--->See what sketchers are posting about #USkSingapore2015 on Twitter and Facebook.

August 1, 2015

Rescuing migrants at sea on board HMS Bulwark

Guest post by Dan Peterson

I joined HMS Bulwark in Malta on the 15th June. The ship’s crew were getting ready to return to sea after a few days respite following their largest rescue of 1200 migrants in the Mediterranean just the week before. I was on board to observe and record, using illustration. Bulwark’s current mission, known as Op WEALD, is the UK's contribution to SOLAS (Saving Of Life At Sea) Operations.

We steamed out of Malta on 17th June and headed for the Libyan coast. It takes a few days to get there so training was going on all over the ship. This drawing shows the flight controller making notes on the window of the Flight Control Room during a training exercise.

On Saturday 20th June a Merlin from 814 Squadron during its early morning sortie, spotted three migrant vessels in need of rescue.

I made my way down into the cavernous vehicle deck that runs over three quarters the length of the ship. I climbed on board one of the four landing craft to join a Navy Medic and a group of Royal Marine Commandos. I was handed a pair of surgical gloves and a face mask to wear. The entire stern of the ship was lowered and the dock section of the vehicle deck was flooded with water so that we could sail out.

I sketched as an overcrowded migrant boat came into view. Two smaller landing craft circled around the migrant boat as the Marines threw them bright orange life jackets. Below: a smaller landing craft in the foreground, the migrant boat, a larger landing craft and then the Bulwark on the horizon.



The number of people on board the migrant boat was bewildering. I tried to draw them but ended up just outlining the figures. Once the migrants put on the life jackets, the Marines loading them into their landing craft and ferried them to our bigger craft.

The relief on their faces as they stepped onto our deck, took off their life jackets, and sat down was obvious. There was a mix of nationalities. Some were barefoot whilst others looked like they’d just stepped off a plane well dressed for a special trip. There were small children, babies, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends. I was impressed by the patience and calmness of the Marines as they went about the task of loading the craft until it was almost as full as the one they’d been rescued from. I sat on some large boxes drawing as we made our way back into the belly of the Bulwark.


The large image above was sketched on a piece of paper cut down from A3 so that it fits on a board I can fit in my back pack. I added colour when back on the ship.

I had a number of drawings on the go during the journey back to the Bulwark with the large one and this smaller close-up of mother and child being the most successful.

The first thing that happens when the migrants climb up the incline onto the vehicle deck of the ship is a thorough search by men and women in white medical overalls, surgical masks and gloves. I found an excellent vantage point to overlook this from a mezzanine used as the ship's gym. I sat among the treadmills and weights finishing the larger scene as I could still see into the backs of the landing craft as they off-loaded load after load of migrants.





The sick are taken to the medical tent to be examined and treated by Navy Medics. Here is a young 17-year-old man being treated for scabies. Others are put on IV drips and issued antibiotics. Great care is taken to avoid cross infection as many of the migrants come from countries where there is little access to healthcare.













The vehicle deck fills, and with the line of chemical toilets in constant use the whole scene starts to resemble a bizarre rock festival. In the bright Mediterranean sunshine the swarm of people spreads. By the time the loading is over there are 914 survivors on board of whom 133 were women, many pregnant, and 39 below the age of 18.



During the day-and-a-half sail from the coast of Libya to the port of Taranto in Italy, I interviewed a number of the migrants. Each has their own story – all of harrowing journeys from bleak situations. This group of young men are from Eritrea and Somalia. They are all economic migrants, paid for by their families to seek work for money they can send back to their families. Mohamed has been with the people smugglers for two years. At times he thought he would never make it.

By being directly involved with the migrants in the way the men and woman of the Naval Services have been each and every one of the crew members I spoke to are proud of the work they are doing. They are committed to SOLAS - Saving Of Life At Sea. They see the migrants as the people they are – fathers and mothers with children, infants and babies. Brothers and sisters. Friends both old and newly discovered during their extraordinary journeys.

Dan Peterson is a freelance illustrator based in Cardiff, Wales. In 2011 he accompanied the British Army to Helmand Province, Afghanistan as an Official War Artist. His current work includes concept illustrations and storyboarding for film and television such as The Lan film project, board games and various editorial illustrations for magazines. He is a Tutor at Cardiff School of Art and Design, Cardiff Metropolitan University. His next reportage illustration trip will be to Bangladesh, later this year.

