Happy Thanksgiving!

Who knew brussel sprouts grew in a spiral? I didn’t until this sketch today!

Today we give thanks. I’m so grateful for this life, including the little discoveries we encounter every day, even in a pandemic. After these holidays, we will we appreciate many things like never before, and on the top of that list is friends and family. Wishing everyone all the best.

For the win…

In my day job as an architectural illustrator, I am honored to get to work with some amazing architects and their wonderful projects. This week, 3 of those projects earned Seattle AIA (American Institute of Architects) awards! These teams work for YEARS to nurture these projects along, and I am thrilled to have contributed in some small way, usually by producing images for fundraising purposes during the very early stages of design. It’s exciting to get an early preview of what buildings might look like years down the road.

This is the new Burke Museum, the Washington State museum of natural history and culture, by architects Olson Kundig, which received a top Honor Award Monday night. The concept is an inside-out museum that provides access to things that are usually hidden, the vast stores of birds, baskets, bones, and more.

I produced 6 images over a few years, and very early pencil sketches years before that. It was a thrill to drive by the site and see them on the construction fence as the building took shape! Congratulations to Olson Kundig and the Burke Museum!!!!

Next I’ll post the interior views.

Yes, Another Round of Workshops Starting November 15!

Here’s the info for the next round of UNDERSTANDING PERSPECTIVE workshops! There are two live sessions, Sunday mornings and Tuesday afternoons. One class a week for 6 weeks, starting mid-November. Registration starts on October 28 promptly at 10am Seattle time.

UNDERSTANDING PERSPECTIVE | LIVE online masterclasses in perspective sketching made easy with Stephanie Bower

  • Do you fear or fake perspective sketching?
  • Can’t figure out how to start a perspective sketch?
  • And where is that darn vanishing point anyway?

Understanding Perspective is a LIVE online course that makes perspective sketching easy! I’m Urban Sketcher, workshop instructor, architectural illustrator, and author Stephanie Bower, and I’m excited to offer this course to anyone wanting to finally understand how perspective works. Perspective is easy when you know what to look for!

This course is a live, interactive 6-part online class taught via Zoom in which you’ll learn by drawing along with me in real time. In each class, we’ll take notes and sketch together as I present perspective concepts in a crafted PowerPoint presentation, then we will apply those concepts in a step-by-step sketching demo that we will draw and paint together. And like an in-person workshop, you’ll see me work and I’ll answer your questions LIVE.

With my background as an architect and architectural illustrator, I’ve taught perspective sketching in architecture and interior design programs at colleges and universities for decades. I’ve drawn on that experience to create a course that starts with easy concepts and progresses through many aspects of sketching buildings and spaces in perspective. You’ll see and learn things that you could not get in an in-person workshop! Concepts are explained with simple diagrams, together with loads of photos and sketching examples — information that you can incorporate into your sketching now, regardless of your preferred sketching or painting style or media. It’s about getting the “good bones” right!


Understanding Perspective

  • Class 1: Creating a Road Map to Follow
  • The foundations of a perspective sketch in 3 simple steps using BIG SHAPES
  • Demo
  • Class 2: Perspective Fundamentals
  • One and two point perspectives—what’s the difference?
  • View Angles and View Eye Levels
  • Demo
  • Class 3: The Importance of Foreshortening
  • Foreshortening
  • Easy, wide-angle perspectives
  • Demo
  • Class 4:  Multiple Vanishing Points
  • Streets, Roofs, Stairs
  • Demo
  • Class 5:  Circles in Perspective
  • Ellipses
  • Arches (they are not like horseshoes!)
  • Demo
  • Class 6:  Looking UP
  • Towers are like wedding cakes
  • Domes are round
  • Demo

++++++++++ WORKSHOP FEE

  • Workshop fee for the entire 6 classes is US$325.00

Workshop fees are payable by check or Zelle for US participants or by PayPal for US and international participants.


++++++++++ DATES AND TIMES

Session 1:  Sundays at 9am Seattle time (12noon New York, 6pm Paris) Starting November 15 for 6 weeks (November 15, 22, 29*, December 6, 13, 18, 20.) Note: this class is particularly targeted to beginning sketchers. * November 29 is Thanksgiving weekend.

