Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Déjà Vu! On the Road Again

We spent Thanksgiving in San Francisco and celebrated our twin grandsons' first birthdays. Not a lot of time to sketch but here are some quickies I managed to do.

Airports and airplanes are great for people watching and therefore always fodder for my sketchbook! The note in the corner is from Frances Belleville's new book 
Sketch!: The Non-Artist's Guide to Inspiration, Technique, and Drawing Daily Life - a good read.

There's nothing quite like walking along the Pacific coast – breathtaking both literally and figuratively!

I decided to number the pages in this travel sketchbook. I'm keeping  an index on the first page and will fill it in as I go along. HA! just noticed I didn't number these last two pages. That's next on today's "to do" list.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

On the Road Again

Freedom Tower sketched from the New Jersey ferry dock.

The Statue of Liberty on a damp and rainy day.

These sketches were done on a quick road trip to New York and New Jersey with my daughter and two granddaughters. The main point of the trip was for my niece's baby shower but we squeezed in a little sightseeing too. 

We drove straight through from Chicago to New Jersey but on the way home we divided the trip in half.  I think the girls watched three movies, played countless games and listened to Taylor Swift so many times that "Welcome to New York" is still running through my head! It was chaotic, crazy and great fun! 

Friday, November 7, 2014

On the Road with Good Intentions

Our yearly trip to Sarasota and Longboat Key, Florida, for business and a visit with family always inspires me to say, "Yay! I'm going get a lot of sketching done!" You would think after fifteen (or is it twenty?) years I'd learn! So here are my usual airport sketches and only one "Florida" sketch. It was still a good time!

The following weekend I hopped in the car for a road trip to New York and New Jersey. I'll post those meager sketches soon.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

To Costco, To Costco…

© Barbara Weeks

Most people go to Costco to shop. I go to snack my way around the place and then sketch while my husband shops. I also count my blessings!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Playing with Line

Nutmeg © Barbara Weeks
This is a sketch of our much-missed cat, Nutmeg. You may remember it from an older post but it's one of my favorite line drawings. I used it in my Tuesday Tips & Tricks post over at the Urban Sketchers-Chicago blog. Check it out and I hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Out of This World

Angel, Martin Zürn 1640, LUMA

In never ceases to amaze  me how much Chicago has to offer- from theater to music to food to sports to art and on and on. This is a sketch done at LUMA (Loyola University Museum of Art) in the D'Arcy permanent collection – a beautiful Baroque, German, wooden angel. I added color at home.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Down by the Riverside, Urban Style

DuSable Bridge-Michigan Ave.
This is a quick sketch I did last Saturday while waiting for the water taxi. I was headed to Chinatown to meet up with Urban Sketchers-Chicago. I love the mad rush to get as much done as you can and not knowing when you'll run out of time. There's no  time for fussiness,  just see, scribble, and paint, see, scribble, and paint some more! This was about ten minutes and I did punch up the color a bit when I got home.

It's also the very last page in my pocket-sized Moleskine that I've been carrying around with me for awhile. Another feeling I love - cracking open a brand new sketchbook!

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Pause in My Running

This was a short pause in this week's hectic schedule to take my granddaughter to cross country practice. It was a nice way to spend some time soaking up a little fall-like sun and fresh air. I did this quick sketch (15 minutes including assorted chat breaks) with a Tombow marker and water brush. It was nice to leave the running to others! Ahh.

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.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Thumbs Up

A quick thumbnail of the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco as seen from Starbucks in the Persidio. Actually, I scribbled a few lines while waiting for my Grande Skinny Vanilla Latte and splashed on the color later. This little doodle is also exercise #12 in One Watercolor a Day!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Every Cloud's Silver Lining

Heading to San Francisco – Rain delay at O'Hare

Heading home to Chicago – Delayed departure in San Francisco
Another delay in Phoenix!

Recently, I spent a week in San Francisco. Let's call it a "working vacation".  My six month old grandson had surgery (all is well!).  I went to help with caring for his twin and five year old brother. Needless to say there was no time to sketch while on duty but the weather delays to and from SF gave me time for a quick sketch or two.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

USk Chicago Sketch Seminar 2014

What a wonderful and exhausting weekend! Urban Sketchers Chicago held it's first sketching seminar June 7-8. Our home base was at the historic Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Arts.

