Urban sketching is all about the experience you have sketching in a particular place, and I found that to be so true in recent sketch activities.
A few weeks ago a fellow sketcher and I went to Afton, MN. A small town on the St. Croix River, it has a “Main Street” feel with shops and restaurants, including the famed “Selma’s” ice cream shop. I’ve gone a few times over the years for a tasty treat, but this time, decided to sketch across the street from it (of course, afterwards I had to go get a bowl of chocolate ice cream). Sitting in a chair in a shady spot, I began to show my friend how to get a sketch started. It was a fun little lesson, and as lines led to shaded areas, which led to watercolors splashed on the page, I enjoyed my time.
While we were talking, a man in a bicycle uniform rode up, parked his bike, and noticed me drawing. He began a conversation with us, and I found out he was a tennis pro who also enjoyed drawing. He was conversational and interesting, and had many stories to share. He talked a bit, rode off, then came back again for more conversation. I quickly sketched him on the adjoining page. As I reflected later about all his stories, I wanted to showcase those in my sketch as well, so I created a gray color block by his sketch and wrote about a couple of his stories. You can see more here:
I thoroughly enjoyed meeting him and learning about a different life. Urban sketching allows that, you often meet interesting people, and if you take the time to listen to the stories, you walk away inspired, just as I was. My sketchbook spread looked like this:
A second recent sketch outing was to the Loring Park Art Festival last weekend. This is a large juried art festival at an urban park in Minneapolis, and several of us were planning to sketch there. I went early before it got to crowded which afforded me enough time to sketch the beautiful garden area.
I also sketched one of the buildings in the park, the Loring Community Arts Center. Its unique shape, siding, and colors intrigued me, so I sat under a nearby tree, watched festival volunteers in blue shirts come in and out of the building, and sketched away. The sunlight was perfect and left nice shadows too!
I like including people in my sketches if I can, and whether I just observe them or actually share stories with them, it’s a great part of urban sketching!