New #USkWorkshop in San Francisco, Oct. 10:

October 4, 2015

Keeping the Sea out of Seattle

Guest Post by David Hingtgen

The Sea Wall replacement project in Seattle began in 2013 amid concerns that the old wall constructed between 1916 and 1936 would fail in an earthquake. It was constructed of wood pilings and was being eaten away by gribbles which are a type of worm. There is also a tunnel being constructed just feet away so keeping Puget Sound out of downtown Seattle was the objective. The Sea Wall project is scheduled to be completed in 2017 and once complete it should last another 75 years.

Last May I had an opportunity to go on the other side of the fence and sketch a couple of scenes. I found it fascinating. At that time much more was exposed. A large trench with utility lines exposed and large tracked machines below drilling away in the mud. I was impressed by the magnitude of the project and I wanted to revisit the site before Phase 1 of the project concluded. As luck would have it I was able to get behind the fence again.

Here are some sketches from my visit.

Open trench with corrugated steel seawall at left and also exposed water and sewer lines. 

Drilling for core samples

The present view of site with the open trench closed up

Jet grouter being cleaned at the end of the day

Coring rig taking soil samples at various depths 

Jet grouter that can drill into soil and inject cement forming columns in order to stabilize the soil

David Hingtgen is a Sign Designer in Seattle, Washington as well as an Urban Sketcher. His sketches can be seen here on his flickr page.

USk Meeting in Darmstadt

By Jenny Adam in Darmstadt/Germany

This year i had to cancel my participation to the Symposium in Singapore due to work commitments. I had Simo`s Ischia Workshop to look forward to, but that´s in autumn, and a summer without some sort of big Sketching event taking place-impossible! So Birgit and me got together and started planning our own event.

A month ago, the first big meeting of Urban Sketchers in Germany took place in Darmstadt, a town just 30 min from Frankfurt/Main. Sixty sketchers came together to draw in the  beautiful art déco quarter of Mathildenhöhe, and some of them traveled quite far- from northern Germany, the Netherlands and even Paris- to be with us.
The program included workshops by Urban Sketching veterans such as Omar Jaramillo, Arno Hartmann, Birgit Dreesen and me. We also hat demos by Daniel Nies and Catalina Somolinos and activities like a Portrait Party (inspired by Paraty). Also Drink&Draw in the evenings just like at the Symposium and lots of sketchbook browsing! After a beautiful and intense weekend, we had a little exhibition of sketchbooks.

 As i was busy organizing, i didn´t sketch much, but here are some quick portraits and some pictures.

 Sketching the wedding tower, Arno Hartmann´s architecture workshop & Omar´s sketch of the russian orthodox church

Sketchbook exhibition on sunday and the USk Team of instructors and volunteers

Busy sketching!

To organize this event was a lot of work that was totally worth it. The atmosphere and the people were just great and the response of the participants was overwhelming. As you can see, I´m happy to report that the Urban Sketching in these parts is happily growing!

We were also lucky to have local art store Format sponsor and help us in every possible way, store owner ( and inventor of the Super5 pen!) Robert gave us lots of supplies and they even packed the goodie bags for us! Longtime Urban Sketchers Sponsors Cretacolor and Hahnemühle also donated great pens and sketchbooks for us to try out over the weekend. Due to the support of our sponsors, we realised a profit and will be able to donate to Urban Sketchers.

Rumour has it that next year the Urban Sketcher Germany Meeting is likely to take place in southern Germany..would you like to come?

October 3, 2015

Ten Hours in Korea

by Shiho Nakaza in Inchon, Korea

On the way home from Urban Sketching Symposium in Singapore, I had a 10-hour layover in Inchon, Korea. I did some research beforehand and found that the airport offers free city tours specifically catering to people who are on long layovers!

After my arrival, I signed up for a Heungryunsa Temple tour of Inchon. The stop itself was very brief - maybe 15-20 minutes at the most - so I made the best of it by sketching as fast as I can. I ran out of time for painting, so this was colored at home.

For the rest of the tour time, I scribbled what I saw out of the bus window. The town on Inchon looked clean and quiet. I hardly saw anyone walking (this was on a Thursday afternoon) - maybe it was due to the humid summer heat.

I passed through modern highways, spanning bridges, leafy trees, and a glimpse of the Yellow Sea. It made me contemplate that a city like this on the peninsula has a different landscape from an island (like my childhood in Japan), or an edge of a continent (like my current home in Los Angeles).

I had a pleasant experience back at the airport. I browsed some pottery and scrolls and got some stamps for my sketchbook at Korean cultural museum. I also visited a Korean spa with showers, communal bath, and a lounge to relax. After a good meal, I found the indoor observation deck area upstairs with Korean-style structure and benches for people to sit and watch the planes.

