Mark your calendar! The 2015 Symposium will be in Singapore, July 22-25. Read more here, and see the Call for Programming here.

December 18, 2014

¡viva cuba libre!

the 18th of december 2013, the official cuban newspaper grandma announce that the importation and exportation of cars will be allowed after more than 50 years of embargo: a sign of the changes of the politic of the island.
that's why I decided to travel to cuba in march and april this year to sketch and tell about the mood on the island in my book: “Cuba, an 56 de la Révolution. carnet de voyage sous embargo.” published by la boîte à bulles.
I spent 3 weeks in la havana and trinidad, sketching like crazy: 200 pages of portraits, meetings, architecture art déco or socialist, music… and of course old cars!

cuba, an 56 de la révolution 
for the first time, I was not only sketching everything, but I started to tell my meetings and feelings aside the drawings.

and what was my surprise to read yesterday, 17th of december 2014, that barack obama and raul castro have proclaimed a new air in the relation betweens the US and cuba, that will achieved the american embargo in the coming years.
I will have to go back there and sketch this transition…

blogged by lapin 

Old Havana

by Melanie Reim, Habana, Cuba

My story goes back about 10 years ago, but my memories are still very fresh. I was invited to draw a fashion show during a conference in Old Havana. I was very official, applying for, and getting granted a license to travel. I proudly got my passport stamped and arrived to travel experience unlike any that I had to that point, nor have had since. The air was hot, as it was summer, but the heat and humidity transcended the temperature. The people that I met, beautiful, soulful, smart, and sweet, moved about as if in a haze, under the gloom of poverty, restrictions, and the lack of freedom that I so casually enjoyed. Instead of money, they begged for soap, for hair bands, for toothpaste- all of which I had been advised to bring with me, and I did. I passed it out to Cubans of all ages and had my hand kissed.
It was all at once sobering and endearing. The heat and glow of the sun, kissing those antique cars and cobbled streets gave way to sheer exhilaration, for as the sun started to go down, the music, that Cuban music that acts as a constant, pulsing but quiet beat during the day, simply explodes as the light of the day changes. 

December 17, 2014

A New Day in Cuba

by James Richards, Fort Worth U.S.A. (sketch on location in Havana)

In light of my recent visit to Cuba, I hope that today's news of the beginning of normalizing relations between the U.S. and that country are the beginnings of a better quality of life for the people there. I look forward to returning this summer to host a "Sketch Cuba" trip, and seeing firsthand the beginnings of change and the reactions of the people we'll encounter.

The sketch below is the view to the Havana harbor from the rooftop bar at the Hotel Ambos Mundos, where Ernest Hemingway kept a room for seven years and wrote articles, short stories and parts of novels.  He wrote to a friend, "At this Hotel Ambos Mundos you can get a good clean room with bath right overlooking the harbor and the cathedral--see all the neck of of the harbor and the sea for $2.00."  The view hints at the striking character of Old Havana, which many more Americans may experience in the coming months and years.

Santa is in town!

By Lydia Velarde, San Diego

While waiting for a store to open, I got to watch Santa from the second floor, using my "backup" sketchbook.

December 16, 2014


By Eduardo Salavisa in Oporto, Portugal

I coordinated another book with several authors. It’s called “Travel Sketchbooks 2. Sketchers-travellers”. You can see here the cover. It has a lovely drawing by Inma Serrano. I invited 30 authors to tell me a journey with 10 drawings made in sketchbooks and a text with a max of 1000 words. I’m also in it with a journey to Patagonia and a text about the characteristics of travel drawings. The authors are Portuguese and Spanish (the book is bilingual) that I know personally and like. Two of them I did not know and to me there are the best in this type of drawing: the Portuguese architect, Pritzker Prize (the Nobel of Architecture), Álvaro Siza Vieira, and the Spanish artist Miquel Barceló.

Siza Vieira lives in Oporto. I went there last week to give him some books. The drawings below were done there.

Christ Church in Malacca

I had a short trip to Malacca a few days ago and here are some sketches.

This was drawn in the morning around 730am before the tourists arrive. Right at the back is the Christ Church that was built in 1753.

It's a black and white sketch so you can't see that the buildings are actually red. I told myself I had to go back again to sketch again and add in the colours.

So this is the sketch I drew the next day in the late afternoon, just as the building on the right was casting shadow on the church. It was a crowded and busy Sunday.

The white cross was actually added in Photoshop. I had forgotten all about the cross and painted the whole building red and only realised it back at home after scanning.

Here's the video of my sketch trip with several friends.

- Parka

December 15, 2014

Sketching and Fish in Macclesfield

Guest post by Rosemary Bradshaw, Macclesfield, Cheshire, United Kingdom

We call ourselves Maccsketchers—a group just starting out, brought together by the love of sketching in the tradition of Urban Sketchers. We aim to show the charm of this ancient silk mill town in North West England. We meet every Tuesday at 10:00 AM at an art cafe called Jack Sevens in the centre of town. After coffee, we set off to draw for a couple of hours, meeting back at the cafe for a “show and tell”.

