Link to Registration Site

Happy Friday urban sketchers.

Here is a direct link to our registration site:
Registration opens at 10am CDT, 3/16. In the meantime, you may want to review the instructions as well as have a good idea on which workshops you’d like to register for. We have also updated our Registration page on this blog. Good luck tomorrow!

BookWhen site

Note: We recommend registering on a computer. A large screen will make the process easier.

If you’re registering from a mobile device, you will have to click the <- BACK button after selecting each workshop.

Here’s to a Successful Workshop Experience!

Art workshops and seminars abound. We’re less than a day away from registration for USk Chicago Sketch Seminar 2019 which offers  a wide selection of eighteen classes! It’s hard to believe this is our FIFTH seminar!  We have some great things planned and we’re working on the details to help you get the most out of your workshop experience.

How about you? Are you getting ready to join us for a workshop?  But whether it’s with USk Chicago, an online class, or even if you’re working your way through a self-study book, there are certain things that will  help you get the most out of the experience. Over the years i’ve given workshops and taken many classes both on-site and online. Whether it’s a first choice at registration or third choice,  I’ve  found my mind set is the most important factor in what I take away from the class.

• SET A GOAL – Why am I taking this class? What do I hope to learn?

• KEEP AN OPEN MIND – Pay attention and follow directions. It’s easy to fall into the attitudes of “that isn’t the way I do it” and “that isn’t the way so-and-so does it”. Leave those notions behind at least for the duration of the workshop.

• THINK PROCESS NOT PRODUCT (I know I say that all the time) – It takes practice to learn new techniques and methods. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

 and last but not least

• ASK QUESTIONS – Your instructor wants you to get the most out of the class.

All the workshop descriptions list things to bring to class. Add one more important thing you need for a successful workshop experience, that’s a positive and open workshop-state-of-mind. Have fun!

Ready, Set…

It’s almost time! Are you ready? Registration doors open Saturday, March 16 at 10:00 a.m. Chicago time (CDT).

All eighteen (!!!) workshop descriptions are listed here on the blog. With so many exciting choices it’s helpful to go to the list and make your choices now. You may want to make a few back-up picks in case you are closed out of some workshops. The schedule is here, too. You can scroll down and see previous posts or click on the tabs at the top of the blog for more registration information. 

We’re ready to get this party started. How about you?

Workshop 18


As sketchers, we are constantly looking for a picturesque scene to capture in a sketch. But have you ever thought of sketching a puddled alley, an overflowing dumpster, gas meters, or rusted, dented old, lackluster cars? Sometimes the scene might strike you as boring or unexciting until you learn to look at it differently.

In this workshop, we will go in search of those ugly areas that most cities try to ignore or hide and find out that we can make beautiful sketches and paintings. But don’t worry, Wes will also make sure you will be safe in the process as well. Wes will show you what tools to bring, how to look for the excitement in a gritty object or scene and how to turn that into sketches that make people go “How did you ever see that in a pile of trash?”


  • Observation Skills: What are the things most people ignore or look past that you can make more interesting?
  • Composition Tips: Keep your focus on one or two objects rather than a whole scene.
  • Texture and Color: You will learn how to make a dull, lifeless object into a beautiful subject.


  • Sketchbook of your choosing, your favorite pencil/eraser and pen
  • Bring other supplies that you are most comfortable with (but travel light). If you like watercolors, colored pencils or markers, bring a small set if possible.
  • Please bring a portable chair or stool to sit on in case seating is limited, a filled water bottle to stay hydrated and appropriate dress for the weather.

Please note: this workshop will require lots of walking between sketches. We do not expect it will be accessible to drive your car to the locations.

Workshop 17


You never know where accidents will take you. Recently some Cobalt Teal pigment leaked all over my palette, and the next time I went out to sketch I was determined to use it up. It made its way into all my sketches for quite a long time, and in the process it led me down a new path with colour. Most of us tend to always dip into the same wells: green for trees, blues for sky. But what if the sky is yellow? Or the trees purple? The idea for this workshop is to open participants’ minds: to give them fresh ideas and options for using vibrant and luminous combinations of colours, as we explore two and three-colour combinations of pigments.


In this workshop participants will explore new ways of working with colour through limited palettes: brights, neutrals and opaques. We’ll see how painting the same scene in different ways changes our perception of the place. Students will be encouraged to move out of their comfort zones and explore new colour combinations.