This was the most enjoyable layover I had. It made me want to visit Korea for a longer stay: it is another item on my growing list of places to visit!

Tin can camper & vintage Pontiac

By Marcia Milner-Brage, Cedar Falls, Iowa, USA

I saw this old faded red camper for the first time parked on the street, hitched to a pickup. It was in front of the owner’s house, down the street from me. Taking a break from painting his house, he told me it was a '65 Santa Fe. He was going to fix it up, bring it back to its former glory. His face washed with a faraway look, I could see him envisioning the freedom of hitting the road and heading west in his spiffed up “tin can”. It would be like Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in the 1953 film classic The Long, Long Trailer. Oh, the romance of it! Meanwhile, he got back on the ladder to scrap and prime the trim on his house.

A few weeks later, I returned, looking to draw the trailer. But it wasn’t in the front anymore. It was in the back, along the alley, crammed behind a big white car and a stand of scrappy trees. Like the camper it was from another era. It was a boat of a car, with a formidable front hood and grillwork, darkened windows, large wheel wells with extra large, white trimmed tires. A 1976 Pontiac Grand Prix. It also had lots of rust, a peeling vinyl roof, and a strange, blotchy pinkish tinge to its now chalky finish.

Another keeper. Another project. Something else to dream on and bring back to its former glory.

Seems like there are quite a few others in my town who have love affairs with vintage trailers. Other's that I've drawn:  a tricolor parked in vacant lot near the power plant. And a ’57 Lil’ Abe, stowed for many a season behind someone’s house.

October 1, 2015

Drawing Attention – October 2015

Urban Sketchers Events and Workshops

Urban Sketchers founder Gabi Campanario has made the following announcement:
Gabi sketching last year in Paraty, Brazil, at the USk Symposium.

Dear fellow urban sketchers,

Since setting up the Urban Sketchers nonprofit in 2009, I've been quite involved with most operational aspects of the organization, from filing government forms and dealing with bank accounts to setting up blogs, organizing events and recruiting volunteers.

As Urban Sketchers has grown and thrived, many others have contributed their time and efforts, and we've built a solid and sustainable nonprofit. That level of shared commitment and belief in our mission is why I feel comfortable that we've reached the point in our natural evolution for the founder to take the back seat. After my term expires in December, I'll no longer be part of the Executive Board.

But I'm not wandering off too far. I have offered to serve on the Advisory Board and plan to continue contributing as a blog editor and correspondent.

I'm very proud of the work we do as a nonprofit, organizing an exhilarating international Symposium every year, promoting workshops and publishing blogs.

It makes a difference in the way people see the world and connect with each other.

I hear it all the time: "Urban Sketchers has changed my life!" people tell me. And I reply the same way: "It has changed mine, too!"

Gratefully and respectfully yours,


Thank you, Gabi, for everything you've done for sketchers around the globe!

YOUR sketch could appear here!
Want to see your sketch on the global Urban Sketchers blog flag? You can! All urban sketchers and correspondents (on either the global blog or regional blogs) may submit a sketch for consideration by sending the following to Shiho Nakaza at with the subject line: "Flag Material from (your name)":

  • A high-resolution photo of you sketching, or a photo of a sketchbook page shown next to the background where you're sketching (photos from smartphones are OK as long as they are at least 960 pixels wide)
  • A high-resolution scan of the sketch
  • Location of the sketch/photo (city, country)
  • Your website/blog/Flickr site with your location sketches

The dates for the Seventh International Urban Sketchers Symposium in Manchester have been set for July 27-30, 2016! To receive updates about the 2016 Symposium, subscribe to the Urban Sketchers Symposium mailing list.

Urban Sketchers is seeking a volunteer Fundraising Director. The Fundraising Director creates and implements a plan to solicit donors and identify funding sources, based on preliminary work already completed by the Executive Board. The Fundraising Director will be a part of the Executive Board, which is composed of officers and directors and oversees the day-to-day management of the non-profit organization, and will work closely with the Sponsorship Coordinator (Omar Jaramillo), who is already in place, to develop sponsorship opportunities. Please send a letter of interest and description of qualifications to Elizabeth Alley at

Three Urban Sketchers workshops are available in San Francisco (USA), Naples (Italy) and Chatham County (USA) this month!

