Sunday, 22 March 2020

2020 sketchcrawl programme suspended

(Jo Dungey writes) Given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and the predictions of public health experts about its possible spread, Lis Watkins, Isabel Carmona and I (the group’s named administrators) have decided:

  • The proposed sketchcrawl for Saturday 25 April 2020 is CANCELLED.
  • In place of this, we will have a virtual art challenge timed for that date, and will publish more details about the proposed activity nearer the time.  This will be something to be carried out at a safe location of your choice.  As our April meet-up was to have been a joint event for Urban Sketchers London and Urban Sketchers Cambridge, Cambridge sketchers are particularly encouraged to take part. 
  • The remaining sketchcrawl programme: Let’s draw London in 2020, is SUSPENDED.  We cannot at this point predict when it may be safe to resume these activities.

We are very sorry to have to do this; we would much rather be meeting with fellow sketchers.  We hope to continue with suggesting sketching activities and challenges.  However, this is a group run by a small number of volunteers who share everyone else’s stresses and problems at this difficult time, and I think we need to be cautious about the capacity of the group.

The advantage of having an active interest in art at this time is that there are also many other resources of interest available online: art ideas, virtual tours of galleries and museums, forums for different types of art and crafts.  For example, as the major public art galleries and museums in London are closed to the public, their staff will be developing an extended range of online material. 

So, continue to enjoy your sketching.


Tuesday, 17 March 2020

The Thirty Day Indoor Sketching Challenge

The Thirty Day Indoor Sketching Challenge
Urban Sketchers London

Start date: Thu 19 March 2020

In view that we are going to be staying at home for a while and trying to keep sane through sketching we propose an #uskathome challenge for those of you who want to take it up. Let’s see it as an opportunity to get to know each other better through urban sketching from home.

It would be good to follow the list and do one topic a day but it is fine to do them at your own time and we look forward to seeing the shared sketches. Each topic may suggest more than one interpretation or need more than one drawing. It is important than the drawings are done from life as observed in your environment but experiment with media, ways of drawing, using colour, shading, backgrounds and surfaces and so on..

While sketching think about telling us a story of what the situation is like, not just focusing on the object(s) you are drawing - as urban sketchers we show the world around us one drawing at a time - this cartoon from USK HK tells you to focus on the context as well as the object to enrich your story.

Also we would love to see the sketchbook(s) live next time we meet in person so please bring them along when we are able to meet again - we hope very soon.

Here is the proposed list of 30 topics (take them one a day or every two days and share with the urban sketching community for encouragement and to keep in touch).

Use the hashtags: #uskathome #usklondon #30daysuskinside #urbansketchers
Share in Facebook, Flickr or Twitter [tag @UrbSketchLondon]

30 Day Urban Sketching Challenge

1. Hello I am . . . . . . (selfie) - introduce yourself
2. Working (from home)
3. Doing daily chores
4. What are you reading?
5. Keeping entertained
6. Do It Yourself
7. Cooking
8. Collecting
9. Gardening (or balcony gardens or pot plants)
10. Keeping Healthy - exercise

11. Hobbies (other than sketching)
12. Favourite film watching
13. Music listening
14. Looking at the sky
15. Taking stock (objects in the cupboard or assessing our lives)
16. Bird watching
17. Giving or receiving presents
18. Hanging on the wall
19. Spring is in the air
20. How are you feeling? (selfie)

21. Choosing clothes from your wardrobe
22. Watching TV
23. Telling the time
24. Playing games
25. Bug watching
26. Looking out of the window
27. Eating fruit
28. New and old in your life
29. Adding flavour
30. “A day in the life of . . .” storyboard (A three minute sketch every hour composed into a story of your day)

Let’s keep urban sketching from home!


Sunday, 15 March 2020

Prudent, Wise and Correct......

(John Webb writes)  The decision to cancel yesterday. Sadly I couldn't sketch at home on the 14th but did the day before at Brentford Community Stadium which is nearly finished - but who knows when we'll be able to use it.  There were to be two 'test events' with reduced capacity in April/May which I would have used for some rapid sketching to conclude the project...will do in due course.  Its been over two years - lots of sketches and a great discipline to keep regularly drawing.


Friday, 13 March 2020


About the coronavirus outbreak – update

(Jo Dungey writes) Lis Watkins, Isobel Carmona and I have discussed the situation, and we have decided to CANCEL the  Urban Sketchers London sketchcrawl on Saturday 14 March to Elephant and Castle. 

This is in the light of the government emergency COBRA meeting on the Coronavirus which has changed the official policy from ‘Containment’ to ‘Delay’. We have decided to be very cautious, as public health advice seems to be moving towards cancellation of unnecessary gatherings.

We apologise to those who are disappointed and for the late change to what we had said about this event.

We will decide on future events one month at a time: so check here and our Facebook page for updates.  Please stay safe, and post your sketches on our Facebook and Flikr pages.  Remember the draw 100 people challenge, wherever you live.  Do use our Facebook page to suggest small informal meet-ups and challenges.  Keep sketching.

Again, we are very sorry to do this - it was not an easy decision.


Monday, 24 February 2020

CANCELLED: Let's draw Granary Square - Saturday 25 April 2020

UPDATE: because of the coronavirus outbreak, this sketchcrawl is CANCELLED and our 2020 sketchcrawl programme is SUSPENDED.  

