Most of my life, drawing for me was a static thing. I was sitting at my desk, in my home, drawing something from my imagination or I was redrawing other people’s art (yes, I admit that!)

For some time, my drawings were static. And sometimes I too, felt static. Urban sketching to the rescue! This was something completely different to what I had been doing before! Not a static image, but a moving, living, breathing human or animal to draw!

Urban sketching – at least for me – is something very lively and loose. And for me, that can be extremely helpful, as I sometimes bite into my drawings so deeply that later I have to carve my pencil out of my hand again. Urban sketching – or rather sketching living things in real life if I’m precise – gives me back that freedom.

When you draw from life, you do not have all the time of the world to study a certain fold in the sleeve of your model. At least not if you intend to capture the entire human or animal with your sketch before he or she moves along!
And don’t get me wrong, you can absolutely use urban sketching for drawing just a sleeve. But for me, it’s about capturing the essence of that particular person or animal or situation in general. Here, take a look:

Few colours and a quick expression.


I agree, this girl looks different in real life. But, thanks to quick brush strokes and trusting myself to just use my colour palette of water colours, the drawing did capture some of her dynamics. Shortly after, she left, and all that’s left is my very rough illustration of her.
The same happened with this guy, again, with very few colours I tried to capture his appearance. I particularly like the shadow on his face which suggests the muscles under his brow – and are painted in the same yet much more watery version of his hair’s red:

Rocking a bun in a few lines.

But, as the name says, urban sketching does not have to be humans, only. I have drawn these sketches in Malta and here I was not pressured by my models imminent departure, but more by changing light situations and capturing the overall atmosphere.

Lovely blue Maltese skies.

I personally think that drawing architecture is very difficult. What’s lovely about urban sketching is, however, is that you can absolutely change what you see. You can take it all in and somehow see differently. And that can be very refreshing.

So in a nutshell: Urban sketching means to me, to take my time outside to draw something I have probably never drawn before. It means taking the time to really look at something, to understand it. And through its slowness and creating an abstract version of life on your paper, urban sketching can be very meditational and almost philosophical!

Have you tried urban sketching before? If yes, what have you sketched or what were you afraid of sketching?



6 thoughts on ““Hey, stop moving!” – My encounters with urban sketching

  1. I do take WAY too long, and think too much. A small group of us just went urban sketching this morning and it was so fun! (you can read about it on my blog if you want to) Your people look GREAT. I love illustrations like this, and hope to become more competent at it myself!

    Liked by 1 person

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