urban sketching

Prepping for the Urban Sketching Symposium in Chicago

I'm in Boston now visiting friends and sketching whenever I have a moment free. Yesterday I did some people watching on the beach and sketched them while my kids swam. It was great. But mostly I'm just spending time with friends here. But in a few days we will be heading to Chicago and in a week I will be surrounded by Sketchers and sketching nonstop. I'm so excited. Who else is going? I packed rather light and everything but my sketchbooks fit in a small bag. I'm interested to hear what others are bringing.  

My kit for Chicago.  

My kit for Chicago.  

Sketching people at the beach.  

Sketching people at the beach.  

Sketching the Boston south end with the local Urban Sketching group.  

Sketching the Boston south end with the local Urban Sketching group.  

Endless Challenge : How I tackled the challenge of drawing 100 people in five days

Last week I took on the intense challenge of #oneweek100people2017 that Liz Steel outlined in her blog and managed to not neglect my other activities and responsibilities. I started out with using photos from the awesome iphone Sktchy app before realizing that I was being far too precious and working far too slow to get to 100 that way. So on Tuesday when I was able to get out in the sunshine and sketch tourists and students around Oxford for a few hours I took advantage. Inspired by the energy of Marc Taro Holmes I sketched 100 people that afternoon perched from my vantage point in the Oxford tourist centre. Now that I had my 100 sketches done by the second day I was free to play without counting for the rest of the week. Thanks for the challenge I learned a lot from the experience and am glad that I joined in. The rest of the week I continued to do slower studio portraits using Sktchy and quick gesture drawings from life. I made it to life drawing on Thursday already warmed up and ready to draw. Balancing this challenge while not falling behind in other areas forced me to step up my game and step out of my comfort zone. I already want to do it again next year. 

Here are some of my highlights from the week.  

First #sktchyapp portraits were way too slow

First #sktchyapp portraits were way too slow

Fast and loose sketching tourists.  

Fast and loose sketching tourists.  

Warming up sketching tourists and students.  

Warming up sketching tourists and students.  

Back to slower studio portraits.  

Back to slower studio portraits.  

Greetings from Madrid

The first days were rainy but then it was beautiful perfect weather. Lots to do, see and sketch here. 

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Urban Sketching in London

One of my favorite times of the month is when I get to spend the day in London sketching with the Urban Sketching/ USK gang there. It's so worth the journey from Oxford.  I am looking forward to returning in June and July!

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Urban Sketching Outdoors

I haven't sketched outdoors much lately. The weather and my brain just have not been cooperating. I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself when it comes to sketching outdoors and that often bites me in the end. But the sun was shining and I had some time so I went out to sketch to many impressive Oxford University buildings and had a wonderful experience overall. I cleared my mind and just worked on it one line and shape at a time and then when I got too chilly went inside to add the colors. I am an outdoor sketching wuss when it comes to cold weather. I am glad that I packed my sketching kit in a hurry and did this simple drawing of Oxford.

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Traveling with my family! Our fifth new country visited in 2015.

Last week I visited Berlin with my family. After wasting my twenties not traveling and not being able to travel during much of my thirties due to babies we are using this move to the UK as an opportunity to travel all over Europe whenever we have a chance. So far that has meant trips to Paris, Rome, Barcelona and just recently Berlin. It's been great to see so much and share it with the people that matter the most. I am also so glad that I got into obsessive sketching and travel journaling before starting these trips because now I have the ability and desire to document these trips in the way that I enjoy. Years ago I tried a family blog but that just wasn't for me. And taking photos is somewhat fun but for me the fun ends when it comes to printing out the photos. Sketchbook keeping is perfect for me since everything is automatically in a book! 

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Once in a blue moon

We get beautiful weather in England. And I get to sketch it here in Oxford. Two days of blue skies and abundant sunshine in a row is certainly something to celebrate. 

Oxford blue! 

Oxford blue! 

The view as I cross the bridge from the quiet area where I live into the lively Oxford City Centre.  

The view as I cross the bridge from the quiet area where I live into the lively Oxford City Centre.  

Sketching in Barcelona

I felt better prepared for this trip both mentally and with what I packed. The time with family, tourism, activity and relaxation all just seem to flow with the chance to make art woven throughout it all. It's pretty great.  

Family outing to the beach included time to sketch.  

Family outing to the beach included time to sketch.  

Relaxing on the patio left time to sketch.  

Relaxing on the patio left time to sketch.  

London Sketchcrawl with the Urban Sketchers

So glad that I made it over to London via the x90 bus to sketch Trafalgar Square with the USK London group. Summer has meant less time for art and significantly less urban sketching time and the hours spent drawing was just what I needed halfway through school vacation.  

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Preparing to push my sketching boundaries in Oxford

By going out and sketching Oxford whenever I get the chance. Currently that means going out into the city center with my sketchbooks, pens and paints 1-3 times a week. I am not sure if this city will ever get boring to me. Just more familiar. The USK Oxford workshop begins this coming Tuesday and I am super excited. Then my kids have one more week of school before being home for the summer.  