Read more about my time on board HMS Bulwark on my blog or Twitter at @DanSPeterson.

Drawing Attention – August 2015

Urban Sketchers Events and Workshops


Photo by Azzam Bre Mahaputra
Nearly 400 sketchers from 36 countries gathered in Singapore July 22 to attend the Sixth Annual Urban Sketchers Symposium. The USk Executive Board is grateful to the local team, led by Tia Boon Sim and Patrick Ng, for their hard work and hospitality. Attendees experienced the warmth of the Singaporean people as they explored the "Little Red Dot" while sketching and learning.

The event culminated in a sketch walk at the Singapore Management University Lawn, followed by a closing reception at the National Design Center. Sketchers contributed to the closing reception's silent auction, which raised more than $4,000 USD for scholarships for future Symposium attendees.

The Symposium organizing team (photo by Kelvin Tan)
“As we are still saying goodbye to old friends and new in Singapore, we are already looking ahead to the planning for Manchester in 2016,” President Elizabeth Alley said. “We hope to see you there!”

To see sketches and photos from participants, use the hashtag #USkSingapore2015 on social media. In addition, the Symposium correspondents did an amazing job documenting the events in sketches, photos, videos and words on the Urban Sketchers blog.

The New Paper, a Singapore online newspaper, covered the Symposium in its July 27 edition with an article, "Sketching Singapore in its Actual State - Artists from Around the World Draw Inspiration from S'Pore's Streets at the First Urban Sketchers Symposium Here."

Missed the symposium? It's not too late for the fun and inspiration of an Urban Sketchers workshop! Here are more coming your way:

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 three instructors 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.

News from Urban Sketchers Communities


USk Germany will gather in Darmstadt Sept. 4 - 6 for sketchcrawls around the art déco area of Mathildenhöhe, a former artists' colony which is being considered a Unesco World Heritage site. The program will include demos and mini-workshops in German and English, a portrait party and drink-and-draw fun in the evenings. "Everyone is welcome to participate! We have already 50 participants registered, both from Germany and abroad," said Jenny Adam.

Marie-Judith Jean-Louis reports that USk Toronto (Canada) spent a day sketching at Niagara Falls in July. A video/slide show on the group's blog shows the action.

Many Urban Sketchers groups took part in the 48th quarterly World Wide SketchCrawl, including New York (USA), Rome (Italy), Lyon (France), Strasbourg (France), London (England), Seattle (USA), Birmingham (England), Seoul (Korea) and Portland (USA).

As part of the International Festival Còmic Nostrum of Mallorca, Spain, urban sketchers Rolf Schroeter and Swasky, along with local members Catalina Rigo and Feliu Renom, will lead drawing meetings Oct. 10 - 11. Open to all, the event is free, but spots are limited and will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. Catalina and Feliu led the same event last year. This year, Rolf and Swasky will join them. Stay tuned for updates on the event on Facebook.

Shari Blaukopf reported on USk Montreal's participation in Picnic Vernissage, an event organized by the Stewart Hall Cultural Centre and Art Gallery in Pointe Claire. More than 80 sketchers, including some from Toronto, Vermont and Quebec City, participated on the sunny Sunday afternoon. Sketches from the day were hung in the gallery, where they will remain on exhibit for the summer.

Sketchers in Action


Tony Underhill published
an article about Urban Sketching
in the summer edition of
Leisure Painter magazine.
Tony Underhill (UK) published an excellent article in the summer 2015 edition of Leisure Painter (print and online). Based on a recent visit to Canada when he had the opportunity to sketch with USk Montreal, the article is an introduction to the Urban Sketchers organization. In addition, Tony discusses the techniques and expertise of Shari Blaukopf and Marc Taro Holmes, who led the Montreal sketchcrawl he attended.

Jacek Krenz of USk Poland taught a watercolor sketching workshop in June at the International Watercolor Exhibition and Workshops in the picturesque historic town Kazimierz Dolny (Poland). "Members of The Polish Watercolorist Association and other workshop participants were happy to receive new fresh, more spontaneous approach to their painting technique," said Jacek.

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!

July 31, 2015

Rencontre à Strasbourg!

