Thursday, 23 January 2014

Urban sketching

My coffee at Timberyard Café
Urban sketching has developed into a worldwide movement with active groups in more than 30 countries since starting life as a group on flickr in 2007. Urban Sketchers later became a non-profit organisation and are planning their fifth international symposium from 27-30 August 2014 in Paraty, Brazil where artists can draw together and learn together.

This is a grassroots organisation 'dedicated to fostering the art of on-location drawing' and has a manifesto which includes: "we draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation; our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel; our drawings are a record of time and place", you can find the entire manifesto here.

Downstairs in the café
I am allowed to have the Urban Sketchers badge on my blog because a lot of my sketches comply with their manifesto but until this past Sunday I had never been out sketching with them. The group in London began 2014 at a café called Timberyard in Covent Garden. The plan was to meet there at around 11am and work their way down to the Espresso Bar in the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square sketching en route and finishing around 2;30pm. This is no great distance to cover on foot but my contribution to this event ended while everyone was still in the café.

Looking up Monmouth Street to Seven Dials
I very much liked the idea of working with a group of other artists but I felt very uncomfortable doing it. I was reminded of being back at school waiting for everyone else to move off to a new location. I found it difficult to become immersed in what I was doing so ended up flitting from one thing to another. I lost my confidence to draw anything interesting and was reluctant to show anyone what I had done so I left everyone to it and got the bus home. Now I am away from the location I quite like the end result so am happy to publish them on this blog.

I did remember that I have been able to get carried away while sketching and that was on our last morning in Berlin two years ago while we were having a leisurely breakfast before returning to the airport. I'll have to try and recall that concentration if I ever join the London Urban Sketchers again on another sketching outing later in the year.

Breakfast in Berlin January 2012


Anonymous said...

It is GREAT to see these sketches, Heather. I love all of them, and yet you can see that in the Berlin sketch you stayed and stayed and stayed, and got lost in it. Again and again I am inspired to go do it too!!!! And feel such a connection between what I write & like to read and your sketches of simply what is there. -- Marta

Anonymous said...

Like you I am nervous about sketching outside with other people around. I even panic in my own back yard!

Looking at the drawing that you produced though I think it was a worth while trip as despite the nerves you created some beautiful sketches. I particularly like the simplicity of the coffee cups.

I like the Berlin drawing but I see a lot of progress in the recent drawings. A confidence in your ability to allow the line to give the essence of the the form. Sargy Mann at Camberwell would have loved your drawing as he would have drawing sessions where we could only use the line to tell the story. Incredibly hard to do.

I hope you do join in another sketching outing and look forward to seeing more of this type of work.

Heather James said...

Thanks for the feedback both of you. Reading it has helped to offset the anxiety about producing anything interesting.