New #USkWorkshop in San Francisco, Oct. 10:

September 3, 2015

Waterloo Street, Singapore

Thought I'd post a few drawings I made on Waterloo Street in Singapore, where I had the privilege of teaching a workshop called the Urban Sketchers Cookbook at the 6th Annual USK Symposium. vl_sri_krishna_temple Waterloo street is located somewhere between Little India and the Malay sections of the city. While in Singapore I was constantly impressed with how active all of the religious temples/churches/mosques were, and with how all these differing cultures and religions seem to co-exist harmoniously.
All of the workshop instructors donated a drawing for a silent auction for USK scholarships. The above drawing of the Sri Krishna temple was my donation, in which I decided to work with the elements of my reportage workshop.  I was so impressed with this temple - and the rest of Waterloo street - that when I had time I went back to do a few more drawings. vl_Waterloo_STreet_Hindu_Temple_total_toned

Here is the Hindu temple again - you can see the devotees praying with incense, and the Hindu gods and goddesses praying behind them. Also in the distance is the Chinese Buddhist temple - these temples from different religions and cultures are literally next door to each other, almost like a kind of religious-themed EPCOT. Amazing.vl_Waterloo_Street_Chinese_Vendors_Full   

The atmosphere near the Buddhist temple was somewhat livelier than next door at the Hindu one. And right outside of the Chinese Buddhist temple on Waterloo Street are some of the hardest working women I've ever seen. They sit under these umbrellas in the hot sun all day and sell flowers and incense to worshippers entering the temple. My understanding is that these offerings are for Buddha, and also for ancestors. Actually, there are many stores lining the street in which you can purchase gifts for your ancestors and deceased relatives to help them on the other side. Lin Chan, one of the attendees of my workshop - and a wonderful artist - explained the various gifts to me: paper money, so they can buy what they need; paper cell phones, to make calls if necessary; paper dresses to wear, etc. etc. The idea is to buy paper versions of all of these items and then burn them, thus sending them to the other side for your relatives to use. What an idea and way to connect and continue to take care of those we've loved and lost. And also, what a busy business goes on outside the temple to sell all of these offerings!vl_Waterloo_Street_Chinese_Temple_Gate_Full   Right outside the gates of the temple were more vendors, and some beggars too. It was a very active scene, and even the beggars seemed to be a part of a whole social eco-system. As I sat making the drawing above, a Chinese woman sat next to me hawking fans. I don't speak Chinese, but whatever catch phrase she was using, she was repeating about three times a minute. Became like a mantra. As I was finishing this drawing, the clock must have pointed to dinner time, because the entire operation - vendors and beggars alike - suddenly began to pack up and leave. The Chinese woman next to me, without missing a beat of her fan hawking, leaned over to me quickly and said, "Don't worry, they'll be back tomorrow!" I loved it! And wished that I, too, could be back tomorrow, but my plane for Thailand was leaving at 11 am the next morning. vl_golden_buddha   

As I headed back to my hotel to get changed for the Symposium closing party, I had to stop and draw this joyful scene around the Golden Buddha. People were smiling, laughing, and posing with the Buddha; as well as rubbing his belly for luck. I did too, more to thank the Buddha for my luck in having been able to spend some time in Singapore. And of course, thanks to Urban Sketchers too. It is always such a pleasure and a privilege to be a part of the annual Symposium.

Early bird Sketching

By Richard Câmara in Ericeira, Portugal
To combine family holidays and sketching has never been easy, specially if your are the father of two lovely and restless young kids (4 and 2 y.o) that never stop demanding your full attention... And I am glad they do so :)
So this year, while spending some days at the beach in Ericeira, a small seaside fishermen´s village recently made part of the World Surfing Reserve, I decided to start getting up early (6 am) when everybody was still asleep and go out with my sketchbook and some dual point Tombow Dual felt tip pens, for some morning drawings. And... It worked!!! By breakfast time I was back home on time to wake up everyone with fresh baked bread and one or two drawings in my sketchbook.
Can´t think of a better way to start the day with my family :)

September 1, 2015

Painting Underwater in Singapore

By Marc Taro Holmes at #USKSingapore2015

[Japanese Pavilion at the Chinese Garden, Jurong]

Let me just say - Singapore was nothing like what I expected.

This is entirely because I'm uneducated, and had no idea what to expect.

Other than it being a modern Asian city with a booming economy. And a democratic republic with a pretty decent reputation for transparency. What I was not really aware of (being basically clueless) was how multicultural it would be.

It was inspiring to see temples of three religions side by side on 'harmony streets'. Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu all equally well used by a variety of people. It was equally great to see every hawker center (open air restaurant courts) representing ethnic foods from all these cultures. And then to see, in the faces of the people on the street, all these races intermixed.

