July 2, 2015

A Few Days of Painting in Umbria

by 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!

July 1, 2015

Drawing Attention - July 2015

Urban Sketchers Events and Workshops

The Sixth Annual Urban Sketchers Symposium takes place later this month in Singapore. More than 300 participants will be there, making this our largest Symposium yet! Sketching and Workshops passes will be available at the event beginning July 22. If spaces are open in individual workshops, they will be for sale to Activities and Sketching pass holders. Hope to see you there!

Not going to Singapore? Then maybe one of these other exciting Urban Sketchers events is closer to home:

Isabel Carmona, Miguel Herranz and Swasky will help you "Push Your Sketching Boundaries" during a three-day workshop in Oxford, England, July 8 - 11.

Join Isabel Carmona, Mercedes Carmona and Swasky in Segovia, Spain, for "Water Marks" on Aug. 5 - 8.

Amsterdam and Liverpool are the locations for "Sketch It On," a series of Urban Sketchers workshops with Frank Ching, Norberto Dorantes and Simone Ridyard Aug. 13 - 23.

Sketch the color and tradition of Kinvara and Galway, Ireland, with Róisín Curé during "Sketching the Wild Atlantic Way" Sept. 2 - 6.

"Painting in Ischia Island around Aragonese Castle," Oct. 8 - 11, will be offered in Naples, Italy, with Simo Capecchi, Caroline Peyron and Kelly Medford.

Reportage sketching of the "Farm to Plate" process in Chatham County, North Carolina, is the subject of a workshop with Stacye Leanza Oct. 22 - 25.

San Diego (USA) will host the Third Annual West Coast Urban Sketchers Sketch Crawl Aug. 7 - 9. This free event is a marathon of sketching, socializing and fun.

News from Urban Sketchers Communities

For the third year, Urban Sketchers France held a national sketch outing, this time in Strasbourg. Sketchers in all regions of France attended, as well as from at least 10 other countries, bringing the total to 300 participants. See the event's Flickr group for photos and sketches.

Urban Sketchers Chile celebrated National Heritage Day May 31, a day when buildings with architectural heritage are open to the public. Sketchers met in the center of Santiago and drew the Palacio de la Moneda, the government palace, and many other buildings of the 18th and 19th centuries. "The Heritage Day turned out to be an excellent opportunity for Chilean urban sketchers to value and enjoy our architectural heritage in the best way we know," said Rosario Muñoz.

Southampton Urban Sketchers' exhibition at City Art Gallery
In preparation for their second USk Chicago Sketch Seminar July  11-12, Urban Sketchers Chicago offers helpful tips on how to dress and prepare for workshops this summer! Check out the blog post, "Dressed for Sketch-ess."

Southampton Urban Sketchers had an enthusiastically received first exhibition at the City Art Gallery April through June. The exhibition was organized as part of the celebrations for Fifty Years of City status. The exhibit was organized by sketchers Kay Brown and Darren Shorter and Pete Jarvis of Southampton Solent University. Display boards from the exhibit will now be shown at the medieval Wool House.

Urban Sketchers Málaga's exhibit poster
Urban Sketchers Málaga has an exhibition at the main station of the metro train in Málaga. Titled "Metro Sketchers," the exhibition includes drawings the group made on train rides and during a visit to the workshops and maintenance facilities. "We are very grateful to Metro de Málaga for their hospitality to our USk group and for the invitation and building up of this nice exhibition that all metro passengers watch at the lobby of the station when they get down the wagons," said Luis Ruiz. The exhibition was featured in a leading magazine, Via Libre, about Spanish railways. Photos and sketches are shown in the group's Facebook album.

Sketchers in Action

Liz Steel (Australia) has just re-offered her online SketchingNow Foundations course. In 12 lessons, she explains essential concepts for spontaneous sketching on location and how sharpening the way you think will help you sketch faster and more accurately.

Just in time for the summer sketching season, Shari Blaukopf (Canada) has launched a new online video course, "Sketching Landscapes in Pen, Ink and Watercolor" on the website Craftsy.com. The course covers all aspects of plein air landscape sketching, from composition and color to texture and line work.

Javier de Blas' book of Saharawi refugee camps in Algeria
Javier de Blas spent March in the Saharawi Refugee Camps of Tindouf (Algeria), a banished population. He is now crowdfunding a campaign on Verkami to edit the publication of his series of sketches from the camps.

Sue Pownall, co-founder of a new UK group, Essex and Suffolk Sketchers, was recently featured in The Connection, a local magazine, in an article about urban sketching.

Ch'ng Kiah Kiean (Penang) and Alvin Wong (Hong Kong) had a joint exhibition, "Sketching the City II," at the Hong Kong Fringe Club in June.

