Urban Sketchers has been hosting a show on Instagram Live for the past few months, and it is a delightful treat! Rob Sketcherman hosts, interviewing a couple of sketchers each week on inspiring topics such as urban sketchers from other eras, sketching to learn, and sketching for a cause. Each week the sketchers each give viewers a challenge. My sketch above is in response to Gabi Campanario's challenge, Tell Me More. Gabi asked us to share sketches with informative captions written in our own voice. This is the first of the challenges that I've done; I'm terrible with prompts for some reason.
I started this sketch on a break from working in the yard. I began to label the trees and shrubs as a reaction to my frustration with my neighbor's bamboo and privet. As I was drawing the utility wires, I thought about how some places don't have utility wires above ground, so they don't have trees trimmed into odd shapes by their utility company. I switched my focus, and added a second sketch of the view behind the houses on my street looking east, where there is a valley created between the trees to accommodate the above-ground wires. And I wrote about it.
The other thing I love about USk Talks is getting to help out with some of the post-show work. I've been writing summaries of the shows for the Urban Sketchers website since the April 19th show. You can see the summaries here. It's a pretty simple task compared to the huge amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to produce each show. The team putting this together is a fantastic, creative, hard-working group, and I just swoop in when it's done and write a summary.
I'm very proud of the writing I've done for this project. I've noticed my writing getting stronger since I started. Even though my job is writing, it is technical writing - I'm taking existing written information and reworking it in a clear and concise way to help users do their jobs. But for USk Talks, I'm taking notes during the show and putting together highlights based on the show's theme, both interviews, and the challenges. It's a stretch for me, but a good one.
This week's show, Episode 13: Watercolorful, airs on Urban Sketcher's Instagram Live on Sunday, June 28, 4:00 AM GMT (that's 11:00 PM Saturday here in the US Central time zone, CDT). If you follow Urban Sketchers (@urbansketchers), just go to Instagram at the show time and you will see they are live in Instagram stories. The show is also available on Instagram for 24 hours after it airs, and then you can find it on YouTube.
They don't stop, so I might as well sketch them!
This meeting was different, though. It was at the end of a virtual conference for the Society for Technical Communicators - this was the "after party." And it had such a great vibe for a Zoom! There was a lot of (guided) interaction, and there were two musicians who played. For a Zoom meeting, it was quite lovely.
Last week I had to attend a four-hour training session, so I tried mapcrunch.com for the first time. Map Crunch takes you to a different Google street view every time you open it, and you can go to new random locations, too. When I opened it I saw this image from Guatemala and sketched it while listening to the training. It really kept my mind focused! And I had fun using random pens, markers, and highlighters to create a colorful scene.
I've been going out more! But not really. I'm still only going out to pick up groceries, to find toilet paper, and for the occasional restaurant food pickup. I try to sketch while I'm out, but it just depends on how much time I have.
I'm guaranteed more time at grocery pick-ups, like the one above. I'm also still just keeping a pen and my small Stillman & Birn sketchbook in my purse.
I've headed to Huey's a few times, too. While they were still only doing "curbside pickup" they had a great system going, but I usually found myself with a few minutes to sketch.
On this day (above) I had enough time to draw all of the stripes in the Clark Tower, and start on the other building.
This one is also from the Huey's parking lot, so I got a different angle on the Clark Tower.
Since the first week that Memphis' "Safer at Home" started, I've been catching up with sketcher friends in San Jose, CA, where they were already in more of a lockdown. We chat about our week, about sketching, and inevitably about the pandemic as we sketch our desks, the view outside of our windows, and each other.
The sketch above is of my studio table - always full of art supplies and usually a La Croix can. I did this in a bigger Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook (8 x 10) because it was one of those times I wanted to draw EVERYTHING.
This sketch is of my work desk and all of my little treasures, and is in the small Stillman & Birn Alpha (5.5 x 3.5). I can fit a lot on a small page!
On this Sunday I was feeling uninspired, so I just sketched my watercolor kit (from art-toolkit.com). I love that I always have my sketch gear around to sketch it.
On this Sunday I set up outside and sketched EVERYTHING again in my big Stillman & Birn sketchbook. Before I could finish, the sky opened up and I ran for cover in the carport. I never went back to finish because I like the unfinished look of it.
So I sketched the car. Back to the small sketchbook for this one. I'm enjoying going back and forth between the big sketchbook and the small one. The adjustment for scale is a good exercise.
The last time we got together (we skipped Memorial Day Weekend) , I just felt like painting so I worked in gouache in the big sketchbook, painting the fatsia outside of my studio window. The text is notes from that day's USk Talks, which you can see on Instagram Live on Sundays. I write up the summaries for the Urban Sketchers website.
