The Power of Group Sketching

Hand holding phone taking image of sketch

Inside Our Chester Sketching Workshop

After almost 4 years of running online coursesworkshops and connecting with our incredible members through the screen, we knew that our first in-person sketching workshop would be special. But we had no idea just HOW special it would be.

There’s nothing quite like the connection that in-person gatherings can bring and as we watched many wonderful sketches progress over the week with Ian Fennelly’s expert guidance, we also witnessed the power of group learning and peer support.

Here are some of the things that we learned from our first in-person workshop with Ian and some memorable moments from our week in Chester.

Being with like-minded people

It’s safe to say that creative people are just the best! We were amazed at just how much our group of sketchers hit it off right from Day 1. There’s nothing quite like being with others who just ‘get you’. It helps you to feel at ease, builds your confidence and you’ll be surprised at just how much you can learn from other’s who share your passion and interests.

Sometimes talking to your friends and family about sketching can go straight over their heads, so you’ll feel right at home when you find a group of people who share your passion for art, sketching, and creative endeavours. And you can talk about art supplies for hours on end. Fun huh?

Sharing Unexpected moments

People have a special way of surprising you, in fact, one of our favorite moments from the sketching holiday was when a flash mob punk band called the ‘Glitchers’ started playing in a busy square. After listening to opera for most of the week, it was a welcome change, and even one of our attendees Wendy enjoyed some headbanging!

Ian also took a quick break from capturing buildings to sketch the band. It was wonderful to see the band’s surprised reaction as they said:

“The whole class loved it, and then gifted us a drawing of us playing!! We had some of them out of their seats dancing.”

Throughout the week we made so many memories together including sketching in the blazing sun, battling the wind and rain, ducking, and diving for cover. Even one of Ian’s sketches took on a new life as a large raindrop accidentally helped to create a completely new sketch.

We met plenty of lovely people (and dogs!) along the way and joined the town crier for his daily ritual in Chester’s busiest spot. We gained a new pet mascot as Cam’s dog joined us on the last day, captured in a wonderful digital drawing thanks to UrbanSketch+ member Carolyn.

Not to mention some of the fun food and drink memories, as we shared stories at the most beautiful family-run Italian restaurant, enjoyed ice cream along the river in the late afternoon, laughed at ‘dirty’ desserts at a group meal, and chuckled at Rebecca’s and Lucy’s limited wine experience during our farewell meal.

These small moments collectively helped shape the sketches from the week, as the artworks took on a new life with memories of the times we shared together.

“When I look at this sketch now, I’ll remember the wonderful time I spent in Chester with you all.”

– Ian Fennelly

Confidence Boost

When working alone at home or on location, it’s easy to fall down a creative rabbit hole and lose confidence in your work by focusing on the negatives instead of the positives. 

One of the benefits of group learning is gaining a new perspective, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, and seeing your work through another’s eyes. You’ll find that your sketch is actually going so much better than you think and hearing it from another can be affirming and reassuring. 

Not only did our sketchers get Ian’s advice, top tips, and methods, but they also gained new ideas and knowledge from fellow sketchers, helping them to engage in new discussions and find ways to collectively solve problems. 

photograph of bridge sketch

“Just spent a most successful week in Chester with Ian, the team and an amazing fun group of people sketching the most complicated scenes that I would never dream of attempting on my own!”

– Marion


From the USA to Australia to Germany, we were lucky enough to welcome sketchers from all around the globe!

This meant that our sketchers had diverse perspectives, experiences, and insights and sketched a wide range of locations and buildings. 

When you have a group of people who share many different unique backgrounds, experiences, and insights, it can help to enrich discussions and lead to a deeper understanding of sketching, encouraging critical thinking and helping to approach problems from various angles.

editing a photo

Thank you for the inspiring and wonderful memories sketchers! If you’re ready to attend an in-person sketching holiday, you can join us next year in Brighton for another wonderful week of sketching.

Join us In-Person

Whether you’re brand new to urban sketching or a confident artist, our engaging, video-based online courses teach you step-by-step how to go from blank page, to capturing the bustle and beauty of the world around you, in the unique and fashionable style that is urban sketching.