72 – Urban Sketching Tips with James Richards

Last week, we introduced you to urban sketcher extraordinaire, James Richards. So if you haven’t had a chance to listen to that episode, be sure to check it out. Today he’s back to share with us his five best tips for getting started with urban sketching.


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[00:00:00] Laura: Hi, this is Laura Lee Griffin.

[00:00:08] Nikki: And this is Nikki May, with the Startist Society, inspiring you to stop getting in your own way and start building an art biz and life that you love.

[00:00:18] Laura: We are artists who believe strongly in the power of community, accountability, following your intuition, taking small actionable steps and breaking down the barriers of fear and procrastination that keep you stuck.

[00:00:30] Nikki: Follow along with us on our creative business journey as we encourage you on yours.

Last week, we introduced you to James Richards. So if you haven’t had a chance to listen to that episode, be sure to check it out, he’s a brilliant urban sketcher. So today he’s back to share with us his five best tips for getting started with urban sketching. Jim, thanks for coming back to share more with our listeners.

[00:00:58] Jim: I really enjoy you guys, this is a lot of fun. So thanks for having me.

[00:01:02] Laura: It’s fun for us too. So, Jim, what’s your first tip?

My first tip, and if you follow me for a while, you’ve heard this before, but I can’t say it enough. And I think it’s the most important one is, I tell, especially people starting out, don’t aspire to be great, aspire to be prolific. And when I say don’t aspire to be great, I always get this kind of cockeyed look, but then I get to, aspire to be prolific and it’s, oooooh, and if you’re prolific over time, becoming great takes care of itself. So go for volume and go for sloppy sketches and go for things that you just really have a lot of fun with rather than getting hung up on perfection. That’s the biggest buzz killer out there.

[00:01:48] Nikki: That’s a great one. That’s great advice. What’s your second tip for us?

[00:01:52] Jim: I get asked all the time about how do I find my style. And I’d say by not looking for it is probably the best advice that I can give. The Beatles didn’t become the Beatles by just popping up on the stage and performing all this original material. They were a cover band for years and years and years, playing other people’s stuff. Note for note . It’s it’s that way with this; I tell people to copy, to emulate, to find people whose work speaks to you, and then you’re onto something. And if you do that enough over time, you can’t help but your own mind/eye/hand works its way through those things and starts to express itself. And if you need a little booster on that, give yourself a time. You know, look at a city scape and give yourself 10 minutes and I guarantee that your style will start to emerge because there’s nowhere else to look.

[00:02:58] Nikki: Right. Right.

[00:03:00] Laura: Or I might just have one window done in 10 minutes.

[00:03:05] Nikki: But it’ll be one window in your style, Laura.

[00:03:07] Laura: It will be all right. What is tip number three?

[00:03:12] Jim: Tip number three, I would say, especially if you’re starting out is see if you can find a group to grow with. It’s really an interesting dynamic that happens, where you go out to a park or something like that, and draw by yourself and it can be really intimidating if you’re not used to people kind of checking out what you’re doing and that impacts your drawing and everything else. If you’re part of a group, you’ll learn from each other, everybody supports each other, and frankly, you can kind of watch each other’s back. There have been times when I’ve had people that I invited to come out sketch, you know, have somebody approach him that didn’t look particularly like they were interested in art and let’s intercept, let’s take care of that situation. So drawing with a group is is a great thing.

[00:04:01] Nikki: Awesome. Okay. What’s your fourth tip for us.

[00:04:05] Jim: Four. This is something, the actual line is something that Roseanne Cash heard from Linda Ronstadt in kind of a mentoring session. And it was to refine your skills to support your instincts. And that means if your skills aren’t up to your vision, find those gaps and work on those gaps so that it does over time. In my case, drawing more realistic people to populate my city drawings was elusive. So I took a figure drawing class for three years. Every Tuesday night going up to Richardson, Texas to the O’Keefe studio, drawing models. And I learned not only how to draw people better, but I learned a lot more about art. And I learned more about self-expression and those types of things. So I’d recommend to find those gaps and work on those gaps.

[00:05:03] Laura: That’s great advice. What about tip number five?

[00:05:07] Jim: Tip number five is, it’s always number five in these things for me. And it’s because it’s kind of the coverall and it’s keep your well filled. If you are in the business of putting out drawings and paintings and writing and screenplays or whatever it is, if you don’t have things feeding that well, from the other end, you’re going to run dry. And that’s a really scary place to be. So hang out with your creative friends, go to museums, go to live theater, go to films, all these types of things on a regular basis. Make a date with yourself, you know, to do that. You can write it down to part of your job, you know, and you just can’t put enough emphasis on that. I think that’s another way your style emerges, is going to experience things that interest you.

[00:06:07] Laura: Yeah. It’s having those artists play dates are super important. That’s something that I’m trying to do in 2022 more. And I think it’s great for all of us. That’s great advice. Jim, thanks so much for coming back and sharing your knowledge with us. I’m real excited to get back into urban sketching soon.

[00:06:23] Jim: Yay, good!

[00:06:24] Nikki: And I’m excited about driving down to Siesta Key on my bus and drawing with you.

[00:06:33] Jim: We’ve got a place for you to park. We’ll have a great time.

[00:06:36] Nikki: Perfect!

[00:06:37] Jim: Bourbon’s on me.

[00:06:38] Nikki: Oh, excellent. I think I’m in love! To get a downloadable PDF with Jim’s urban sketching tips and tricks, visit startistsociety.com/urbansketchingtips.

[00:06:52] Laura: Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

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