Mark your calendar! The 2015 Symposium will be in Singapore, July 22-25. Read more here.

November 26, 2014

Ilha Grande

By Jenny Adam, in Ilha Grande, Brasil



Before heading to the Symposium in Paraty, i went to Ilha Grande with fellow sketcher Birgit and her husband Eike. We enjoyed some days at the beach, dining out and listening to an impromptu jam of forró musicians. But there is more to this island than beautiful beaches, because the island´s history is very dark.
Ilha Grande went from being a main trade center for displaced slaves in the early 18th century to a quarantine sick bay for european immigrants for fear they would bring cholera to Brazil. Then it became a leper colony before being turned into a prison island.


A fascinating place on the island is Dois Rios, a nowadays mostly deserted village surrounding former prison Colônia Penal Cândido Mendes. Access to the village is not particularly easy, as the only way to get there is to hike 4 hours back and forth. There is a bus from Dois Rios to Vila do Abraão, the island´s main town, but its use is restricted. No toursits allowed. Visitors entering town have to be signed in and out of a list, as noone but local residents are allowed to remain overnight.


The ghost town holds many remains of prison life. Plants were overgrowing this old digger, while its water filled shovel was used as a bird bath. The building in the background was missing most of its roof, but it was still filled with big and small tools, to heavy to move and rusting away, suggesting that heavy labour was prisoner´s everyday life.


Out There with Paul McCartney!

By Eduardo Bajzek in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Last night I went to a Paul McCartney concert in Sao Paulo, Brazil , from his "Out There" tour.
I got a hard time, waiting for almost three hours in a huge line! It was pouring rain all the time!
However, once inside the stadium, I put myself together, grabbed a beer and did this fast, simple sketch before the show to begin.
This is the second time I sketched in a Paul McCartney concert, as you can see in this post, when he came to Brazil 4 years ago.
He still got the same energy!
And still keep making people of all ages singing along and crying together. Unbelievable.


Blowing Their Own Trumpets


By Róisín Curé in Galway, Ireland

There's a new picture house opening up in Galway City. A picture house is an old-ish Irish term for a movie theatre. It will be called the Picture Palace and it will show independent and art house movies, and it will have a bar. I am very excited about it because the only time you get to see any non-mainstream movies in Galway is when there's a film festival on, and while we have a lot of those, I usually don't hear about them until they're over - if at all. 

A neighbour of mine, Lelia Doolin, has been very active in getting the Picture Palace off the ground. Lelia is of my father's generation (he was in university with her brother) and her energy, zest and joie-de-vivre are indescribable. She is also in my art class and that's how I heard about a fundraising event for the new movie theatre that took place last Saturday night. 
"There'll be a brass band playing soundtracks to the movies," she said, " and there'll be a big screen with clips from the films playing above the band."
"I adore brass bands," I said, "I'll be there."
Once I told a friend that if I ever got rich, I would hire a brass band to play for me. I said that in the meantime I might even learn to play the trumpet myself.
"No, you can't do that," she said firmly.
"Why not?" I asked.
"You mustn't blow your own trumpet," she answered.

On Saturday I left the family at home and drove to the Galway Bay Hotel in Salthill. Between feeding the troops and looking for parking I was very late, and I didn't start drawing until four songs from the end - but I was grateful for the quick sketch I did get done. The band was Galway's St. Patrick's Brass Band, and they were magnificent - the sound was lively and rich with that deep warmth that only brass can provide. There was a young lad of about ten on cymbals - which he clashed with perfect timing - and during the theme tune of Star Wars he wore a Darth Vader mask, which suited the band's all-black dress code very well. Other numbers included Dances With Wolves, Pirates of the Caribbean and The A-Team, so you can imagine it was a very animated affair. When it was over, the band's PRO, David Kelly, approached me.
"Would you like to come and draw us while we rehearse?" he asked. "We've been going over one hundred years, you know."
I said I'd be delighted.



