Recently I wrote about Urban Art Guide: How to Draw Urban Settings, a book I downloaded free for my Kindle. The opening pages of the book were great. The rest of it? Well, not so much so, I’m sad to say. There’s no real explanation on perspective and no real instruction on how to follow the sketches the author presents.
Here’s an example:
Although this purports to be part of a step-by-step demonstration on how to draw the interior of a home, this step simply tells the reader to “draw the lines you see.”
Why? What are these lines for? Where are we going? How do we know the correct angles? Trust me, none of the answers are found in any of the previous — or following — steps in this demonstration.
To make matters worse, the Kindle formatting isn’t good. The illustration above may be Step 4, or maybe it’s Step 5, which says to “draw the lines from the ceiling.” Either way, I’m lost, I’m confused, and I’m frustrated. Needless to say, I’m disappointed in Urban Art Guide: How to Draw Urban Settings, and I won’t recommend it to anyone. I grabbed my copy when it was available at no charge. The price is now $2.99. I don’t feel it’s worth that, but if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can still read it for free, but I’m not sure why anyone would want to.
I struggled through one exercise in Urban Art Guide — nearly pulling my hair out as I tried to make sense of all the lines going in different directions and the lack of explanation. It took me two tries to complete this. I gave up once, then came back the next morning, determined to tough my way through.
If you look closely enough to read my sketchbook comments, you’ll see that this is supposed to be “some sort of face or front of a building.” Well, if you say so. You couldn’t prove it by me.
Now that I’ve been trying a bit of urban sketching on my own, I chuckled a little bit when an art league member made a recent post. Wouldn’t you know! The topic was urban sketching. More specifically, it was a post about the Urban Sketchers organization. Nope. I’m not ready for that, but I was impressed by what I learned.
Urban Sketchers is a world-wide non-profit group with a mission “to raise the artistic, storytelling and educational value of on-location drawing, promoting its practice and connecting people around the world who draw on location where they live and travel.”
Now, that’s something I would love to do. Sometimes I do try to sketch while I’m out and about, doing quick gesture drawings of people around me, like this one of retinologist, Dr. Robert Fletcher getting ready to give my husband a shot in the eye.
I’ve included an actual photo of the doctor in hopes that you’ll see that I did capture a resemblance in my little gesture drawing.
But here we’re talking about people not places, and I don’t do places very well, at all. With practice, maybe I’ll get better, but for the most part I’m too intimidated to try. My thoughts continually go back to my attempt to draw the Arena Chapel. How can a building that looks so simple be so complicated to draw?
At any rate, I’m not about to rush out and join our Kansas City chapter of Urban Sketchers, or even to tag along on an outing. But I do want to share a bit about our area group. They’re fantastic. So much so that they were featured in the September issue of Drawing Attention, the official “zine” of the Urban Sketchers organization. If you’re interested you can subscribe for free.
The link above should take you directly to the issue where you’ll see the outstanding work of several artists from our Greater Kansas City region. The local Urban Sketchers chapter has just reached its first year anniversary.
Maybe someday I’ll be able to join the fun, but for now, urban sketching is just one more dream. I’m still looking for good resources. Meanwhile I’ll keep struggling as I plod my way through the urban art guide I have. From this point on, I can only get better. I think. Time will tell, I guess. Just don’t be alarmed by wonky, out-of-proportion buildings, and crooked streets. I’ll be drawing a lot of those.