End of an Era

Bluprint, formerly known as Craftsy, has just sent out the following message:

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Bluprint
We recently shared the disappointing news that Bluprint will be closing over the next few months. You can see the letter to the Bluprint community here and posted below. We are immensely thankful for the opportunity to have supported you and your passion over the past decade. 

We know there are many questions and we will have more information to share soon. Please note that we will provide a way for those of you who have purchased classes to receive a copy of the classes you purchased. For example, we’re working on a solution to give you an extended period to download your purchased classes. 

Current subscribers still have access to classes, patterns, and course materials, however we will stop accepting new subscribers and orders for individual classes, patterns and supplies on May 31 at 11:59 pm EDT

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through these important details. If you have questions, please use the Contact Us feature on our website. 



May 24, 2020 

To our Bluprint community, 

This is not an easy letter to write. For the last ten years, my colleagues and I have worked tirelessly on Craftsy and then Bluprint. When we started the business in 2010, our goal was to provide passionate enthusiasts access to the world’s best experts and make it easier to learn new skills. Our hope was to make people’s lives better through creativity, and we’ve been honored to serve millions of customers over the last decade. 

I am disappointed to inform you that Bluprint will be closing over the next few months. Like so many customers, instructors, designers, and employees, I am devastated by this news. Please know that our team is working quickly to finalize details, and we will provide more information soon. 

For now, I wanted to let you know that we are looking at various options to allow those of you who have purchased individual classes to receive a copy of your classes. This includes individual classes purchased with own forever credits. We are also planning to issue prorated refunds for paid subscribers based on the last day our service will be available, which will be communicated when that date is finalized in the near future. 

On behalf of all the Craftsy/Bluprint employees, I want to express our gratitude and appreciation to you for being with us on this journey. 

If you have questions, please contact us and we will do our best to respond as quickly as possible. 

Thank you and please stay safe and healthy. 

Sincerely,BluprintJohn Levisay 
CEO, Bluprint (Craftsy)
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So odd this is happening now, when you’d think business would be booming with everyone stuck at home and working online. On behalf of myself and the 9 other Urban Sketchers instructors on the Bluprint/Craftsy platform (Shari Blaukopf, Suhita Shirodkar, Marc Taro Holmes, Paul Heaston, James Richards, Lynne Chapman, Suma CM, Steven Reddy, Matt Brehm), I’ve written Bluprint with a list of questions. Most important, it sounds like they are trying to figure out a way to let people access the content they bought as “Forever Classes”. I’ll let everyone know when I hear back.

I have to say a huge THANK YOU to Craftsy, it’s been an honor and a privilege to get to be part of their family. They created really high quality, state-of-the-art online classes — heck, my courses alone reached literally tens of thousands of people around the world. It was funny to meet folks who recognized me by my voice even before they saw me, thanks to these classes! At the Manchester USk symposium, Paul Heaston and I talked with a woman from Africa who said these classes had “saved her life”, as they were the only way she could access art instruction. WOW! I’m very sad to see this resource disappear.

So if you’ve purchased the classes, watch them again now while you have the chance, I think until the end of June…take notes and lots of screen shots! And stay tuned, I’m working out a way to teach perspective workshops online via Zoom… interested?

A Guide to Our Living Room, and the steps it took to get there…

As primarily a travel sketcher who is now stuck at home on Day 47, I’m finally turning my sights to drawing our house. What started as a simple sketch of our small living room turned into creating a way to identify beloved objects, a road may for our kids who some day may want to know what all this stuff is and where it came from. (I’ve instructed them not to sell the watercolor paintings and my brushes at a yard sale!)
And since I was sketching at home, I had the luxury of being able to stop and start, and to scan various phases of the sketch. I LOVED the line drawing and hesitated to add any color at all, but then took the plunge and added a little underpainting to establish the voids or recessed spaces. Finally, more color, although I tried to restrain myself and leave a lot of white to give a sense of the sunlight.
In the end, my favorite is the underpainted version, and the kind folks who responded to my Instagram post helped me figure out why (most liked the full color version, by the way.) I like the unfinished quality of the sketch at that point, the areas that are left white feel fresh. It’s a painting of potential, one that doesn’t overpower the line drawing I really liked and didn’t want to lose with too much paint (which happens all too often!)
How about you, which version do you like best?