Session 2:  Tuesdays at 4pm Seattle time (7pm New York; 9am Tuesdays in Sydney, Australia) Starting November 17 for 6 weeks (November 17, 24, December 1, 8, 15, 22.)

  • Each class is expected to run about 3 – 3.5 hours.

++++++++++ HOW TO REGISTER

REGISTRATION OPENS October 28, 2020 at 10am Seattle time:

  • When registration opens on October 28, send an email to StephanieBower.Workshops@gmail.com indicating which workshop session (session one or two) you’d like to take.
  • I’ll sign up participants in the order your email was received.
  • Payment instructions will be emailed to those who have a spot.
  • Additional information and a list of materials will be emailed to registered participants.

++++++++++ QUESTIONS?

  • During this class, will you be sitting outside on location or are we working from photos?

Sadly due to the pandemic, we cannot sketch together live on location just yet. This will be the next best thing as you join me in my tiny studio and we work from carefully selected photos with the understanding that ultimately, the course is about location sketching. In some ways, you’ll see the demos BETTER than when done in person, as Zoom will allow you to look at my sketches up close.

  • What do you mean by an “interactive PowerPoint”?

I’ve created these classes to mirror a real college course. Most of the information is delivered through detailed PowerPoint presentations that I’ve developed. I’ll pause throughout the presentation so that you can draw and take notes, and I will sketch along with you as well. At the end of each class, we’ll apply the concepts learned to an actual live demo. I’ll draw and paint a scene step-by-step so that you can also draw and paint with me at the same time. And before each class, I’ll email participants a worksheet that they can print out and use for notetaking or simply to help them follow along.

  • I’m new to sketching, is this class OK for me?

YES, I love teaching beginners! If you are new to perspective, or simply want to improve your knowledge and skills, this class is for you. The Sunday morning session is particularly targeted to brand new sketchers.

  • I’m new to sketching and am worried I’ll be overwhelmed. Can I only take the first three classes?

I break up perspective concepts into easy to understand segments, so it shouldn’t be a problem for most people. You’ll also be able to view recordings of the class later.

  • I’m already a pretty good sketcher, will I learn anything new from this class?

YES! Even seasoned sketchers will benefit from seeing this approach and for the deep dives into architectural elements like multiple vanishing points, ellipses, and domes. I’ll also show lots of shortcuts to sketching complex subjects in simple ways.

  • Will there be homework?

Homework is optional, but I’ll provide a few images at the end of each class that you can work on at home and at your own pace. You can email one of the homework images you’ve done and I’ll provide feedback.

  • I don’t have a computer or tablet, can I still take this class from my phone?

Because this course is very visual and the information is quite detailed, you’ll need a large screen like a computer or laptop to do this course. A phone, tablet, or iPad will not work.

  • What art supplies will I need for this class?

You’ll need your basic sketching equipment, including watercolors. I’ll email participants a list of supplies.

  • What equipment do I need for this class?

Use the largest screen and best wifi connection available to you!

You will need to have ZOOM downloaded onto your computer (ideal), laptop, or large tablet.** It is a free online download that is easy to use and perfect for this course. Instructions on how to join the live class will be emailed to all registered participants.

  • How does this course compare with your Craftsy classes and books?

The biggest difference between this class and Craftsy and my books is that this is LIVE instruction! You can ask questions and I’ll answer in the moment. Most of this content is brand new, and doing the live demo together at the end of each class will cement the concepts you are learning.

  • Will this class be recorded ?

Yes, recordings of the classes will be available to you via Zoom for viewing (not downloads) during the 6 weeks of the course. This is really helpful for those who work slowly and for reviewing what you learned in the live classes.

  • Will you be offering more classes in the future?

Definitely! I intend to keep offering Understanding Perspective. If you’ve got suggestions for other days and times, please let me know. The plan is to also add more courses, such as sketching interiors. So stay tuned!

Thanks so much for your interest in this course! And thanks so much to everyone who has participated in the inaugural sessions of the UNDERSTANDING PERSPECTIVE workshops! In fact, the classes have gone so well that by request, I am adding 3 more classes for those participants! See you all soon!

