Tuesday, 28 April 2015

April 2015 London Urban Sketchcrawl

My heart sank when I opened the curtains on Saturday morning.  The day of my first ever urban sketchcrawl.  “Rain!!! Of all days why today?”  Another disaster struck soon after.  My ready and waiting rucksack decided to have a big malfunction fifteen minutes before I needed to leave.  The handle tore off from years’ of use.  A frantic rush to find another rucksack then ensued.   

So how did the day turn out?

To be honest:  absolutely fantastic.  The sun shone and the alternative rucksack worked a treat.

April 2015 London Urban Sketcher Group
Photo taken by Katherine Tyrrell
I am the one in the blue at the front.

Katherine Tyrrell, Group Leader, gives a brilliant account of the day on the   
Urban Sketcher London blog.  Link here.
Katherine is the fabulous artist and author of the two blogs Making A Mark Link here  
and Travels with a Sketchbook  Link here.  She has also written the wonderful book Sketching 365: Build Your Confidence and Skills with a Tip a Day.   A book that never sits on my shelf because it is constantly in use. 

An extremely fast sketch true to the Urban Sketcher Movement rules.  
An observational sketch finished in situ.  

On the day I made lots of lovely new sketching friends whom I am sure I will see again on future urban sketchcrawls.  I have also joined the Facebook London Urban Sketcher Group where lots of these people hang out showing their sketches online.  Pooling together and seeing everyone’s different styles helps the arty knowledge move forward.  There is definitely a lot to learn in the Urban Sketcher Community even beyond the actual days of the sketchcrawls. 

Will I ever be a true urban sketcher sticking to USK’s Manifesto? Link here

I was fully aware of USK’s rules before I attended the sketchcrawl.  So I had already decided to do one fast finished sketch on site regardless of how it turned out.  The rest I would take my time with and tweak them at home in a quieter setting.  This meant I could still join in the internet community fun and still manage to stretch my drawing skills later in my own slow paced way.    

These are a couple of sketches I tweaked later by adding black pen over a loose pencil drawing.  I never will be an artist who likes drawing in ink straight away.  I have been at this arty game many years to know what I do and do not like and what works for me.  

A very fast, in situ, graphite sketch from the Northbank looking towards the Tate Modern Gallery with a glimpse of the Millenium Bridge.  Pen was added later in a fast way to keep the momentum and energy flowing.  Speed means inaccuracies will happen for me but I am hoping the more I do this fast type of sketching the more accurate I will become.  Though just like with my watercolours, I still want to hold onto the loose impressionistic and expressive style I love so much and try to create.    

Sitting on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral I decided to do some people collecting.  I have started an A6 sized sketchbook dedicated to collecting people sketches.  You need nerves of steel to draw people on the street.  They move and do not sit still.  I erased my initial head lines three times that day before I found this man who sat still long enough for me to sketch him fully.    

So what does all this fast on site sketching do for me? 

Well it makes holding a pencil in my hand and using it become second nature.  My watercolour brushes are at the point where I use them instinctively but I have dedicated nearly five years purely to my watercolours.  I am not that good with a pencil or pen and that is purely because I have not dedicated as much time to that side of my creativity.  I am now trying to rectify that to become a better all round artist and watercolourist. 

I think this A5 size drawing I did last night on off-white antiqued paper of St Paul’s Cathedral Dome shows how observation, measuring and time makes a huge difference to my drawings.  I need to be aware of my slanty mannerisms and querks when I draw in future though.  I don’t want everything I do looking like the Tower of Pisa.  


  1. What a wonderful gathering that was, Laura! Great sketches! Glad the weather was nice and that you had such a fabulous time!

  2. Great work for the day Laura! I'm so happy the sun came out and you had fun! I love both versions of St. Paul.

  3. Excellent drawing skills , so many details in the Tate Modern Gallery in such a short time ! And St. Paul is majestic and beautiful , well done !

  4. You did catch alot of them details during your short time sketching. Good work Laura :) Enjoyed reading about your day. Good you found a new bag to carry your stuff around.


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