Looking ahead to 2024 and beyond

Sasala Wickramasinghe writes

Happy New Year!

I thought this would be a good time for a review of our progress so far and to look ahead to plans in 2024.

Urban sketchers London, in its 11th year last year, saw an unprecedented increase in numbers for participation and subscription following on from the hugely successful 10-year anniversary celebrations in 2022.  Last year, we had to double our monthly sketch walks to fortnightly, to manage the numbers and this was a great success albeit a busy time for the admins and volunteer team!

New website

One of the first and possibly the biggest changes this year is the new website. We have decided to retire our “old” blog and set up a new website on a cleaner and more functional platform. The original blog will remain as is and will still be accessible via the button below:

You do not need to do anything – if you’re already subscribed to the original blog updates, then you will continue to receive them directly to your mailbox from the new website from now on.

Over the coming days/months we will be adding new content to the website: About the team and the work we do behind the scenes, global Urban Sketchers, and hopefully some invited posts from our founding members and sketchers from other chapters.

If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to the website using the link below, to get updates on new content directly to your mailbox.

Admin team

Our admin team has also seen some changes over the past year.

We said a fond goodbye to one of our longstanding admins and blog editor-in-chief-extraordinaire, Cynthia Barlow Marrs. Cynthia’s tireless efforts behind the scenes have helped keep the blog going over the past 7 years.

“I first encountered Urban Sketchers London at the Natural History Museum in December 2012. The lobby was packed, and as I elbowed my way through the crowd I realised I had no idea what an urban sketcher looked like. How could I tell them apart from everyone else? When I spotted people grasping sketchbooks, my heart leapt. Urban sketching has gladdened my heart and ever since. Thank you, Team Urban Sketchers London. Onward and artward!”

Cynthia Barlow Marrs

photo by Rachelle Allen-Sherwood

In 2023, we welcomed Dean Ashton to the team:

“My first sketchwalk was Greenwich in 2019.  I stayed for the first half.  Saw what everyone did. Then promptly went home feeling like I should quit.

I had started sketching about 3 months prior.  I was the “couldn’t draw a straight line guy”.  But I’m tenacious and understand the value of a ‘Project 365’ (sketching every day).  I won’t be Michaelangelo after a year but I’ll certainly know more than I did 365 days ago.

The USK London tribe has been a joy and a large part of my journey of growth. 

I get it. I have felt it.  I still get it and still feel it.”   

Photo by Zane Karklina

Business as usual with the rest of the admin team…

Helen Hayhoe

First Urban Sketchers London event – Notting Hill, 2014

Most minimal sketching set – a tiny sketching set including Viviva Colour Sheets, a Berol handwriting pen, one small brush and a tiny folded bit of watercolour paper. Maybe a fine liner. Tiny water bottle (Pret Ginger shot)

Other art interests – plein air painting, newly introduced to charcoal and oils

Valued links – Richmond Art Society, West Dean College

My other life – I teach Makaton signs and symbols for people with communication difficulties and am a transatlantic granny

Jimmy Lu

“My first London sketchwalk was on a wet and gloomy day at Winter Wonderland in 2014. I had recently moved from New York, where I was already a regular at the local Urban Sketchers group. 

As a cross-cultural person, I felt at home immediately among our sketching community – people from different backgrounds united by a common passion for sketching. 

Urban sketching is a natural pendant to my job as an urban designer. I draw inspiration from beautiful and vibrant urban environments. I like to believe that sketching on location made me a better designer by immersing myself in what Jane Jacobs would describe as the sidewalk ballet of the city. 

My sketching set usually consists of a fine liner and an A4/A5 sketchbook. I now also incorporate watercolour but am for the moment too slow to add it on site.”

Photo by Zane Karklina

Sasala Wickramasinghe

“My first London Urban Sketchers meeting was in December 2017 at the V&A in South Kensington.

For me, the biggest “aha-moment” along my urban sketching journey was the realisation that I’ll never again be bored of waiting, for anyone or anything (trains/buses/airports/cafes /street-corners), as long as I carry my urban sketching kit with me.

I have a minimal sketching kit with me all the time, which consists of a few colour pencils, a black liner pen and a small square sketchbook. My medium of choice is watercolour and when I get the opportunity, I explore other media such as gouache, colour pencils and markers.

I have no formal art training and my day job as a clinical biochemist in the NHS involves little to no artistic skill. Being a scientist, I have a very analytical approach to most things, including art.”

Photo by Zane Karklina

Zane Karklina

“I stumbled upon the Urban Sketchers Facebook Group during the 2016 Manchester Symposium and got hooked by the movement’s vibe. Soon after, I joined my first sketchwalk with the London group, finding it my creative sanctuary. Urban Sketchers transformed my life, boosting my confidence to draw, nurturing creativity, and sparking friendships worldwide.

With an infectious passion, I enthusiastically share the Urban Sketchers love. Joining the admin crew for the 10th-anniversary event, I used my publishing experience to put together the anniversary book “London by Urban Sketchers” and whipped up graphic designs for the event. I keep crafting the UskL visuals for the website and social media. I’m also known for capturing fellow sketchers in action.  Embracing my passion for portraits, currently diving into a portrait diploma at Heatherley’s.

My toolkit could be minimal with some coloured pencils and a 12×12 sketchbook, but I tend to carry a bit too much. Recently falling out of favour with watercolours, I’m now exploring the wild possibilities of oil paint. In the future, looking forward to taking oils out into the wilderness.”

More to come on our social media admins and founding members, so watch this space!

Wishing you all a year full of creative energy and hope to see you at a sketchwalk soon!