Check out all of these fine folks on Instagram:
Urban Sketchers @urbansketchers
Art Toolkit @arttoolkit
Suma CM @suma_cm
Suhita Shirodkar @suhitasketch
Uma Kelkar @umapaints
Stillman & Birn @stillmanandbirn
My house came surrounded by these bushes called fatsia japonica and I love them! These bushes are outside my studio, and sometimes I draw them from the studio. This is from several weeks ago, so they are even taller now!
This sketch is a combination of gouache and watercolor - a really good combo for fatsia!
I sketched this from my studio, too. There is construction going on across the street and on this very muddy day a forklift carrying a palette of building materials got stuck in the mud, and the flatbed truck tried to pull it out. Very exciting stuff.
And here's the back yard! Another fatsia to the left, an azalea still blooming to the right. I started this one with watercolor and when back over it in pen - such a good way to tackle both organic and non-organic shapes! I think There is some gouache on this one, too.
Oh look, more fatsia! Inside, in some water.
Backyard fatsia. I was going to start this one with watercolor and then move to pen, but I had too much fun just with the watercolor and left it like that.
A week into self-isolating, I took a small sketchbook (Stillman & Birn Alpha, 3.5x5.5) and a couple of HI-TEC-C Coleto multi-pens on a walk one afternoon and tried to quickly sketch a house as I was walking (top left), and then quickly sketched another as I stood on the sidewalk. Prior to that I had been self-conscious about sketching on my walks, but now I am just that weird neighbor and I'm okay with it.
On that first outing I made three sketches, so the self-consciousness melted away pretty quickly.
I sketched in the rain that day!
The red trees were an accident but I went with it.
I was trying to show the scale of these trees - they are huge!
Included something I overheard a neighbor say. She was on the phone so I only heard half of the conversation. And we'll never know what happened to the person in question!
Sketched more than houses on this long walk.
I liked the accidental red trees so much I made some pink trees on purpose.
Finally sketched my own house! Look at the lower right - that brown squiggle - that's me being honest about having a dead yew in my front yard.
Over the past few weeks I've been sketching less on walks but taking more pictures and videos that I post in my Instagram stories (@elizabethalley). But I still take my sketchbook and pens with me just in case!
Both of these are frequent visitors to my home office. The sketching kit that I would normally carry around in my purse is now set up next to my desk most of the time, so I painted these with watercolors.
Another painted coffee cup!
And now for some hot tea! This time with fountain pens. And another Paper & Clay item - the tea pot (and also the first two coffee cups).
Bonus! Workshop presenter and meeting host.
That yellow cup shows up a lot!
The place where I pick up my groceries just so happens to be near the Clark Tower. What am I going to do - not sketch it?!
This first time during ***all of this*** that I picked up groceries, I also went to the pharmacy drive-through and sketched the woman below.
The above sketch is probably the worst sketch I've made of the Clark Tower. Not because of the errant line, but because I was not paying attention to measuring the scale that the building needed to be in order to fit it in with the trees, etc. I'm not bothered by it - just pointing out that this happens and I just keep sketching!
These are all in Stillman & Birn Alpha softcover sketchbooks, the 3.5x5" (I think) version. The top two sketches were done with the Pigma Graphic 1 (my fat pen), and the rest were done with the Pigma Micron 01. After that first trip, I stopped carrying my full sketch bag and just have the one pen in my purse since I'm really only sketching outside of my house on these grocery runs.
I've been meeting up with fellow sketchers on Sunday afternoons - we talk about the week in quarantine, sketch our surroundings, and we usually end up sketching each other as well.
We had bookclub on Zoom and it worked really well - everyone was very conscientious about waiting for others to finish talking before they started talking. That never happens in person!
More Sunday Sketching.
A work meeting! We use a different format for work meetings, and it isn't as tidy as the Zoom interface, so my co-workers ended up all over my page.
A month ago it was International Women's Day and I was at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens sketching, chatting with people about sketching, and admiring the work of Mbabazi House of Style's owner Grace Byeitima.
The next week at work I put hand sanitizer and Kleenex at the end of my desk, between myself and any visitors.
Quick and safe trip to New Orleans in early March!
My every day sketch gear - a small watercolor palette from art-toolkit.com, a handful of pens, and a folded up and clipped paper towel. But I sketched all of this with a Bic Crystal pen!
I wasn't happy with this sketch so I filled the page with reasons why! I was much happier with the one below.
Liz Steel started using the hashtag #mymorningcoffeesketch on Instagram to show her first sketches of the day - of her coffee cup - get her "creative juices focused and flowing as I start work." She says it's a daily ritual that grounds her work day. Check out Liz's Instagram, @lizsteelart, and her website https://www.lizsteel.com/ for everything you ever wanted to know about sketching!
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