Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Let's Sketch!


Let's Sketch Chicago!

Saturday, August 20, 2022
12 PM - 3PM

Daley Plaza


Daley Plaza, at Washington, Clark, Randolph, and Dearborn, is one of the most well-known plazas in Chicago. The famous Picasso statue resides there, and the plaza is fronted by the Daley Building and the City Hall-County Building. The Plaza is active with pedestrians and has many benches to sit and sketch.  

We will meet near the Picasso statue at 12:00 noon and then go sketch . Following our sketching, we’ll meet back at the Picasso at 2:45pm for the sketch throwdown and group picture.


Daley Plaza is centrally located in the Loop and there is sufficient public transportation. For anyone driving, there are numerous public parking garages within the vicinity.

Cover sketch by: Mark Jones 

Hope to see you there!

Monday, June 13, 2022

Let's Sketch!

Let's Sketch Chicago

Lincoln Park Zoo

Saturday June 18, 2022

12:00 PM – 3:00PM

Lincoln Park Zoo is a free 35-acre zoo located in Lincoln Park in Chicago, Illinois. The zoo was founded in 1868, making it one of the oldest zoos in the U.S. It is also one of a few free admission zoos in the United States.


We will meet in the central square by the Lions outside habitat. The meeting time is 12:00 noon. We will go sketching and come together again at 2:45 pm at the same spot by the lions to see our sketches and take photos. If you arrive late, no worries. Just pick a place to sketch and meet back by 2:45pm for the group photo. 


Please check the zoo website for parking info. Street parking is possible if you don't mind searching and walking. CTA options are available as well.

Hope to see you at the zoo! 

Cover sketch by: Paul Ingold 

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Let's See Those Masterpieces!


Ready, Set, Show! 

Exciting news! USK Chicago has announced a members only art show! It will be held at the Palette and Chisel in Chicago.The opening reception is Friday, June 8. Keep reading for all the details!

The USk Chicago show submission site is open for business! Please use this link: . You will be asked to enter your contact info; agree to the show requirements and the liability disclaimer; and upload your images. The requirements also appear below -- along with important dates and a heads up about volunteers (for help hanging, the hoped-for opening reception, and gallery sitting). Please pay particular attention to the limits on the number and size of your framed sketches and how to label your uploaded files. (We'll post separately with ideas for scanning and framing.) We just need to screen your images to make sure they follow our Manifesto, so please upload low-res files (a small or medium iPhone photo works great). Let's see those masterpieces! 

Urban Sketchers Manifesto: We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation.
Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live, and where we travel.
Our drawings are a record of time and place.
We are truthful to the scenes we witness.
We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles.
We support each other and draw together.
We share our drawings online.
We show the world, one drawing at a time.

  • Membership : The exhibition is open to any member of the Chicago chapter of the Urban Sketchers, 18 years and older.

  • Number of Submissions and Framing : All work must be framed under glass or plexiglass. The Palette allows only a simple nail – so a cordless piece would have to something centered to hang. If your work is in a sketchbook, you may submit a framed reproduction of your sketch. We will post suggested resources for scanning and framing on our Facebook page. 
  • You may submit up to 3 pieces if no larger than 11” x 14” framed, and up to two if any piece is larger. However, no piece may be larger than 16” x 20” framed.

  • Sales : Your work may be offered for sale (at the submitted price) or not for sale (NFS). All checks should be payable to the Palette & Chisel, and all proceeds from sales must be submitted to its office. 20% of all sales go to the Palette & Chisel , and 80% to the artist. You can reach the Palette office by phone at 312-642-4400 or email .

  • Submission of Sketches : Below, for each sketch, set out the title of your work; the medium/media; the framed dimensions in inches (H” x W”); and the sale price or NFS. List your work in your order of preference – if we are overwhelmed with submissions, we will organize the show in rounds. For each sketch, upload a JPEG file (no larger than 1M) labeled as: LastName_FirstInitial-Title.

Calls for Volunteers: We ask participants and other USk Chicago members to assist in show-related activities – hanging, an opening reception (public health permitting), and gallery-sitting on the second weekend (the first weekend is covered by the Seminar). We’ll post info on our Urban Sketchers Chicago Facebook page.


  • Deadline for submission: 11:59 p.m., Sunday, June 12
  • Notification of acceptances: around Thursday, June 16
  • Delivery of work to the Palette: Tuesday-Wednesday, July 5-6
  • Note: Hand delivery and pickup only; we are not set up to take care of shipping.
  • Show hanging : Thursday, July 7
  • Opening reception (Covid permitting): Friday, July 8, from 6:00-8:00 p.m.
  • Show closing : Sunday, July 17 (pickup also available Monday, July 18)

Liability Disclaimer : Reasonable precaution will be taken to safeguard the artists' work. However, neither the Urban Sketchers Chicago nor the Palette & Chisel , and their officers, volunteers, and assigns, will be responsible for loss or damage to work from any cause.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

T&T Thursday

 I Spy with My Little Eye...