I would hope this could just be normal everywhere - but it seemed to me a unique aspect of the city. Good for you Singapore! Thanks for that experience :)

[Chinese Garden, Jurong, 9x24"]

You might see a kind of wild abandon in the painting style on display here? A little different from my usual work?  I don't want to go on at length here, but if you're curious, you can read more about the theory behind these sketches over on my own blog.

[The Sultan Mosque in Kampong Glam, 9x24"]

[Giant Super Tree Sculptures at Gardens by the Bay, 9x24"]

More from Italy

By Stephanie Bower, Seattle

As I attempt to post the summer's sketches in chronological order, it's great to get to relive my travels. Italy already seems so long ago, with the trip to the symposium in Singapore and visits to Cambodia and Thailand replacing those memories at the top of my memory heap.  And as Seattle is already cool and rainy, it's so nice to remember the Italian summer heat~~

Here is another sketch from started to rain cats and dogs, so there was no other option than to duck under these lovely arches near the Rialto bridge.  Marc was off sketching near the Canal, braving the elements better than I.  

And this one was very late in the day, we were dog tired from the heat and walking, and it shows. Sketching near Marc for several days has me trying to paint more and draw less...and I really try to do everything on site in the moment, as for me, the sketches are all about capturing the experience of the all are drawn and painted on site in one sitting!!

Then it was off to Orvieto for one night where Rich and I met with fellow Urban Sketcher, Anne Percival from Manchester, who sketches beautifully!!  It was fun to sketch together in Orvieto before heading to Civita di Bagnoregio for the annual DRAW CIVITA workshop...

And finally, one of my favorite sketches of the summer, the interior of the Orvieto's Duomo...all the stripes really challenged my perspective sketching abilities!  The super nice ticket sales guy even let me pull over a chair and finish up with a quick layer of paint while inside the cathedral. It's a large sketch, nearly 16" tall...

Next stop, the workshop in the amazing picturesque hill town of Civita di Bagnoregio.

Drawing Attention – September 2015

Urban Sketchers Events and Workshops

Even if you didn't attend the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Singapore, you can still share in the learning. These Symposium instructors have generously offered handouts from their workshops for free download!

Richard Alomar
Behzad Bagheri
Shari Blaukopf
Matthew Brehm
Simo Capecchi
Marina Grechanik and Ea Ejersbo
Virginia Hein
Miguel Herranz and Inma Serrano
Marc Holmes
Nina Johansson
Sanjeev Joshi
Ch'ng Kiah Kiean
Jim Richards
Liz Steel
Suhita Shirodkar

Be inspired by these Urban Sketchers workshops scheduled for October:

Suhita Shirodkar is offering Capturing Chaos: Drawing a Crowd, Oct. 10, in San Francisco.

Painting in Ischia Island around Aragonese Castle, Oct. 8 - 11, will be offered in Naples, Italy, by 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.

More than a hundred sketchers gathered in San Diego for the third annual
West Coast Urban Sketchers Sketch Crawl. Shown here, Balboa Park was the site of
the all-day Saturday sketch crawl.
The third annual West Coast Urban Sketchers Sketch Crawl in San Diego was a huge success, according to Jim Bumgarner. "We had a total of 108 sketchers who enjoyed beautiful skies and perfect temps at all three events: Friday's 'Meet N Greet,' Saturday's all-day sketch crawl in Balboa Park and Sunday's sketching in Old Town," Jim said. "Lydia Velarde and her local team of planners put together a spectacular event."

News from Urban Sketchers Communities

Sketchers of all ages took part in a sketch crawl and workshop with USk Switzerland.
Urban Sketchers Switzerland took part in a sketch crawl and led sketching workshops at Foundation Beyeler in August. Andre Sandmann said that the family-focused event attracted many kids to participate.

Urban Sketchers Texas exhibited their sketchbooks at the Montgomery County Library-South County branch in August. According to Judith Dollar's blog post, the display also included popular books about urban sketching.

Sao Paolo USk is high on sketching -- from the rooftop of the Museum Catavento.
USk São Paulo was invited to sketch from the rooftop of the Museum Catavento in downtown São Paulo, an area normally closed to the public, according to Ronaldo Kurita. Reproductions of the sketches were displayed at the museum in July and August. In addition, Carlos Medeiros and Ronaldo held weekly 30-minute workshops for children to learn about urban sketching last month.

Omar Jaramillo reports that Urban Sketchers Germany will meet for the first time Sept. 4 - 6 in Darmstadt. "This Art Deco city in the center of Germany will host around 60 sketchers from Germany, Switzerland, Austria and other neighboring countries," Omar said. An exhibition of sketchbooks will take place after the sketch crawl.

