Chicago: Part III

The next morning I skipped the sketchwalk meet up and just went right to one of the locations on the walk in the financial district. Settled myself on my little stool on the busy sidewalk. Towered over by imposing buildings waving their American flags of commerce, I shrank into a little pool insignificance. To put it simply I was intimidated. So I picked one small section of the overwhelming scene above me and soon had calmed myself down a bit and regained a modicum of that lost confidence.


Something made me pause and decide to not to paint the colorful red and blue of the flag, even though it would liven up the sketch, and leave the colors off the next one as well.


This one, sketched while sitting in front of Brooks Brothers and the Rookery Building , was a counter-phobic plunge into the most complicated street scene I’ve attempted so far. While inhaling the smoke from an employee taking his cigarette break in our shared alcove (twice in that hour)and feeling the press of people and cars rushing by, I seriously questioned whether I was up for this particular sort of urban sketch scene.


The top of one of the grand buildings on the Chicago riverfront, the London House, viewed from way below on the other side of the river, was an attempt to recover through simplification. Drawn with paint first and then pen.

But then I plunged into the river again, figuratively speaking. . .

chicago14The Chicago city planners let the developers build skyscrapers on both sides of the not-very-wide river running through the city but required that there be a public walkway under the buildings along the river. And the river, at least on that lovely July day, was positively teeming with people in river crafts, from kayaks to pleasure boats blaring dance music, from architectural boat tours to water taxis. I finally found a narrow, but relatively unpopulated spot on the river walk to set about sketching some of the story.


That evening the Symposium folks reserved an area on the grass in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion for a picnic dinner and a world class choral and orchestral performance. About the Frank Gehry design I wrote , “the performance stage opening is like a colossal beetle mouth with two tiny eyes, random pincers, ruby red mouth and white teeth. A hungry creature like ourselves.”

Stay tuned for Chicago: Part IV and the end of the Chicago visit.

And don’t miss Suhita Shirodhar’s post and free download about teaching at The Bean!

One comment

  1. Susan, stupendous sketches of Chicago. I am quite familiar with all the areas you painted/sketched, and you did them beautifully. You are such a stellar artist.


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