Scribble my street with Liz Ackerley

Lovely goodies kindly donated by Fred Aldous

Liz Ackerley has written this blog post about the first Urban Sketching workshop she ran at Gallery Oldham as part of the Manchester Histories Festival. Find out more about her workshops, Manchester Histories Festival and how you can get involved in her next workshops below.

On Saturday 7th May I led the first urban sketching workshop for the Histories Festival, at Gallery Oldham-the perfect venue!  Fortunately, it was a very sunny morning, although the wind did pose some sketching challenges-more about that later!  The workshops have been developed to give participants an introduction to Urban Sketching and to share some of my experiences with drawing regularly in the urban environment.  The intention is that at least some of the participants may subsequently go and record some of their festival experience by sketching their stories.  The act of drawing in a sketchbook on a regular basis not only enables you to produce a visual diary of the world around you but also provides lots of other benefits like relaxation and meeting and drawing with others.  It’s quite addictive!

Participants mid sketch

Initially we spent time discussing urban sketching, the worldwide  urban sketching community and the approaches taken to sketching out on location, in real time, not from photos but from life.  Materials used including sketchbooks, pens and colour application were discussed and I shared some of my top tips for urban sketching.  We then spent time outside of the gallery, in the surrounding streets.  First we did a series of continuous line loosening up exercises before spending a bit more time with participants drawing a scene of their choice.   All participants received an A5 sketchbook and fine liner pen to record their drawings, thanks to Fred Aldous art shop based in the Northern Quarter in Manchester.   They have also generously provided us with coloured pencils and other sketching materials like conte crayons so there was plenty to experiment with!

Discussing what it means to be an Urban Sketcher

Braving the elements is something that us urban sketchers have to do and this first session was no exception. You certainly had to hold onto your sketchbook in these blustery conditions and it definitely made my watercolour paint dry quickly!  After some time drawing outside we then went back inside where, similar to all Urban Sketching gatherings, we shared our work together and discussed how we had found the process.  All the students seemed to really enjoy the experience and quickly got into sketching mode!  One even used their iPad to do the sketching and shared their experiences with the rest of the group.  The images show the great results produced and the group proudly holding their sketchbooks.  It is wonderful to hear that some of them have been drawing since the workshop and are keen to come to some general urban sketching events, these are all advertised through the Facebook page (Manchester Urban Sketching Group).

Each of the Manchester Histories Festival workshops has a maximum of 20 participants (19 signed up to this first workshop at Gallery Oldham) so book early to avoid disappointment!    The next workshop, which will take the same format as the first session, will be held in Chorlton at the Chorlton Arts Festival on Saturday 28th May followed by Central Manchester on Saturday 4th June.  Finally, there will be an informal urban sketching session at the Celebration Day on Saturday 11th June.  Look out on the Manchester Histories website for information on how to book tickets soon.

I’m already looking forward to the Chorlton Festival workshop and talking more Urban Sketching and reportage drawing!

Liz Ackerley,  Urban Sketcher and Reportage Illustrator

Thanks again to Fred Aldous