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Announcing: James Richards: Sketching the Energy of Places

November 26, 2015


Fellow Urban Sketcher James Richards recently released his first course titled: Sketching the Energy of Places.

As a Craftsy instructor myself, we get free access to all their classes, and I was excited to see his name pop up on the list.

I’ve drawn alongside James at Urban Sketchers workshops around the world, and have always been impressed by his ability to swiftly capture an urban environment bustling with street life. He’s from Texas, and has that big warm personality that seems part of the culture there.


His sketches are full of the color and activity of people in open air markets, squares, and public spaces – in large part due to his experience as a location-sketcher, his successful career as a concept designer in architecture and urban planning, and his current work as an associate professor of landscape architecture at the University of Texas at Arlington. He’s also the author of Freehand Drawing and Discovery: Urban Sketching and Concept Drawing for Designers, and is an urban correspondent for Dallas/Fort Worth.


The Craftsy course itself follows the format of 7 lessons, where he covers topics such as drawing people and places together – establishing the proportions of people, how to draw crowds, how to set a correct eye line for groups, and how they diminish in size as they go down the street.

The meat of the class is a demo drawing of a train station, which he draws from start to finish, taking side jaunts to explain composition, sight measuring techniques, and plenty of great information on how to capture the important details.

Along the way he gives some great lessons on specific concepts – like how to add trees and cars to your scene – the details that set the drawing into the urban space.

You get to see him finish the demonstration sketch with watercolor, introducing many useful tricks along the way – such as using white pencils to put window panes back over darks.


The lessons culminate with a trip on location where you’ll see James sketching thumbnails and sitting down to do another demo of a finished piece. He includes information on his tools throughout- (we like the same portable easel!).

I can highly recommend James Richard’s new course. If you were to combine it with Stephanie Bower’s class Perspective for Sketchers, and Shari Blaukopf’s more painterly Landscapes in Pen, Ink and Watercolor, Paul Heaston’s Pen and ink Classes; Drawing Everyday and Pen and Ink Essentials – and of course my own offerings – Craftsy is building quite a strong program in sketching! These online courses are frankly giving my art school education a run for its money.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. November 26, 2015 12:27 PM

    Marc, I can’t find it — I don’t think it is out yet.

  2. November 26, 2015 12:36 PM

    Thanks Kate – some kind of technical problem – I just replaced the link. if you reload the page it should work now. Thanks.

  3. November 26, 2015 12:37 PM

    wonderful ~ :)

  4. nancystandlee permalink
    November 26, 2015 12:40 PM

    Thanks for recommendation. I signed up several days ago & the class is full of information & inspiration.

  5. carolberryartdesign permalink
    November 26, 2015 12:45 PM

    Thanks for the heads up on the book too!

  6. Rene Wojcik permalink
    November 26, 2015 12:47 PM

    James is just north from where I live in Texas. I need to get up to Dallas to see him in action. Your Craftsy course are outstanding and I’ve just downloaded Perspective for Sketchers by Bowers. Lots of fun information for the holidays from every Cratsy classes. Well worth it.

  7. Darryl Yee permalink
    November 26, 2015 1:27 PM

    Thanks for the tip Marc. It looks like James is a lefthanded artist like myself. I just bought the class in honor of us southpaws. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

  8. November 26, 2015 1:36 PM

    Thanks for your posting on the course. I actually signed up early this morning when visiting Craftsy. All the courses you mentioned have been great on Craftsy!

  9. November 26, 2015 2:16 PM

    Looks great – I might give it a try!

  10. November 26, 2015 9:03 PM

    I agree completely, Marc. Chantal and I just watched Richard’s course tonight. With any luck at all I’ll be able to start working my way through it again, this time with a pen in my hand.

    Shari’s supposed to have a second Craftsy course out ‘real soon’, I think. — Larry

  11. November 28, 2015 5:45 AM

    funny finding this here tonight. My partner is a sketcher and had a look at this course just today..have to tell her I’ve seen it again LOL

  12. slowlane permalink
    November 30, 2015 8:58 PM

    Thank you for the recmmendation. I have watched the other classes you recommend, and they are all great.


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