July 6, 2015

A Sense of Community...

...is not always where you expect to find it!  I've been sketching lately at a favorite spot--the oldest part of Los Angeles, Olvera Street--at the center of El Pueblo de Los Angeles.  It's certainly popular with tourists who arrive by the busloads and quickly leave after buying something from the colorful market stalls, but the visitor in a hurry might miss the real community here.

At the center of the Plaza at one end of the street is the Plaza, graced by several large Moreton Bay Fig trees...this particular tree feels like the heart of the Plaza, and I notice that besides the tourists who visit, there are lots of "regulars" who come to sit here in the shade (I felt like I was becoming one myself)...

On some afternoons, Aztec Dancers perform in the center of the Plaza, to the delight of children who visit in large school groups...

I sketched the dancers as a man with a loaf of French bread taped to his hat and a few green feathers stuck on introduced himself to me in Spanish...I think he called himself "Bread King" (though I may not have heard that quite right)...

That same afternoon, as I sat sketching, a fancy black tour bus pulled up with "La Adictiva" emblazoned on the side...and 17 or so men in spectacular suits with studs and black crocodile boots jumped out and lined up to be interviewed by a glamorous reporter from Spanish language TV Telemundo.  I sketched them as fast as I could, while others took photos (I discovered La Adictiva is a very popular Mexican Banda).

Someone pointed me out to the reporter, and suddenly I was pulled off my stool with my sketchbook, leaving my sketch stuff--Bread King said, "don't worry, I'll watch it". What happened after that I'm a little fuzzy about, since it all took place in rapid-fire Spanish, and for a native "Angeleno" my Spanish is woefully limited.  I had my picture taken with the Banda holding my sketchbook, which may or may not have made its way to Telemundo news.

I did lots of thumbnail sketches of visitors
and the beautiful architecture there, preparing for my Singapore USk Symposium workshop...

A group of visitors...

...as well as views of the Biscailuz Building, which serves today as the Consulate-General of Mexico...

I had to spend some time making larger sketches too...

While having lunch at La Luz del Dia, my favorite restaurant there, I watched a stream of visitors sit on the stuffed donkey to have their pictures taken in fancy sombreros, as I remember having my picture taken here as a child--when the donkey was real!


My favorite Olvera Street moment...as a late Friday afternoon began to turn into evening, I heard wonderful Cumbia dance music begin playing, and couples started dancing in the shade of the huge fig tree--first just a few, and then lots of them, as a Japanese tourist (and I) look on...

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Montreal

By Shari Blaukopf, Pointe Claire, Quebec

It was almost exactly like Georges Seurat painted it in "La Grande Jatte" — people gathered on the banks of a river on a glorious Sunday afternoon, sailboats in the distance, cool breezes coming off the water — except the island was Montreal, the river was the St. Laurent and the people were sketchers. The event "Picnic Vernissage" was organized by the Stewart Hall Cultural Centre and Art Gallery in Pointe Claire, in conjunction with Urban Sketchers Montreal. It was a day of drawing and picnics on the grass, followed by a vernissage of sketches in the gallery.

When you plan these types of events, you're never sure how many people will show up. Our typical Sunday sketching outing in Montreal has about 25-30 people on a good day, but I guess the spectacular setting and the perfect weather was a real draw, because we counted over 80 sketchers including some from Toronto, Vermont and Quebec City!

Many of the sketchers chose to draw and paint the mansion overlooking the lake that houses the gallery and Cultural Centre. Here's my drawing of the building from a few weeks ago.

I was hoping to get more drawing done at the event itself, but all I really had time for was a sketch of one of the giant poplars on the lawn. Our hosts spoiled us with food and drink, and there were so many people to talk to.

At the end of the day, gallery volunteers hung all the work, where it will remain all summer long. The quantity and variety of work completed by the sketchers during the event was astounding! If you are in Montreal during the summer, please stop by and have a look. 

July 5, 2015

Violectric Debut Revolutionary LED Instrument Lighting “Violuminescence” at Bite.

By Thor from Orlando

Bite Night, hosted by the Orlando Weekly was held at The Orchid Garden and Ballroom at Church Street in Downtown Orlando from 7pm-10pm on June 29th.   I went to the event specifically to sketch the premiere performance of Violuminence. 

Michelle Jones the founder of Violectric asked her husband, Jerry Jones, the groups technical director to design the diodes along the rims of the instruments which made them glow like souped up Harley Davidson motorcycles. Violuminescence produces unique, lighted string instruments that can be remote controlled to enhance any performance in an unrivaled manner.

When I arrived, the event was just getting started but there were already long lines for food. I immediately started hunting for my sketch opportunity. I ran into Ilene Lieber the groups pleasant and hard working PR representative and she let me know that the Violuminence performance would start at 9pm in front of the DJs table on the main floor. That gave me several hours to sketch in the Orchid Room's magical turn of the century decor. When Violumenence began, I added color starting with the blue glow of the instruments. The instruments glowed in every color of the rainbow as if celebrating the recent Supreme Court decision allowing everyone to share the rights of marriage.

