A new art form I’ve been dabbling in for about a year is urban sketching. Art is often a solitary hobby, but urban sketching adds a social element which makes my extrovert heart sing. It also helps me learn how to approach drawings of architecture which I find fascinating, AND I get to explore my city in the process. Win-win-win.
What is Urban Sketching?
On the Urban Sketchers website, they say, “unlike making art in a studio, urban sketching is about capturing life, wherever that life is – on the sidewalk, in our neighborhood parks, in cafes, or in other public places. Instead of drawing from photos or our minds, we sketch from direct observation. The manifesto we follow encourages telling the stories of our surroundings through our drawings and sharing them online.” The .gif to the right does a great job of explaining the basics of the Urban Sketchers manifesto.
Urban Sketchers started right here in Seattle where I currently live. My area has a super active chapter of sketchers meeting in various places around the city at least 5 times a month to sketch together. I don’t attend as much as I’d like, but such is life. Regardless, we are fortunate to have some amazingly talented sketchers and teachers in our group that offer workshops.
For the second year, Urban Sketchers Seattle is taking part in 10×10, the worldwide initiative to offer
educational workshops wherever sketchers live. Launched in celebration of Urban Sketchers’ 10th
anniversary in 2017, the program brings a variety of courses on urban sketching techniques taught by
talented local instructors in their home cities.
I signed up for 5 10×10 workshops in 2017 and 2 this year. This past Saturday morning, I took Good Bones: How to Start a Sketch with Stephanie Bower inside King Street Station. Targeted to beginning sketchers interested in drawing buildings, Good Bones introduced us to the fundamentals of setting any sketch in perspective in three easy steps. This class was a game changer for me as a sketcher. The more I listened, watched, and practiced, the more I began to see how quickly and easily a sketch can come together. Previously, I’ve just been kind of eye-balling the scene and doing my best to put it on paper.
Stephanie introduced one-point perspective by showing us how to draw a simple hallway, then how to apply those same techniques to a birds-eye view, and finally to a more complex interior. Then, she demoed how to put pen to paper and lastly, how to maximize depth when you add watercolor to the sketch. She added step-by-step photos of the drawing portion to her Instagram account if you’re interested.
In the end, I was pleased with the perspective and depth I achieved in my sketch. Are there areas I could improve upon? Most definitely, but in the constraints of a 3 hour class and in the spirit of learning something new, I’m proud of what I produced.
About Stephanie Bower
Stephanie Bower is an award-winning Seattle-based architectural illustrator, teacher, watercolorist and
correspondent for Urban Sketchers.org. After working as a licensed architect in New York City, Stephanie
gravitated toward a career in architectural illustration and concept design. She has taught architectural
sketching at Parsons School of Design in New York, the University of Washington and Cornish College of
the Arts, online at Craftsy.com, in numerous workshops in Seattle and globally, and at four Urban Sketchers international symposiums. Stephanie is also the author of “The Urban Sketching Handbook: UnderstandingPerspective” and co-author of the new “Urban Sketching Art Pack.”
If you’re interested in joining an Urban Sketchers chapter in your area, check out this comprehensive list of Urban Sketchers Regional Chapters.