Something to Draw!

Have you ever sat down to sketch and thought "What should I draw?" Yes, for me at least, pretty much every time, especially if it's a place I've frequently visited.

Upping My Game

My grandsons like to play the game I Spy with My Little Eye Something..." Then the person who is "it" gives a clue(s) and the rest have to figure out what it is.

I've started to use the I Spy strategy when I go out to sketch. 

  • What do I notice?
  • What jumps out at me?
  • Why? Is it the shape, the color, do I just like it, do I NOT like it?

When I've spied it I make that the subject and plan my composition around it. The next question is "what will help others see it through my eyes?"

  • Color?
  • Texture?
  • Shape?
  • Size?

In urban sketching part of the challenge is to have enough context to make it an urban sketch without loosing my focal point. 

Game on!

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Thursday, April 28, 2022

Seminar 2022

 Meet the 2022 Seminar Instructors!


Friday, April 15, 2022

Thursday, April 14, 2022

T&T Thursday

What Will you Choose?

The Workshops Are Set!

What four will you choose?

1. Anna Rappaport           Surprising Stories, Fleeting  Energy:

    & Joann Harling             Bringing Life into Sketches

2. Barbara Weeks               How to be a People Person: 

                                             Sketching Lively Figures

3. Brian Wright                   Practical Perspective for

                                            Urban Sketching

4. David Roberts                Sketching from the Dark Side

5. Donald Colley                Drawing the Pulse:

                                           The Ebb and Flow of Urban Dwellers

6. Jing Zhang                     Less is More

7. Ken Czech                      Marker Mashup

8. Tomoko Tanaka             Tips for Sketching a Mixed Scene

                                            of Old and New Buildings

Today's Tip

The content details for the workshops are being posted this week on the Seminar 2022 Blog

Check it out!

Thursday, March 24, 2022

T&T Thursday

USk Chicago is thrilled to announce that we'll be having a seminar in July! All the details will be posted on the Seminar Blog and the highlights will be posted on this blog.

This is a a recap of an article I wrote several years ago but the information is still on the mark as we begin to think about taking classes again.

Are You Ready?!

How about you? Are you ready for a workshop? Whether it’s an online class, a local workshop, one that involves travel or even if you’re working you way through a self-study book there are certain things that will help you get the most out the experience. Over the years I’ve given workshops and taken many classes both on-site and online.  I’ve found my mindset is the most important factor in what I take away from the class.

  • SET A GOAL – Why am I taking this class? What do I hope to learn?

  • KEEP AN OPEN MIND – Pay attention and follow directions. It’s easy to fall into the attitudes of “that isn’t the way I do it” or “that isn’t the way so-and-so does it” but leave those notions behind at least for the duration of the workshop.

  • THINK PROCESS NOT PRODUCT  (I know, I say that all the time) –  It takes practice to learn new techniques and methods.

  • ASK QUESTIONS – Your instructor wants you get the most out of your time in the class.

Remember, whether your a novice or a working pro, there is another thing you need for a successful workshop experience, that’s a positive and open workshop-state-of-mind.

What's your "must have" for a successful workshop experience?

The opening image is an assignment from a class I took from Lewis Rossignol.


David Becker 

Veronica Lawlor

Sketchbook Skool

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Sketch & Post!


    Let's Sketch Chicago


Sunday, March 20

12 PM –  3 PM

Hosted by Evelyn Brody and Urban Sketchers Chicago

This month we will once again sketch asynchronously, with the hope that we will resume in-person meetups before too long! 


Our March theme is libraries—from your home bookcase to those mini-birdhouse exchanges (a favorite subject of our members!) to civic institutions modest or grand. With the weather warming up, an exterior scene might appeal to you. If it’s raining or nighttime when you’re moved to sketch, let’s see a cozy scene of your housemate lost in a good book.
We follow USk Global’s guidelines of sketching live on location and not from reference photos. When outside your home, adhere to any government and private guidelines on social distancing and masking to help everyone stay safe. All skill levels welcome – happy sketching!

We gather for our virtual throwdown on our group Facebook page on Sunday, March 20, between noon and 3pm, but we always welcome late entries. 

And do tag your posts with #uskchicago so we may share your work on our group Instagram account.

In the meantime, Happy Daylight Savings Time!

 Thank you, Namrita Malik, for the banner image sketch of the Hinsdale Library!

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.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

T&T Thursday!

 Back to the Future

We're almost there! 

Slowly but surely things are heading back to normal – whatever that is or was! Usk Chicago is resuming in person sketch meets in April. We've also begun planning for a mini seminar in July! Keeping our fingers crossed!

Sketching Habits During Covid

I've been hearing from sketchers how their sketching habits changed during the pandemic. 

  • Some have used daily sketching as a relief. 
  • Still others have kept sketching with the weekly USk Chicago prompts on Facebook.

  • There are those who have used the time to experiment adding new mediums to their repertoire. 
  • Others have almost stopped sketching entirely.