In this workshop we’ll look at:

  • Exploring new triads of colour, both bright and muted
  • Creating a centre of interest through use of pure colour
  • Creating unity in our sketches by limiting our colours
  • Retaining luminosity and keeping colours fresh
  • Defining value relationships and creating lively darks through a wet-in-wet approach and modifying viscosity of paint


  • Good quality watercolours, either in tubes or fresh pans: hansa yellow, new gamboge, yellow ochre, cadmium red, permanent alizarin crimson, quinacridone rose, burnt sienna, ultramarine blue, cerulean blue, cobalt blue, prussian blue, phthalo green. 
  • Portable watercolour palette
  • Watercolour sketchbook (Moleskine or other) or loose sheets of watercolour paper on a backing board
  • Small plastic water bottles
  • Brushes: medium size round (size 8-10), small round for details (size 3)
  • Pencil, pen for drawing
  • Bulldog clips, kneaded rubber eraser, paper towels
  • Small folding stool

Workshop 16


This workshop will focus on adding depth and value to your urban sketch using pen and a minimal watercolor palette.  The demonstration will walk through Paul’s thought process as he considers what he’s seeing and decides how to approach the sketch.  Specifically, the demonstration will discuss the angle of light, where shadows fall, and how to get started in a potentially overwhelming location.  You will then have time to experiment with light and shadows in a quick sketch exercise.  After a friendly group review (not a critique!) of sketches, you will continue to hone your skills through three 20-minute sketches.  This workshop will conclude with another group review and discussion.


In this workshop, participants will

  • learn how to start a quick urban sketch with pen and ink without being overwhelmed by the busy city environment;
  • identify and apply a range of values; and
  • Practice adding watercolor to enhance their pen and ink drawing, focusing on a consistent angle of light and where the shadows fall


  • Sketchbook (watercolor or multimedia weight)
  • Pencil 
  • Micron pens or similar type of pens
  • At least three to four watercolor tube or cakes. (The Windsor & Newton pocket palette is a great option)


Paul will focus on only using these colors (depending on location conditions):

  • Yellow Ochre
  • Burnt Sienna 
  • Indigo, or Ultramarine Blue
  • (Optional) Cerulean blue
  • (Optional) Sepia

Workshop 15


In this workshop we will learn how to draw “curved” space in a technique I call Umbrella Perspective, but with a Chicago twist! We will apply specific strategies of thinking about in perspective to create sketches that appear curved or spherical, not unlike a photograph taken with a “fish eye” or wide angle lens.

So-called “curved” perspective has become a fun and novel approach in urban sketching, but it can also feel a bit confusing when it comes to how to begin your sketch. This workshop will take some of the mystery out of terms like “curvilinear” and “spherical” perspective and even simple-sounding words like “wide angle” and “fish-eye” that are descriptive but don’t give the sketcher any insight into where to start. 


  • Go over basic 1, 2 and 3-point perspective with emphasis on intuitive concepts
  • Apply “umbrellas” to receding edges and lines in the cityscape to create curved perspective drawings
  • ’Seeing’ relationships between objects versus ‘naming/defining’ objects
  • Understanding scale relationships and proportions
  • Foreshortening and angle-finding through ‘sighting’
  • Economizing visual information and selecting detail


  • Hard light pencils  that are easily erased (recommend 4H – 6H)
  • Durable eraser (white plastic/vinyl recommended)
  • Media of your choice to complete the sketch 

Workshop 14


In this workshop, the subjects of our art will be the people of this great city. Watching from the shadows, we will observe closely while drawing quickly. We will be the fast and the sketchy. We will be gone in 60 seconds. A Sneaky Artist draws beauty from their immediate surroundings, without drawing attention. Like an art-ninja!

By the end of this workshop, we will see how human presence lends relevance and meaning to the urban landscape. We will see how simple linework can illustrate character and evoke personality. We will conclude with a throw-down to celebrate our collective trip through Chicago.


Participants will gain confidence to take a sketch from start to finish in a short amount of time. This opens up countless opportunities to sketch at airports, bus-stops, restaurants and bars, without constantly annoying one’s friends and family.

  • Minimizing linework to keep a clean page
  • Seeing the city with respect to its people
  • Selective detailing to save time and give emphasis


  • Sketchbook with up to 2 pens or pencils of choice. No erasers!
  • iPad users also welcome!

Workshop 13


Capture boldness and vibrancy in your urban sketches utilizing color pencils and art sticks. Broaden your skills using color pencils and the use of color pencil art sticks.


  • Learn how the blending and layering of color pencils can bring out bold color, texture, depth, and richness in their sketches
  • Learn techniques for drawing hard and firm with color pencils and art sticks.
  • Learn blending and shading techniques of color pencils with graphite.
  • Learn techniques to sketch windows, water, and sky.
  • Learn techniques for sketching brick, stone, and field of color.


  • Color pencils: A minimum of a 24-pack is recommended.  Additional pencils of white, shades of blues, reds, greens, and grays.  Cream, Terra Cotta, and Burnt Orange are additional colors suitable for buildings and ornament; Caron d’Arch Luminance, Caron d’Arch Pablo, Faber-Castell Polychromos, Derwent, and Berol Prismacolor are all good brands of pencil. Art Stix:  Prismacolor, 12 pack or 24 pack.
  • Fountain Pen
  • Sketchbook or pad of paper, minimum A5 size.  Smooth grained paper is preferred but not required.
  • Graphite pencils: Various lead weights from soft to hard; 4B, 2B, HB, 2H, and 4H.
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Small stool or chair (optional)

I will bring numerous spare color pencils for participants to use.