Doodles with new Toys

It was Christmas in September when I received this great box of art supplies from Winsor & Newton! I usually sketch in pencil, my roots are in pen sketching. So feeling it a bit rusty, I had to figure out a way to not put too much pressure on myself. The answer? Sketching while “watching” television (gosh, I’m sort of embarrassed to write that!)

So using one of the fineline markers and the pad of paper, I doodled what was right in front of me…

Regarding the materials, I really like the paper. I already work a lot on the Winsor & Newton professional watercolor paper (I cut it into 8″ x 16″ pieces for travel sketching), but this small pad was new to me. I love the proportions and size 6″ x 11″, the paper is very thin and if I mess up, I just tear it off and start over… better than messing up in a bound sketchbook! Less pressure for sure.

I’m working with the watercolor markers to figure out how to use them. So far, there are things I like and don’t like about them. I don’t find they mix or layer too well, which is what I would want in a watercolor marker. But I’ll keep at it for a bit. The set of pencils and charcoal are lovely, I actually really like how the 2B pencil (my preferred) glides across the paper.

If you’re wondering where I’ve been lately, I’ve been teaching my new online classes, Understanding Perspective, which are taking TONS of time. Three classes down, three to go. I’m really enjoying it and learning so much about how to do this better next time, and the participants are all wonderful and very understanding as I figure out the tech. Thanks to all, I hope you are learning a lot! And thank you so much to W&N for the lovely art supplies!!!

Finally, a live online class about perspective!

UNDERSTANDING PERSPECTIVE | LIVE online masterclasses in perspective sketching made easy with Stephanie Bower

  • Do you fear or fake perspective sketching?
  • Can’t figure out how to start a perspective sketch?
  • And where is that darn vanishing point anyway?

Understanding Perspective is a LIVE online course that makes perspective sketching easy! I’m Urban Sketcher, workshop instructor, architectural illustrator, and author Stephanie Bower, and I’m excited to offer this course to anyone wanting to finally understand how perspective works. Perspective is easy when you know what to look for!

This course is a live, interactive 6-part online class taught via Zoom in which you’ll learn by drawing along with me in real time. In each class, we’ll take notes and sketch together as I present perspective concepts in a crafted PowerPoint presentation, then we will apply those concepts in a step-by-step sketching demo that we will draw and paint together. And like an in-person workshop, you’ll see me work and I’ll answer your questions LIVE.

With my background as an architect, I’ve taught perspective sketching in architecture and interior design programs at colleges and universities for decades. I’ve drawn on that experience to create a course that starts with easy concepts and progresses through many aspects of sketching buildings and spaces in perspective. You’ll see and learn things that you could not get in an in-person workshop! Concepts are explained with simple diagrams, together with loads of photos and sketching examples — information that you can incorporate into your sketching now, regardless of your preferred sketching or painting style or media. It’s about getting the “good bones” right!


The course is broken into two sections, with 3 classes in each section. You can take the first 3 basic perspective classes, and if you want to continue with more complex topics, you can sign up for all 6 classes.  Here’s a breakdown of the content:

Understanding Perspective

  • Class 1: Creating a Road Map to Follow
  • The foundations of a perspective sketch in 3 simple steps
  • Demo
  • Class 2: Perspective Fundamentals
  • One and two point perspectives—what’s the difference?
  • View Angles and View Eye Levels
  • Demo
  • Class 3: The Importance of Foreshortening
  • Foreshortening
  • Easy, wide-angle perspectives
  • Demo

Understanding Perspective | Advanced

  • Class 4:  Multiple Vanishing Points
  • Streets, Roofs, Stairs
  • Demo
  • Class 5:  Circles in Perspective
  • Ellipses
  • Arches (they are not like horseshoes!)
  • Demo
  • Class 6:  Looking UP
  • Towers are like wedding cakes
  • Domes are round
  • Demo

++++++++++ WORKSHOP FEE

  • Understanding Perspective: Classes 1-3 only, Workshop fee is US$135.00
  • Understanding Perspective + Advanced: Classes 1-6, Workshop fee is US$260.00

Workshop fees are payable by check for US participants (preferred) or by PayPal for US and international participants.


