Photo caption: The local Christmas Market is an excellent place for your sketchbook and pencils! Image by Dar1930 from Pixabay.
It’s no secret that the winter time causes many people to get the blues. This is partly due to the cold weather and partly due to how early it gets dark outside. Both of these factors make most people not want to get out and about.
This kind of thing is a real drag for most people, but particularly for those who love urban sketching. In the latter case, it sometimes takes some ingenuity and a little inspiration to make space for some wintertime urban sketching.
That’s where the personal sketch crawl comes in. This activity combines some of your favorite activities to create an afternoon or evening of fun.
Most people are familiar with local art crawls in their town. These events usually take place at the beginning of the month. They encourage art lovers to go around to the various local museums and galleries, taking in the art and the ambiance.
The sketch crawl is a variation on this. These events are organized by urban sketching groups in a given city. They get people together to sketch the art on display during the monthly art crawl. This adds a social element to the activity, as well as providing art fans with the opportunity to see some art.
A personal sketch crawl is a variation on the above urban sketching activity. In this case, a single artist (or a small group) takes it upon themselves to take their sketchbooks out and to create their own tour.
By themselves or together with their small group, they sketch the pieces of public art around their city. For example, here in Athens, there are dozens of large bulldogs statues - known as dawgs - that are pieces of public art. They’re located around the city. A walk that includes sketching these items gets you familiar with some of the city’s public art and gives you some motivation to get out and walk when it’s chilly.
While we love the social aspect of urban sketching, we also understand that it’s not always possible to meet as a group. Schedules, family challenges and even illness can get in the way.
Doing your own personal sketch crawl gives you a chance to get out, to see some art and above all, to draw on location, even if you can’t do it as a part of a large group.
It also allows you to keep up with current art trends and to get to know what your favorite places look like when it’s a bit frosty out. It's like doing some travel sketching, but in your own backyard. If anything, becoming an urban sketcher in your own city forces you to look at the world around you in a new way.
Finally, it allows you to build up your skill sets. Not only does this give you practice drawing from life, it also allows you to develop problem-solving skills as you try to navigate the different conditions you find yourself in.
That isn’t to say that you should take extra risks.That isn’t the purpose of this exercise. Rather, doing an activity like this encourages you to learn to draw faster if anything.
To have a successful sketch crawl, it’s good to create your own itinerary, just as a sketch crawl events organizer would do. This helps to keep you focused on your urban sketching adventure.
Below, you’ll see a list of items you’ll want to have on hand and things you’ll want to take into consideration.
Here they are:
In the latter case, you may be able to see a street sculpture from the shop’s window. You may also find that the shop itself has art for sale that would make a good drawing. Certainly, the cozy atmosphere of the shop would make a fun sketch, too.
If you wind up drawing in your car, you have the option of turning the engine on and off to keep yourself warm. Just be sure to kill the headlights and shut the door tightly if you do get out of the car. You don’t want to come back to a dead battery due to an electrical drain.
On a related note, your ears will be miserable if you don’t cover them, so take a hat, a scarf and some earmuffs to keep yourself toasty. In general, dress for the weather.
You'll want to have a bound sketchbook, too. It'd be a shame to do an awesome travel sketch that captures a scene perfectly and have it fall out of your notebook, which might happen if you draw on a loose piece of paper.
Video caption: If you want to learn more about creating art on the go, be sure to watch our video on travel/ urban sketching.
A Case for Urban Sketching: Why Draw in the Age of Photography?
5 Plein Air Painting Secrets & Techniques to Enrich Your Art
35+ Travel Sketching Ideas to Overcome Your Creative Blocks