Sketching the Birmingham Jazz Festival. This was a challenge! Sketching bands full of lively musicians, and the deafening sounds of jazz. I little realized how this vibrant atmosphere of colour and beating music was to influence my drawing. The beat seemed to speed up the pace of the drawings and form a kind of rhythm, I didn’t care about the results so much, I was enjoying it and producing looser and more spontaneous work. This was of great benefit as speed was needed to capture the atmosphere and movement while sketching the Birmingham Jazz Festival. Also, up to this point, all my sketches were in pencil. I now needed colour, something I had avoided.

Urban sketches are mainly done in ink and watercolour, and all the other sketcher’s were using these materials. Obviously a mistake with a pen and ink cannot be erased, and I had never used watercolours. However, I had already been pushed well out of my comfort zone, so why not?

Handling the pen felt awkward at first and the results were poor, but after practice the results became more acceptable. Watercolor was and still is a challenge. Let’s say, I will never become a watercolourist – although the sketches look much better when the colour is added.

Ink and watercolour sketch of The Water Gypsies at jazz festival   Ink and watercolour sketch of Kim Cypher   Ink and watercolour sketch of Tipitina

There were many problems along the way, such as my pen not being waterproof and not being able to add white to the painting, however, I really enjoyed this event and have benefited immensely, both physically and psychologically. I will continue with urban sketching. These sketches pave the way for larger works and ideas and keep me moving in a creative direction with the added benefits of fresh air, exercise and social skills.

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The Birmingham Urban Sketchers and the Birmingham Jazz Festival

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