Living on the Edge

It really is not as exciting as it sounds. Nice – yes, in summer. Interesting – sometimes. Exciting – not really.

I live in Edgewater, a neighborhood of Chicago. Our Chamber of Commerce came out with this brilliant line, and now you can see it on posters and flags everywhere. I see it all the time when I am out sketching. It gave me an idea of series of sketches – Living on the Edge. Here are a few:


Out of the Starbucks window, looking at the historic buildings on Bryn Mawr & Winthrop



The Secret Garden. In the gardens of the Pink Building. I live in the neighborhood for 18 years and have never been inside these gardens until last week. You have to know a resident to take you in.


The Church of Atonement, at the side entrance. A beautiful old church a block away from my house. Even has a table there to spread your sketchbook, pens and palette – heaven, really.


Another historic building – art deco this time – on Bryn Mawr and Winthrop, different corner. Also sketched out of Starbucks, ______________________it was too cold to be ______________________outside.


These are all done on location, Urban Sketchers style, as quickly as I can draw. Which is not very fast at all – one to one-and-a-half hours each.

Hope to show you more of my Chicago as I sketch it.

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  1. Reply
    debra June 6, 2012

    Lovely sketches Alex!

  2. Reply
    Carol King June 7, 2012

    Hi Alex, thanks for sharing a little part of your neighborhood with us. I loved seeing the buildings, garden and church. You did a very good job on the statue of Mary! LOL Looking forward to more sketches from THE EDGE.

    • Reply
      Alex Zonis June 7, 2012

      Thanks, Carol! In part I am inspired by your NYC paintings. Hope to sketch more, this is a part of the Urban Sketchers group I started a couple of months back. I did these mostly in solitude though (except the Secret Garden).

  3. Reply
    eldy June 7, 2012

    These are delightful spontaneous sketches, beautifully rendered…kudos.

  4. Reply
    lesliepaints June 11, 2012

    Chicago has a virtual goldmine of drawings imbedded in it. These are so good. I love your line about, “quickly as I can draw” … “not very fast”. That makes me feel better because I am Soooooo SLOW! These are beautiful renderings, Alex. What kind of sketch book are you using to watyercolor in? I have not found anything I like. Thank you.

    • Reply
      Alex Zonis July 2, 2012

      I am learning to draw faster, but it is still slow. It is especially hard trying to draw people in public places, they always end up with no or two heads, missing limbs and the like. I am using two sketchbooks now: Hand*Book Artist’s Journal (can be found in Blick online, takes WC reasonably well) and Moleskine Watercolor (superb paper for watercolor and pen, don’t like the landscape format.) Also check out the new Stillman & Birn sketchbooks (, I haven’t tried them yet but heard very good things about them from sketchers.

  5. Reply
    tom July 1, 2012

    Great sketches. I recognize the buildings, that and your comments make me home sick. Hard to believe I moved away from the Edgewater community 11 years ago.

    • Reply
      Alex Zonis July 2, 2012

      Great to hear from you, Tom! Am very pleased you recognize the places. I have a few more sketches from the Edge by now, will have to make a post of them sometime.

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