The first morning before heading out to our sketching destinations

Wes Douglas and I taught the first workshop Saturday morning.  "A Crash Course in Urban Sketching" was class to get the beginners started on the Urban Sketching adventure both in theory and practice.  We hope the participants had as great a time as we did!

Wes Douglas and Barbara Weeks

Focus and simplify

Urban Sketching on the "Miracle Mile" in Chicago

A big thank you to Andrew Banks and Wes for the photos!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Urban Sketchers-Chicago met outside Wrigley Field today. The Cubs played the Brewers so the crowd was large and loud! Our group was small but productive. I always love how we all gather to sketch the in the same area but what catches our attention and how we interpret the scene is so different! All winners - even the Cubs!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun…

When my granddaughter was in preschool she taught me a song  Mr. Sun. Yesterday, I  sang that song to myself while I sat in the park and sketched soaking up that golden sun. It's been a long, long winter but it may be safe to say spring has arrived in Chicago! Thank you, Sophie, for teaching me the song and for wanting to play in the park yesterday!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Go Fly a Kite!

Seriously, go fly a kite! What great fun! We went to the Chicago's annual Kids and Kites Festival at Montrose Harbor. It was a perfect day for kite flying!  There was an area reserved for professional kite flyers (who knew that was a career option?). They were flying HUGE kites using trucks! Incredible! A picnic, sun, kite flying, family and sketching– perfect!

This was my first outing with the Midori Travelers Notebook sketching insert. The paper isn't wonderful for watercolor but will work well with pencil and Sharpie pens. I'll probably make an insert that has watercolor paper from S&B.

I do like the Midori TN setup- everything in one place, calendar, journal and sketchbook. Each section is a separate insert that can be replaced as needed.  

Sunday, April 27, 2014

An Historic Day in the Catholic Church

Pope Francis
Pope Benedict XVI

St. John Paul II

To mark this special day in the history of the Catholic Church I'm posting some sketches from the past.
Saints John XXIII and John Paul II, pray for us.

The sketches are different media and completed in very different time frames - just like the men the portray.

Monday, March 24, 2014

#9, #9, #9 One Watercolor (Um Every Two Weeks?) a Day

Maybe it's a cop-out but I've decided to just enjoy the process of the exercises in One Watercolor a Day and not make myself crazy. So I'm on #9.  I took a walk to Washington Square Park on this gray, 28° spring-day. Pigeons provided just about the only color but it was beautiful and iridescent and I'm smiling as I write this.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

#8 Seeing the Color

Exercise #8 in One Watercolor a Day-  This little succulent had some subtle coloration going on in its leaves. Hmm, or are they petals? It's really hard to find color these days in gray Chicago!
One Watercolor a Day! I'm not even doing these at a rate of one a week but I'm having a good time with this book.

Monday, March 10, 2014

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood!

The Monday sketch group that I monitor at Holy Name Cathedral was working on sketching a still life today. We did a set up from some items that people brought with them.

Because of the extreme cold in Chicago this winter the last couple of times we've met indoors at the Cathedral rectory. Today, though, is a beautiful day! Next meeting it's back to "out and about"!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Food Glorious (Good) Food!

 Good Food Festival is right around the corner again. It's the 13th-15th of March this year. Last year one of my images was used on the the button that identified the exhibiting local farmers. This year I've been asked for another veggie illustration for attendees. Here's the one they've chosen. I'm delighted!

They will also be using the farmers' button. A rerun post from last year  – this is an onsite sketch of a demo by Rick Bayless  and the button.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

#7 Play with Your Food

These were such fun to do!. The seventh exercise in One Watercolor a Day was to freely draw and paint the color, form and volume of some foods that catch your eye. I used watercolor and TomBow markers. I will do more of these I'm sure!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

#6 Catching Up – Almost!

Navy Pier from Lake Shore Drive
I had an early appointment the other day on Lake Shore Drive. Well, actually my husband did, I just went along for the walk. This is what I saw. It almost looks as cold as it felt!

The task at hand was a layered landscape using glazes.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Resisting #5!

Exercise #5 involved using masking fluid or wax crayon to save the white of the paper. I never use a resist method when I paint but I had so much fun doing this I think I'll reconsider!

I know it's a fish knife  but we use it for butter and cheese just so I can see and use it often. I just love it. I found in a local shop called P.O.S.H. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

# 4 One Watercolor a Day

Analogous color scheme 

Split Complementary

This was an interesting experiment using a simple still life and playing with different color systems. I think I ended up more left brained than right in this! It really took a lot of thought.