Together with another keen, local sketch artist, Sally Henman, we spent a morning in November at Cheshire Fish, a shop with an award-winning reputation. The fish–fresh and smoked–comes daily from Britain and further afield. The staff was very friendly, interested and tolerant of us while they were hard at work. I drew Blake preparing fish.

I then turned my attention to the smoked fish display. The one on the right is a Manx Kipper which is cured on the Isle of Man. It is currently in my freezer, waiting for a special breakfast—kipper traditionally served with scrambled eggs and brown bread!

Sally drew the colourful and fascinating fresh fish. On the right, the long Wincle Trout comes from a local village by the same name, where people go to fish for their dinner from a trout river farm. In the middle: a John Dory. On the left: a Gurnard.

Aaron worked on a large white fish while I drew. We had a wonderful morning there and the staff really appreciated what we did.

We hope that Maccsketchers will gradually expand but are happy for it to be not too organised! We have lots to draw: Macclesfield is a picturesque, Cheshire town of cobbled streets, landmark churches, varied shops and an imposing Georgian town hall. Since I like to draw people, I’m interested in sketching at a music cafe near my house. When weather is nice, we sketch outdoors. Of course people stop from time to time to chat. We hope to produce a calendar.

Rosemary Bradshaw is an artist, printmaker and retired art tutor who moved to Macclesfield in July 2014 from St. Albans, UK where she drew regularly with Cafe Sketchers in London. Her work can be seen HERE.

Sally Henman is a painter from Macclesfield.

Curated and edited by Marcia Milner-Brage

readers in library, subway, bus....

By Byung Hwa Yoo, Seoul, Korea

A girl student was reading a book in subway no. 3. She left at the station Catholic University of Korea station. pen on packing paper, 15 x 21 cm

An old man holding a pencil was reading a book in subway. White mask and pages of the book were distinguished from his all black figure. pencil, 18.5 x 25 cm

She was reading her face on mirror. :)

She was reading her smart phone. 

A young man was using his phone in a bus.
pen, 15 x 21 cm

She was reading a book at the food court, Melodies, Kyobo book center. 
pen, 13 x 18.5 cm

At the same food court dad and his son were reading books bought in the Kyobo book center, one of the biggest bookstores in Korea. 
pen, 13 x 18.5 cm

readers in steps of the Seoul Metropolitan Library

Days ago I visited the former Seoul city hall which was remodeled as a library two years ago(Oct. 2012). The authoritative appearance of the previous building seemed familiar by books and reading people. I would like to visit there often for sketching or reading too. It's a great pleasure for citizen to have such a nice space for free.

pen, 19.5 x 22 cm

December 14, 2014

Ng Fook Thong Temple, George Town, Penang

Urban Skerchers Penang is an active Sketchers group, we will meet for Sketchwalk almost every Sunday and public holidays.

Ng Fook Thong Temple located in Chulia Street, George Town, Penang is one of the oldest private school in Penang. Built in 1898, this traditional Cantonese style Chinese architecture still well preserve.

Looking forward to 2015! Happy holidays!

Dec. 14, 2014

Dear all,

2014 has been a great year for USk!

Because of your support, USk provided scholarships to 11 local sketchers who attended the Paraty Symposium at no charge. Paraty was the 5th International Urban Sketching Symposium we organized in just four years, following previous editions in PortlandLisbonSanto Domingo and 
BarcelonaOur workshops program continues to grow with workshops held in Oxford, England;  Savannah (GA), Seattle (WA) and Tacoma (WA) in the USA, Cockatoo Island in Australia, and several cities in Italy.

As a new year begins, our all-volunteer organization is excited to expand our workshop program and to increase the number of scholarships we offer if possible, but we need your help!

If you believe in what USk stands for and support our mission, please consider making a tax-deductible donation today. We suggest a $20 donation, but pledge as much or as little as you'd like. Every little bit helps!

Let's work together to continue "Showing the World, One Drawing at a Time!"

You can donate via PayPal using the sidebar button at

Or make your check payable to "Urban Sketchers" and mail it to:

Urban Sketchers
P.O. Box 12624
Mill Creek, WA 98082
United States

Very best wishes for a happy New Year!

USk Executive Board,
Elizabeth, Gabi, Omar, Jessie, Mario and Brenda

Walking and sketching in bazaar in my inspirational season..

Isfahan / Serai Mokhles

Autumn is my favorite season. In some respects I like this season even more than spring. Diversity in colors, specially warm colors is wonderful and we may experience changing in colors spontaneously. Feeling warmth of sunlight on our skin is delightful and watching the companion between light and shadow is really charming.

Because of changing in weather we can see many layers and the sense of depth in around scenes and it is good time for drawing and sketching perspectives.

Isfahan / Timcheh Malek

These days I tried to prepare an easel for outdoor sketches. I made an easel with a camera tripod. The result is a simple useful easel, and I am really excited of having that. It makes easier my watercolor sketching experiences.