Options for drawing:

The area has interesting contrasts between the Victorian industrial architecture and the very new developments.

Regent’s Canal runs through the King's Cross area and is lined with boats and old buildings.
Coal Drops Yard is a new shopping centre designed by Thomas Heatherwick, which uses buildings originally built to store coal for the gas works; the original gasometers can still be seen.
The House of Illustration (admission charge for exhibitions) is to the east of the Central St Martins building, next to Waitrose, which is also housed in old industrial buildings. 
The Canopy Market is next to Waitrose.

New developments are still in progress.

If the weather is wet, there is cover inside Coal Drops Yard, at the Canopy Market, and under the canal bridges.

Practical information: 

The nearest underground/national rail station is King's Cross.  There are various cafes, restaurants and market stalls.  There are toilets in Coal Drops Yard and at the back of the Canopy Market.

This day is organised jointly with Urban Sketchers Cambridge, and run by Jo Dungey (Urban Sketchers London) and Yasemin Gyford of Urban Sketchers Cambridge.

The photographs and the sketch of Coal Drops Yard are by Jo Dungey.


Tuesday, 18 February 2020

We drew at the Wallace Collection and St James Church - February 2020

(Nicky Browne writes) On Saturday 15 February 2020, a large number of London Urban Sketchers descended on the Wallace Collection in Central London.  There were at least a dozen new faces joining us who included a visiting Australian Urban Sketcher.

The museum has a significant art collection with many well-known pieces, such as Frans Hals' Laughing Cavalier and Fragonard's Girl on a Swing. Artefacts, armour, furniture and opulent curtains with huge tassels fill this exotic and unusual museum. "Gosh" a visitor said to me, "everyone is really concentrating hard!"

The high winds of Storm Denis limited the number of hardy outdoor toilers. However, there was just sufficient time before the rain for some splendid renderings of the architecturally significant Victorian fire station, now the Chiltern Firehouse Hotel, and of St James Church in Spanish Place. The church also welcomed us to draw inside and quite a number of sketchers challenged themselves with the complex Victorian Gothic interior.

The day was run by Nicky Browne and Sasala Wickramasinghe. Photographs are by Sasala Wickramasinghe and Jo Dungey, and the sketch inside St James Church is by Sasala Wickramasinghe.


Wednesday, 12 February 2020

CANCELLED - Let's draw Elephant & Castle - Saturday 14th March

Drawing by Isabel Carmona

Update 13 March 2020: This sketchcrawl has been CANCELLED. This decision was taken in light of the government's emergency COBRA meeting on the Coronavirus, which has changed official policy from 'Containment' to 'Delay'. For more details, kindly see our blog post on the decision to cancel.  

In March we visit Elephant and Castle, a very busy urban location and transport hub. The whole square area is a mix of architecture of various times , including the old entrance to the E&C station, the brutalist tower blocks, Erno Goldfinger modernist Alexander Fleming House, now known as Metro Central Heights. Also the Strata tower with the non operational windmills at the top and any of the street scenes of surrounding area would be good subjects. The meeting point for the afternoon, Mercato Metropolitano is a food place with communal seating where there are always plenty of people to watch and sketch.

All in all it promises to be a very varied day.

Elephant and Castle

The day is free of charge, no need to book, just turn up with your art kit.

The steps of the Metropolitan Tabernacle

Key times and meeting points for the day:

11am: Meet on the steps of the Metropolitan Tabernacle (see photograph above) which is opposite the entrance to the shopping centre.

1pm: Meet back at the Tabernacle to look at drawings done so far.

3.30pm: Meet inside Mercato Metropolitano (see photograph below) to look at drawings done, and take group photographs.

We can stay here for coffee and chat after the sketchcrawl. 

Inside part of the Mercato Metropolitano

Options for drawing include:

E&C Shopping Centre
The Faraday Memorial
The old entrance to E&C underground station
The Metropolitan Tabernacle

Practical information: Elephant and  Castle underground station is on the Northern and Bakerloo lines, and the area is also served by a national rail station and many bus routes.
Cafes and toilets in the shopping centre and at Mercato Metropolitano.

The day is run by: Isabel Carmona and Lis Watkins


Sunday, 12 January 2020

We drew at Tate Modern - January 2020

Our first sketchcrawl of 2020 (Jo Dungey writes), and we met at Tate Modern on Bankside, on Saturday 11 January 2020.  It must have been one of our biggest meet-ups, as more than eighty people joined us for all or part of the day.  The photograph above shows us with our morning sketches, and below you can see the group at the end of the day, in the Tate Modern Turbine Hall, next to the smaller of Kara Walker's sculptures.
Currently installed in the Turbine Hall is Kara Walker's major sculpture, Fons Americanus, and that was a popular choice of subject for sketchers.  Others chose views of the building, visitors, and artworks.  Views of the surrounding area from the gallery windows were also sketched, and quite a few people drew outside, despite the mid-winter weather.
Visit the Urban Sketchers London Facebook page to see more sketches and photographs.  The day was run by Jo Dungey and Gafung Wong, and the photographs are by Jo and Gafung.  

Our next meet-up is on Saturday 15 February 2020, when we will have an opportunity to draw at the Wallace Collection and nearby St James RC Church - details are on this blog, here.