So what if someone can't attend SketchCrawls, or just wants to leverage the idea of structured drawing to increase their urban sketching?
Here are some ideas for structuring urban sketching into daily or weekly life, whether as SketchCrawls, with an artist friend, or as a solo venture. Many of these ideas are about completing a concrete set of drawings, since this kind of structure has often proved effective for getting me out the door. Several are specifically geared towards working stiffs like myself.
- Make a date with one other artist (or friend with a quiet, solo project to work on) to meet up with for coffee each week. There should be a default time & place, so that if you both drop the ball, the plan stays in place - but you could pick other locations some weeks in order to get new views. Even just one meeting a week, even if the drawing is always of your latte - it would be enough to keep your sketchbook active. Take only your sketchbook and pens/pencils.
- Spend your 10 minutes' morning break sketching - near your building, objects at your desk, coworkers smoking.
- Draw your commute. With even as little as 10 extra minutes, pause each day to capture a scene that you pass while getting to work in the morning. Maybe this is just house to car and car to office; maybe it would be better enabled by parking a little farther from work. Some of us are lucky and can actually walk to work - I have about 30 blocks to draw!
- Draw your local commuter train line - during whatever chunks of time you have free, go to the train station and find something to sketch. Spend a little time there, making note of any additional scenes you might want to sketch in the future. Get on the train to the next station. Each day that you have time to sketch, you could do another segment of the trip until the entire line was effectively mapped with sketches, and you'd know your city better.
- Tour your city's small museums - one museum per outting. Portland has all sorts of strange little places tucked away. Check out Hidden Portland! I'm assuming most major cities have a lot of gems like this if you look for them, though they might not always be so well documented.
- Check for self-guided tours intended for tourists, and adapt them as sketch tours. This way, you'll get the inside scoop on some local attractions while having interesting locations to draw and the ability to set your own pace. Here are some Portland self-guided walking tours organized around cultural presence.
- Create a mini guide to your own city, perhaps arranged to satisfy your own visitors, or as a journal entry or blog post. Go draw everything that goes into the guide, put those images together with text and maps, and put them together into one printable poster or brochure.
- Fill a fishbowl (or any other bowl) with scraps of paper, each listing a place you would like to draw - buildings, neighborhoods, parks, intersections, scenic vistas, museums, cemeteries, gardens, etc. Have a weekly date to pull an item out of the fishbowl - and just go. The fun of chance will add some excitement to the trip.
- (Courtesy of urban sketcher Pascale) Attend a series of lectures with your sketchbook in hand. These could be readings at your local bookstore, regular musical events at your local pub, or something industry-specific to your career so that you kill two birds with one stone.
- Create a sketched collection of something you care about: all your local gardens, the view from all your local cafes, each building in your neighborhood that's on the Historic Registry, each of your city's churches with a little info about their history...