By Pete Scully in Strasbourg, France

Rue Merciere and Strasbourg Cathedral

Last month, I had the great pleasure of visiting the city of Strasbourg, in Alsace, north-eastern France, for the third annual Urban Sketchers France 'Rencontre Nationale'. This was a weekend of pure sketching, wandering, meeting other urban sketchers, soaking in an amazing city. I had first visited Strasbourg twenty years ago on an exchange trip, and have been back a few times, but not in the past ten years, and not since I've been sketching like I do now. As someone obsessed with the magnificent and massive cathedral, and with timber-framed houses and riverside scenes, Strasbourg is the perfect city to sketch. Above, the famous view down the Rue Merciere towards the Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Strasbourg, which is a thousand years old this year (the first stone was laid in 1015 by Bishop Werner von Habsburg).

Petite France, Strasbourg

One of the most picturesque parts of the city is the area called Petite France, located where the river Ill breaks off to form the Grand Ile (the main island upon which old Strasbourg is built), splitting into several canals spanned by narrow footbridges and locks. I sat for a couple of hours and sketched the scene above, which shows the 16th century Maison des Tanneurs next to the timber-framed loveliness of Place Benjamin Zix, named for an artist from this area who worked during the Napoleonic era.

Petite France, Strasbourg

Petite France actually gets its name from a nickname for the disease syphilis, as this was the area where French soldiers who had fallen ill with the disease while fighting in Naples were housed and treated. Strasbourg (and Alsace in general) has a long history of going between France and Germany (or being part of the Holy Roman Empire), and syphilis was nicknamed the 'French disease' by the German-speaking population. Much of the architecture in Strasbourg feels very reminiscent of towns in Germany, but it's wrong to tie Strasbourg historically to one 'realm' or the other - it is historically as much French as German. The city literally lies at the crossroads of Europe - while the Romans called it Argentoratum, the name 'Strasbourg' meant the settlement at the roads (Strassburg in German, Strossburi in the local Alsatian language, a dialect of low Alemannic-German which is still widely spoken in the city today). In fact the historic Oaths of Strasbourg signed in the city in 842 provide possibly the earliest written evidence of the French language as distinct from the Latin found elsewhere in the former Roman empire. These oaths were written in Old French (or 'Romance' as they preferred), Old High German and Medieval Latin, and effectively formed a pact between two of the grandsons of Charlemagne, Charles the Bald (ruler of West Francia, roughly the western portion of modern France) and Louis the German (ruler of East Francia, roughly where most of modern Germany is today), against their elder brother Lothair (current Holy Roman Empire and ruler of middle Francia, roughly analogous to the modern Netherlands, Belgium, Burgundy, down to Provence and Northern Italy). Strasbourg is in the dead centre of the Carolingian empire, and being at the geographic centre of the original pre-expansion European Union, it was chosen as one of the capitals and the European Parliament was place here (and also in Brussels). Strasbourg has been a big deal for a long time.

Sketching by the Ill river, Strasbourg

Yet despite that strategic importance and its historic role as a European crossroads, it doesn't feel like a big, self-important overcrowded metropolis - quite the opposite. I've always liked the relative calmness of Strasbourg compared to the other European cities I've spent time in, even Aix. That tranquility is never more noticeable than down by the river. Strasbourg has a lot of access to waterways, located around several branches of the river Ill, and its eastern edge borders the banks of the Rhine, marking the modern frontier with Germany. I like it by the river Ill though, circling the Grand Ile, and down on the riverbank there are lots of spots to sit and read, or of course sketch. Above is the Pont St. Thomas, sketched from the Quai Finkwiller, while below is the Pont du Corbeau.

Pont du Corbeau

Also located on the river is the late nineteenth century Eglise St.Paul, where the river Ill is joined by the river Aar. I sketched this from the tram stop on one of the other bridges. While not as spectacular and old as the Cathedral, its location is beautiful. It was built during a period when Strasbourg was part of Imperial Germany, and was constructed for the Lutheran German soldiers garrisoned here.