Sue Anne Bottomley (USA) has published a 253-page book, Colorful Journey, An Artist's Adventure Drawing Every Town In New Hampshire. She drew all 234 towns on location over a two-year period. The book is available on Amazon.com.

Ken and Roberta Avidor (USA) have blogged about their sketching adventures in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Cathy McAuliffe sketched the victory parade for the Oakland Warriors.
Cathy McAuliffe of the Bay Area (USA) Urban Sketchers enthusiastically sketched the recent celebration for the Oakland Warriors. She reports, "It was all yellow and blue in downtown Oakland for the Warriors' NBA Champions Parade! Huge crowd, estimated to be 1 million, gathered to cheer their team that won the first Championship title in 40 years."

Cathy also was just interviewed by the blog Wanderarti about her spring trip to Japan, where she sketched her way through Kyoto.

Simone Ridyard (UK) has a brand new book on sketching architecture: Archisketcher. The book includes many examples of beautiful urban sketches by well-known sketchers worldwide. Released in the US in July and in the UK in September, the book can be preordered on Amazon.com or at North Light Books.

USk correspondent and Advisory Board member James Richards’ (USA) works of Cuban sites related to Ernest Hemingway’s life and work there were the subject of a solo exhibition, “Hemingway’s Cuba,” at the Nobel Prize-winning author’s home (now a museum) outside Havana. Part of the Havana Art Biennial, the exhibition also coincided with the International Hemingway Colloquium, an annual gathering of Hemingway scholars, which closed the conference with a viewing of the exhibition.

James also led a group of 40 on a five-day “Sketch Cuba” tour through Havana and the western side of the island. The sketchers and a group of Cuban artists led by renowned artist Jose Antonio collaborated on a drawing of “Havana Impressions.” The canvas was displayed during the Havana Art Biennial and will be shown in the U.S. later this year.

Asuka Kagawa of USk Australia recently posted her travel sketches from Spain. She included comments about her materials and how she uses them to optimize sketching while on the road.

Shout it Out in Drawing Attention

Not seeing anything about you or your Urban Sketchers group in Drawing Attention? Then we want to hear from you! Please send your urban sketching news items with links and images to: drawingattention@urbansketchers.org. Or tag me, Tina Koyama, on news you post on the Urban Sketchers Facebook page. Subscribe by e-mail. Happy sketching!

Pilgrim of Beauty

By Fred Lynch, near Boston, Massachusetts

The Italian Exile

Ye Pilgrims of Beauty, from barbarous lands,
Behold where the model of loveliness stands;
Go, kneel by the marble, if marble it seem,
And Love, with its torch, will illuminate your dream.

-Anonymous (signed "H.") from the New England Magazine, July 1831
(found in the catalogue for Pilgrims of Beauty, an exhibit at the RISD Museum of Art, 2012, curated by Crawford Alexander Mann III)

For centuries, artists have travelled to Italy to learn from the art and from fellow artists, and to create inspired works of their own. Some were sent on commission by wealthy benefactors, others resided in national academies, and still others set off as a form of adventure. All were pilgrims, and sketching was their dominant endeavor.

Today, the tradition continues, and I head off for my ninth July in Central Italy, where I have reinvented my own art, thanks to the inspirations that I'm surrounded by, and the artists who travel with me as fellow teachers and students.

The notion that Italy is where all the beauty is, is a Romantic one. There is beauty everywhere, and without a doubt, Italy offers as much ugliness and unpleasantness as other places. But the long tradition of sketching there is certainly an engaging one - and my own work speaks to it, as well as to contemporary times. Like many of my predecessors, I'm moved by the picturesque. A tattered door is more engaging than shiny cathedral dome. At least, thus far. I'm always prepared to be converted.

Let the pilgrimage begin.

Scuba Diving with a Sketchbook

Guest post by Nina Khashchina

My first experience with sketching while scuba diving was in 2012 in Roatan, Honduras. Here I am, sketching underwater!

I cut in half a Rite in the Rain Polydura 8.5" x 11" sketchbook. Other equipment: a pocket on my belt, a regular #2 pencil, and a 4B carpenter's pencil.


On the first trip I sketched on six dives and learned a lot:

• Drawing required better buoyancy control and awareness of environment. I got better, but need more practice.
• Spare pencils are handy. I broke one - not sure how. Seawater and depth make pencils fall apart quickly, not to mention runaway pencil ascents and pencils swimming away during boat boardings.
• I attached a string to my pencil - it's still underwater somewhere, even though the pencil surfaced with me.
• You can get really close to some subjects and they will stay still! Be careful - some might sting!
• Many subjects are like kids - moving all the time.
• Some pages were built gradually, adding bits and pieces to one page from different parts of the reef.
• Carpenter's pencil was good for drawing motion - but too fat for details or notes.