News from Urban Sketchers Communities

Urban Sketchers Israel at Loveat coffee shop for Illustration Week in Tel Aviv.
Urban Sketchers Israel took part in Illustration Week Tel Aviv with a group exhibition. Called Sketch It @ Loveat, the expo told the story of the coffee shop Loveat through sketches made on location, according to Marina Grechanik. The expo took place in a central branch of the coffee shop, "so both the sketching team and customers could recognize themselves in the sketches," she said. The group also held three sketchcrawls during the event. At the opening event, visitors were invited to make spontaneous on-location sketches and to take part in the expo on a "live" wall.

Urban Sketchers North Portugal was featured in the newspaper when the group sketched in Gondifelos.

Don Gore, moderator of the #urbansketchers hashtag on Instagram, is pleased that the group has more than 20,000 followers! Meanwhile, back on Aug. 31, moderator Kip Bradley announced that the Urban Sketchers Flickr group has collected more than 200,000 images since November 2007 from more than 8,555 members on all continents. Thanks for sharing, sketchers, and keep on posting!

USk O'ahu at Winward Community College
USk O‘ahu (USA), a growing group, recently held an event at Windward Community College that exemplifies the group's attempts to sketch both urban environments and Hawaii's scenic backdrops. "We hope that more people will find us as we add special events to our schedule, such as the departure of Solar Impulse 2 from Hawaii next spring," said Sebastian Sievert.

Outdoor Painter, the online edition of Plein Air Magazine, has featured three US Urban Sketchers groups recently: O‘ahu, Texas and New York City.

Sketchers in Action

Ami Plasse has an exhibit of his "migratory path" from Brooklyn to Austin.

In his exhibition "Drawing TX: The First Four Years," urban sketcher Ami Plasse (USA) chronicles the people, places and events he has experienced since following the well-traversed migratory path from Brooklyn to Austin in 2011. The body of work, consisting of drawings, animations, paintings and prints, aims to document both the rapidly changing character of his new home and his own personal trials and tribulations over four transformative years. The exhibition at Wonderwall Studio runs through Oct. 4.

Kate Buike with one of 25 astronaut sculptures she sketched last summer.
Urban sketcher Kate Buike is a volunteer for the Museum of Flight in Seattle (USA). To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the museum installed 25 artist-embellished, life-size astronaut statues in local businesses this summer. Kate made it a personal project to sketch all 25 Astronauts on the Town in their locations. At its culminating celebration party Sept. 19, the museum used Kate's sketches on promotional posters

Mike Daikubara chronicles his trip to Machu Picchu
Boston (USA) sketcher Mike Daikubara has just published his fifth book of sketches, this time covering his adventures in Machu Picchu earlier this year. The 74-page book "captures the exact route we took, what transportation methods we used, what hotels we stayed in, what altitudes were in each location and how we avoided getting altitude sickness," Mike said. "All this information along with all the on-location sketches I did (along with some photos) are bundled into this one book." 

Three sketches of the Banks Peninsula area by Aukland (New Zealand) sketcher Murray Dewhurst have been published in the Indonesian travel magazine DestinAsian. "Sketching these in Akaroa and Okains Bay, I would never had expected they would end up with such an international audience!" Murray said.

Juliana Russo's new book
São Paulo (Brazil) sketcher Juliana Russo has published a new book of urban sketches. Called São Paulo Infinita, the 104-page publication was edited by G GILI of Barcelona.

Stephanie Bower, Seattle architect and urban sketcher, will have a class on Craftsy called “Perspective for Sketchers” beginning Oct. 12. Visit Stephanie’s website for a link when the class goes live. See the next Drawing Attention for a discount coupon code for Urban Sketchers!

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: Or tag me, Tina Koyama, on news you post on the Urban Sketchers Facebook page. Subscribe by e-mailHappy sketching!

Singapore, at last...

by Stephanie Bower, Seattle

Things are crazy busy these past weeks!

Craftsy class "Perspective for Sketchers" is launching October 12, together with a deadline for the Urban Sketching Handbook "Understanding Perspective" on Monday... my life is filled with vanishing points and horizon lines, with little time left to scan these images from the summer...but all such really good things!!! 

My first USk symposium was Barcelona, and it was such a fabulous experience.  I went knowing really only one person, Gail Wong, and I was clinging to her like toddler to her mom.  But by the end of the symposium, I knew more people, as sketchers are a really friendly lot.

Next symposium was Paraty, where I had the opportunity to teach a workshop called "180 Degrees" on wide-angle the end of this one, I knew even more people, slowly getting more and more comfortable. But it was really after the workshop when a group turned up in Rio to sketch that I got to know so many more people.  It was a revelation that there were other people as motivated as I, to pretty much sketch from early in the morning till late at night...the synergy was amazing, I feel like we all bonded for life!

