Urban Sketching–what is it?
Drawing our life stories seems to be a universal part of human nature, going all the way back to prehistoric man in caves. When talking about urban sketching, an emphasis is usually anything that focuses in capturing art in a creative way capturing people, places and things around us — in our sketchbooks or an art journal.
You can urban sketch in when traveling abroad, in your car, your backyard, while hiking on a nature trail, in the hustle and bustle of a city, or while sipping a cup of coffee at an outside cafe. What’s more, you can use the art materials you choose: any size sketchbook, ink-pens, watercolors, colored pencil–any art materials that you consider portable.
Urban sketching, is sketching parts of your life, so your art is mixed in with you daily activities. When you look through the pages of your sketchbook, you see your explorations, memories, creative moments and artful adventures all in one place. A diary of your artistic journey.
Where can I Urban Sketch?
Urban sketching can be done on your own. Visit museums, sculpture gardens, public art spaces, parks or maybe do a tour of homes within your community. You can also sketch areas frequented by small or large crowds. Think of a busy coffee shop or crowded beach. “People watching” will be second to none and you can zero in on something particular or find an interesting vantage point.
Urban sketching is a great way to connect with others, you can likely find urban sketcher groups in your hometown and in most major cities — with more forming every day. There are free sketching outings, organized weekend workshops, and sketching conventions and symposiums that bring you and the sketching community together.
You can also find a community of urban sketchers online. Social media groups come together on various platforms, with sketchers from every corner of the world sharing their work and covering every possible subject.
Should I become an Urban Sketcher?
Some people use photos to capture moments. Why not capture your memorial moments sketching? What could make you feel even more present in a moment than capturing it in a sketch? Everyone snaps photo’s of their moments but many times they get forgotten on a memory card or on the internet cloud. With urban sketching from your life, you get to tell a story in the moment, record your own unique artistic impression, as well as leave a fresh and a direct impression that can never be replicated. These are memories that are journalized in books you can touch, art that you can share with your friends and family, and a history of your life that will last forever.
How to Urban Sketch?
Mix materials together, and don’t worry about whether your drawing is “right.” It’s more important to capture a moment. What do you want a viewer to see? Start there and work out. Once you have your supplies packed up and ready to go, here are a few key urban sketching tips to keep in mind:
Keep it simple: A pencil or pen, a journal or sketchbook, and a small set of watercolors are the go-to choice of many sketchers. Brushes and a water container, or a water brush, will see you through any sketching opportunity. Below are some of my recommendations
- Watercolor Paint or Washable Ink (and some water!) – I started with this little travel watercolor set because it’s inexpensive, but the colors are nice and includes a small brush.
- Watercolor brush pens – Most travel paint sets often come with a brush, and you could use that to start, but when you’re ready for a low-cost upgrade you could try watercolor brush pens such as these
- A Sketching Utensil – Just a pencil will work for a sketch or if you like you may use ink. You can try Pigma archival ink pens. There is a larger set, but the three set (0.25mm, 0.35mm and 0.45mm) micron ink pens are reasonable and are great artist ink pens.
- Water-Friendly Paper – Any watercolor paper or mixed media paper in a sketch paper should be fine. However, if you are going to strictly do sketches using pencil or ink, it shouldn’t matter.
- Be prepared: Keep your bag of supplies handy. Maybe near your door so you can grab it easily when you leave, or in your vehicle. If you don’t have your kit with you, you can’t sketch when the opportunity arises.
- Be flexible: So you forgot your supplies? Draw on a paper napkin with a borrowed ballpoint, or use that pencil in your purse or bag.
- Be alert: Keep an eye on what’s going on around you. If you walk by a particular spot that looks interesting, make a point to go back with your supplies.
- Be spontaneous: If you only have 10 or 15 minutes? Pick something interesting and just sit, relax and draw what you see. You’ll not be disappointed!
- Sketch what you see: Let your “right side of your brain” work and grab the moment!
Well I hope that your motivated to go out and capture memories! Feel free to share your sketches! Would love to see them!
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