Ready, Set, Sketch!

Where ever you on the sketching grid it's good to review the benefits of a regular/daily sketching habit. Get ready to get together and sketch.

If you have fallen out of the sketching habit pick the same time each day to sketch (ex: before breakfast, while watching TV, during your coffee break, etc.)

Doing even a quick or small sketch each day can reap great benefits.
  • Your work improves.
  • Like an athlete it gets easier with practice as muscle memory improves.
  • Your personal style will develop.

Looking forward to sketching together in the near future!

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.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

T&T Thursday!

 Do You See What I See?

Warning: I’m back on my noticing kick. This time it’s a slightly different take than last September's post.

So many times when I start an urban sketch it seems like I go on autopilot. People tend to be my go to focus. For others it’s the architecture, others it’s the straight on view. All are good, but sometimes it’s good to change it up a little.

Following Rob Walker’s lead in The Art of Noticing, I started taking photos of things that catch my attention as I walk along the street and on vacation. Going through some images that I’ve taken over the the last year or two I was surprised by how different they are compared to what I see when I sketch.

Here’s the Trick

What I see on site with my photographer’s eye can I sketch it with my hand? 

That’s my challenge!

  • What catches my eye?
  • What jumps out at me?
  • Sketch that with just enough context to make it an urban sketch

Even if the bee would stay long enough to be sketched, this needs more context to be an urban sketch!

Join me! 
When you go out to sketch, what catches your eye? Sketch that!

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.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

T&T Thursday!

Ode to the Pencil

What's the point?  

Pencils have a long and successful history beginning over 5000 years ago in the hands of the Egyptians. Today, they are still in use by school children, carpenters, artists, craftsmen. Pencils can be found in almost any home or office. 


They are convenient, inexpensive, and come in a wide variety of types and designs. For sketchers who draw whenever they get the chance it's a perfect tool! Rain or shine, hot or freezing temperatures, they get the work done. If you're sitting down, standing up, or leaning against a wall they work!

What's Your Preference?

There are many kinds of pencils:

  • Charcoal
  • Carbon
  • Colored
  • Grease
  • Watercolor
  • Graphite 

Graphite pencils Are the most common. They come in degrees of hardness. The harder the lead the lighter the line.

  • H 9-2 = hard
  • HB = medium
  • B-3 = soft
  • 4B - 9B = very soft

When it comes to sketching the artist's hand still has a great deal of control of the line weight.

Graphite pencils are my favorite. I love the feel of the pencil on the paper as I draw. I even enjoy the quiet sound as it moves across the page.

A piece of paper, a pencil, and a little plastic sharpener (if you're using a mechanical pencil you don't even need that) and you're good to sketch anywhere.

 Nice and simple, that works for me!

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Thursday, January 27, 2022

T&T Thursday!

Sharpening the Mind's Eye

By Barbara Weeks

Photo Flip

Let’s face it almost all drawing is, in a way, memory drawing. Whether it’s a past vacation vista or the second it takes to look from your subject to your paper, it’s your mind’s eye holding the image for you to draw. 

The Trick  

Develop that eye to keep the image true while you transfer it to the paper.

The Tip

Do memory exercises – the sharpen your memory the better your drawing.

Here are a few games to get you started

1. The Photo Flip 

You can use a photograph or an image from a magazine or newspaper. Choose something in the photo that attracts you. Study and simplify your chosen image carefully but quickly, twenty seconds tops.  Now, flip the photo over and draw what you remember. Try it again with the same photo, this time study it for ten seconds. How much more did you remember?

One of my favorite books on drawing is The Natural Way to Draw: A Working Plan for Art Study by Kimon Nicolaides (1891-1938) and one of my favorite quotes from the book is:

“Try not to remember merely the position of the model, just as when you memorize a poem you are not just trying to memorize just the shapes of the letters.”

2. Quick Sips

Go to a cafe, a sporting event, or really anywhere people gather. Choose someone to draw. Observe them carefully. You won’t be able to control the amount of time you have since they will move. You can count on that! Now draw what you remember. Wait a bit and you’ll find they’ll return to the same pose again and again. Draw them again. And again. How do your sketches compare? While you're waiting for them to return to the same pose choose another subject and use the same techniques. 

Karate Class

3. Red Light Green Light 

When you’re a passenger in a car and the car stops for a red light observe what you see out the window. When the light turns green sketch what you saw. (Sometimes as a variation I may just see how long I can hold the afterimage in my mind.)

Bison, Yellowstone National Park

4. No Erasers Allowed 

Rather than do a new sketch for each observation in these exercises try them by drawing over/correcting your original sketch.

Another quote from Nicolaides

“Memory drawing is a little like touch typing. If you try consciously to think of where the letters are you are likely to become confused, but if you rely on your sense of touch you can become very accurate.”

Powerful observational skills and a strong visual memory are a tremendous skills for an Urban Sketcher who shares a view of a fast moving world. Practicing observation and memory skills will improve your on location sketching. 

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.