++++++++++ DATES AND TIMES

Session 1:  Sundays at 9am Seattle time (12noon New York, 6pm Paris) Starting September 20 for 6 weeks (September 20, 27, October 4, 11, 18, 25.) Note: this class is particularly targeted to beginning sketchers.

Session 2:  Mondays at 4pm Seattle time (7pm New York; 9am Tuesdays in Sydney, Australia) Starting September 21 for 6 weeks (September 21, 28, October 5, 12, 19, 26.)

  • Each class is expected to run about 2.5 hours.
  • Classes will be limited to approximately 15 participants
  • Additional sessions will be added at future dates and times!

++++++++++ HOW TO REGISTER

REGISTRATION OPENS SEPTEMBER 7, 2020 at 10am Seattle time:

  • When registration opens on September 7, send an email to StephanieBower.Workshops@gmail.com indicating which workshop session (session one or two) you’d like to take, and if you plan to take classes 1-3 or 1-6.
  • I’ll sign up participants in the order your email was received.
  • Payment instructions will be emailed to those who have a spot.
  • Additional information and a list of materials will be emailed to registered participants.

++++++++++ QUESTIONS?

  • During this class, will you be sitting outside on location or are we working from photos?

Sadly due to the pandemic, we cannot sketch together live on location just yet. This will be the next best thing as you join me in my tiny studio and we work from carefully selected photos with the understanding that ultimately, the course is about location sketching. In some ways, you’ll see the demos BETTER than when done in person, as Zoom will allow you to look at my sketches up close.

  • What do you mean by an “interactive PowerPoint”?

I’ve created these classes to mirror a real college course. Most of the information is delivered through detailed PowerPoint presentations that I’ve developed. I’ll pause throughout the presentation so that you can draw and take notes, and I will sketch along with you as well. At the end of each class, we’ll apply the concepts learned to an actual live demo. I’ll draw and paint a scene step-by-step so that you can also draw and paint with me at the same time. And before each class, I’ll email participants a worksheet that they can print out and use for notetaking or simply to help them follow along.

  • I’m new to sketching, is this class OK for me?

YES, I love teaching beginners! If you are new to perspective, or simply want to improve your knowledge and skills, this class is for you. The Sunday morning session is particularly targeted to brand new sketchers.

  • I’m new to sketching and am worried I’ll be overwhelmed. Can I only take the first three classes?

I break up perspective concepts into easy to understand segments, so it shouldn’t be a problem for most people to take the entire course. But if you want to pace yourself, you can indeed take the first three classes, then at a future time (provided space is available), you can take the second set of three classes. The course is structured to allow participants to do that!

  • I’m already a pretty good sketcher, will I learn anything new from this class?

YES! Even seasoned sketchers will benefit from seeing this approach and for the deep dives into architectural elements like multiple vanishing points, ellipses, and domes. I’ll also show lots of shortcuts to sketching complex subjects in simple ways.

  • Will there be homework?

Homework is optional, but I’ll provide a few images at the end of each class that you can work on at home and at your own pace.

  • I don’t have a computer or tablet, can I still take this class from my phone?

Because this course is very visual and the information is quite detailed, you’ll need a large screen like a computer, laptop, or large tablet to do this course. A phone or small tablet will not work.

  • What art supplies will I need for this class?

You’ll need your basic sketching equipment, including watercolors. I’ll email participants a list of supplies.

  • What equipment do I need for this class?

Use the largest screen and best wifi connection available to you!

You will need to have ZOOM downloaded onto your computer (ideal), laptop, or large tablet.** It is a free online download that is easy to use and perfect for this course. Instructions on how to join the live class will be emailed to all registered participants.

  • How does this course compare with your Craftsy classes and books?

The biggest difference between this class and Craftsy and my books is that this is LIVE instruction! You can ask questions and I’ll answer in the moment. Most of this content is brand new, and doing the live demo together at the end of each class will cement the concepts you are learning.

  • Will this class be recorded to show again at a later date in case we cannot participate in the live classes?

At this time, there are plans to only do the live classes–no recordings. One, I don’t have a camera that would work, and two, the Zoom recordings are apparently not very good quality. So only live for now!

  • Will you be offering more classes in the future?

