Friday, April 21, 2017

Sweet Home Chicago

Are you ready for the second class in our 10Years 10 Classes celebration. I am!

What exciting and fun times in Chicago for Urban Sketchers! 

  • We have the ongoing hashtag and tag project. Be sure to tag your Chicago sketches!  #USkChicago #USkChicago2017 #Urbansketchers  @USkChicago  @USkSymposium. 
  • The USk 8th International Symposium is coming to Chicago in July.
  •  AND Chicago is in the second week of Urban Sketchers 10 year anniversary, the Ten Years Ten Classes, worldwide celebration! #usk10x10
Join us when you can!
Pinterest: Urban Sketchers Chicago
Twitter: @USk_Chicago

Thursday, April 13, 2017


by Andrew Banks & Wes Douglas

With the planning of our 2017 International Symposium well underway, the collective use of Twitter and Instagram by USk Chicago will help draw attention to our community and create buzz and awareness of our event.  By no means are these intended to replace our Facebook group.  Rather the use of Twitter and Instagram are intended to re-direct people back to our roots in the Facebook group.  For those who are completely new, don’t worry, they are both user friendly.  Here are some “benefits” and basic “how to’s” to get you started:

Step 1: Sketch your favorite Chicago scene, from observation on location.

Step 2: Scan/photograph your sketch and post it to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Step 3: In your captions, tell us where the sketch is from, make sure to tag @uskchicago (in Instagram), @usksymposium (in Instagram), @usk_chicago (in Twitter), and include the hashtags: "#uskchicago2017" and "#uskchicago"


Follow @USk_Chicago 

Twitter is a short form blog where users make posts called "tweets".  Tweets are 140 characters or less. 

How to use Twitter
1) Download Twitter App on your smartphone.  Or, sign up for an account on your computer.
2) "Tweet" - post text or photos

Examples of Tweets:
"Heading out to sketch with @USk_Chicago today"
"A sketch from today's @USk_Chicago sketch meet"
"Found this @USk_Chicago blog post helpful"

3) "Re-tweet" - sharing other's posts
A re-tweet shares another user's tweet with your followers.  For example USk Chicago (@USk_Chicago) could re-tweet one of your sketches.

4) Follow other people, groups or organizations (individual urban sketchers, other urban sketchers chapters, artists communities, organizations, businesses etc...)

5) Hash tags (#)
Hash tags make your post searchable.  When a hash tag is placed in front of a word, that word is sent to a database that can be viewed by anyone searching for that word.
For example, #urbansketchers.  Other urban sketchers around the world use this hash tag when they tweet.
When you search #urbansketchers you will find thousands of other tweets related to urban sketching.

6) Tag (@)
When tagging (@) another user in your post, the user you tagged will be notified that you tagged them.  So, when you tweet your sketches, help USk Chicago know that you are tweeting your sketched by including "@USk_Chicago" in your Tweet.

Follow @USkChicago & @USkSymposium

Instagram is another type of short form blog dedicated to posting and viewing photographs and short video clips.  Unlike Facebook where you can make folders to organize images, an Instagram account holds all of your photos in one location.  

How to use Instagram
1) Download Instagram App on your smart phone
2) Post your sketches/pictures to Instagram
3) Hash tags (#)

Include these hash tags (#) in your caption:

4) Tag (@) in your caption
@USkChicago (Urban Sketchers Chicago) 
@USkSymposium (International Symposium)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Fermilab Sketchcrawl - March 19, 2017

On Sunday, March 19, about 30 participants in the Chicago chapter of the artist network Urban Sketchers visited Fermilab, located in west Chicagoland, and sketched their hearts out. They drew buildings, interiors and scenes of nature from the laboratory environment, capturing iconic Wilson Hall, restored prairie land and the popular bison herd on site.
Urban Sketchers holds monthly sketch crawls, as they’re called. Their mission is to “show the world, one drawing at a time.”
The sketch crawl was organized by Peggy Condon and Wes Douglas from Urban Sketchers Chicago along with Fermilab Art Gallery curator Georgia Schwender.
You can see more paintings and drawings from Urban Sketchers Chicago on their Facebook page.
Check out their Fermilab sketches below. To see the full drawings and paintings, click on the magnifying glass icon in the lower right corner. Impressions from the artists are included in the captions.
Mary Jo Ernst
We had to make the Bison stop. Have never sketched them before. Just like cows–constantly moving. They have such an odd anatomy.