The movie theme was fun: at the door you were offered popcorn and sweets, and one of the ideas of the evening was to dress up in clothes from one of your favourite movies. A few people had made a big effort, including a group of girls with the words "Pink Ladies" emblazoned across the backs of their pale pink satin bomber jackets. This gorgeous creature (she was a lot more gorgeous than this sketch suggests) had a full black skirt with yellow netting underneath, Lolita sunglasses on her head and I think she even had a lollipop, but I might have imagined that bit. As usual, the sketchers always play second fiddle to the photographer, and I was politely asked to move to make way for a big guy with a camera, who needed to get a certain distance from the girls...so I lost my chance to draw my girl properly - unless I wanted to put a big guy in black with a camera in the foreground. Personally, I'd far rather have a cool sketch of myself in my gear than your typical girls-in-a-row posed photo but that's probably just me.

Eventually people started to register that there was a woman with a paintbox and a sketchbook at one of the tables. That's when the band leader approached me, and the ladies in the sketch below asked me to draw them. Well, Lelia did. That's her on the right. She looked splendid in a red Chinese silk kimono with white chrysanthemums on it. When I put this sketch on Facebook, I got lots of laughing comments (literally "Hahahaha") - but I didn't mean it to be funny. That's just how I draw. I think the ladies were a little nonplussed too. But then the big photographer started taking pictures of me drawing, and of my sketch. I asked him if he wouldn't mind sending me a lo-res copy of one of the photos, and I gave him my card, but it occurred to me (not for the first time) that he may have been affronted at being asked for a photo for free - whereas no one bats an eyelid asking for a scan of a sketch for free (which I am always very happy to do, but I'm thinking of revising that slightly). So far, the photographer hasn't sent me anything.


Then I stared sketching the dancers in a desultory way. I knew I'd be driving home before too long and so I wasn't drinking, and you know how it's a bit different if everyone on the dancefloor evidently has enjoyed a glass. But the 70s disco music was terrific and soon I was jigging about, making my sketchbook bounce a bit. I admired one or two dancers - particularly the lady in black on the right, who had a very fashionable super-chopped fringe and a beautiful figure. She was evidently in the "cinema" community and smiled a lot. Then there was a tall red-headed guy in nerdy glasses dancing some great moves. That's him on the bottom. He's doing a kind of elephant-trunk dance there, or maybe an Egyptian type of thing. Teapot. I don't know. But he was very inspiring and the tunes were great - Boogie Wonderland nearly had me up on the floor - and then the DJ put on Mory Kanté's Yeke yeke, and I'm a pure divil for African / electronic dance music, so up I got and joined the redhead on the floor. So then there were two redheads in nerdy glasses giving it socks on the dancefloor. The other ladies stared a bit but I never mind that. The song, an extended dance remix, ended and was followed by a boring one, so I sat down, but I am a lot less fit than I thought and I worried for my health: I went home shortly afterwards and I kept the phone on my lap in case I had to phone a cardiac ambulance in a hurry. Melodramatic? Possibly, but I felt most over-exerted. I'll have to up my fitness regime a bit (from nothing at all to something).


There'll be another night like this one - it was a roaring success - and I can't wait to draw the band rehearse. 

Trumpets, music, paints and my pens...my kind of showtime.

November 25, 2014

I See London, I See France….

By Melanie Reim in London, UK and Paris, France

Back in September, I posted about my whirlwind trip to Oxford. Following the conference, I spent a day in London and then, off I went to spend a few days in France. Oh, it was amazing and heavenly, and full of cafés and museums and shopping and wine and I wish that I were back there right now. But, I am thankful that I had the rare opportunity to go, to speak about work that I love, and was able to document some of it. Happy Thanksgiving, my American friends.

When I arrived to my hotel, my room was not yet ready. Where to go? As I set out, headed for nowhere in particular, I looked back and realized that my best drawing opportunity 
was right in front of me. My London hotel.
Now, I was inspired to try to capture even more detail, in my jumbled, pile on way of doing things. 
St. Paul's Cathedral called.

