Wednesday, 8 July 2020

July Urban Sketching Challengue - Words into sketch - 25 July 2020

Given the restriction on outdoor gatherings are still restricted to six people of different households and with social distancing in any case, we propose an urban sketching challenge for you to do at home on the day our July London meet would have been on Saturday July 25, 2020.

Words into UrbanSketch
The proposal is to look around us and take inspiration from Words into an urbansketch (done on location and from observation telling a story of your own surroundings). Look at actions of your normal day that you do often and also your normal phrases and sayings and think how to draw them?  Focus on context, don't prepare too much just draw things as they are. Look for phrases that inspire you to focus your sketches.
Below are a few actions/time of day selected phrases or sayings that could inspire you to draw.  Don’t restrict yourselves to these but think of your own individual sayings or phrases too.
  • All things grow with love
  • As fast as a cat up a tree
  • Bare as a tree without fruit
  • Colourful as a flower shop
  • Every path has its puddle
  • Home grown
Early morning:
  • Wash and go
  • Wake up and smell the coffee 
  • Everything but the kitchen sink 
  • You can't make an omelette without breaking the eggs
The Challengue - make it quick and spontaneous, it can be done along the day or just the morning or whatever suits you: 
  1. Choose a phrase above or your own phrase,
  2. Do one of these:
    • One pen drawing (max 30 min)
    • One pen & colour (max 30 min)
    • One colour only (max 30 min)
  3. Then repeat with another phrase but not the same medium 
  4. Finally choose a third phrase and the remaining medium 
  5. Photograph and share your drawings and inspiration on social media


Thursday, 2 July 2020

United Sketchers

On Saturday 27th June I took part in the NYC USk  Collaboration Creation. 
What is that, I hear you cry? I’ll explain. 

A little while ago I joined the New York City Urban Sketchers because my daughter was due to move there this month. She’s off as soon as the travel ban lifts, so I have been following the NYC group in anticipation of joining them on my regular visits. They introduced the Collaboration Creation as a way of sketching virtually but together, using Zoom to create sketches in small groups. I felt that this couldn’t be missed.

In advance we were sent instructions and the photos we were to use. When I joined the scheduled Zoom call, we had a general introduction and were assigned to breakout rooms of 5, which included a tech member. We were able to chat and compare notes throughout which made it my first social sketch in three months. Our task was to create a row of Brownstone Houses. Each of us was allocated a house, and the prompt photo was divided to show the ‘join’. We drew our houses to the same proportions, and when done we sent them in to our tech person who joined them together to create a sketched row. Simple but effective, and it was a joy to see the posted rows on Facebook.

In the afternoon we worked in different groups, and together we created a flower bed. Again, we were each allocated a section, and could do whatever we wanted. I went out and sketched my garden for my section and enjoyed the result which included a blend of fantasy and reality.

NYC USk showed me a way to reengage with humans while sketching and I appreciate the welcome they gave me during these topsy turvy times. The question is, would it work for Urban Sketchers London?

I’d welcome your thoughts



Sunday, 31 May 2020

Virtual Sketchcrawl - Let's draw Little Venice - Saturday 6th June

Sketch by Mike Whalley

Welcome to the 'Let's Draw Little Venice' virtual meet up for June 2020. 

We have created a virtual visit to Little Venice in the form of a Google Tour.
Follow the link below; here you will find links to the places we had intended to visit, so that you can find them online. 

PLEASE NOTE: If the link does not work directly on your device, try copying and pasting it into your browser.

Like the virtual sketch challenge in May, we will 'meet' at 11am on the intended day of the real event, June 6th. We will have a preliminary throw down at 1pm on social media, using the tags #uskathome #usklondon and also posting onto the Urban Sketchers London Facebook page. Please continue to work on your sketches and post after that if you would like to, so that we appreciate each others' work.

How to do it:
Click the link below, or copy and paste it into your browser. Once in, click on each of the titles to the left of the page and you will be taken to the map and street view for that place. Home in, explore and follow the links to find out more about these locations.   Choose one or more for a virtual sketch. We invite you to show sketches inspired by this virtual ramble.

Lets do it online until we meet again.

If you are looking for some additional inspiration, these three short films from the Tate on how to paint like Turner might be interesting to view. Artist Mike Chaplin talks about sketching in line, then tone (using tinted paper) and finally colour. In the images below, Katy Evans shows how she used the technique when 'virtual; sketching in the Little Venice area.


Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Summer Evenings Sketching - 17 June, 15 July and 19 August 2020

Wednesdays June 17th, July 15th, August 19th

For two years we have enjoyed the vibrancy of central London’s summer after work culture – and a damp glass or two.  Not having worked in London for years I was amazed at the buzz and loved it.
Next year we will do it for real again.   

Meantime the next best thing.  

Location:  We can’t meet at a common place so we’ll sketch at home or anywhere we can get to within the rules. 

Wet weather alternative:  If the weather isn’t going to be suitable on the date then sketch on another evening before.