Cafe Atlantico, Strasbourg

I was here for the Urban Sketchers France Rencontre, of course, the third annual meet-up of sketchers from all over France (and other neighbouring countries). There was a strong Belgian contingent, and it was great to see old sketching friend Gerard Michel and his nephew Fabien Denoel here, as well as meeting Dutch urban sketcher Rene Fijten for the first time. I also met some sketchers who I knew from previous Symposia such as Corinne Raes and AMrtine Kervagoret. Each evening the sketchers would congregate at the Cafe Atlantico, on the banks of the River Ill, to share each others sketchbooks and enjoy a beer. I don't know how many sketchers attended the Rencontre in total, but it was more than 150 I believe. I sketched part of the crowd above. On the Saturday evening, a large crowd of us went to the Brasserie de la Bourse to speak French (very badly in my case), swap sketchbooks and eat plentiful amounts of the local specialty, Tarte Flambée. I saw some amazing sketchbooks, notably those of Nicolas Doucedame, Vincent Desplanche, Sophie Navas, Caroline Manceau and of course Gerard Michel. Now I did try to sketch people, but after a day of architecture and rivers I was a bit rusty on the portraits, so I gave up using ink and made a portrait of Gerard using a more local material...

USk France rencontre 2015Gérard flambé!

I spent three days in total exploring and sketching Strasbourg at my own leisure, before heading back to London. It was great to reconnect with other sketchers, and also with a city I used to love but had almost forgotten. I spent time in old bookstores, eating delicious food, getting lost in narrow streets. I was even pleased to find that they had fire hydrants.

Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Strasbourg, and Maison KammerzellStrasbourg Hydrant

If you want to read even more about my visit, you can visit those posts on my sketchblog. For more information about Urban Sketchers France, visit their website (it is in French). The Rencontre was organized superbly by Lolo Wagner, and he has posted many photos from the event on Flickr.
Oh, and here is a map showing all the places I sketched...



July 30, 2015

Alvin Wong talks about a new instructional urban sketching book

Alvin Wong from Urban Sketchers Hong Kong talks about a new instructional urban sketching book that his team is coming up with. They are still developing it so there are going to be changes. But you can get a preview of what it looks and feels like in this video below

What's inside the Urban Sketchers Symposium Singapore Goodie Bag



One week after the Urban Sketchers Symposium has ended, I finally have the time to check out what's inside the goodie bag.

The list of sponsors are as follows:

- Parka

July 27, 2015

Homeless in Oxford: a reportage project


Interview with Jack Wheatley, by Marcia Milner-Brage

During the summer of 2014, having recently graduated with a degree in Illustration from Camberwell College of the Arts in London, Jack Wheatley did a three month Topolski Residency at the Topolski Studio in London. The focus was to “produce, distribute and exhibit” a set of reportage drawings “chronicling contemporary issues of the twenty-first century”. The inspiration for these residencies is the twentieth century reportage drawings of Feliks Topolski.

How did you chose the subject for your residency?

I had a free place to stay in Oxford in my sister’s student house so I commuted back and forth to London twice a week over the summer to attend the classes for the residency. So I spent most of my time in Oxford, which I explored on my bike. One thing that struck me was the large number of homeless people living in Oxford, many who looked like they had an interesting story to tell. I decided to make drawings and interviews of some homeless people the subject of my final drawings for the residency show.

.Reportage project - Homeless Oxford

How did you get started? What did you do to gain access and trust from these individuals? Was it difficult for them to agree to being drawn?

Reportage project - Homeless Oxford
The first person I drew.
It was hard to approach the first man to ask if I could draw and record him, as I had nothing to show him. He agreed to be drawn begrudgingly and asked if he could have some money for his effort which I agreed to. Once I had got so far he had a look at the drawing and immediately brightened up when he saw I had captured a good likeness of him. By the end of the drawing he was very pleased with how it looked and did not want any money. He told me where I could go to meet other homeless people. It was by a monument situated by one of the Oxford colleges. The monument is where some of Oxford’s homeless spend their evenings. I made all my drawings here in the evenings. After I had a number of drawings which I could show people, word got around that there was someone drawing their friends. After that, it was much easier to approach people and draw them.




Tell me how the words came about on the page.

I recorded the conversations I was having on my iPhone and later transcribed the recording onto the drawing. I had to pick and choose sections of the interview to write down.

Reportage project - Homeless Oxford


Some of the drawings are without words.

I had transcribed down more conversations but on separate pieces of paper, which have been lost whilst moving around. Even without words, this is one of my favorite drawings. I like the unusual angle I have drawn from, as I was sitting further up some steps. The man on the left I had met and drawn before. He told me how his friend on the right had tried to kill himself numerous times by overdosing and he had saved him every time.