Onto Paris, where I met my drawing buddy Jean Christophe for the first time, 
and draw the afternoon away, we did. And then, I kept going. 






 Have to end with my post-it peeps. Paris style.



November 24, 2014

Lights in Provence

In southern France, the light is an inexhaustible source of sketches ...
When I chose a composition before I sketch, I know I can not illuminating every thing I see. I have a choice of : light the main scene, the main characters or secondary plan ... I have to choose what I want to illuminate.
The light will then show up and lead the eye. It shapes the body, highlights the objects, it reveals the shapes and volumes...
Provence light is a real "composition tool"  : We can choose aswell the light or the sketch.  ... Drawing during the morning or during the afternoon  has a different meaning ... Conversely it is the subject that influences the choice of light ...
Autumn light in Dieulefit

Summer light in Lourmarin

Summer morning light in Montélimar

Bonnieux autumn sunset in Luberon
The light is involved in unconscious emotion generated by the subject. When it reproduces single reality, when it is not realistic everything is wrong ...

Telling a story through his sketch is to paint and sculpt the subject "with its light ..."

November 23, 2014

Sketches at Sky Park (Haneul Park)

By Byung Hwa Yoo in Seoul, Korea


Digital Media City
32 x 24 cm


Worldcup stadium (2002)
32x24cm




On Sept. 15 this year I went to Sky Park(Haneul Park), Mapo-gu, Seoul. Originally the area was used for burying the wastes from Seoul citizens during 15 years (1978 - 1993). The dumped wastes made two big mountains and broad flat landfill. Seoul city tried to change the area into ecological, environmental parks. Sky park is one of them. On top of the park I sketched two pieces. People enjoyed picnic or walking with their friends or families. It was my first visit. I thanked for the efforts of all which could change the waste landfill into such beautiful breathing places. 


Difference

In a multicultural assembly there was an outstanding head.
I think I love living somewhere where you are free to be different.

Back to my old stomping grounds in SoCal

By Gabi Campanario in Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA



A recent family vacation in Southern California included a day hike in Joshua Tree National Park and an evening dinner at a nearby In-N-Out, a very popular burger chain that you can only find in California and a few other Western states.

Southern California, or SoCal, as people call it sometimes, is very familiar to me and my wife, Michelle. We met in Palm Springs, not far from Joshua Tree, in the late 90s, and lived there for almost five years.

This time we made new memories with our kids and I recorded some in my sketchbook. At the park, our daughter threw sand all over my drawing so it would have "the DNA of the place," as I like to say when rainfall accidentally dampens my work in Seattle. At the restaurant, however, I didn't think to add a little ketchup to my pages. Perhaps I should have!

November 22, 2014

Boomshop of Comics, San Diego

By Lydia Velarde, San Diego
 
Boomshop of Comics is the only comic shop in San Diego. There is a coffee bar inside so it was easy to sit down to sketch. This is done in pen and watercolor.

Flickr Digest November 22,2014

November 4th 2014, marked the 7th anniversary of USK Flickr. It has been an exciting year with a huge burst in new participation. The Group has gathered 176,000 sketches from around the globe. The other day, I dug really deep and explored the foundations of the group, going all the way back to day 1. It is amazing to see the initial growth, member by member, and it is also really fun to see the technical growth of some of the founding members. Within the group pages you can find strong visual proof of the benefits of sketching every day. Here are some interesting early sketches by Gabi, Flaf, and Jason.
The anniversary and exploration of the groups development has led me to think a lot about the founding ideas of the organization. In my own sketches I have been making and effort to establish a greater sense of immediacy, I have heard it said "to seek verbs as opposed to nouns". So, I have been particularly in tune to those sketches submitted that have a  stronger sense of a specific moment, action, or general quality of time.
I have always thought immediacy meant a specific kind of line quality, though the USK Flickr submissions have made me aware that it is really something else.
This weeks weekly theme "sketch bomb" a play on photo bombing has really nicely reflected the idea. The submissions are all sketches that have been transformed by the changing environment they were sketched in.
Here are three, that stood out from the general roll.