Fermilab sketch from the second floor balcony facing the main entrance.

This location was a nice change of pace for me, offering really interesting views and very unique architecture. I had no previous knowledge of this place so it was an adventure!

Thanks Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory for such a warm welcome! Thank you to Wes Douglas Peggy Condon and Georgia for organizing. It was worth the roadtrip!

Lynne Fairchild
I had a wonderful time at our Sketchcrawl at Fermilab today. Thanks to everyone for organizing it, and to all who attended.

This sketch is, of course, the atrium at Wilson Hall.
I loved sketching in this light-filled space.

I was very inspired by Fermilab's strong commitment to the arts. I didn't expect this for a world-renowned scientific research institution. I really appreciated that they found so 
many ways to honor the arts and culture: the art gallery, lecture series, the awe-inspiring sculptures on the campus, and the design of Wilson Hall (especially the beauty of 
the atrium).

Thank you Fermilab for your hospitality and to Georgia for her warm reception to our group.

Harold Goldfus
It was great to finally be able to get to a sketch crawl. I did several drawings. This one of the atrium at Fermi Lab's Wilson Hall is my favorite and it was the most challenging in terms of perspective. I was able to get at it by treating the view as if I was doing a sci-fi paperback cover and abstracting a lot of the shapes. Not my usual figurative work, but it still felt to me like my style.

My first drawing at Fermi lab on Sunday was a warm-up sketch from the second floor balcony in Wilson Hall. I can see that I was already mulling over the more abstract approach that I used for drawing the atrium in the drawing I posted yesterday. I really enjoyed the aesthetics of Fermi Lab. For a place devoted to cutting edge physics, there were a lot of artistic touches I appreciated.

I regard myself as primarily a figurative artist. At the Urban Sketchers Chicago outing, I expected to sketch figures at Fermilab with hints of the environment in the background. Instead, I found myself taken with the architecture and aesthetics of the interior of Wilson Hall, and decided on a more unconventional approach.

I drew most of this kneeling in the corner which accounts for the unusual angle and perspective. Inspired by the covers of science fiction paperbacks I read in the 60's and 70's, I chose to abstract out a lot of the shapes and 
colors, which adds to the futuristic look of my picture.

Peggy Condon with Jing Zhang

#Fermilab, restored prairie East of Wilson Hall after a recent prescribed burn.

Eileen Ferguson
I drove out west today to sketch at Fermilab. Some people sketched outdoors, but I enjoyed the view from the fifteenth floor.
Alex Zonis
"Radiofrequency quadropole linear accelerator" - RFQ :). Fermi Lab 15th floor. Looks like a cool insect! Thanks to Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory for hosting us. #Fermilab#USkChicago
Brian Wright Great event and turnout at Fermilab!

Wes Douglas
I am "pleased as punch" that this location worked so well today. Our group tends to favor Chicago locations so I wasn't sure how many would show up to the suburb of Batavia today. I heard that around 44 or so of you did and that blew my mind. You guys rock and so doesPeggy Condon and Georgia Schwender for the idea.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Urban Sketchers and #MetraManners

By Wesley E. Douglas, Urban Sketchers Chicago

Some people text or read, daydream, some meet with friends, while others eat or nap on the train. There is, however, a group of artists who sketch a wide range of passengers on various Metra routes. They represent a local group known as Urban Sketchers Chicago (USk Chicago) and they are part of a global community of artists that enjoy drawing on location in cities, towns, and villages in which they live, work, or have visited. Examples include but are not limited to cafes, street scenes, buildings, houses, shops, landscaping, people, domestic animals, transportation centers (i.e. airports, train stations and buses) as well as what you see while you are traveling.

