Stealth Sketching

I knew about people who do travel sketch books – instead of taking photos they sketch.  I knew about plein air painters who set up their easels and paint nature.  I didn’t know about the groups of artists who take to the streets all over the world and sketch.

They call themselves Urban Sketchers.  The supplies need to be portable and compact – small sketchbooks, pencil, pen and watercolor seem to be the main tools of the trade.  People and buildings are the main focus. 

You have to be fast and just capture the essence of what you see.  People move, get up, leave.   Sometimes I draw the arm of one person on the body of the other, furiously freeze a tiny moment in time hoping people don’t get up, come over and demand I stop staring at them.  Then I “clean up” the mini sketches – erase lines, add a splash of color.  

At the POP (Painting on the Patio) gathering yesterday I couldn’t get inspired to paint so I pulled out my mini sketchbook and “cleaned up” some of my sketches:  





Can’t call myself an Urban Sketcher cuz I don’t sit on street corners or stand by light poles.  I sketch people while I wait for doctors’ appointments, get my computer fixed or tires rotated.  

Since I live in the suburbs it seems a bit pretentious to call my self a suburban sketcher.  Stealth Sketcher is much more like it.


8 comments on “Stealth Sketching

  1. JJ – These are REALLY good drawings! You should feel proud… these works have feeling and sense of time and place. Being a Stealth Sketcher is your calling… enjoy! If you don’t have pastel pencils, I encourage you to buy some. They allow you to draw in color, get daring, smudge, fill-in… just having fun! Miss you.


  2. I didn’t know you were doing this, Judy – you sneaky artist, you! 😀
    Seems like a really fun thing to do. I’ve never heard of Painting on the Patio – such a creative and nearly spontaneous way to create art. I think you’ve found your new career. I like your sketches – everything a quick study should be – observant and gestural, capturing a moment and a feeling.


    • Shari B-P,
      Stealth sketching is sneaky that’s why you didn’t know. POP (Painting on the Patio) is a group that Judy Formato started 3 years ago. I met her in the life drawing class and she invited me. The women are really nice and after the “painting part” there is a “wine and snack” part!


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