written by Andrew Banks, Urban Sketchers Chicago group administrator and Blog Contributor

As an offshoot of the global Urban Sketchers organization the Urban Sketchers Chicago held the second Chicago Sketch Seminar on 11 and 12 July, 2015 at the Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Arts and the surrounding Gold Coast neighborhood.  This two day seminar attracted participants from all around the Midwest as well as an international crowd with visitors from as far away as India. With 10 workshops taught by local Chicago sketchers, participants had a wide range of topics to choose from which allowed them to tailor their weekends to the specific skill sets they wanted to develop. From watercolor techniques, figure drawing, perspective drawing, marker techniques, to colored pencils and even incorporating text into a sketch, the weekend was filled with incredible learning opportunities.

The Sketch Seminar would not have been the same without its incredible sponsors, one of them being Hahnemühle! We were excited and honored when Hahnemühle agreed to sponsor the event and for the opportunity to introduce their products to our Chicago community. Each of the Seminar’s 100+ participants and planners received a two pack of Hahnemühle’s ‘Sketch and Note’ sketchbooklets as well as a sample folder of their entire paper portfolio.

While everyone gathered at the Palette and Chisel Gallery for registration, mingling, and refreshments, Sketch Seminar workshops took place at various outdoor locations in the surrounding neighborhood. Urban Sketching is a unique art form in which artists draw on location, where they are. They tell stories about their daily lives and travel. Unlike most stories however, urban sketchers tell stories with their drawings. Whether using something as simple as a pencil, pen or colored pencil to more involved media such a watercolor or even oil paint, urban sketchers record their observations of the world around them and communicate it with their unique artistic abilities.  When they are not sketching during the week or as a group at one of their monthly meetings, urban sketchers share their work with one another in their Facebook group.

Similar to plein air painting, an urban sketcher’s studio can be everywhere and anywhere – from a busy street corner, the quiet coffee shop, the local museum or zoo, or even 30,000 ft. up in an airplane. Urban sketchers sketch anywhere and everywhere. One of the unique aspects of this hobby are the travel sketch kits that people assemble for ease of transportation and accessibility. After all, who knows when the ideal sketching opportunity or story worthy subject will present itself? Here is just one example a travel sketch kit.

Hahnemühle’s sketchbooklets are a great addition to any urban sketcher’s travel sketch kit. This pocket-sized booklets easily fits into a back pocket, pen or brush case, backpack or purse and encourages the artist to carry it with them wherever they go. Many urban sketchers and artists alike maintain journals which document their creative discoveries and sketches on a day to day basis. The ‘Sketch and Note’ sketchbooklets are perfect for these uses.

On Sunday afternoon, the seminar wrapped up with a closing reception where people laid out their sketchbooks to share their weekend’s work.

Sketchbooks lined the floor in the Palette and Chisel gallery for everyone to admire. The variety and quality of sketches our group produced was incredible to see. Everyone walked away with a new set of sketching skills and enjoyed the great camaraderie of the ever growing Urban Sketching community here in Chicago.

Urban Sketchers Chicago (USk Chicago) is the Chicago chapter of the worldwide Urban Sketchers movement. Its founding member, Alex Zonis, began USk Chicago in 2012. Now, with over 400 members, USk Chicago meets each month to sketch as a group, share their work with one another and socialize over food and drinks. If you live in the Chicago area and would like to join the group, find their Facebook group and request to join. You can also find them on Twitter @USk_Chicago, Instagram: @USKCHICAGO, Pinterest: Urban Sketchers Chicago and on their blog.

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