Saturday, June 8, 2013

Bike and Sketch, Saturday June 15

On Saturday, June 15, the Urban Sketchers of Portland will be hosting its first ever Pedalpalooza event!

Bike and Sketch is a slow-paced, low-traffic loop through southeast Portland, with long stops to sketch local landmarks. Our vision is to introduce folks in the "bike fun" community to the awesome world of urban sketching, as well as to give our team of sketchers a chance to play around on bikes together. Oh--and we'd love it if folks got inspired to dress as their favorite artists, to increase the fun quotient!

Of course, not all of our sketchers are bike-users. Therefore, we've carefully mapped out the route in advance and timed out the distance between stops to create a schedule for our departures and arrivals. Bike-less sketchers are welcome to head to any of the sketching spots by whatever means is convenient, and greet the roving group of cyclists with sketchbooks a-blazing.

Here are the details of the event:

  • 9:30 am: Gather at Ladd Circle for intros and warm-up sketches. (Need coffee, snacks, or a bathroom stop? Factor in some extra time to swing by Palio!)
  • 9:50 am: Ride departs for the Vera Katz Statue on the Eastbank Esplanade.
  • 10-10:30 am: Sketch on the Esplanade. (Need a bathroom break? There's a cluster of port-a-potties under the overpass.)
  • 10:30 am: Ride departs for SE Taylor & 10th.
  • 10:40-11:05 am: Sketch the goats in the field! Oh, such adorable goats.
  • 11:05 am: Ride departs for Lone Fir Cemetery. (Note--anyone who wants to wrap the ride up early, whether your bike seat is getting uncomfortable or you need some time to put on your Storm Trooper costume, can easily head back to Ladd Circle via 16th Ave.)
  • 11:30 -12 noon: Sketch at the cemetery. We will enter and exit from the main gate at the east side of the cemetery, but folks are welcome to explore the grounds from there. (Need coffee, snacks, or a bathroom stop? Try a short detour to Happy Sparrow at the corner of Belmont and 30th. Note that they close at noon.)
  • 12 pm: Ride departs for starting point at Ladd Circle.
  • 12:30 pm: Share sketchbooks at Ladd Circle.

(Click to see full details of the route map)

A few extra tips:
  • If the weather stays this sunny and lovely, we'd advise sunscreen! (Learned that the hard way after our recent test ride of the route, whoops.) Water bottles are also useful, since there aren't a lot of drinking fountains along the route.
  • If you haven't been on your bike in a while, we'd highly recommend that you pump up the tires and give it a test spin a few days before the ride to make sure it's working well. It's no fun to have a mechanical glitch in the middle of a fun adventure! 
  • Our goal is to set an easy, mellow pace for the bike rides between sketching locations. We'll have a designated "head" and a designated "caboose," and will encourage folks to stay in a group and not get too spread out as we ride.
  • New to sketching? Bring whatever art materials you're comfortable with--pencils, all kinds of pens, colored markers, and watercolor paint are common choices. Our sketching stops will be just 20 to 30 minutes long, so make sure whatever tools you bring don't take too much time to set up, and that they don't need a lot of drying time. Most folks in the group draw and paint in portable sketchbooks, but office-paper on a clipboard works fine too. You don't need to spend lots of money on materials to have a great time doodling in the city.
  • How does one carry art materials on a bike? Simplest approach would be to tuck a ballpoint pen and a tiny notebook in your pocket, then you're ready to roll! But you can cram all sorts of art materials into a backpack or a purse if you want a variety of options on hand. (Trust us, we know.) If you are feeling extravagant, you could engineer a fancy mobile easel that is rigged up on the platform of a cargo that would be a fun photo opp! No matter which end of the spectrum you lean towards in terms of how much sketching gear to bring along, it's always a good idea to take it on a spin around the block before the ride itself to make sure everything feels comfortable and secure when the bike is in motion.       

We're looking forward to this adventure! Feel free to leave any questions in the comments section below.


  1. Sounds like loads of fun.

    BTW, I hang out with Storm Troopers. There is NO way a TK can ride a bike in that armor. They can't even sit down or walk up stairs!


    1. Ha ha ha! I almost said "in case you need time to do up your Princess Leia braids..." but the Storm Trooper image was too fun to pass up. (Talk about suffering for your art!)

  2. FWIW, I was the guy minding the goat gate today. Looking forward to whatever you all came away with.