Posts Tagged: sketch

Edgewater goes to Venice

After all the fuss and bother – lost emails, language barriers, and impossibility to communicate – the spirit of art and urban sketching prevailed. “Matite in Viaggio” exhibition opened in Venice Itally yesterday, October 10, 2014. Five of my drawings are showing there!

Matite in Viaggio 10-10-2014 processed Matite in Viaggio - Alex Zonis catalog 10-10-2014

 Here they are in the covered exhibition table – photo on the left. And here they are in the exhibition catalog along with my b&w photo and what seems to be a blurb of text – photo on the right. I wish I remembered what I wrote, and can only hope it is not too embarrassing.

And I almost missed this whole excitement because I could not go, which sucked. But a friend was there and took these photos ( photos © NotNot Tana Luc). Thanks, Luc!!



A portrait for a birthday

I have not drawn a graphite portrait in some time, and so was very pleased when a far away friend wanted a portrait of his sister for her birthday. He wanted me to draw it so he would include it in a movie he was making as a birthday present for her. What a thoughtful thing to do!

Anyway, here’s the portrait

Esther 9-14-2014 lo-res medium


I forgot how pleasant it is draw in graphite and how relaxing – just values, no color.

The bottom line – I want a brother like that!!

The Sketchpack Project 2014

Alex sketchpack concertina 2 8-31-2014

August came and went in a single minute it seems. It was even more busy because I was invited and participated in The Sketchpack Project 2014. My regular readers may remember The Sketchpack 2013 from last year. This project is organized and run by my good friend Di Metcalf of Artsource from Capetown, South Africa. Artsource sends out concertina sketchpacks, and participants make a sketch every day for the month of August. Completed sketchpacks go back to Capetown and take part in the exhibition.

These are my 31 (more or less) drawings drawn every day or nearly every day during August 2014. This year I couldn’t be bothered with having a single theme or a discipline to stick to it. So these are a stream of consciousness drawings, whatever happened in my life, that I drew. My friend tragically passed away – I drew his portrait. Charlie the dog came to visit – I drew Charlie. I worked on compositions for paintings and drew thumbnails. Went for walks and drew what I saw. Broke dishes and drew the shards. A fantastic practice – I highly recommend it to anyone.

See drawings here –

Chicago Sketch Seminar 2014 – retrospect


A month ago, on June 7-8, we Urban Sketchers Chicago had our first ever Chicago Sketch Seminar 2014. After a year of planning (and fretting!) it was finally here and turned out a success. I managed the planning process for this event and was privileged to lead the finest team of planners one can wish for.

Dozens of sketchers from Chicago, from around the country (Cincinnati, Portland OR, San Francisco, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, etc), even from Canada came to Chicago and sketched together. They took 8 sketching workshops, I taught a workshop on color. They participated in a number of sketching activities that showed off our beautiful and oh-so-sketchable city. They had one Dinner, Drink and Draw event and it was good!

The Seminar came and went in a flash and left some wonderful memories and lots of new friends. My friend Kordt Larsen produced a short documentary film on the Chicago Sketch Seminar 2014 – shown in the beginning of this post. (Here’s a link to it –

For more photos and details see USk Chicago Sketch Seminar blog where our Correspondent Andrew Banks published 3 part article on the event:

USk Chicago Sketch Seminar – Part 1

USk Chicago Sketch Seminar – Part 2

USk Chicago Sketch Seminar – Part 3

What I Drew Last Summer

What I drew last summer 7-1-13

What I Drew Last Summer

8″ x 8″ (20 x 20 cm) – oil on gessobord – commission

This was one of those very rare paintings that practically painted itself. It happens sometimes, not too often, and I wonder what is the reason for this. This is the second painting that did this: I am working on it… mixing and painting…, and suddenly it informs me – I think I am done, thanks! 🙂

I absolutely love my patron for whom this is painted. C.B. contacted me through my online gallery and basically said some variation of the following: I like your style, why won’t you paint something you like and I will buy it. I nearly fainted – the best art patron in the world!

