I recently joined the online group ‘Street View World Tour’, where participants collectively urban sketch places from Google’s Street View. This takes place once a month (the first Thursday) and on the evening that I joined (5.01.23), we were joined by Nishant Jain (@thesneakyartist) also known as ‘the sneaky artist’ for urban sketching sneakily all over Canada. This name has become ironic of late, as after appearing on television, he is now renowned and recognisable. Jain gave us an online demonstration of his practice and shared some fascinating insights. Here are a few favourites (paraphrased):

  • Follow your interest and build from there
  • Consider that every drawing has a reason or a purpose. What do you want it to do? (In my mind, this is more like every picture has a story, what is the story that interests you?)
  • Objects interconnect so you can build up the shapes from a point of interest
  • Look for natural frames for objects (such as bridges or windows)
  • If you lose interest, focus elsewhere (you can always go back later). This usually means that the drawing has some interesting foci that reflect the place.
  • Use continuous lines (Jain called this ‘one line technique’ and explained that it was really important to him).
  • In the foreground, use more detail, shading, and strong lines.

Jain was asked why he didn’t draw hands and feet – he replied that he sometimes does, but agrees that mostly he doesn’t – possibly because he isn’t particularly interested or because he was overly influenced by watching the animation ‘The Power Puff Girls’ as a child.

He pointed out that there is power in not being a camera. Any machine can draw what is there accurately. You can draw what interests you in your style – it’s a unique picture. It’s great that you’re not a camera!

After the demonstration, we had time to practice Jain’s approach in two quick sketches one of Hanoi, Vietnam and one of the Food Hall in London, below:

I was surprised how Jain’s approach helped, as usually urban sketching is overwhelming with perspective and where to start. Jain’s approach is kind and friendly with its beginning with your interest. I loved it and would like to practice this approach more. I would particularly like to have a go at Jain’s ‘Tiny People,’ which is almost cartooning with the potential addition of words and funny asides:



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