What is urban sketching? It is the practice of drawing what is around you, for instance, in your sketchbook. It does not necessarily mean that you draw cities, but instead you capture your own vision of the world where you live, and the places you visit.

This week I’m celebrating my birthday week with sketching! I’ll be combining pen and ink with gouache but you can do the same idea with watercolor – perhaps even more easily since watercolor is typically very transparent. (Gouache is opaque watercolor and can affect black lines.) I’m putting my TWSBI Eco to work!

Tutorial: Garden Steps | Wash & Ink (Urban Sketching)

If you’d also like to sketch this picture, you can download it for free from Paint My Photo, (You just need a free account there to download and use the photo.)

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Use leftover gouache or watercolor

Got a palette full of muck? That’s perfect for something like this! Typically colors found in nature are more desaturated than manmade bright paints; that means mixing the mush together will give you all kinds of great neutrals. 

That’s because read, blue, and yellow make neutrals of various types – so between everything on a typical mixing palette you’ve got at least a little of all that!

Decide what’s most important to you

When sitting out in the world around us – vs a photo that’s carefully cropped by the photographer – it’s easy to get overwhelmed. The world is full of STUFF! Picking what to keep and what to delete can be tough.

Decide what attracted you to that spot, or that photo. Put your time in there, and find graphical ways to treat other elements so you can simplify them. That can be done with line work but also with color!

Nervous about drawing in public?

Don’t be. The average person walking by will be truly impressed with you! I’ve made terrible drawings that shouldn’t see the light of day and had people ooh and ahh. Seriously – they WANT to compliment you! (I mean really, who walks around the world wanting to peek over an artist’s shoulder just so they can say, “Dang, that’s garbage!” NO ONE.)

Join a group!

Check to see if your town has an Urban Sketchers group. Any kind of drawing group! You’ll find there are people of all levels of experience – people you can learn from *and people who need you to help them.* Yes there will be people newer than you and they could use your encouragement and your presence! 


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1 Comment

  1. Gab

    What a great scene


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