Friday, 10 July 2015

Urban Sketch Crawl

I'm filled with trepidation. My Regular Reader will know that I am not a stranger to drawing outside. I'm not even a stranger to drawing outside in towns. But I've always been somewhat averse to drawing outside in towns in the UK. 

For some reason, I'm prepared to stand in the street in a town in Crete or Croatia, get out my pen and sketchbook and spend an hour or so drawing what's in front of me. But I've always hated the prospect of doing it in British towns and cities.

Having said that, in the early days of my artistic endeavours I drew this building in Newcastle, standing in the street:

Northern Goldsmiths, 4th November 1990 
(Fine point marker and sepia ArtPen in A4 sketchbook)

I didn't enjoy the experience; it was terribly cold and once my feet had thawed out, they ached. I did no more drawings of this sort until I began my BA Fine Art course at Newcastle University in 1997, when we were required to go out every day for a week, drawing the urban environment. Here's a couple of the sketchbook drawings I did then:

 High Street Fire Escape (A4 sketchbook)

Concrete Walkways (A4 sketchbook)

Looking at the drawings I do every year on holiday you'll see that I often draw houses. I don't draw houses in the UK, but choose instead (if I'm put in the position of having to draw in a UK town) big chunks of urban concrete. There's a reason: Mediterranean buildings are often quite simple in design and are not cluttered up with neoclassical columns and bloody windows! Since the repeal of the Window Tax in 1851, we've stuck windows in every available wall and not just ordinary openings-with-shutters like Greek houses have, but complicated, fanciful structures with ornate lintels and ... oh, you get the picture, I'm sure.

But really, this is just another excuse for not getting down to drawing my world. Windows and architectural fol-de-rols may be awkward but they will no longer stand in my way. I will act! And hence my trepidation: tomorrow I'm off on my first Urban Sketch Crawl. I tried to link up with SketchCrawlers a few years ago, but no one in this area seemed up for it. Just last week, however, I discovered Sketch Crawl North East on Facebook : a group of occasional sketch crawlers in and around the cities of the North East. And by chance someone proposed a crawl tomorrow.

Now all I have to worry about, apart from what I might find myself having to draw, is what I'm going to draw it with and in which sketchbook. Life is full of difficult decisions ...

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