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How to get started as an urban sketcher.

Who are Urban Sketchers?

An Urban Sketcher is anyone who creates art on location, either indoors or outdoors.

Do I need to be talented?

Everyone has their own individual talent. As long as you have a desire to sketch, that’s all you need to start. Self doubt has no place in creation. You need to trust that you have a unique perspective and that no one can create what you can.

Instead of comparing your talent to someone with more experience, try to learn from those people and use their techniques. Do you like the way someone uses color? Try to implement it in your own work.

What tools are needed?

At the most minimum, you need a pencil and sheet of paper. You don’t need fancy paints or pens to start. Look in your desk and get started with what you have.

If you’re like me, I’ve been hoarding unused sketchbook for years! It’s time to give your supplies the life it deserves by finally using them. Honor your art supplies by giving them a purpose with your sketches.

To make your life easier, you may find the following tools of the trade helpful :

• A lightweight, foldable seat

• A hard surface (I use a square piece of 1/4 inch wood)

• A hat and/or sunglasses for sunny days

Where do I go?

Anywhere your heart desires! The best place to start is where you are. Go outside and start drawing your own home or your car.

Research historic areas near you that have interesting architecture. Maybe there’s a botanical garden that has beautiful blossoms near you. Perhaps a coffee shop you frequent has an interesting layout or colors that you think would make a great sketch.

You are allowed to sketch in many museums but call ahead to check. For the safety of paintings, water and ink usually aren’t allowed so bring pencils.

As you commute to work or run errands, you’ll begin to see interesting locations everywhere!

What do I sketch?

What you sketch will depend on where you go. Once you get to a location, walk around until you see something that catches your eye. Don’t rush to find something and don’t second guess yourself. Follow your instincts however odd they may seem. I’ve seen people only sketch fire hydrants.

The easiest things to sketch are ones that stay relatively still like buildings or flowers. Drawing people is difficult since they move around so much. However, if you are trying to get better at drawing people, go to a library or coffee shop where people are sitting rather than standing. Standing people move too much.

Should I go alone?

It depends on the kind of person you are. I like to go at my own pace so I tend to go solo on sketch trips.

If you are interested in meeting other fellow Urban Sketchers, check out the official Urban Sketchers non-profit organization website and find a community in your country/city. If there isn’t one in your area, consider looking on or seeing if there is a Facebook group near you for artists. If not, start one!

Related Article: Why I Urban Sketch And You Should, Too!

Are you ready to start?

If you found this helpful, consider sharing it!

~ Jojo 

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