20 Days of Sketching at the Prague Sketch Fest
By Jan Vítek
At the 2020 Prague Sketch Fest, dozens of urban sketchers from various countries joined forces to draw for 20 days straight in the Czech capital. The local USk Prague chapter organized the event from February 1 to 20, followed by a celebratory closing party.
It was our intention from the beginning to attract participants from different countries. We chose the events with the visiting sketchers in mind: we wanted to provide them with a nice way to discover the city. We included all the landmarks, interesting exhibitions, grand cafes, exclusive events with guided tours, and places off the beaten path too.
My favorite sketchwalk was the subway event. We rode on all three subway lines and sketched in and outside stations. Thanks to the time constraint, I managed to produce so many sketches.
We explored the largest panel housing estate in the Czech Republic, a place that is very different from the romantic city center. There we discovered Restaurant Kupa on the 22nd floor which had an incredible view. We also enjoyed another spectacular view of Prague from the Žižkov TV Tower. We went on an hour-long guided tour of the Podolí Waterworks and then enjoyed two more hours of sketching inside this neoclassical building, which featured an incredible view of its so-called Engel’s cathedral, complete with water filters.
We had an exclusive sketching session in the Břevnov Monastery Brewery, which was founded in 993, making it the oldest brewery in the Czech Republic. We had the opportunity to make a reportage of the beer production process and also sketched in their cellar and museum.
The sketchfest attracted sketchers from all over. They came to Prague specifically for the event. Rolf Schröter from Berlin, Chris Damaskis from Belgium, Bettina Rupert from Germany, USk Poland admins Dora Pindur and Justyna Wojnowska, USk Warsaw admins Ania Jakubek and Juka Kowalska, and many more.
Rajesh Dhawan, who co-organized the sketch fest with me, is such a passionate and outstanding artist. He is fearless, sketches complex scenes easily, is a master of composition and is extremely productive to boot.
We kept a record of the participants every day. Over the course of 20 days of sketching, we had an average of 17 participants a day, while 81 people attended at least one event. Plus we provided at least six hours of sketching per day for 20 days... 120 hours of sketching in 20 days is a phenomenal amount! Next year we will have to include some bar events at night as well. And later this year we will hold an exhibition of the drawings we produced.
For me the sketchfest was an opportunity to meet so many interesting people and to get inspired. I sketched nearly every day, managing to make it to 16 of the 20 events. I finally confronted my main drawing problem – that I always try to sketch only what I see, exactly as is. This time for a change, I adjusted buildings in the background, making them smaller so that they would fit. The overall sketch looked better as a result. I do not want to be a slave to only what I see!
The last thing I want to mention is that our Prague chapter is very competitive and should there be any attempt to make a sketchfest by another chapter with a longer chain of days than our 20, we will make the 2021 Prague Sketch Fest even longer and reclaim our leadership!
This article was also published in the Drawing Attention magazine - April 2020 issue.