Saturday: Final Workshops and the World Sketch walk

[by Wes Douglas, Symposium Correspondent in Chicago, USA]

Today was the final day for workshops, sketch walks and the 2017 World Sketch Walk. The above sketch was my attempt to give readers a sense of the Goodman Center Central Meeting Hall (internally known as “The Hub.”) What started out as my comprehensive sketch of The Hub (inspired by Paul Heaston), I found an opportunity to pay tribute to the 20-30 volunteers from USk Chicago who performed countless number of assistance to workshop instructors, provide guidance to attendees, and all in all ensure that the Symposium ran smoothly and like clockwork. Oftentimes the City of Chicago would surprise our team and instructors with unexpected changes and the volunteers would have to quickly communicate the change to hundreds of affected people. Perhaps the biggest derail was the change in location for our World Sketch Crawl but we still filled the hill underneath General Logan with a large impressive crowd of artists. Thank you to all of the red-shirted Chicago volunteers.

My assignment duties began by assisting Steven Reddy by corralling his students in a collective group within the Congress Plaza North–the meeting area for workshops throughout the week. Once we had what looked like a quorum, our group marched to the North Gardens of the Art Institute of Chicago (the area north of the Lion known as “On The Prowl).

Steve Reddy gave a brief introduction to his lesson plan, his typical art supplies travel kit, his published books and his online Craftsy courses. Then he proceeded to demonstrate his process of thumbnails to select a scene, mixing of watercolors, quick warm-up exercises, filling up the whole page and his motto of “sketch only those objects that you can feel.” It is certainly a process that this cross-hatching artist is most accustomed and yet still learned much from my short time observing him. But the sketch correspondent must move on.

The next workshop lead me to the Printer’s Row area beneath the shadow of the familiar Dearborn Station clocktower. Here, students of William Cordero’s “Textures in Urban Settings” learned to look for textures, organic shapes, patterns and reflections within architectural details. They began by filling small squares on their page with patterns which they noticed and tiled them on each page. Textures tend to blend into the background and go relatively unnoticed until trained to look for them. Then the patterns reveal themselves like fireworks on Independence Day.

By coincidence, a group of urban sketchers on their sketch walk also decended on this same area and filled up the sidewalks with their gaze focused on The Dearborn Station clock tower. Finally, something different and, perhaps, as challenging to sketch as The Bean. It was the final leg of their sketch walk and weighted to spend a little more time here than the previous destinations.

But soon, my hour allotment of an hour per workshop was coming to an end and it was time to move on to my final workshop of the Symposium.

My search ended at the Gallery of the American Academy of Art. The workshop was well into their instruction from the lovely Pat Southern Pearce. By the time I had arrived, they had already learned about conforming letterforms into tight and narrow spaces by condensing and stretching them to fill the space. This exercise would come in handy since Pat next challenged her students to look out the windows of the third floor room and select an architectural scene to sketch.

Once the architecture had been sketched, then the next step, as Ms. Pearce would instruct, is to fit the type into the sketch, not to fit the architecture around the type. The sketch below captures some of the students sketching their building scene, and then, as directed, I fit the type into the open area of the layout.


I ended up joining a small group of sketchers with Pat Southern Pearce for lunch and caught up with the Sketch Crawl late. There was still plenty of time to sketch in the southern part of Grant Park. I partnered with one of my fellow Chicagoans, Brian Wright and we headed over to the local skate park specifically designed for skateboards, scooters and trick bikes. It provided a much-needed opportunity for me to let loose and just capture motion and body language from skaters on the edge of balance and peril, all with the intent of defying gravity.

Initially I began sketching these studies with a fine point Uniball but quickly switched to a medium point brush tip marker to achieve a more expressive line.


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