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SKETCHBOOK: a creative tool and a way of life that celebrates design and drawing as vital ways to see and value culture, to discover ideas, and to envision a better world.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Sir, What's That You're Drawing?

This is a nice story from our Urban Sketchers Dallas/Fort Worth outing on Saturday, posted on Facebook by the mother of the young man in the photo with me. When we're sketching, people are watching--we usually never know who or why.  But that's almost always a good thing.  (Story and photo by Tasha Emmons Young):
    "Yesterday, while strolling around downtown Plano, Reichen saw a man sketching on the street. We stopped. We chatted. He told Reichen he was once a boy who loved to draw and when he grew up, he discovered how to make a living drawing as an urban planner. The man drew with ink and told us later he would add watercolor to his work. This artist was so kind and so patient. He let Reichen watch, observe, and ask questions. Reichen was so inspired, he sketched as soon as he got home and tried a medium he never used before - watercolor. Reichen told me he hopes to be as kind and thoughtful to younger artists one day just as the man on the street was to him. Thank you, James Richards. It was very, very nice to meet you. You inspired my 10-year-old artist and we are grateful."

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

DestinAsia Magazine Publishes "Hemingway's Cuba" Sketches

I am very happy  to see that DestinAsia, the "award-winning luxury travel and lifestyle magazine for those who love to travel in style in the Asia- Pacific region and beyond," published a feature on my "Hemingway's Cuba" travel and sketches in their most recent issue.  I had provided the materials by invitation a few months ago and wasn't sure of the publishing timetable, so I was happily surprised when it popped up on Patti's Google Alerts.

DestinAsia has published others from our Urban Sketchers family in the past for travel profiles, as well as for article illustrations.  It's great to see a high quality magazine with wide circulation show an interest in our work.

HERE'S THE LINK:  Sketchbook: On Hemingway's Trail in Cuba

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Welcome! Glad you're here!

Sketching on Chartres Street, New Orleans
Greetings all!  Thank you for taking the time to check out "James Richards Sketchbook 2.0!"  I'm really glad you're here.  This website is the still-evolving result of three months of questioning and reassessment of my direction as I embark on the "third third" of my career.

It started innocently enough.  After leaving corporate urban design practice and a tenured university faculty position to pursue a number of exciting, creative endeavors, I realized it was time to order new business cards.  Deciding what to put on those cards to describe what I do had me completely bamboozled.  Artist?  I've never been very comfortable with that.  Urban designer?  Not broad enough.  Author? Educator? Speaker?  Traveler? (A look at my calendar page confirms that I spend more time traveling than in any other activity.)

There was some truth to each label.  And yet each was more true as part of the aggregate rather than as a solitary descriptor.  My "work" touched on all these areas.  So what's the essence of the work?  What do I do?

It was then that I realized I was describing a process rather than a label--an ongoing process of discovery.  Discovering creative design solutions.  Discovering my distinct artistic style and language.  Discovering my voice as a writer.  Discovering the essence of the world's great places. Discovering my own talents.  Helping others discover theirs.

Thinking of my career as process of discovery freed me to look beyond arbitrary divisions between art, design and professionalism, and to claim them all as aspects of a full, creative life.  This feels good.  I'm going to roll with it for now.

When seeking, it's helpful and comforting to find signposts along the way.  I particularly enjoyed this quote by Glenn Murcutt, the brilliant Australian architect who was awarded AIA's Gold Medal in 2009, when asked why he considered drawing so important:

"We are taught that creativity is the most important thing in architecture.  Well, I don't believe that.  I think that the creative process leads to discovery, and discovery is the most important thing.  I'm suggesting that any work of architecture--as opposed to merchandise--has the potential to be discovered, and drawing is the key."

Friday, December 2, 2016

Cool Interview + Full Workshop Handout

Many thanks to Urban Sketchers Communications Director Brenda Murray and writer Ann Schwartzwald for the very nice interview below, which appears in this month's Drawing Attention newsletter on the Urban Sketchers website.  A full color copy of my handout for the Manchester Symposium workshop "Capturing the Crowd" can be accessed through the link at the bottom.  Cheers!


James Richards, Capturing the Crowd

by Ann Schwartzwald

James Richards is an enormously creative artist, author, urban designer, traveler and teacher. He is also an energetic and generous contributor to our Urban Sketchers community.

James grew up in South Louisiana, and lived in and around Fort Worth Texas in the decades since graduating from college. James co-founded Urban Sketchers Texas in 2011, and recently facilitated morphing that chapter into 4 new ones: USk Houston, USk Austin, USk Lubbock, and USk Dallas/Fort Worth. He is now an administrator for USk Dallas/Fort Worth. James also lectures and teaches design, drawing and urban sketching workshops across the U.S. and abroad. The insights and expertise he so enthusiastically shares with others are based on years of experience. 

“I started sketching on location while studying landscape architecture and urban design in college. Travel sketching and my work developed my drawing skills. I joined Urban Sketchers in 2010.” 

James presented a very exciting workshop called “Capturing The Crowd” at the Urban Sketchers Manchester Symposium at the end of July. During this workshop, James taught basic premises and a methodology for drawing crowds of people in public spaces—plazas, streets and the like. 

“A great many sketchers are afraid of attempting to draw people at all,” James said. “I taught a highly accessible, step-by-step method that helps alleviate that anxiety. We learned to develop sketches of urban crowds with life, energy and a convincing sense of depth.” 

James focuses on the importance of connecting people and spaces. 

“Like most of us, I love people-watching. People in public spaces are like the actors on a stage, while the surrounding buildings, trees and other elements serve as the backdrop for all the human stories that are unfolding. At the end of the day, I’m less interested in sketching individuals than I am about capturing that drama, energy and exuberance I feel in great public plazas and streets. That’s impossible to do without including the people that bring the place alive. Over the years I’ve developed a method for doing this rather quickly, which adds to the energy of the sketch”. 

Meet James Richards HERE

Check out his workshop notes HERE