USK Symposium Chicago: Lost and Found Structure

February 15, 2017 | 11 Comments

I am very honoured to be teaching again at this year’s Urban Sketchers Symposium in Chicago, and very excited to be visiting a city that has been at the top of my “American Cities to Visit” list.

My workshop builds on last year’s workshop SketchingArchitecture in Edges, Shapes and Volumes – this time I want to share how to speed up your sketching of complex buildings through an understanding of structure and/or using lost and found edges.

Some of the common challenges when it comes to sketching architecture are perspective, getting lost in the details and sheer boredom from drawing lots of repetitive elements such as windows. The last was a common comment during last year’s workshop in Manchester, and as much as I love sketching buildings, I totally agree that drawing every window is tedious!

So I want to share with you in this workshop two methods for simplifying complex buildings and Chicago is the perfect city for doing this.

The first method is based on having a volumetric understanding of the building – seeing the underlying volumes and the structural grid. The second involves abstracting shapes, looking at values and then blowing out the highlights and merging the shadows. Combining the two approaches, and in addition alternating between line and colour, results in lively sketches with lots of lost and found edges.

As always, I will be sharing my ideas as I prepare the content for this workshop, and a detailed report (with handout) afterwards. So if you can’t make it to Chicago you won’t miss out on my big ideas. You can read the full description of the workshop here.

To find out more about the Symposium click here. The event is so super popular that this year the earlybird places sold out in minutes! I am hoping that everyone gets in when general registration opens.

Finally, here is a message from the USK President following the earlybird registration on the weekend. (Note: I’m a little late sharing it as I’ve been offline for a few days.)

Dear Urban Sketchers,
What a phenomenal response to the early bird registration for the 8th USk Symposium in Chicago today! It’s wonderful to see so much excitement and interest in raising the artistic value of on-location drawing and sharing the world one drawing at a time. I know there are many of you who were not able to early bird register, as you’d hoped.
Registration continues on 18 February 2017 23:00 GMT. Please see the post linked below for more information.

Thank you for your support and assistance!

Amber Sausen
Urban Sketchers


  • Marji Webb says:

    Looking forward to this continuation of the lessons from SketchingNow Buildings and 5-minute Sketching Buildings. Am redoing the course and the book in training for the Symposium. Hope the heat in Sydney has broken and the boxes getting unpacked. ????

  • Debbie Schield says:

    I’ve completed your Foundations and Edges self directed courses. Anxiously awaiting your self directed Buildings course.

    • Liz Steel says:

      ah! thanks Debbie. Rest assured that I will be re-offering it as soon as I possibly can! There is some work behind the scenes to do first 🙂

  • This comment is for the readers. . .take this workshop if you get to go to the Symposium! Liz will energize and enlighten you as she did me, and architecture will never be boring again. (Well almost.)

    • Liz Steel says:

      oh thanks Susan!!! Just for the record, so buildings ARE boring 🙂 If that is the case, I try to play with colour or something instead.

  • Can’t wait to be in Chicago sketching with you in your workshop. This will be my first trip to a symposium as well as my first trip to Chicago. Hope your move went well.

  • Elsie Hickey-Wilson says:

    Hi, Liz, well I did finally successfully get a workshop pass for Chicago Symposium…..was signed in just before the hour, both on the early day and then again on the 18th, but dispute this I missed out on the early day. Doing the same one the 18th, I got a pass, but your workshop was full, so was Marc’s and several others!!!, But, I did get into some workshops and hope they will be good. I am hoping to meet you there in some way! I have learned soooo much from your on-line courses….need to finish the last lessons in Buildings. Loving it! Hope you are soon settled into your new home and can rest up!

    • Liz Steel says:

      thanks Elsie – it is a bit hard get the workshops you want but the ones you have enrolled for will be great – and a good opportunity to meet some new people. Definitely make sure you say hello (and don’t worry if there are already people speaking to me – just come up and say hi!)

    • Elsie Hickey-Wilson says:

      Thanks, Liz! Elsie

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