Definitely! I intend to keep offering Understanding Perspective. If you’ve got suggestions for other days and times, please let me know. The plan is to also add more courses, such as sketching interiors. So stay tuned!

Thanks so much for your interest in this course! I hope to see you on Zoom!

Harvest!

You can already feel a bit of cool Fall in the air here in Seattle, which means these little jewels are finally ready for harvest! We are so far north here (further north than Montreal and Nova Scotia), that each little tomato is worth it’s weight in gold! Maybe that’s why my favorite variety is called “Sungold”!

I gave bowls of these to a few neighbors, and they looked so beautiful in the backyard in these crisp white bowls, I had to attempt a sketch. The tomatoes were painted in one pass, carefully leaving the white spot for the reflection of light, then dropping in oranges and reds as they dried. I used New Gamboge for the yellow and Pyrrole Orange to add depth. They look good enough to eat!

On another note, I’ve been working like crazy for months developing my live online perspective classes on Zoom. Tomorrow, I’ll post the information to this blog, and registration will open on September 7 at 10am Seattle time. HOWEVER, as a way to say THANK YOU to blog followers, I’m going to open up registration to you 24 hours early. By following this blog, you can sign up on September 6 at 10am Seattle time by sending me an email to StephanieBower.Workshops@gmail.com. Look for details on the courses to be posted here tomorrow!

A heartfelt thanks to my dear friends RooiPing Lim and Angela Williams in Australia who have gone above and beyond to help me and beta test the classes (Chris Haldane too!) Forever grateful to you, my friends!

New book: The Complete Urban Sketching Companion

Yep, another book in this great series comes out in only two weeks, on August 18! The publisher, Quarry Books, has put together a compilation of the best bits from Gabi Campanario’s first two handbooks, Architecture and Cityscapes, and People and Motion; Shari Blaukopf’s Working with Color; and my Understanding Perspective. Everything you need for urban sketching in one book, especially if you are new to this series.

The Companion is the same portable size as the other books in the series, but more than double the number of pages. Look for it now for pre-order now online (since most of us can’t go to stores these days)… I hope you will check it out!!

Drawing or painting or both?

Sorry for the lapse in posts, but I’ve been focusing on creating an online course I hope to offer LIVE via Zoom in a few weeks! It will be a masterclass on perspective sketching made easy (any suggestions for a title??) that is based on an interactive lecture I gave 5 years ago at the USk symposium in Singapore. As I buy more and more equipment to pull this off, my little home office is slowly being converted to a TV studio!

Today I sat in front of my house to sketch, as I don’t feel compelled to go too far from home these days. I also haven’t sketched in a while, and I’m feeling the rusty joints. The drawing part I pretty much have down, it’s the painting where you can often see that I’m out of practice–when I’m not warmed up, I tend to overpaint.

This is the front of our 1911 Craftsman house in Seattle. I realized about 3/4 the way through that I’m currently stuck somewhere between making it a drawing or a painting. I typically like the architectural feel of the drawings with minimal color, so I’m going to blame my attempts to be more painterly on none other than Shari Blaukopf. I look at her beautiful work and I think I need to use more color. Ha! Don’t we all wish we could paint like Shari?

Here is a bit of the process for today. One advantage of sketching at home is that I can run into the house and scan the progress images! Below is the finished line, the underpainting of warms and cools, the addition of the sky dropped into wet paper, and the final sketch.

I actually love the image with the sky, as I’m always a little sad once I cover up my line work! It has a balance that I rather like. I also like how the fence came out. The house itself, well I’m still working on getting those darn values right…

Breaking News: Craftsy/Bluprint Lives On!!!

Just got this letter in my inbox, happy to share this news!

Dear Stephanie,

At the end of May, we shared that Bluprint would be closing its doors. The outpouring of support we received was amazing to see. So many of our instructors and customers wrote in with stories sharing how much Bluprint and our online classes mean to them.  

Today I am happy to share that Bluprint classes will live on! 

Our friends at TN Marketing will provide a seamless transition for current Bluprint customers and subscribers by preserving their access to Craftsy and Bluprint content. TN Marketing will honor previous customer purchases for classes, subscriptions and instructor agreements. This means your content will continue to be available to Craftsy and Bluprint customers, as well as a whole new audience through TN’s communities.

