Next Sketch Outing

Sunday, July 14: Georgetown Garden Walk

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Murphy’s Laws of Urban Sketching


Law No. 1: Sketched in Feb. 2019, this sketch from the viaduct was only possible after it was permanently closed and eventually torn down (open to pedestrians only on this one day). I'd always thought that some of the best views of the city were only possible while driving 60 mph on the viaduct.

Every year on the anniversary of the day I began sketching, I write a retrospective and usually introspective post on my personal blog about practiceprocesslearning and other aspects of drawing that I enjoy thinking and writing about.

A big part of my creative process has been everything I’ve learned specifically about sketching on location – all the ways in which it is more challenging but also more rewarding than working in a comfy studio. Today on my 12th anniversary, I present my learnings that every urban sketcher will be familiar with – Murphy’s Laws of Urban Sketching:

Law No. 2: One more sketch before those clouds
bust open? Wrong again.
1. The best view of what you want to sketch will be from the middle of a busy street – like the freeway. (Top of post.)

2. If you think you can squeeze in one more sketch before it starts raining, you will be wrong (at right).

3. The day you forget your sharpener will be the day you break a lead (below).

Law No. 3: Saved by the mechanical pencil.

4. Ten minutes into your sketch, a large delivery truck will park in front of you for the next 30 minutes (below).


Law No. 4: I was sketching those Chevys back there when this vendor unloaded her booth and all her merchandise from her car.

Law No. 5: That beautiful golden-hour light lasted about 30 seconds.

5. The tiny spot of shade you are comfortable in will disappear . . . and so will the perfect light on your subject (at right).

Law No. 6: He seemed to be writing in a journal, so I thought he'd stay around
a little longer.

6. And finally, the Murphy’s Law that every urban sketcher learns first: As soon as you start sketching a person or vehicle, they will leave.


  1. Happy Anniversary Tina! And how right you are!

  2. This is hilariously true!! Thank you, Tina! -Anna, your Alaskan sketcher

  3. Bahahahahah, and we continue to sketch no matter what stands in our way! Here's to another 12 years of urban sketching!