USk Ukraine sketching in Chernihiv
Urban Sketchers Ukraine ventured out for its first sketch outing to another part of the country in August -- to the ancient city of Chernihiv in the north. "Chernihiv is abundant with history, religion, and most hospitable people," said Natalia Litvinenko. "With churches seen everywhere peeping out of the enveloping greenery, it was a pleasure to walk and sketch while still hiding in the shade from the summer heat."

After USk San Diego went on a trolley-sketching tour in April, Plein Air magazine's online edition, Outdoor Painter, asked Lydia Velarde to contribute an article about the group's event. The article talks about how the sketchers faced all the usual on-location challenges of plein air work compounded by a more unusual one: sketching each trolley only while it was stopped at each station for 10 minutes!

Swasky and Rolf Schroeter are offering a free workshop and drawing meeting in Mallorca as part of the Festival Còmic Nostrum Oct. 10 - 11. For details, see the Facebook event.

Beliza Mendes is excited to announce that Urban Sketchers Luxembourg has just started up! The new blog will be up soon. See the group's Flickr pool.

Sketchers in Action

Mark Payton exhibited his sketches from riding the bus in Rochester, NY.
Mark Payton's first solo art exhibition was at the Rochester, NY, Transit Center last month. Called "Snap Shots by Hand," the exhibit consisted of five years' worth of sketches Mark made while riding the bus.

Ken and Roberta Avidor of St. Paul (USA) bicycled a hundred miles from Bemidji to Brainerd and sketched their adventures along the way.

Dan Peterson of Cardiff, Wales, posted his excellent sketch reportage of a rescue mission of more than 900 migrants in the Mediterranean.

Liz Steel of Urban Sketchers Sydney (Australia) is offering a new online sketch course called Edges beginning Sept. 2. The four-week course will explain how to discern different types of edges, to represent them in different media and to incorporate this understanding into our work.

Montreal (Canada) urban sketcher Marc Taro Holmes has a new Craftsy class: "Travel Sketching in Mixed Media." The seven-part video lesson covers drawing in pen and ink and tinting with watercolor as well as sketching directly with watercolor. Urban sketchers visiting Marc's blog will receive a $20 discount. Marc's first Craftsy course, "People in Motion," is currently discounted, too.

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-mail. Happy sketching!

August 31, 2015

The Eggheads

By Pete Scully, in Davis, California
eye on mrak, uc davis
These are two of the 'Egghead' sculptures by Robert Arneson, found dotted around the UC Davis campus. Now you might think that a post by me about the Eggheads would be littered with puns and silly jokes about eggs, it's so easy, and on any other day, you might be right, but I'm trying, Ringo, I'm trying real hard. So, let me tell you about the Eggheads. They are not, in fact, made of egg, but are in fact bronze, painted white. They were created by the late UC Davis Art professor and world-renowned ceramicist Robert Arneson (who died of cancer in 1992), and were among his last works. they are popular spots for snapping a campus photo, and even have their own Egghead music tour. There are five Egghead pieces (two of which have two Eggheads in them, so seven eggs total), and the one above is called "Eye on Mrak", aka "Fatal Laff". The "eye" looking at Mrak Hall, the seat of power at UC Davis, is on the reverse of the egg. 
egghead "bookhead"

This next one is called "Bookhead" and is fairly self-explanatory. It's right outside the Shields Library, and I really wish I had something more interesting to say about it but I do not. Oh, ok, there is a boring tradition that says UC Davis students touch it for good luck before exams. There, it is impossible to talk about this sculpture without mentioning that frankly silly legend. It is written into the UC Davis charter that you have to mention it when talking about it, even if it isn't really true. If you mention it then people will believe it and they will in turn do it because it is 'tradition' but it's only 'tradition' because someone says it is 'tradition'. Even those who do touch it for good luck have absolutely no evidence of any particular upturn in their academic fortunes, in fact I'll bet there's more truth in the tradition that people who believe touching a large ceramic egg will make up for not studying a bit harder do worse in their exams.
I've drawn these and the other Eggheads several times over the years at UC Davis, and you can learn more about the sculptures and their beloved, cheeky sculptor at I hope you enjoy their eggsplanations (dammit!).

More Sketches from Singapore

by Shiho Nakaza in Singapore

While I really enjoyed attending Urban Sketchers Symposium in Singapore, I had very little time outside of the workshops to sketch on my own, so I woke up early before the first workshops to sketch the nearby scenes. Singapore has a fascinating mix of modern and old buildings and multi-ethnic history, and I wanted to capture as much of it as I could. All the watercolors were done directly in my sketchbook without any preliminary pencil or pen lines - a lot of times that's the fastest way to jot down an impression!

On the very first day, my flight was delayed so it was around 7am by the time I arrived at the hotel. I dropped my bags and headed off to Sultan Mosque in Kampong Glam section of the city.

