Surprise, Uncertainty

Urban Sketching in Richmond, VA

VMFA Richmond

Image: On the lawn behind the Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia

Yesterday a group of us spent pleasant hours sketching on the exquisitely beautiful lawn behind the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond, Virginia–as part of the “Urban Sketchers – Richmond” course.

It was clear at the start of the course that most of us have much to learn about “loose” drawing.  That’s why we are here, after all. While each sketcher develops his or her own style–and there are few hard-and-fast rules–in general urban sketching involves lots of squiggly lines depicting buildings, trees, and people followed by applications of ink and possibly watercolor.  This training is particularly good for appreciating differences in “tone” or shades, to the point that the distinctions can be made with no more than a pen or pencil.  By the end of the first day, it was clear we were learning a lot from this course.

Earlier today we were on Monument Avenue which, as its name suggests, has many monuments, especially at traffic circles. As cars zipped by in both directions, some of us sketchers chose to sit under the shade of beautiful trees in the ample (at least 30 foot-wide) median area next to one such traffic circle. Other sketchers were scattered about in shady spots along the sidewalk to one side of the avenue.  All around us were stately mansions, no two alike and each with all sorts of architectural flair.  Urban sketching, while it certainly can be done solo, is the type of activity that benefits from having company.  Fortunately, there are urban sketcher groups all over the world.

Monument back 1

Illustration: Pen and ink by Black Elephant Blog author

The weather’s been great and so are the restaurants! Sketchers have come in from far afield but some, it turns out, live practically next door back home. Architects are part of our sketching group, and know the professional lingo for–and can certainly draw!!–the architectural details we’re seeing.

Monument Front 2

Illustration: Pen and ink by Black Elephant Blog author

Now that we’re all heading back home, hopefully, loose, squiggly drawings–combining ink and watercolor–will be ready for this blog before too long!  (The teacher’s work is much, much better–which is why his book and his courses are so popular with urban sketchers.) These sketches from the weekend have sketchers sketching in them– live action images of urban sketchers at work!

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