Illustration: Brian Wright                              Illustration: Wes Douglas

Sketching people on public transportation is a favorite subject of these artists because they are always different and interesting. In our own way, Urban Sketchers are quietly doing our part to elevate the current Metra Rail “Ride Nice” campaign #metramanners. Who knows? Maybe the more smiles we can create with our sketches the less riders will be throwing digital jabs at one another about inappropriate behavior.

Urban Sketchers do not sketch from memory or photographs but by direct observation in person. This becomes particularly challenging because people on trains move around a lot. But it is also rewarding when those being sketched discover how their likeness is elevated to a fresh new perspective by these artists.

Wes Douglas remembered hearing one lucky passenger exclaim, “When someone snaps your photo on the train, it’s a little creepy. But when someone sketches you it is a relief.” These artists capture many different positions, colorful clothing and the expressions of commuters on paper.

Our urban sketchers are located all over the Chicagoland area and depend on public transportation for traveling between work and home as well as gatherings with fellow urban sketchers. And since a large portion of their day is spent on commuting, urban sketchers make the most of it by knocking out a few sketches to pass the time.

To learn more about Urban Sketchers Chicago and where they will be sketching next go to:

To learn more about Metra Rail’s Ride Nice campaign:        

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Do You Know What's Happening on March 15?

Whether you're telling a little story, a medium tale, or an epic in your sketches, add to your visual vocabulary with our 10 talented instructors in our "10Years 10 Classes" program. Sharpen your visual storytelling skills while you celebrate the 10th anniversary of Urban Sketchers.

Registration Opens Here
Wednesday, March 15
 at 10 A.M.!

You may register for one or more workshops. Workshops vary in cost. If you register for all 10 workshops, you will automatically receive a 10% discount. It will be applied to your final cost.

Workshops are held on 10 consecutive Saturdays, in various locations, beginning on April 15. Most are scheduled from 12 Noon to 3:00 p.m.  There is one 6-hour workshop that starts at 10:00 am.

Classes begin April 15!

Meet Our Next Group of Great Instructors

Great Stories: The BIG Picture

June 3,  "Sketching the World from Your Perspective"       Instructor: Andrew Banks

Andrew Banks is an artist and freelance illustrator. Andrew works with watercolor, pen and ink and graphite and his subject of choice is architecture, architectural landscapes and cityscapes. Andrew has always enjoyed sketching, but it wasn’t until a 6 week study trip to Europe in 2008 that his passion for on location sketching solidified. Visiting cities such as Rome, Florence, Venice, Paris, Copenhagen, and Stockholm, he was inspired by the ancient architecture, urban fabric and vibrant city life. For his entire trip, Andrew captured these experiences in his sketchbooks, illustrating and telling the stories of architecture, and the sights, sounds and smells of each location.

June 10,  "City in Motion"                                                            Instructor: Lisa Flahive

Lisa Flahive is most widely known for her expressive drawings and watercolors of jazz musicians, created live, in the moment, on the bandstand. This allows her to improvise, react, and communicate with the musicians. She chooses watermedia because it reflects the life of the music and must be created boldly, in the moment. Lisa paints what inspires her, such as cafes or chefs in the kitchen. She also loves to capture the energy of a city in her vibrant street scenes, and paints many en plein air, at night. Lisa is the artist in residence for Chateau Chantal Winery in Traverse City, MI and paints live on the bandstand every Thursday during their popular Jazz at Sunset series. 

June 17,  "Team Sketching, An Exploration of Scale"           Instructor: Peggy Condon

An Urban Sketchers-Chicago member since June 2014. Peggy’s education includes a BFA-painting and drawing, a certificate in mechanical drafting. Work and courses in landscape design and landscape architecture have strongly influenced the development of this class “Team Sketching” to explore merging scale drawing techniques and individual drawing styles to create a mosaic site illustration.