After each dive I would tear pages from my sketchbook, rinse them in fresh water, and lay them out to dry. Later I taped them in my main sketchbook and added additional notes.

My second experience with scuba diving and sketching was in 2013. I spent seven days at sea diving from the boat on a trip from Saba to St Kitts in the Northeastern Caribbean.  This time I had COLOR! I used the same sketchbooks and #2 pencil, but I added a red-and-blue pencil. The softer lead was the most useful feature. No matter how soft the regular graphite pencil, it still feels very hard at depth.

This spring I spent a week drawing underwater off the Caribbean island of Bonaire.

I had a plastic, mechanical Aqua Pencil with me. Its thick lead and no metal parts made it a winner. It is as good as new after a week in saltwater! Another important thing is that the lead advances when you twist the back end of the pencil - and not push it. I threaded a piece of elastic band through the handle of the pencil and kept the other end on my wrist all the time - this helped a lot with the "I'm going to lose my pencil or will not have enough hands or attention to be safe under water" anxiety. 

The highlight of the trip was seeing a porcupine fish do its signature trick of inflating its body by swallowing water, thereby becoming round. We were a bit far away from this event as it happened but I was able to sketch it as it takes a little while for the fish to go back to normal.

All in all, sketching underwater is A LOT OF FUN. Try it out, have a blast, and tell me about it!

Nina Khashchina lives in Palo Alto, California and blogs her sketches here.

June 30, 2015

The Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society

Suhita Shirodkar in Half Moon Bay, California.

How fantastic a name is this? The Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society. To top that off, this live jazz venue is located right on Miramar Beach in Half Moon Bay. Sketching to live music is one of my favorite things to do: capturing the music, the atmosphere and the action (with a glass of wine at hand)... it doesn't get much better than that. 

Here are some sketches of the Marcus Shelby Orchestra featuring Tiffany Austin.

Since I sketched almost all the pieces from one spot, it was interesting to see how the sketches got simpler and simpler, much less like portraits and much more a capture of the energy and the music as I went along. 

More sketches from the evening and a little bit about the sketch kit I'm using here on my blog.

London Summer Sketch with Spit!

I must say, it was extremely hot in London today!

I discovered a nice spot of shade under a tree where I chilled did all the sketching

It made me have feelings of being in Nigeria again!!!

Picture of the scene I decided to sketch and paint, I was drawn to this scene because of the tree.

The morning was so warm, I couldn't resist sketching outside!!! So I did a double trip-Since I'm trying to knock a few pounds off my tummy and also keep my summer sketching flowing, I jogged and took along some sketching materials....but I never knew I forgot water for the watercolours!

Black and White sketch of the scene.

Everywhere looked so green around the neighbourhood where I live, everything seemed to be shouting, "sketch and  paint me". But as I jogged I came across this lovely tree, it was completely divided into light and shade, which made it very interesting to sketch and paint! So I chose this scene just for my love for trees, I simply love trees, the movement, the organic shapes, the mysterious darks, just make it a pleasure to work on!

Colour Rough of the scene

After I finished my black and white sketch I went on to do a colour rough with watercolours and Ball Point pens. I opened up my kit only to find out that there was no water in my bottle!!!!! Grrrh!

The sketch and colour rough and the scene

So I didn't want to give up sketching in colour, I had to improvise! I decided to use spit! It worked for a while until I had no more saliva left in my throat.

My spit mixed palette, not a great sight!

Location Sketched-Yarnton Way, Thamesmead. near the Business Academy.

Materials used for Black and White Sketch-  (Green and Stone) Sea White of Brighton 8" x 8" Hard Bound Sketchbook, Black Bic Ball Point Pen, H and 2H Graphite Pencils, a Soft Oil Base Pencil, Black and Grey Coloured Pencils and white Gouache.

Material Used for Colour Rough- (Green and Stone) Sea White of Brighton 8" x 8" Hard Bound Sketcbook, Papermate Brown Ball point pen, Bic Black Ball point Pen, White Gouache, Blue coloured Pencil.

Falling down: Houses of Parliament, London

By James Hobbs in London

Never mind London Bridge, now the Houses of Parliament are falling down. A recent official report says that it could cost £5.7billion and take 32 years to renovate it and turn it into the kind of building a modern democracy needs. UNESCO world heritage site it may be, but it is also an outdated, crumbling, rat-infested, leaking, asbestos-ridden gentlemen's club that needs dragging into the 21st century. I've already written about the leaning Big Ben.