And the steps:

1–Initial rough sketch blocking out the big shapes. You can see my vanishing point right in front of me, and my eye level line drawn all the way across the page. I didn’t erase any of these lines, other than moving the Eames chair, I drew right over them.

2– Completed line drawing. I love being able to se all the little details! I added the text.

3– Underpainting, it’s my way of easing into the painting by dipping my toe in first. Cool colors show the recesses, the warm colors advance.

4–Full color, but a muted palette so I don’t cover up too much of the lines I love. I tried to restrain from painting too much, by leaving areas of the paper white to show sunlight.

This post also appears on the Urban Sketchers blog at http://www.urbansketchers.org.

#USKThenandNowChallenge

Being stuck inside, facing a dangerous pandemic, has made me reflect on lots of things, including my sketching journey. A few weekends ago, I did an interview with Brenda Murray of Studio 56, and in light of all this reflection, I thought it would be good to show how I got to where I am today… it’s been a long road, with a 30 year break in between!! Some day, it will make for a good Ted Talk, as the road has lots of challenges, great tragedies, and inspiring moments of good will and good fortune.

At the end of each of the Sunday USk Talks, instructors pose a sketching challenge. So of course, my challenge was not to actually sketch something but to go back to your earliest sketches and compare them with what you do now. What have you learned? How have your sketches evolved? Any ah-ha moments? What is the meaning of life? (Just kidding on that last one, well, sort of kidding…)

You can view the entire talk on Urban Sketchers YouTube.

So, I extend the invitation to you to post your reflections to what is now being called the “Then and Now Challenge” on Instagram and Facebook. It doesn’t have to be the same location for both sketches. If you decide to jump into this challenge, be sure to tag the following on Instagram: #USkTalksChallenge #usktalks #USKthenandnowchallenge @ubansketchers and of course tag me @stephanieabower (don’t forget the middle “a”) so I can see it and comment!

Above is my Then and Now…the image on the left is one of my first pencil sketches done of Radcliffe Camera in Oxford back in the…gulp…1980’s. Then there was a 30 year break to marry, raise kids, work and teach. I picked up sketching again in 2011 with a fateful trip to India (that’s for the Ted Talk for sure). The image on the right, is part of a panorama sketch done in 2017 when I had the opportunity to teach a workshop in gorgeous Oxford. It was amazing to go back, and I would love to teach there again.

So what did I learn? My first sketches were thick and heavy, not a whole lot of control at the beginning of that trip, and no color at all, but things did get better. What I do now has the same goal — to learn about architecture — but with a lot more control of my hand, a lot more technique. Makes me happy to see that things have improved as they have evolved.

What about your Then and Now????

USk Talks #4: Couch Travelling Around the World

I was so nervous, but once I heard that soothing radio host voice of Rob Sketcherman welcoming people to the Instagram LIVE talk from midnight in Hong Kong, I was lulled into a relaxed trance. What followed was a blast! It was really SO fun to relive some of the places I’ve been and sketched, going in a clockwise direction starting in Varanasi, India, where I was almost born. The goal was not to show my best work, but to show sketches that hold meaning for me, especially since travel is restricted now and for the foreseeable future, which frankly, has been depressing. So Rob’s upbeat and warm delivery were very much appreciated.

The one hour talk interview crossed the globe in true USk form, with Rob in HK, me in Seattle, and the amazing Oliver Hoeller in Austria. It is now up on Urban Sketchers YouTube here.

Thanks to everyone who watched live! I will post the images I showed along with a few stories on this blog so you can see them a little better. Technology is great, but not perfect! We laughed so much, I hope you will find some time to join us for a little mini trip from the comfort of your own home!