Urban Sketching in Venice

I’ve not posted for a while but I wanted to share some of my sketches from Venice. I’ve just returned from a study trip to the Architecture Biennale with 50 students. Whilst they were off touring the exhibitions and exploring (or probably shopping and drinking!), I took every opportunity to sketch. I know Venice quite well but it always takes my  breath away. We had lovely weather for mid November, last time we were there 2 years ago - we had lots of freezing fog. This time it was bright and sunny…perfect sketching weather.

This was drawn in St Marks Square, students were looking at the Carlo Scarpa designed Olivetti showroom - a must for architecture fans and good to see something contemporary, well circa 1950-’s Mad Men era. We split them into 3 groups as 50 (students) is quite an unwieldy number. I spent time with the first group before sloping off to sketch. What an inspiring view!




















This was drawn in the Giardini at the Biennale where there are a collection of National Pavilions each representing different countries. The Biennale alternates between art and architecture each year. Each country has to be invited to build a pavilion. The new Australia Pavilion is under construction and will be open 2015. Britain’s pavilion was built in 1909. The gardens are such an interesting place to wander round, they’re very shady with tall trees and provide such a contrast to the glittering light of the waters of the lagoon.


















We were staying out on Guidecca, our students were staying in a fab hostel called the Generator (highly recommended to anyone travelling to Venice on a budget)! And here’s San Giorgio Maggiore. I've been writing about using a viewfinder for my book on architectural sketching (to be published by Rotovision / North Light Summer 2015) and here's me putting one into practice!




Here’s my final sketch of the trip, this is looking towards St Mark’s Square, the light was starting to fade behind St. Maria Salute. I spent quite a lot of time trying to capture the architectural detail. I was outside the 5* Hotel Danieli Gondala Station and a couple of gondoliers were most complimentary about my drawing - if I didnt have a plane to catch (and as tour leader...50 students to check in at the airport), I’d have tried to negotiate a trip in exchange for a drawing!

Great view!


 


Bikes and Cherries in the Free State

By Cathy Gatland in Clarens, Free State, South Africa

We took a drive last weekend to the small town of Clarens in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains, known as an 'artist's haven' as so many live there, or visit regularly. Apparently it is also a biker's haven, as both times we have been, we've had these enormous growling, throbbing machines follow and overtake us all along the way there, and once in the village, parked outside the pubs and restaurants while the leather-clad, be-studded, tassled and tattooed riders mill around on the pavement and occupy tables not too far away from their beloved beasts. 


I first tried sketching the approaching road, but found it a bit stressful and decided to relax and enjoy the scenery - but grabbed a quick scribble at a 'pitstop' in Harrismith. It must be one of the prettiest places in S.A. to fill up and get coffee and a snack - rose bushes and flowers everywhere with sandstone mountains as a backdrop - bikers were here too so in they went - I didn't realise at that stage that my weekend's sketching would mostly feature these guys!


In Clarens, late afternoon and at the Brewery for a refreshing drink, I started sketching some wire sculptures outside the window, when more bikers arrived and I had a view of them through the doorway. I discovered that it was, in fact, the Harley-Davidson weekend in Clarens, and that the Steel Wings raise funds for Aids orphans and other charities. They did seem perfectly nice and normal once you got chatting (my husband chatted while I sketched) in spite of the rather intimidating outfits.
On Saturday I sketched at a wedding - a commission and the main purpose of our trip - though flattering to be asked, that was scary... a whole lot more pressure than picking your subject and it either working, or not. I'm still working on those!


This weekend is the annual Cherry Festival in nearby Ficksburg - we're missing that, but were delighted to find bucketloads of the perfect, glowing fruit being sold along the edge of the town square, and the cherry sellers happy to be drawn if I bought their wares, which I did in abundance.