It could be that members of parliament and peers are moved out while the restoration work is undertaken, speeding up the process. But where would they go? The Olympic Park media centre in the East End has been suggested as one temporary option. But what about outside London? Getting parliament out of the capital could invigorate its work and help change our jaded attitude to it. What about the city of Manchester, for instance? That would be an excellent choice.

June 29, 2015

some sketches at Seodaemun Museum of Natural History, Seoul

By Lee Yong-hwan in Seoul, Korea

Acrocanthosaurus on the Central Hall, pen and watercolor

Central Hall of the Seodaemun Museum of Natural History, pen and watercolor

Earth Environment Hall on the 3rd floor, pen and watercolor

Allosaurus at Dinosaur Park, pen and watercolor

Human & Nature HAll on the 1st floor, pen and watercolor 

Sharks of Korea at Life Evolution Hall on the 2nd floor, pen and watercolor

Diversity of Terrestrial Life at Life Evolution Hall, pen and watercolor

front view of the Seodaemun Museum of Natural History, pen and watercolor
( pen and watercolor, 21 x 29.6cm sketchbook )
Seodaemun Museum of Natural History is located in Seodaemun-gu in Seoul, Korea. The museum was planned and constructed by the Seodaemun District Office. After 6 years of planning and construction, the museum opened on July 10th, 2003. The purpose of the foundation is to preserve, to study and to exhibit geological and biological records about the local environment. The museum is organized around three main themes over three floors, and displays the history of nature and life vividly through various real specimens of minerals, rocks, and fossils (including dinosaurs, animals, and insects from all over the world), but also displays them with up-to date display technologies such as models, dioramas, and stereopsis displays.
These days I visited the museum with pleasant surroundings and enjoyed exciting sketch time in and out of the museum, appreciating the precious natural assets.

June 28, 2015

An Afternoon Outing, Sketching by the Sea

by Shiho Nakaza, in Santa Monica, California

I spent a bit of afternoon sketching with Pete Scully, who was visiting Santa Monica - his account of the weekend is here.

While I've sketched at Santa Monica Pier numerous times, sketching together and chatting with a fellow sketcher made me look at the familiar scene with fresh eyes. Using a panoramic format (a Handbook panoramic sketchbook that I found in my stack of sketchbooks) made me notice the expanse of the ocean and the sky. I don't like the crease in the middle of the spread, but this sketch is a fun reminder of escaping my daily routine in my own town.

Urban Sketching trip to Bukit Pasoh, Singapore

By Don Low, Singapore

When I was sketching my piece, I asked a Malay friend, what does Bukit Pasoh stand for. I knew "Bukit" means hill, he told me "Pasoh" means vase. I checked the meaning from Wikipedia, and it says pasoh is a Malay word for flower pot, or earthenware, and people used to store rice and water in pasoh. I used to live near the vicinity. The road leads to Chinatown, where I hung out or work when I was in my teens. The road and its vicinity is now known as Bukit Pasoh Conservation Area which is bounded by New Bridge Road, Keong Saik Road, Kreta Ayer Road, Neil Road and Cantonment Road. The shophouses here are mainly in the transitional, late and art deco style. 

The turnout for the location drawing trip was overwhelming again, even though the notice of venue was given out a day before. But I think everyone was already waiting and anticipating for the announcement, as we usually come together every last Sat of the month. We even have several guests who joined us. Bryan from Chicago was on a business trip to Singapore and he said he just happened to see the notice. Orling from Santo Domingo was on her holiday here too. So we always have a mix of sketchers from different part of the world. 

Here's a shot of the sketchers who turned up for the month-end sketching trip. There was still a large portion of people whom I couldn't accommodate into the shot. We took a group photo in the end, as always, but I don't have it.

Show and tell. Everyone is welcomed to stay behind after the show and tell to share or to show more of their work to whoever asks to see more. I guess most of the sketchers are too shy. Most of the time the group is just too big which makes it difficult to get to know each other. The familiar faces would stick together for lunch or coffee later or continue on with their sketching spree. It is a good problem though.
I arrived late and have only 40mins left on the clock to sketch. I used up only 10-15 mins for this, while the rest of the time was spent walking, talking and simply sitting and enjoying the environment.  The sketch was done with a Hero fountain pen on Canson Kraft paper sketchbook. The brown of the paper gives good contrast with white added.

NTC at Liberty Station, Point Loma, CA

By Lydia Velarde
NTC was the location of the San Diego Urban Sketchers Meetup today. It is a former Naval Training Center located in Point Loma, The renovated Spanish architecture serve as civic, arts and culture district for the San Diego Community.

This sketch was created from the park on the corner of Cushing and Dewey.

One of the weapons on display at the park.