USk Talks, Take a Trip to Distant Lands this Sunday

Look who’s up next in talk #4 of this inspiring series! Join interviewer Rob Sketcherman in Hong Kong, Oliver Hoeller from Austria, and me in Seattle, from the comfort of your couch for a little sketching journey to distant lands this Sunday, April 26 at 9:00am Seattle time (4pm GMT).
This USk interview will be on Instagram. Make sure you “follow” Urban Sketchers on Instagram, then at 9am, open your Instagram page and look for the USk logo with the word “LIVE” in your story feed. Tap on it, and you can see the interview and even post comments! AND–this is important– it’s best if you can watch from your computer, as you won’t have to squint at your phone to see the images!

It’s a fabulous series, I am so honored to participate. We are all apart, but connected!!

(PS, if you don’t already follow my work on Instagram, I’m at @stephanieabower .

Working in Layers, Quarantine Day #35

It’s handy building up a drawing in layers! I did the first layers of this sketch over a week ago, then this morning picked it up again to add more. Can you guess what big shape I started with? No, not the wall opening in front of me, but the entire wall itself…the Shape of this Space is defined by the shape of that entire back wall. VP is directly in front of me, as I’m sitting looking straight ahead. Had I started with that square opening, I would have had to “grow” the sketch, and capturing proportions and size would have been much more difficult. Color comes in the next layer, starting with a underpainting layer of the spaces through the wall openings so that those areas recede in space.

At some point I realized that I had started the sketch too low on my paper, but what the heck, I was already committed. So to make lemonade from a lemon, I decided to add notes to the empty space at the top of the page. I thought maybe some day, the notes that identify a bit of what’s what would be helpful to our kids…

I hope some of you caught the interview with Brenda Murray of Studio 56 on Saturday. I’ll write up a post about it soon. Thanks to all who tuned in! It was recorded and will be posted to the Studio 56 YouTube page.

I’ll also be showing sketches this Sunday, April 26 at 9am Seattle time as part of the Urban Sketchers series, USk Talks. Soooooo honored to get to participate! Hope to see you this Sunday on the Urban Sketcher’s Instagram live stories for a round the world trip from your couch!

I love this part!!

Well, How Did I Get Here? …this Saturday, April 18.

I’m combing through piles of sketches and old sketchbooks to pick the milestone moments along this sketching path of mine. How DID I get here indeed!!

Please join me this Saturday, April 18 for a free online talk about my walk through this sketching life. From first sketches back in architecture school in the Middle Ages (when I sketched in pen!), to teaching myself watercolor, to sharing my recent and favorite work from Dubrovnik last September. It’s interesting to see how everything has evolved, not to mention what happened during my 25 year break from sketching! My hope is that this talk will inspire everyone to push through the hard times and keep sketching!!

Here is the info about how to watch this talk from moderator, Brenda Murray, who is hosting a series of online interviews. It’s easy to watch. You just need Zoom installed and then click on the link below.

From Brenda: This is your invitation to attend a live-streaming interview with Seattle-based urban sketching instructor and architectural illustrator, Stephanie Bower as she talks about her sketching journey. The interview will start at 1:00EDT Saturday, April 18 and will run about an hour. Feel free to invite your USk chapter members and friends.

HOW TO JOIN THE NEXT MEETING
1) If you have not already installed the free Zoom app, go to https://zoom.us/ to install the app. The meeting will start at the appointed time so please download the app BEFORE the start of the meeting.
2) Just before 1:00pm EDT (that’s 10am in Seattle), click this meeting link: ttps://us04web.zoom.us/j/593769331
3) Your Audio and your Video and Chat will be disabled. However, we would really like to make this as interactive as possible so please send your questions via Facebook Messenger to https://www.facebook.com/messages/t/brenda.murray.7. We will try very hard to answer everyone’s questions.

***Note: for best results use the device with the largest screen (laptop is better than phone) so that you can see the artist’s art when they hold it up.