted around the 1st of the month
  • Sketchers can either sketch at the announced location any time until 3rd Sunday or gather at the location on a 3rd Sunday at 12 noon to sketch
  • Throwdown will be virtual on our FB group on the 3rd Sunday of the month
  • Share your sketches and photos at a virtual throwdown on FB on the 3rd Sunday

There will be no host for these gatherings, please take photos and share them!

If you want to sketch a similar location, you can participate with this sketch as well. If you want to share a different location sketch - please do!

Happy Sketching!

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!