This past summer, was symposium #3 in Singapore where I gave a lecture on perspective (detecting the theme?) twice, and got to TAKE workshops, which was GREAT.  By now, I knew so many people, but still, traveling alone to the other side of the world was daunting.  Luckily, as soon as you see someone with a sketchbook, you are connected.

Here are a few of the pre-symposium sketches.  It was so hot, we all met  up nearly pre-dawn and headed out to the streets.

Please click on images to see them larger, as the long ones get a little lost...
Bussorah street was probably the most sketched spot in Singapore that week!  Thanks to Don Low for entertaining the school kids watching us work while I finished this sketch.  

Before the workshop, you can literally head out your hotel door and wander, and you'll come across sketchers you can join.  They wander off, then another group rolls in, and you're sketching with a different group.  I felt like a sketching nomad, and it was such great fun! 

I was eventually adopted by a roving group of Aussies who were so warm and welcoming and soooo talented too--I love you all!  Thank you to Angela, Rooi, and all that group as we wandered and sketched and ate together!  Also Marc and Laurel Holmes, Suhita Shirodkar, and Liz Steel...I was so inspired and influenced by sketching with you all...

Iconic images of the buildings, trees and skywalk at Gardens by the Bay, sweating and chatting with Marc Holmes and/or Liz Steel all the while. It's the good company that really makes these 
experiences so memorable.  Sketch below was literally sketched and painted in the complete dark, could see no color, just knew where to look in my palette!  Funny, but these are my mom's favorite.

One of my favorite sketches, the dancing Baobab trees at Gardens by the Bay, and an early morning sketch of the Chinese Calligraphy Society on Waterloo Street near the symposium home base.

Morning breakfast and sketching with the Aussies at famous ZamZam, behind the Mosque. Delicious, really a highlight of the trip were the breakfast koppi ice and paratha.   This was sketched with a migraine, and it shows.

Below that is Haji Street shophouses, midday heat, again with Liz and Suhita...

Next are posts of the workshops I took with Suhita Shirodkar, Nina Johansson, and Shari Blaukopf. My gosh, I admire them so much!

Field Testing a Steel Brush in Quebec City

By Marc Taro Holmes in Quebec, QC
The other day we finally made it to Quebec City. We’ve been living in Montreal for about five years now, but for whatever reason, it took us this long to visit.
For our first trip, I wanted to hit the obvious highlights - the old town around the Château Frontenac. A lot of people feel they should go out of their way to find unique, undiscovered views in any town. Me, I tend to go right for the postcard view. I feel that given a limited amount of time, I want to start with the most recognizable spot, and move outward from there. I don’t know I’m that committed to this as a strategy, but it’s how I’m doing it for now.
15Sep06_Quebec_City_Post OFfice
We had arranged to meet up with a friend of ours - inveterate sketcher, Larry D. Marshall who knows the city from the pages of his own sketchbooks.  He walked us over to this perfect view of the cupola on the old post office. Larry’s a loyal reader of my blog, so I think he knows I’ll sketch any dome I can lay my eyes on :)
15Sep06_Quebec_City_Post Office Pano
This is actually a double-page spread – here’s the sketch combined with its other half making the panorama across the square.
These drawings are in a big 15x20” pad of Canson Montval. I made sure to bring large format paper, as I wanted to play with a 3/8” size Steel Brush. Which, as you can probably tell from the sketch, is a big huge nib. I mean - this drawing looks normal in proportion – but it’s 30” across.
NibShotThe steel brush is a rectangular sandwich of thin sheets of metal, each layer with a pattern of slots. When dipped, ink clings between the sheets of flexible metal, making a juicy reservoir of color.
I’ve had a few of these nibs in the back of a drawer for 20 years. I think I inherited them from an uncle. Unless I picked them up when I worked in an art supply store back in college. In any case – I’ve had them for a long, long time, and never had the nerve to draw with them. I had a 3/4” with me as well, but amusingly, it was too wide to fit down the neck of the 5ml ink bottles I carry.
So – these are only my first few drawings with this nib – I have to say – I really like it! The nib holds a lot of ink and can make broad and juicy strokes - as if you’re working with a watercolor flat – but somehow it’s a scratchy, springy, metallic flat. And, just like a watercolor flat, you can draw with the corners and the front edge, instead of the broad width. You get these weird wedgy cuneiform shapes, as well as some jagged slender-line work.
Occasionally the leaves of the nib will catch on the paper and fling a spray of ink drops. I like this. I’m a huge fan of tools that put you on the edge of control. It’s more fun to draw with them. I get bored if my materials are too predictable. The drawing should be an interaction between you and the media.
15Sep06_Quebec_City_Place Royale
This last one from Place Royale – a scenic little square in the heart of the old town – has some fun effects. I wonder if anyone can guess how I got these effects?
15Sep06_Place Royale_Detail
I know we'll be back to Quebec city sometime. There's plenty more to draw. And I'm sure i'll be playing with this pen some more - I'll have to keep you updated. It might be interesting to try it with watercolor for instance. I'll see what kind of fun and games I can get up to next time I have a day off to play with it.