Here are some plein air watercolor works that I have done in two days in Isfahan bazaar.

Isfahan / Serai Mokhles - another view

The Giant Dipper is the heart of Mission Beach in San Diego.

 By Thor in San Diego

The beach around the Belmont Park Giant Dipper roller coaster gets really crowded on weekends at Mission Beach in San Diego. A competition was held to celebrate the coasters 100 year anniversary. Contestants rode the coaster constantly, only getting toilet and eating breaks. The final contestants stayed on the coaster so long that the final prize had to be divided up among the crazy few who refused to give up. Our beach side apartment was just four blocks from the park. This was just far enough so that we were removed from the shouts and screams.

In the mornings, life guards drove along the beach putting out cones to mark their driving lane and warning signs for any rip tides. A group of children gathered on the beach for surfing workshops. Then the volleyball players would arrive and competitions would happen all day long. We relaxed under a beach umbrella and watched life stream by on the boardwalk. It seemed like everyone was fit, trim and beautiful in California.

Analog Artist Digital World

December 12, 2014

Garden Stories in the Late Fall...

Fall seems to come late to Southern California, even as we approach Christmas, and I wanted to draw the magnificent golden ginkgoes at Descanso Gardens in La Canada, just north of Los Angeles--before the wind blew all their leaves away.  So, I thought this was my story--these trees marking the passage from fall into winter with families strolling underneath.

Lots of visitors stop to take pictures underneath the arch between the trees--and as I sketched, along came a couple in formal dress with photographer and entourage--another story!  Here he set up a romantic scene...and then he asked them to lie down in the carpet of leaves.  It didn't look like the girl in the black gown was happy with that idea, but gamely went along with it...

The next day, I returned for some quick sketching before the rain storm we have been expecting, and  the gardeners were out with the backhoe getting ready--yet another story.  And I am reminded that the beauty of this place depends on them, and the many volunteers who work here too...

December 11, 2014

Moss Design Studio - Merry Christmas !

It is so windy & cold today, weather report said its going to be minue 7C tonight. However the sun is good and warm, shinning through the narrow window into the studio. Just finished sending out stuffs for our christmas decoration project in Shanghai. Taking a short break sketching the studio design department while waiting for the next delivery for the handmade reindeer made from reclaimed birchwood and mini reindeer made from used corks.

Goya and his admirers in Boston

By Marcia Milner-Brage, in Boston, Massachussetts, USA

Get thee to Boston to the Museum of Fine Arts’ fabulous exhibit Goya Order and Disorder! I had the good fortune to immerse myself for an afternoon in November in the 170 works shown. There are paintings, prints and drawings gathered from other major museums around the world and the Museum of Fine Arts’ own extensive collection of works on paper.

Hutiles trabajos by Francisco Goya
To be with Goya’s work is to be surrounded by his people: from aristocrats in formal paintings to common people in everyday moments of domesticity......

Los Desatres de la Guerra No. 33 - Que hai que hacer mas? by Francisco Goya
..... to people caught in the atrocities of war.....

The Famous American, Mariano Ceballos by Francisco Goya people participating in the visceral, blood sport of bullfighting.

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters by Francisco Goya

There are works from direct observation and from Goya’s prodigious imagination—interpretation of myth and social commentary.

The Duchess of Alba by Francisco Goya

Goya painted the Thirteenth Duchess of Alba in 1797. It hangs in a gallery of large oil paintings of aristocrats. This gallery was about halfway through my four hours with Goya. And this painting holds for me the heart of the exhibit: the regal and commanding Duchess of Alba points to the words “Solo Goya” —Only Goya—written in the sand by her satin-slippered feet. Only Goya? What does this mean? What does this imply? Only Goya could possibly paint such a splendid portrait? Would she only allow Goya to paint her? Perhaps a bit of self-promotion on Goya’s part? Only Goya could possibly give us such a breadth of human experience, with such passion? 

For me, all of the above. And then my own personal realization that only Goya could bring me together with the other rapt museum goers that I moved through the galleries with. Obviously, the Spanish aristocrats in Goya’s day were his dedicated admirers and supporters. And so too, we in the 21st century, join Goya’s admirers.

One of my sketches from the Goya Exhibit in my pocket-size Moleskin
Another one of my sketches done at the exhibit

My sketch in the Shapiro Family Courtyard of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston where a huge poster of Goya Order and Disorder hangs. Dale Chihuly's glass sculpture Lime Green Icicle Tower was specially created for this space. For me, it had distinct Christmas tree associations.
Self Portrait While Painting by Francisco Goya

Goya Order and Disorder is on view until January 15, 2015 and will not be traveling anywhere else. I wish I could spend more time at the exhibit before it closes. Unlikely, I live over 1200 miles away in Iowa.

To see more drawings from my trip to the Boston Area, go to Urban Sketchers Midwest post Trying to be a BIG City Urban Sketcher HERE.