This mosque is at the end of Arab Street, which is lined with shophouses with various stores and restaurants below. From this view I could see the tip of the minaret of the mosque.

I joined a group sketchwalk in the afternoon at Purvis Street. I like the contrast of gray modern highrise in the background and colorful shophouses in the foreground.

On next day I went inside the courtyard of Raffles Hotel, which is a white colonial-style building. This sketch came out too busy with lots of elements, but it still reminds me of the peacefulness of that morning.

I went to Waterloo Street on following day on recommendations from several sketchers. It was fascinating to see a Jewish synagogue, a Christian church, a Hindu temple and a Buddhist temple near each other on the same street. This one is a very quick impression of Sri Krishnan Temple from afar.

I had more time to sketch this Kuan Im Temple the next day, which happens to be right next to Sri Krishnan Temple (coincidentally represented by a stamp from the Symposium on the left - big thanks to the organizers for providing a fun souvenir!)

Another must-have element in Singapore is food. Everything I ate tasted great, and there are a wide array of cuisines that blend Malay, Chinese, Indian, Eurasian and Peranakan influences. I usually don't sketch food because I'd rather be eating though it helped to get some pointers from food sketching activity led by Anita Ryanto: use warm colors, and you can add texture to watercolor washes by sprinkling some salt (which would be pretty easy to find if you are dining!) The dish below is Nasi Lamak sketched during the activity.

I do take my trusty Uniball Signo gel pen out to do small, quick "reference notes for later" type of sketches. This is a collage of odd and ends relating to food. The empty brown eggshell and teh (tea with condensed milk) on bottom right are remnants of kaya toast breakfast - the toast is not in the sketch because I ate it before I remembered to draw it :-)

I also made sure I didn't miss Gardens by the Bay. One of the attractions there are 16-story structures covered with a vertical garden called Supertrees. They are similar scale and shape to naturally tall trees, and they are lit up at night. The sketch below doesn't do justice, even after I added blue wash for night sky at home (It's a struggle to do watercolor painting in the dark), but it was a magical sight.

I also visited Cloud Forest at the Gardens, which is a plant conservatory with tallest indoor waterfall in the world. Interior is kept misted and cool while glass windows let in the sunlight. Backlighting on the plants as I peered and painted through the grotto added to the their beauty. Here are a few photos and some small sketches. The purple background on the second sketch was painted at home - I'm still learning to get dark colors really quickly on location.

People take elevators up to start their visit at the the top, and walk down spiral walkway. Fortunately I am not afraid of heights, but I made sure I held onto my pen and sketchbook while I was sketching so I don't drop them! The space was tight and I tried to squeeze against the railing to let a continuous stream of visitors pass through, so I did the linework on location, and painted this sketch at home.

Looking back at the sketches brings back fond memories of exploring and sketching the city with fellow urban sketchers, even if I'm not happy with the drawings I made and even when it took me a while to scan and process them. The very act of making a mark really cements my experience - here's to more sketching!

USK Flickr Exceeds 200,000 Sketches

Today the Urban Sketchers Flickr Group will exceed 200,000 image mark, with sketches from around the world.The group was created in November of 2007 by Gabi Campanario and set the foundation for the Urban Sketchers blog (Nov. 2008) and a non profit organization dedicated to fostering the art of on-location drawing (Dec. 2009).
Over the past 8 years we have amassed over 8,555 members from every continent  and as of today we have 199,900 sketches. With daily sketching submission of about 30-50 we should hit this new plateau by the end of the day or early tomorrow!
USK Flickr is both and entry way for new members as well as an image base for visual storytelling from around the world.
Lets give a little thanks to the volunteers that have helped Over the Past few years to keep things going!

Here are
some gems from deep in the archives of USK Flickr! It's a Fun place to dig around!

Sharon Frost, Brooklyn NY

    Dhanan Sekhar Edathara, Giv' Atam, Isreal

August 30, 2015

iPad sketches from Southwestern Spain

By Gabi Campanario in Montemolín, Spain

A recent post of beautiful iPad sketches of Turkey by Leslie Akchurin's inspired me to share some of my own digital artwork here. I made these sketches just a couple of weeks ago while visiting family in Spain. They show the 900-year-old ruins of a castle in Montemolin, a tiny village in Extremadura where my parents were born and returned to after decades living in Barcelona. I used the Procreate app and a Wacom Intuos Stylus on an iPad mini.

Since meeting iPad sketcher extraordinaire Rob Sketcherman in Singapore, my interest in digital urban sketching has raised a notch. I always like trying new things, so why not? I'm also intrigued by the possibilities of creating drawings on the go and sharing them right away from the tablet, without the limitations of having to take a photo.