Thumping exhausts alerted me to another group of bikers having breakfast across the square, so I found a spot behind the row of bikes and did another sketch while my husband watched cricket inside before they roared off, and we drove more sedately, back to the city,

East along the Thames

By James Hobbs, London, UK


Last Sunday, London's Urban Sketchers headed east along the river Thames to Trinity Buoy Wharf, the site of London's only lighthouse and much historic maritime activity, and now home to Container City, a studio and office complex created out of sea shipping containers. We were invited with other drawing groups by the Campaign for Drawing – the organisers of The Big Draw – to take part in a sketchcrawl and other drawing events in venues around the site.

Although the weather wasn't kind, the turnout was excellent, and the Fatboy Diner did a good trade with sheltering artists. Across the river stood the O2 Arena (the old Millennium Dome), where Federer and Djokovic were due to play in a World Tour final, and a thicket of never-ending dockland construction, while people moved slowly through the sky to the east in London's river-crossing cable car. 


It was an unlikely but popular venue, and one unknown even by many long-time London dwellers. It was great, as always, to meet up with our city's array of urban sketchers, and meet new ones. A show of drawings by artists shortlisted for the 2014 John Ruskin Prize continues there until 30 November. 

This is my biggest location drawing on the cloth


By Kumi Matsukawa, in Kanagawa prefecture, Japan

In October I went to Misaki fishing port, Kanagawa prefecture to sketch the view on the big cloth ( 1.25 X 3 meter). I applied newly learnt Kiah Kiean's Chinese ink method with watercolor wash. It was a bit windy day and I had to keep unfolding flipped edge time to time while drawing. It was an experimental attempt, I understand later that the cloth should have been washed before to be drawn ( It wasn't watercolor friendly state..) Anyway I enjoyed all the inconvenience and experience like playing a new game. The resulted work was too big to display in the house, so until recently I exhibit it in the gallery with some artists who also live in Kanagawa prefecture, I haven't been able to observe the whole look of it.

sketch on the big cloth
Half done with Chinese ink.

sketch on the big cloth
Done.

Misaki fishing port
The displayed view in the gallery.

November 21, 2014

Historic Illinois Route 66

Guest post by Adriana Gasparich
Joliet, Illinois, USA

I've heard so much about the famous Route 66; I know it crossed the United States from the Midwest to the West Coast, but .... does it still exist? In my quest to know, I found that part of the old road still exists and passes through nothing more and nothing else than Joliet, the next town from where I live. So on the first weekend of November, I drove there and south to sketch some of the roadside attractions in three different towns.

The first one was the Rich & Creamy Ice Cream Store in Joliet. Once my husband took me there when I first moved to the United States
. I wasn't impressed, I thought it was dated and old. With my limited knowledge about this country, I had little appreciation of what I was witnessing. That has changed.  Now I like anything vintage and that has history. I sat on the shade across the road, it was cold, but I captured the Blues Brothers on top.
20141101-Joliet IL Ice Cream Store Rt-66

Next day, Sunday, I headed south to the Village of  Dwight, Illinois. There's a beautiful historic place called the Ambler's Texaco Gas Station. I LOVED the vintage gas pumps. This time I wasn't going to let the cold weather get to me, so this smart girl parked the car with the trunk's window facing the building. I sketched in the trunk very comfortably and stayed warm. I love the result.
20141102-2-Dwight IL Ambler-Becker Texaco Gas station Rt-66
Finally I headed back north to the town of Wilmington to make a stop at this statue made of fiberglass, the Gemini Giant. Now a restaurant, it started as a stand selling only hot dogs. I believe old Route 66 is full of these giant statues, something in vogue then. I had a great weekend on Route 66.

20141102-1-Wilmington, IL Gemini Giant

Adriana Gasparich, originally from San Luis Potosi, Mexico, has lived in Joliet and, more recently, Shorewood, Illinois. She posts to Urban Sketchers Midwest Facebook, Urban Sketchers Chicago Facebook, and to her own blog, A blog about worded sketches.