Painting this was smooth and logical and presented very few problems. I did have a little bit of a fuss with strawberries – I did not nail the color right away, and the texture was a challenge. It was an interesting problem to paint graphite and pen drawing in oil. I had fun with that.

The only difficulty I had was coming up with a title. Polling family members yielded several possibles, none of which had a WOW factor. I did a crowd-sourcing thing on Facebook (again), and what a great idea it was – I got a dozen excellent titles. Combining ideas from 3 or 4 different people I came up with this – What I Drew Last Summer.

And here’s the sketch that got painted in this composition. I drew this in cafe Metropolis while drinking tea and sketching with my friend Don Colley.

Metropolis Stripes 3-4-13

Midway Plaisance

I am way overdue posting new sketches. I’ve been very busy painting and did not have much time for sketching or posting sketches. Now is a good time to catch up.

From Logan Center 12-16-12

In December Urban Sketchers Chicago went to investigate the new Logan Art Center in Hyde Park. It turned out to be a wonderful building with spectacular views on Hyde Park, University of Chicago and even the lake from its glassed terraces on 8th and 9th floors. On the other hand the Center is so new it set my teeth on edge. It smells fresh cement dust.

When I called to check if Urban Sketchers can come and draw there, the event manager recommended the Penthouse views from 8th floor. Then he added that to rent the Penthouse for a group use would cost us $1000. That was pretty funny, and after we chuckled over it, he suggested that we just come and sketch in the Penthouse if it is available, and leave when someone arrives to use it. This strategy worked well. The brick gabled building in the sketch is a view down from the Penthouse. After an hour of drawing some people indeed arrived to set up a show, so we went down to a cafe on the first floor.

Midway Plaisance 12-16-12

The cafe offered a moody and pleasant view on Midway Plaisance – all gray and misty in December afternoon. I’ve never sketched a landscape before and cars are still an unfamiliar business to me. I decided to be brave and try new things. The cars came out a bit wonky and cartoonish I think, but overall effect is kinda nice.

Here’s us in the Logan Art Center cafe with Midway Plaisance behind us:

USK Chicago meet 12-16-12

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.

More random sketches

Here are a few more sketches. I am trying various pens. I am finding that I love drawing with a pen, can’t believe it seemed to be an unattainable skill to me before.

I drew the perfume bottles with your regular Paper Mates I had in four colors (my daughter gave them to me a while back, they are somewhat dry by now.) The coffee pot is in rollerball ink pen my husband brought back from some conference. The Aladdin-like vessel is drawn with my beautiful new Lamy Safari fountain pen, although I am unsure of the blue ink – would rather prefer brown…

The shell I drew with conte and pastels. Though not in pen, I thought I’d include it simply because it is already scanned.

Sketching random objects


It is too dark to paint in the evenings… I gave up on painting in artificial light because when I look at what I painted in the morning the color temperature always needs to be corrected. So I thought of getting back into sketching during these long and dark winter evenings. I haven’t done any drawing, except drawing for a painting, since I finished The Sketchbook Project.

Just sketching – for the sake of the process – without being too attached to the result – is very satisfying. I keep my timing to an hour or less, and any piece of old junk is a perfect subject. I am trying different materials – micron pen, conte, pastels. I am thinking of getting a fountain pen, have always been curious about drawing with a fountain pen. If you have a favorite model – please share.

Sketchbook last minute things


I am finishing up the book. Again. I already finished it in the last post having drawn the last portrait. Then I finished it up the second time by going over every page, cleaning up, restoring lost contrast, applying fixatif, and in some cases doing some serious revamping. Like I completely changed the original self portrait on the intro page to this one. Several other earlier portraits got changed fairly dramatically as well. Then I finished the book for the third time writing titles for each portrait, signing and dating everything. I have significantly underestimated the amount of finishing work I had to do. Besides I am a little tired of the whole thing by now – it is time to really finish it one of these days. Now the only thing left to do is the cover. I hope to have the book sent off to the Art House by the end of the week.

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