Reportage project - Homeless Oxford


This lady was very friendly and we talked for a couple of hours about many things. Her dog, that helped her if she had an epileptic fit, had died recently, so she was in Oxford where she knew people on the street who could look out for her. When I was talking to someone else later they rolled their eyes and mentioned that she talked a great deal.

Reportage project - Homeless Oxford


Over what period of time did you do the drawings? How much time did you spend on a drawing? What size are they? Materials?

I spent about three weeks on all the drawings. I can’t say how long I spent on each drawing exactly but around the twenty minute mark. I drew in an A3 sketchpad with a solid graphite pencil, which was great for using on its side to put down large areas of tone quickly.

Reportage project - Homeless Oxford 14
The man on the left had a dog called Freddie who was a great shaggy hound and was well known in Oxford.
What did you hope to gain for them in doing these drawings?

I did not go into this project with the idea of helping anyone but more just to record stories and give people a voice that may not always be listened to through a form that was engaging: drawing. If the project resulted in someone being better off from it I would be delighted but I thought I would let that come naturally.

Reportage project - Homeless Oxford



This drawing is intriguing to me. What are the numbers at the top of the page? What’s SNOWY? What is a code man?

Reportage project - Homeless Oxford

I don’t really know the full story as he didn’t talk, but some of the others told me that he was a code breaker in the war and enjoyed code puzzles. He gave me the number so I could work out his name. Each number represents the position of a letter in the alphabet. His name was Snowy.


What is the takeaway that you have from this experience? What was most compelling for you about this project?


I found everything about the drawing and interviewing process very interesting as I had insight into a different world which most people don’t get to see. I was able to do this through drawing which broke down barriers which may have existed if I had been simply interviewing people or photographing people.

Reportage project - Homeless Oxford

Is there anything that you’d do differently?

I was limited for time so couldn’t create a really in depth investigation. Next time I do a project like this I will do more drawings of the same person so I have more pages to put text and get a more rounded story. There was a lot more I could have done, like put on a show in Oxford, but I was tight on time as I had to go back to Wales.

What came after your Topolski Residency and the Homeless in Oxford project? What are your plans for the future?

I am currently in my home county of Pembrokeshire (St. Davids, Wales), which is as far west as you can go. It is an extremely beautiful place and is steeped in history. It is a most incredible location perched on top of a cliff and is full of art. I draw regularly, though I have not made any new reportage work. I find my drawings from direct observation have more energy and vibrancy, you can’t dither and this shows in the energy of the marks made.

Goache-sketch
Gouache painting of the cliffs of Pembrokeshire in Wales

I am working in a hotel to save money for travelling. I plan on travelling for a long period of time; though I do not know exactly where I am going, I will start off in Nepal in September. I plan to make a blog specifically for my travel drawings. I hope to interview people as best I can.

I don't have a photograph of myself. Here's a self-portrait.

Scan 12
Jack Wheatley




Together we sketched Singapore - USk 6th Symposium

By Paul Wang, Singapore

Waterloo StreetPrincep Street Marina Bay Sands USKSingapore2015 feast 1
Last two weeks were just simply wonderful to reunite with many international sketching friends here in Singapore. So glad that they all came to support the 6th USk Symposium held here in Singapore. Together we spent many hours sketching, feasting on local food and sharing our lives. I also had the privilege to conduct the 'Wet & Wild Texture' activity for the symposium participants. Looking forward to the next symposium in Manchester.
  UntitledAwesome participants in my Wet & Wild with Texture class during our USK symposium. UntitledUntitled

Sketching with Virginia Hein


Today, I went sketching with Don Low, James Tan, Tony Chua and Virginia Hein.

The Urban Sketchers Symposium may be over but we are still sketching. Virginia Hein is still in Singapore and we went to Marina Bay, Gardens by the Bay and Chinatown for a whole day of sketching. Yes, it's tiring.


The huge white building is actually Fullerton Hotel. It's a five-star luxury hotel that used to be a General Post Office Building. The more popular area would be the Merlion Park that's just right in front across the street.


Chinatown


While the Supertrees at Gardens by the Bay felt rather artificial, they do look pretty spectacular.


The digital sketch is by me. The right is by Tony. Sketches in the bottom row are from Virginia Hein, Don Low and James Tan respectively.

Here's the video of what we did.


- Parka