Thursday, September 11, 2014

Eureka! Watercolor Pencils

Down on the Farm, Piermont, NH
This is a sketch I did entirely with watercolor pencils. They've been around for a long time but I've never really experimented with them before. I've outlined the tips and tricks I used over at the Urban Sketcher - Chicago blog for this week's Tips & Tricks post. After doing this sketch I've added a few watercolor pencils to my regular out and about sketch kit. I love the texture and juicy yet controlled darks that are possible with the pencils.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Saving Summer

Lincoln Park Zoo

Today, our Monday sketch group went to the zoo. It was a perfect afternoon even though I think I spent more time soaking up the sun than sketching! It's hard to believe that summer is over. Even so sketches like this will remind me in January that the sun does shine in Chicago!

When my children were little I would read the book Fredrick by Leo Lionni. It's about a mouse that stored up memories of summer to savor when winter hit. I still love that book! I wonder if my kids remember it. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

My granddaughter, Morgan, nominated me for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I was happy to accept. I'm also glad it was a small bucket!  A fun time for a good cause. 

Monday, August 18, 2014


What a fun afternoon riding the Chicago Water Taxi with Urban Sketchers-Chicago! There were two sketching-venue possibilities. One was to remain on land and sketch near the Wrigley Building or board the water taxi and ride back and forth to Chinatown. I chose to ride back and forth to Chinatown (twice!).

Once on the boat came the decision, do I sketch the boat and it's passengers or the moving scenery? I went with the scenery for most of the ride. So what you see here is a melding of ever-changing buildings and shoreline. That's Rich and Chris up in the corner. I sketched them the last ten minutes of the trip just before we docked at Michigan Avenue.

It was a good time but all that fresh air knocked me out!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


© Barbara Weeks 

Every Tuesday Urban Sketchers-Chicago offers sketching tips and tricks on their blog. Four of us take turns writing the Tuesday posts. This week it was my turn again. I figured I'd share that post with you too!

The Urban Sketchers manifesto says “we draw on location”. That may cause a little stage fright, at least it did for me when I first started drawing out in the open. Here are a few things I’ve learned.


What equipment? Keep your gear to the minimum. It’s easier to manage in small spaces, easier to keep track of and easier to gather up when the day is done. Check out the USk-Chicago  Pinterest board for sketch kit ideas.

© Barbara Weeks

Where? A coffee shop is a great place to sketch especially when you’re just starting out. So many people are busy on their computers, tablets or phones they don’t even notice what you’re doing. Added benefits - you have a comfortable seat, a table and something to eat or drink!
Outside, try to fine a spot where people can’t come up behind you. Position yourself with a wall, corner or post at your back. It gives you something to lean on, too.

What about the public? People are curious when they see people sketching. They are also usually very complimentary and respectful. Children are fascinated. If you don’t want to be interrupted wear ear buds and listen to music (or pretend to) and avoid eye contact.

© Barbara Weeks

Sketch with friends. There is a comfortability in numbers. The tab “Sketch Crawls” on the Urban Sketchers-Chicago blog’s navigation bar tells you where and when we’re meeting next. Join us.


  • Sharpened powers of observation.
  •  Learn to work quickly.
  • Teaches you to take risks and improvise to get the sketch down. 
  •  Overcome selfconsciousness and become a more decisive painter.
  • Have fun meeting and learning from other sketchers.
  • “Show the world one sketch at a time!”
© Barbara Weeks 2014

Monday, July 28, 2014

It's Not Easy Being Green

Our Monday sketch group finally met at Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, a.k.a. Lily Pond Park. We've been rained out here twice this year. It was cool and windy. The watercolor almost dried as soon as it hit the paper! I didn't do a lot of pencil sketching. After a few sighting marks I went straight for the paint.

This park is a hidden gem in Chicago. If you're in the neighborhood be sure and visit.

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Selfie

This is the first self-portrait I've done in at least ten years! I discovered I'm getting old! It was a little scary to do but I had fun too. 2B Tombow pencil on watercolor paper.