“We are beyond excited to finally unveil Violuminescence to the public later the month,” said founder of Violectric and Fretless Rock, Michelle Jones.  “This will be the first opportunity for public audiences to experience Violuminescence and revel in this truly spectacular and awe-inspiring musical innovation.  We are known for getting audiences up out of their seats and dancing along with us as we play, and we look forward to blowing away all our loyal fans with Violuminescence and hopefully gaining many more new ones worldwide.”

When the violins performed Journey's Don't Stop Believing, everyone in the room started singing along. "Shadows searching in the night". It was really a magical moment. The crowd was hooked and I sang along as I sketched. The violinists weren't passive. They began moving around the room finding their way through the crowd.  By the time my sketch was done, the crowd was starting to thin out. All the food vendors had packed up. Darn it. I hadn't tasted a bite so I can't report on how good the food was. Genevieve Bernard and Seth Kubersky told me that the food directly across the room from me was absolutely delicious. I am pleased by the rich warm and cool colors that I could catch with my digital sketch.  For more information on Violectric contact 407-434-1261 and for more information on Fretless Rock by Strings Etc visit their web page.

- Analog Artist Digital World

Sketcher-in-Residence at the 'Atmospheres' Conference

by Lynne Chapman, from Manchester, UK

I just scanned all the sketches I did of the 'Atmospheres' conference at the Morgan Centre at Manchester University, as a precursor to my residency with them, starting on October. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, scribbling constantly, and filled 6 metres of paper! 

The conference was covering all kinds of sociological issues around the idea of atmosphere (the atmosphere of 'moshing' at a Heavy Metal concert; creating an appropriate atmosphere in care homes...) It was all really interesting and very accessible to a non-academic. 

I made accordion sketchbooks especially for the occasion. My remit was to record what I saw and do my best to conjure the atmosphere of the conference itself. 

At the end I gave a 15 talk on Urban Sketching and showed the results via a visualiser. I then co-delivered a paper with Professor Sue Heath, talking about the residency and showing more examples of my sketches, to try and convey what we are hoping to get out of the year. 

I will be a fly on the wall for 2 days a week, recording elements of the life of the Morgan Centre and its team and following key researchers, capturing what I can of their research projects. can't wait!

As you can see, I carried on working after the conference had finished and recorded my journey home, so it was more or less a door-to-door account of my experience of the event.

All the Hong Kong sketches coloured

After three weeks, I've finally completed colouring all the sketches I drew in Hong Kong and Macau. There are a few still in black and white because I had forgotten to take reference photo for them.

I like Macau more than Hong Kong because the wider range of architectural styles. In Hong Kong, it's mostly high-rise residential or commercial buildings. In Macau, you have those, but you also have the flashy casinos and the European style buildings from the Portuguese colonial period.

Hong Kong is quite impressive though. You can look at Hong Kong Island's skyline from Tsim Sha Tsui and not be able to see any gaps in between the buildings. Cost of living there must be high. Yet when I look at those Cost of Living charters, I see that Singapore is higher than Hong Kong. However, I can't find a place in Hong Kong that sells a bowl of noodles cheaper than I can easily find in Singapore. That's weird.

Below are selected sketches from the 97 I drew.

Big Buddha at Ngong Ping Village.

Ocean Park

Macau General Post Office

Ruins of St Pauls

Statue at a small garden beside Ruins of St Pauls

Prosperity tree at Wynn

View from The Peak

People are still protesting

You can see all of them on my blog and the original black and white sketches on my Google+ page.

- Parka

July 4, 2015

People in my town

 It is a hot summer in Isfahan and also Ramadan has begun.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad according to Islamic belief. This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The month lasts 29–30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon, according to numerous biographical accounts compiled in the hadiths.


Here are some sketches of my people. I have worked on some sketches in photoshop, and you may like to see more of them on my blog. Wish you enjoy them.

In Central Library of Isfahan Municipality

In Hasht-Behesht garden
An old work/ Women wearing hijab(chador) on Sheikh-Lotfollah mosque's stairs

July 2, 2015

USk Portugal Aljezur

Last weekend in Aljezur, southern of Portugal the meeting of Urban Sketchers was like I like! Less urban More countryside and beach!

Support to the Greek people

By Eduardo Salavisa in Lisbon, Portugal

OXI means NO in Greek. A small, but good, protest in Lisbon in support of the Greek people.

A Few Days of Painting in Umbria

Matthew Brehm in Umbria, Italy

I led my students on a brief visit to Umbria last weekend. We stopped for the better part of a day in Spoleto, then spent two nights in Perugia before two more nights in Assisi. All of these are "hill towns" and they're among my favorite places to sketch. Always challenging subjects, always amazing light, and generally a peaceful, unhurried daily life. The food is outstanding too, of course - lots of cinghiale and tartufo. I was trying something different this time, working on watercolor blocks rather than in a sketchbook, and found it to be easier in many ways to apply nice large washes without constantly wrestling with the book. The paper (Arches Cold & Hot Press) is also much better than anything I've encountered in even the best sketchbooks - it simply takes the water better. We're now back in Rome, and I hope to post some of my work from this crazy, incredible city soon!