Sketch Crawl art walks Yellow Springs

By Matt Clevenger

Photo: The Art Crawl invites everyone to capture the scenes of Yellow Springs; photo: Nancy Mellon

It started with an idea from an article in Dayton City Paper.

“A few weeks ago, there was an article about the urban sketch crawl,” says Nancy Mellon, gallery coordinator for the Yellow Springs Arts Council. “I thought it was fascinating, and it sounded like great fun. It really gave you the idea of how you can set this up for yourself, so my first thought was ‘This is something we need to do in Yellow Springs.’”

Mellon started planning, and now her idea for a sketch crawl in Yellow Springs is a reality. Artists of all ages and skill levels are invited to meet in front of the Winds Wine Cellar in downtown Yellow Springs for a walking tour that will visit several scenic locations and ends with drinks and discussion at the Yellow Springs Brewery.

“Everyone is welcome,” Mellon says. “You don’t have to consider yourself a professional artist, or even an artist. You may just like to draw, and this sounds like a fun experience. It’s open to everyone.”

Participation in the sketch crawl is free, and no registration is required. “There’s no charge, just show up that day and we are going to start,” Mellon says. “We’re going to start in front of the Winds Wine Cellar at 209 Xenia Ave. because it’s at the end of the block. We’ll do a couple of spots on Xenia Avenue, we’ll go into King’s Yard, and we’ll go up Dayton Street, too, probably.”

Artists will sketch from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., stopping six times to do 15-minute works capturing the buildings, trees, streets, and public spaces of downtown Yellow Springs. “It’s not a finished piece,” Mellon says. “It is a dash-off, gestural drawing kind of thing. It’s really just trying to capture the moment quickly and easily.

“In 15 minutes, you’re just sort of capturing the details, and really seeing what’s around you,” she says. “When we walk through it, we’re so used to what’s there that we don’t often really look. When you’re trying to draw it, you really concentrate and look at what’s around you.”

Tour stops will include the Little Art Theatre and the Oten Gallery building, which was built out of an ordinary home by local artist Alan Macbeth.

“The Little Art Theatre is a wonderful example of something that’s fun to draw,” Mellon says. “There’s also the wonderful building by Alan Macbeth; it’s got brick arches, and on the side of that building there’s some wonderful murals. One of them has been up for quite awhile, but the other one is just being filled in lately. There are an awful lot of things like that everywhere you look in Yellow Springs.”

The sketch crawl will end at the Yellow Springs Brewery for drinks, sharing artwork, and discussion.

“We’re going to end up at the brewery,” Mellon says. “People can stay as long as they want, but from 1 to 3 p.m., for any beer that is bought they’re going to give $1 to the arts council to help support the arts in Yellow Springs.”

The sketch crawl also ties in with a new show, “Shared Views,” which runs from Sept. 16 to Oct. 16 at the Yellow Springs Arts Council Gallery. The show features the work of two artists who work side-by-side, much like the artists at a sketch crawl.

“They mostly work outdoors,” Mellon says, “so they’re capturing outdoor scenes, and they work together. After they’re done, they like to look at each other, and laugh and talk about it. That’s a lot of what a sketch crawl is all about. It’s about the drawing, but it’s drawing together, so it’s social too. It’s drawing with other artists around you, who are drawing the same scene, and then it’s looking at each other’s work, and having fun sharing that and seeing how another artist might view the same scene.

“You read about how in Paris in the ’20s and ’30s that all the artists would meet together,” she says. “They would meet at coffee shops and they’d discuss different kinds of art, and what they were struggling with and what they were working with. They really grew from that, and artists do grow from looking at other artists’ work and talking to them. Plus, it will just be fun, too, a time to be with other people and laugh.”

The Yellow Springs Arts Council Sketch Crawl runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2, followed by drinks and discussion at the Yellow Springs Brewery, 305 N. Walnut St. from 1 to 3 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, please visit


Reach DCP freelance writer Matt Clevenger at

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