Sailing Lake Michigan

Guest post by Dave Worfel

My wife and I are retired and we spend summers on our thirty-six foot sailboat Amadeus. Home port is Whitehall, Michigan where we’ve kept a boat for close to 30 years. Whitehall sits on the shores of White Lake, which provides a channel to the broad expanses of Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes.

I’ve been sailing since I was a kid and the lifestyle now provides me a great window to endless scenes around Lake Michigan that beg to be sketched and painted. The drawings here follow this summer’s sailing season.

Early season at the marina is a flurry of activity. Boats are launched and elbow grease liberally applied. Here, an owner scrapes varnish to refinish the wood. His work, and for us all who live life on a boat, is part of a yearly cycle that starts in April and ends in October before the winter’s deep freeze.

Our boat went in the water in mid-May, but many were still ashore in mid-June. From our boat, I sketched the boats that won’t see water this season and will sit out the summer season in the back corner of the marina's storage area.

More boats waiting for owners' care and water under their keels

In late June we headed from Whitehall for the north end of Lake Michigan. Our goal for this year’s trip: Beaver Island. Outbound from White Lake into Lake Michigan we pass the White River Light.

The light is rumored to be haunted. I’ve been there a lot of times…no ghosts. Ghosts or no, the light is a great landmark and a comforting welcome home at the end of trips on Lake Michigan. 

North on Lake Michigan, our first stop was Ludington. Ludington was once home to ferries that provided a shortcut across Lake Michigan for rail cars heading to and from Wisconsin. Rail cars are gone. The remaining ferry, the Badger, carries summer tourists and their autos to and from Wisconsin daily. The Badger also hauls large trucks and oversized cargo… lately windmill blades and tower sections. The Spartan (pictured above), no longer in operation, is used for parts to keep the Badger running.

We used to buy fresh fish at the Fish House on the Ludington dock, but the place has long closed its doors.

After another day on the water we spent the night in Frankfort, Michigan. Shortly after sunrise as we headed offshore, Frankfort recedes in the distance and a freighter heads south.

Through the long Manitou Passage—between the eastern shore of Lake Michigan and North and South Manitou Islands, we continued on to Charlevoix, Michigan. The Passage can be home to rough seas and bad weather. This year we motored through the passage with no wind and smooth seas.

Charlevoix's waterfront on Round Lake
We were lucky to find a slip in Charlevoix's downtown municipal marina. The marina is a great place to watch the waterfront, the hundreds of boats large and small, and the endless stream of summer tourists.

Fourth of July weekend was in Petroskey, Michigan. I drew downtown from the cockpit of our boat.

Then up Traverse Bay for Beaver Island—our most northern point for this year’s trip. Beaver Island, a quaint backwater, hasn’t much changed since I first saw it almost 60 years ago with my parents and brother. In the mid-1800s, the island was home to an isolated Mormon kingdom. Then it became the largest supplier of freshwater fish in the United States. The Mormons are long gone, as is the fishing industry. Today it’s a rustic island, with a quaint little town, summer homes, and tourists who arrive by boat, ferry, and air.

Ruby Ann and Bob S are rusting relics from Beaver Island’s fishing industry heyday. Boats were enclosed because fishermen braved the sometimes violent waters of Lake Michigan year round.

Back across Lake Michigan to Northport, on the southern tip of Grand Traverse Bay, I sketched Optimist dingies, that are used to teach kids how to sail.

We began our return trip south, stopping in Leland’s sheltered port.

There’s only one company that still operates a fishing boat from the docks. The buildings are now populated by t-shirt and souvenir shops…and tourists.

Homeward bound, we rounded Big Point Sable Lighthouse, returning to our home port in late July. Summer season is coming to an end. We’ve traveled over 900 miles in the boat this year.

Our marina is a flurry of activity as boats are prepped to be pulled from the water. Taking a break from getting Amadeus ready for winter, I did one last sketch—our marina’s floating gas dock.

Dave Worfel, when not on his boat, lives in Rockford, Michigan. He is a Regional Correspondent for Urban Sketchers Midwest, where many of these images were originally blogged individually. Find out more about Dave through his Meet the Correspondent.