Urban Sketchers Symposium - Day 4

Saturday morning brought another breakfast with a group of sketchers. I so enjoyed their welcoming company. Then I was off the the last workshop of the Symposium, Pat Southern Pearce, "Sketching and Lettering on a Toned Ground". 

Alicia went shopping and I headed to the American Art Institute, upstairs in a quiet, cool room. Pat is from England and was delightful to take a class from. She let us use her supplies and gave us our own toned booklet with her hand lettering on the front. Her exercises walked us through each technique and we worked quietly. It was exactly what I needed. It topped me off for the amount of information I could absorb.

We had another sketch artist there to "report" on the class and I ended up in his final sketch.

Her nuggets of wisdom:

  • Start with the sky! It's all about the sky.
  • Carry plastic tray to hold pens, find a bag the holds a lot (Baggalinni brand).
  • On an air flight, wait till you get to altitude to take out your pens, so they don't leak.
  • When lettering, keep looking ahead, in order to adjust letters to fit the block.

After lunch we joined the final sketch walk (I didn't get to go to any other ones, darn.). Hundreds of sketchers on the street making their way to the location of our final photo. Alicia and I walked over to the Buckingham fountain first. While I was sketching the wind blew the fountain spray on this page. So I sketched quickly in the wet and another gust of wind added the final water droplets. I love the effect!

Buckingham fountain

Buckingham fountain

We made our way to the monument hill (on a bike taxi...too tired to walk) and sat down for a few more sketches...patterns and flowers. It's been great to have Alicia here with me. Sitting for the final photo was so fun...to be with 600 sketchers and joke and laugh and share sketchbooks. Loved it!

After a quick sushi dinner (yum!) we went back to the Goodman center for the final meeting, silent auction (Alicia won a piece of art!)  and announcement of next year's Symposium location (spoiler...Porto, Portugal). It was packed and I continued to make friends with those around me. We didn't want it to end.

The Goodman Center was packed!

The Goodman Center was packed!

As I sat at breakfast (Eggs Benedict in a wine sauce on sour dough toast with prosciutto and arugula!) the next morning in the Chicago O'hare airport, I reflected on some important things I learned:

  • Do the iconic sketches too.
  • All styles are okay, even applauded.
  • Don't be afraid to sit on the street and sketch.
  • Arrive a few days early to sketch, and leave a few days later.
  • Eat with sketchers. Exchange Moo cards.
  • Sketch everywhere all day long.
  • It's okay to not finish every sketch right at the time. Add color or details later.
  • Leave blank pages between workshop sketches for stamps, receipts, cards, etc.
  • Next time take fewer workshops, sketch more on my own, join the planned sketchwalks. 
  • Bring a light scarf...cover shoulders or face from sun, keep warm in air conditioning, cover head in wind or rain.
Airport breakfast on old-timey plates.

Airport breakfast on old-timey plates.

Urban Sketchers Symposium - Day 3

Breakfast at the Cafe Luna again and sketching, of course. OH: "You just pick a nugget of wisdom from each workshop to remember. Don't be overwhelmed." Good advice.

Cafe Luna reportage

Cafe Luna reportage

My first workshop of the day, Virginia Hein, "The Color of Light", watercolor techniques. We walked to the Formal Gardens in Grant Park. She demonstrated painting shadows, then we tried it; demo of warm vs. cool colors, then try it; then full watercolor demo, and try it. She made it look so easy. I added a few pen details to mine at the end. The morning was beautiful, cooler, and Alicia joined me there during the class.

The main points:

  • "Observe carefully, draw freely." Virginia's philosophy.
  • Every time you have a different tool in your hand, you think and do differently.
  • Leave sparks of white.
  • The artist's squint. Her favorite way to see the values.
  • Push lights to white and darks to really dark.
  • The eye goes to contrast, detail and saturated color.
  • Drawing composition...drama, diagonal, contrast, detail, people.
  • Warm colors come forward and cool recede backward.
  • Use broad warm patterns in the foreground.

After the workshop we walked a couple of blocks for lunch at Buddy Guy's Legends Chicago Blues Club, and listening to Fruteland Jackson play acoustic guitar blues. (The sign out front said "Soup of the day...Bourbon.") So much walking, I'm wearing out, yet sketching energizes me.

Fruitland, because that's what his parents named him.

Fruitland, because that's what his parents named him.

The afternoon workshop was given by Swasky, "Bending the space". We walked as a group to Cloudgate, or familiarly "The Bean", and he talked about flattening a space like opening a box. I had a different take.

Swasky, Barcelona Spain

Swasky, Barcelona Spain

We had 45 minutes to flatten the Bean and the square. Instead of standing in the middle and lining the edges with the warped buildings, I did a picture of the Bean from each side and end, with the buildings behind fanned out and the reflections in the bean of what was behind me. It was very meta. It wasn't quite the assignment, but I love this sketch so much. 

Four beans, from each side with the reflection behind me in the bean...so meta.

Four beans, from each side with the reflection behind me in the bean...so meta.

Then we walked to Wabash and sat under the El to try the "corner" method. It was hot, I couldn't hear well, I was tired and the noise of the El took its toll. I didn't understand the technique, yet came up with some good sketches. I'll have to practice at home, later.

Looking down Wabash toward Trump tower

Looking down Wabash toward Trump tower

The El up close and a nearby light pole

The El up close and a nearby light pole

Alicia and I skipped the evening lectures and had a good surf-and-turf dinner at a swanky restaurant. It was delicious...and quiet...and cool. Tomorrow is the last day and I am so tired, but so happy. Here are a few more impressions from this day.

Face mural, colored bricks, a drippy mural (fuzzy!) and a stenciled peacock mural

Face mural, colored bricks, a drippy mural (fuzzy!) and a stenciled peacock mural

Urban stickers, a restaurant sign, and a cool fence shadow

Urban stickers, a restaurant sign, and a cool fence shadow