Times:  There are no rules but try to keep to the evening on each date or one or two before and then join in a collective Facebook throw down at 8:00 pm.  We’d like to keep the feel of an event together but if you can’t don’t worry post when you can – we all want to enjoy each others work.
So please join us all with something cool and white in a glass (other colours are available) between 6pm and 8pm then share….

Loose ideas/themes:
·         June 17th        : Alfresco refreshment
·         July 15th         : Fun, games, entertainment
·         August 19th    : Relaxation

These are all open to interpretation home or away……. Enjoy!


Sunday, 10 May 2020


[Helen Hayhoe writes] I’d like to say hello as the new third administrator of USK London. It will be difficult to fill Jo Dungey’s small but powerful shoes; she’s a very hard act to follow but I know that the team and the wider group are a source of mutual support.

I’m a lifelong sketcher in a compulsive but informal way. I enjoy using watercolour, fine liners and also love iPad sketching. I’ve had no art training until I did an art foundation last year, when I retired. Urban sketching has been a wonderful discovery and I have enjoyed attending and co-running Sketchcrawls over the last 5 years or so. I love to learn from what I see in others‘ work. The recent

‘Let’s Draw Twickenham’ virtual Sketchcrawl revealed again the creativity and diversity of the group.  I enjoyed the 30 day challenge and am currently having a go at the USK Stoke version.
Where would we be without our sketching? I was sorry to cancel my Airbnb for the Leeds symposium but am looking forward to meeting everyone again. Strangely I feel I’ve got to know people better in sharing our lockdown sketches, just need to match names and faces now. Can’t wait!

A few lockdown sketches

IPad view from the window
30 days sketching concertina
‘Let’s Draw Twickenham’ virtual Sketchcrawl 

Thursday, 30 April 2020

I can’t go out urban sketching! What now?

[Jo Dungey and Lis Watkins write] As meeting up and drawing together is off the agenda at the moment, we thought we would draw up a list of other creative activities that you might find interesting as a replacement. We already have plans for a 'virtual' sketchcrawl in May and ideas for a further one in June but here are some other suggestions:

The Royal Drawing School blog provides a series of well thought out drawing activities developed by their art tutors.  Some of these are based on their new book ‘Ways of Drawing’.  They are designed to be done at home, although some require a second person to act as a model. #drawingfromhome

Twice weekly emails from Leith School of Art provide a drawing activity which is explained and can be done at home.  Mostly focussed on observational drawing.  Visit their website and sign up to the mailing list to receive the emails. #leithschoolofart  #wakeupanddraw

Many of London’s major public art galleries have virtual tours, films and other activities:

Their website includes video tours of exhibitions such as Picasso and Paper.  There are family art activities, short information films and a regular column where artists share their experience of lock-down.

The National Gallery website features information and images of 2,600 paintings in their collection.  Visit their website to sign up for their e-newsletter, visit their YouTube channel which has many films about their exhibitions, gallery talks and films about their conservation work.  Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.  On their Facebook page, there are short videos with art activities for children, based on their collection.

West Dean College in Sussex usually runs many art and craft courses.  Their Facebook page now includes many art projects demonstrated by their expert tutors including botanical painting, ceramics, mosaics, using sketchbooks and other topics.

Enjoy art wherever you are: the Tate website includes a wide range of interesting material. Artist A-Z shows the Tate Collection with artists of the past and present. Studying art provides career advice for art students, and coursework guides for students/adults covering a very wide range of ideas from the collection such as assemblage, still life, using news and events, mark making, light and dark, outlines. Create like an artist has ‘how to’ videos for children and adults. Tate Kids has short videos with art activities for children, some of which could be fun for adults too.

Sketchbook Skool, run by Danny Gregory and Koosje Koene, have created a ‘Coronovirus Creativity Guide’ with lots of free resources.

Somerset House now have an cultural programe online with an interesting range of events and activities.

The Other Art Fair are running ‘The Other Creative Challenge’ via their website and social media using the hashtag #TheOtherCreativeChallenge

The blog ‘That’s not my age’ has an article, ‘Armchair Culture: gallery-going from your own front room’ where they have curated a good international list.

The typography magazine ‘EYE’ also has a thoughtfully created page of events.

The Van Gogh House in London has created a podcast “narrating a unique journey that considers Van Gogh’s time at 87 Hackford Road” and “is a free downloadable audio walk that can be experienced and applied to any geographic location.” 

Isolation Art School has free tutorials from artists on Instagram with activities for both adults and children.

Lucy Tiffney is a designer creating fresh and colourful patterns. She is creating easy and inspiring activities on Instagram.

The Drawing Room based in London has a selection of online resources for both adults and children.

And don't forget that international Urban Sketchers are hosting a live chat and setting interesting challenges each Sunday on Instagram Stories. USkTalks is at 4pm GMT each Sunday.

Please let us know in the comments if you have any more to add. Thank you!