TN Marketing, is a Minneapolis-based global online video subscription and streaming business.  You may be familiar with some of their brands such as National Quilters Circle, National Sewing Circle, Outdoor Photography Guide and Woodworkers Guild of America. TN Marketing has more than 20 years of experience creating content and communities that help engage people with their passions.

The TN Marketing team will be in touch later today or tomorrow to officially welcome you to the TN Marketing family and share more information about next steps. 

On behalf of myself and the entire Bluprint team, we want to thank you for your support over the years.  This journey has been the highlight of my professional career and we have all loved working with you. We wish you all the best as you continue your journey with TN Marketing. 

Sincerely, 
John Levisay 
CEO Bluprint

Do you remember the day drawing “clicked” for you? I do, and this is it.

Do you remember the day that sketching “clicked” for you? I do, and this is it. The year is 19xx something, I’m 21 and in my third year architecture student at the University of Texas at Austin. 
Before we could advance to our 4th of 5 years in the architecture program, a portfolio of our work was reviewed by three professors. Two of the three wrote “weak graphic skills”. Yep, that was me. Weak graphic skills. I was quite depressed at first and considered changing majors (right, just as all my friends were entering their final year of university), but after a few days, that diagnosis seemed to light a fire under me. Frankly, they were right. My style of depicting my projects was simple and cartoony, I cringe when I look at those images now.
That same semester, I took a drawing class that would change my life. It was the final time George Villalva, a local architect, would teach his location sketching class, and I lucked out just to get in. A strict former Marine, you had to be in your seat by 8am as the bells on the campus tower chimed (the earliest class in the curriculum) or he glared at you. But it was such a great class that lots of students took it for no credit and multiple times. He had such a clear way of teaching perspective sketching, methods I have expanded upon and now teach to my students. The drawing classes at UT at that time were great, and they trained a whole generation of architects who can draw.


These sketches reflect George’s approach to learning sketching. They are from the final assignment for the entire course. While I had flickers of moments that showed promised during the semester, something happened this day that made my drawing skills click. ..my brain, hand, and eye worked as one. Perhaps it was all the work that lead up to this moment, or perhaps it was the fact that I tried again and again until I got a drawing I more or less liked. But as I sat on the curb (I had to keep moving my legs for the bus that came by) on a quiet Sunday morning (see, it all comes back!) looking down Congress Avenue toward the Texas State Capitol, some kind of magic happened and my drawing abilities made a quantum leap.
A little about George’s technique. He taught us about linework, perspective, drawing cars, ink techniques, and much more. We started every view with a quick postcard sketch. These were only 30 second to 1 or 2 minute drawings, and it taught us to see the essence of the space and quickly capture the essentials. He timed us with his watch.

Next was a longer line drawing, but still quick. We worked in markers on a 12″x18″ newsprint pad (big so you move your whole arm, and cheap not-intimidating paper so you got over your fear of putting pen to paper). Drawing quickly was best…no time to overthink things, and the line quality had the energy that only speed can bring.
Next came tone…we pulled out a few gray markers and did a tone drawing, so valuable in putting meat to the bones of the linework and for seeing light and shadow.
Finally, the last drawing, and this one was full color. It got muddy as I was probably tired. George always said that first you master line, then tone, then color, as color added so many levels of complexity, it was exponentially many times more complex than a line drawing. 


For this series, my final project in his class, he awarded me with a 98 out of 100, the highest grade he ever gave. He almost never gave A’s in this class, so when my classmates heard I got an A for the semester, I’m sure it raised some eyebrows.


I didn’t know it at the time, but that class changed everything for me. It gave me confidence to continue in Architecture, helped me find a love for sketching as a way to learn about the architecture I see, and gave me a remarkable foundation of knowledge to pass on through my own teaching. Profound thank you to all my teachers including Jorge Luis Diviñó, and especially to Señor George Villalva, wherever you are. You are the first Urban Sketcher in my life.
When things click, magic happens. So the message to my fellow sketchers is to keep up the good work, work a lot…and you will see something click too…

You can see more about this in my talk this past Saturday with Brenda Murray at Studio 56, My Sketching Journey.