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John Constable's House with USK London

Late start plus a convoluted journey led me to London to sketch Hampstead Heath with the London Urban Sketching group. Next month they are coming to Oxford!  

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I'm in! Pushing your Sketching Boundaries - Oxford UK July 7 - 11

I am registered for the Urban Sketchers workshop in Oxford next month. Hoping to get a lot of sketching done, explore my new city some more, learn a lot about drawing on location and improve drawing with speed and accuracy while focusing on the core essentials. And of course meeting people!  I am super excited and am feeling super lucky to be living in Oxford so I can attend events like this one. 

Pushing your Sketching Boundaries Oxford

The Saturday following the workshop USk London will be in Oxford for the sketchcrawl and all are welcome. I am planning on attending with my seven year old mini me sketcher by my side on that day. 

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Something changed. Why there is no such thing as a bad sketch. Only learning.

Sketching in Rome was some of the hardest on site sketching I have done. Harder than Oxford, harder than Notre Dame. Headache inducing difficult sketching in the heat while putting a lot of pressure on myself to do a good job and "make the most of the experience". At the time I did not feel that I made the most of the experience in Rome since I didn't love a single drawing that I produced. Then we went home and I started going out more on non-rainy days and really focusing on getting buildings to look believable and confident in my sketches. And it's working. It's getting easier. I learned a lot from my "bad" sketches in Rome and am so grateful for the opportunity to make them. Relax.  

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Urban Sketching tests my limits.

Urban sketching in Oxford UK around some parked bikes at a very crowded bus stop. Oxford gets filled with tourists from all over the world in the spring and summer, especially on the weekend and holidays. Yesterday was a bank holiday. Testing the limits of my ability to sketch around others. Then 1/3 through the drawing my pen ran out of ink and I needed to switch to a brush pen. Keep going. 

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Moving to England!

Sometime in January I will be packing up my art studio and moving it to the UK along with my family. Feeling very blessed and excited about this next adventure. Boston has been a wonderful place to live for nearly twelve years but I think we are all ready for a change. I think Oxford will be an inspiring city and I am excited about this next step. 

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Why do I sketch?

I fill about a sketchbook a month these days. When I am done they go on a shelf in my studio and I look back on them often. My children look through them and I show them off to friends and other curious people. This number doesn't include the "extra" books I keep around. Why do I do it? Why do I use precious paper and other materials for plenty of less than perfect pages? Because if I don't I grow stagnant and miserable. Because the process is how I grow as an artist and as a person. Because my sketchbooks are important. I admire other artists that keep active, consistent yet varied and adventurous sketchbooks. It is a tricky balance for sure to develop and maintain a style while continuing to push yourself as an artist and experiment. As I try to break out of my sketchbooks a bit more and feel comfortable doing pieces for the public rather than for myself I know that making time for my sketchbooks is something that needs to come first in my art life. No matter where I am at in life I will always sketch.

The first page of every sketchbook starts something like this. Thank you  Liz Steel  for helping me get over first page jitters.

The first page of every sketchbook starts something like this. Thank you Liz Steel for helping me get over first page jitters.

The sounds of the city.

After five days up in the middle of nowhere focusing on art adjusting to being back to the city is a bit of a challenge. The city is loud and dirty with too many people. Yesterday I went to the Arnold Arboretum to sketch and get away a bit and I had a really hard time connecting with nature with the sound of the cars outside and all the people walking around. As soon as I would start to relax and sketch a woman would walk buy with clicking heels or an off leash dog would get in my face. I did manage to find a good location to sketch with minimal interruption, but it will take me a little while to get used to being back in the city.

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This is why I carry a sketchbook everywhere.

Happy Friday! Happy Weekend! School meeting cancelled yesterday while my youngest child was still at preschool and my oldest child was at a playdate. Instead of eating one of their yummy fattening desserts I sat outside and drew the Ula Cafe during my free hour. So glad that I had my little portable art studio with me and was ready to draw.

See you on Monday!

A family stops for a snack before a ukelele class inside the complex.

A family stops for a snack before a ukelele class inside the complex.

Happy Friday

Finishing up an art filled week with a sunny and mild Friday and looking forward to the weekend. Loving these early fall weather days here in Boston. On Tuesday and Wednesday I wandered and on Monday and Thursday I stayed close to home. Today I will have two little ones with me so any adventures will need to include them.

from my Wednesday wanderings

from my Wednesday wanderings

Let it go.

Urban sketching on location is great in theory, hard in practice. Especially when one is a bit of an introvert and has two young children tagging along all summer. I can only draw the playgrounds that they enjoy so many times without getting bored. Then I started to feel angst and bad about my perceived failures as an artist. Then I let go and just drew. Sometimes I drew what I saw sometimes I drew from my imagination. It is all perfectly fine. Soon the girls will be back in school and I can draw on location. Right now it is hot outside and I am enjoying going on inspiring nature walks with my children, jogging by myself and taking that inspiration home to my studio where I work with it. Coming soon. Hoping to finish a number of these little paintings by the time I hang at Hatched (at there brand new location grand opening next to the big City Feed) here in JP for First Thursday and for JP Open Studios in three weeks September 20th and 21st at the UU Church.

LunaMoth