From gorgeous outdoor spaces like The Wilds to the Botanical Gardens, hip suburbs and an array of historical attractions – sketchers are occupying Joburg locations in their numbers.
The best part is that anyone can join the group, which consist of novices and skilled artists alike. But before you grab your sunscreen, walking boots, pen and sketchpad, here’s what Urban Sketchers Johannesburg administrator Leonora Venter has to say:
What is Urban Sketchers of Johannesburg?
It was started in 2010 as Joburg Sketchers. Later on, it became an official chapter of the global Urban Sketchers organisation founded by Seattle-based journalist and illustrator, Gabriel Campanario in 2007. The Joburg Sketchers became Urban Sketchers (USk) Johannesburg, in line with the global naming convention for USk Chapters.
In South Africa, we have three official chapters: USk Cape Town, USk Johannesburg and USk Stellenbosch. There are also a few ‘unofficial’ sketching groups in Pretoria and the D’Urban Sketchers in Durban. Hopefully there are many others all over the country, yet to be discovered!
Urban Sketchers enjoy drawing their surrounding neighbourhoods, the cities where they live and work - and the places that they travel to. It’s an international community of artists who practice on-location, drawing in order to “Show the World, One Drawing at a Time”.
Is there a signing up fee?
Anyone can join USk Johannesburg, regardless of skills level or age, or how ‘rusty’ you are! Membership is free! The most basic tools and supplies you’ll need is a sketchbook or paper, and some or other tool to make marks on the paper with (a ballpoint pen, pencils, markers, technical drawing pens or fountain pens can all be used).
An optional clipboard will be handy if you’re using a soft-cover sketchbook or loose sheets of paper. If you want to use colour then you can bring watercolours and a brush, or coloured pencils, or markers. You’ll need some sort of a bag to hold your supplies, and wearing a hat, sunglasses and sunblock – and carrying a bottle of water is recommended. You can bring a little foldable chair if you don’t like sitting on the ground or dirty pavements. A little fishing chair is ideal for this!
When and where does the group meet?
Urban sketchers have official sketch events once a month, usually on a Saturday - with other impromptu sketch events organised in between. We currently have a group of sketchers who visit Monte Casino every Wednesday morning.
Urban sketchers visit all sorts of places in and around our cities and suburbs. In Johannesburg, we sketch in parks and other outdoor spaces like “The Wilds” and the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens. We visit a diverse array of suburbs from Melville, which always attracts a good crowd due to its ‘arty’ vibe and central location, to adventurous and ‘gritty’ Bertrams, on the east side of the CBD.
We also sketch at interesting community events such as “Angela’s Picnic” at Delta Park – a favourite annual event featuring an amazing display of classic and vintage vehicles. Or you’ll find us at the Jozi Land Art events, community markets, cultural events such as Dance Umbrella and Chinese New Year celebrations, and even protest marches and sporting events.
USk Johannesburg also visits historical and interesting landmarks, buildings and museums: from Vilakazi Street in Soweto to the Randlord Mansions on Parktown Ridge and the Nizamiye Turkish Mosque in Midrand. We even sketch our beautiful Jacaranda trees when they bloom!
Who can join the group?
Anyone is able to participate. We do not supply materials, but the most basic materials you will need is a cheap ballpoint pen or a pencil and a sketchbook. This can could be a cheap exercise book from a stationary shop or supermarket.