Laramie artists gather for ‘Sketch Crawl’

(Photo by Doug Russel)

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University of Wyoming Visual Arts students and some Laramie fifth grade art students joined a UW visiting artist, Paul Heaston, in the town square at 1st Street and Grand Avenue at 9 a.m. Saturday morning to discuss, disperse and draw Laramie’s downtown urban landscapes.

“There’s just a different level of portability with sketching and drawing,” UW visiting artist, Paul Heaston, said.  “When you’re trying to be mobile and fast about capturing the lighting or composition of a scene there’s no time for all the gear I would need to paint it.”

Heaston started the week at UW with a visiting artist lecture at the Visual Arts Classroom Building.  Students had access to Heaston during their drawing classes and he could also be found throughout the building in vacant visual arts classrooms drawing printing presses and other still-life settings.

“I do think that seeing Paul’s work in person and talking to him about his experiences and his path to his current creative directions helped many students see their own progress in a new way,” University of Wyoming Drawing Professor, Doug Russell, said.  “I do think his presence in Drawing II, where the students were already working with ink, really helped by providing inspiration, energy, and real examples of accomplished pen and ink work.”

Heaston is part of a global collective of artists who submit art and writing to a central online hub known as “Urban Sketchers” (  The collective began to form in 2007 when illustrator, Gabriel Companario, began an online forum for urban artists to post and share their observations on places of human habitation.

The Urban Sketchers manifesto is: 

“We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation.  Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel.  Our drawings are a record of time and place.  We are truthful to the scenes we witness.  We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles.  We support each other and draw together.  We share our drawings online.  We show the world, one drawing at a time.”

Laramie’s Saturday morning urban sketching brigade worked on their drawings both at indoor and outdoor locations throughout the downtown area for almost two hours in cold temperatures and swirling winds.  The group of students then reconvened back at the plaza at 1st Street and Grand Avenue to compare and view each other’s drawings, discuss what worked and to address the difficulties of changing light and environmental factors.  Artists were occasionally forced to displace so that morning garbage collection could continue throughout downtown Laramie’s unique alleyways.

Saturday’s event was also the seminal “Sketch Crawl” for a newly organized Urban Sketchers Laramie, a group that can now be found on Facebook.

When and where will “Sketch Crawls” take place in the future?

“Whenever the new Urban Sketchers Facebook Group members would like.  As it says in the description of the FB group,” Russell said.  “Any member can also organize a sketch crawl by posting where and when to meet up.”



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