Chicago: Sketching with friends

One of the great pleasures at this year’s Urban Sketchers symposium in Chicago was time spent sketching with friends both in the days before and after the event itself. It is both intimidating and exhilarating to sketch with this group, so I thought I’d share my work — not always successful or even finished — as well as links to what other people accomplished on these outings.

The first group event was a trip to sketch both the interior and the exterior of Robie House — Frank Lloyd Wright’s landmark Prairie School building on the University of Chicago campus. A few of chose a simple view of the pathway and classic Wright partially hidden main entrance, but when I turned I saw that most of the group was seated under a tree across the street, drawing the full building. Have a look at Lapin’s sketches from Chicago, including a great one of the Robie House.


A great symposium tradition is to get up early and sketch before the day’s events start. One morning a bunch of us sketched under the El train. I didn’t have much time so I drew it with a brush pen. Have a look at Marc Holmes’s sketches from Chicago as well as my favourite photo of this outing (by Laurel Holmes) of this group looking very perplexed by the complex train scene. So many columns to draw! And have a look at Suhita’s take on the El and her seven blog posts about what she sketched in Chicago.TheEl

After the symposium was over (and I was almost too exhausted to walk) I spent a few days moving at a slower pace, visiting The Art Institute and sketching along Michigan Avenue, including a view of the Du Sable bridge.


One evening Uma Kelkar and I went up to the top of the Hancock Building to sketch and watch the sunset. With all of Chicago below us we tried to capture the disappearing panorama. Have a look at what Uma did on her iPad.


In the early morning, while waiting for the big doors of The Art Institute to open, my friend Alison Hall and I sketched The Lurie Garden in all of its wildness. From a shady spot under some trees you have a background of the skyline of Chicago and a foreground of wildflowers, bees, birds and pond-lined walkways.


Thanks to some sketchers who had rooms at the residences of Roosevelt University, a few of us were invited to sketch the view from the 21st floor. This is a bit of a messed up sketch but have a look at Susan Cornelis’s blog to see us all sketching that sight.


My last morning was spent sketching with one of my drawing heroes — Don Colley —who is a resident of Chicago and was one of the volunteers at the symposium. I did a final sketch of Grant Park and then spent a bit of time watching Don make magic with Pitt pens. A great way to end the week. Thanks to all my sketching friends who let me look over their shoulders (I couldn’t find links for all the work I wanted to show!). What I learned from you in a week keeps me going all year.GrantPark.jpg


24 Comments on “Chicago: Sketching with friends”

  1. Maggie says:

    Shari, these are beautiful! Have enjoyed seeing all the posts from you, Marc and Liz. Hope to attend one myself sometime. Thank you!


  2. minervafm says:

    Hi Shari, I’ve enjoyed your posts all summer long and this is by far my favorite!


  3. timdada says:

    Shari, As always … You amaze me. Tim



  4. Love these sketches and I could see me doing more Chicago sketching. It’s a city with personality that needs to shared!


  5. miatagrrl says:

    Inspiring, as always, Shari! Wish we’d had time for more than a quick “hello” in Chicago! But see you in Porto, I hope! 🙂

    – Tina


  6. These look so cool! You are a great artist!
    x Lysbeth from


  7. Wonderful sketches of Chicago!!! I’m glad you had some extra time to relax and sketch with friends. That is such a wonderful part of experiencing an area. As a participant I know how hectic the whole symposium experience is. I’m glad I stayed an extra day to sketch where I wanted…I should have stayed longer. I will definitely do that if I go to Porto.


  8. Carolyn V. Johns says:

    Really enjoyed your sketches of Chicago…haven’t been there in too many years and it brought back lots of memories….love you work….cj



    Thanks for all the links & info as well as your marvelous paintings – glad you found sketch pals time too


  10. Great sketches! When I first viewed them I thought they were watercolor.Thanks for sharing!


  11. raghulam says:

    Beautiful .. I really love the one made with just brush pen .. its so impressive 😍


  12. rosjenke says:

    You are such an inspiration. Your blog is the best!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s