November 30, 2015

Visit with Couscous, Carrefour and Michelin

By Javier de Blas in Tindouf, Algeria
Between February and March 2015 I spent a month living with a Sahrawi family in their "haima" in the refugee camps of Tindouf. Every Tuesday, I'm posting here the notes and sketches I made about daily life in the camps.
If there is any local word you don´t understand, please check in Local terminology post.

Salma invites us for lunch. She is Shabu's friend the girl that I drew in Smara, her wilaya. A girl with good sense of humor. I have the opportunity of being at the preparation of the couscous. Her mother, friends and family sing while working. They explain some of the things to me. The winnowing and other things that I see slip by, their voices are distant as I am concentrating more on the scene than on them. To me it's just beautiful. Right there, in a corridor which has become a chapel of culinary art. Traditional yet incomparable.

I do not eat because gluten disagrees with me. But I just love the process.
The nap is digital. While Salma pampers her brother, the girls are sending WhatsApps and after jotting down the moment I also go to work on the digital part of this project.
I also portrayed Faiti in Smara. She has just arrived at Salma's house and tells me, and she is quite right, that she does not recognized herself in the portrait. So we try again, with tranquillity. I take a photo of her after, just to show her that this time, yes, but I'm not going to show it to you since I do not want anyone to "revalidate" the drawing from photo and it makes me feel as if I am lowering the category.
We take a walk for a while coming across a couple of interesting shops. The Carrefour supermarket and Michelin store in Smara.

November 29, 2015

Trackside Changes

By Pete Scully in Davis, California

trackside center, davis

This is Trackside Center, on 3rd Street, Davis. Or the "under-threat" Trackside Center, as I must call it, for the developers are moving in. I'm not sure of the latest, but what is proposed is to demolish the existing building and build a large six-story complex with apartments and businesses, as well as basement parking, which is part of a plan to re-invigorate 3rd Street as a corridor to campus. I sketched the above on the day before Thanksgiving, to capture the colours of autumn in their full glory - it really is spectacularly bright here in northern California right now.

trackside center, davis CA

The sketch above shows more of the building. I used to cycle past here so often on the way back home when I lived in south Davis. The building is covered in paintings of leafy landscapes, but it's otherwise nothing special. It is home to several good local businesses, such as the Candy House of Davis, an amazing local chocolate shop. I always bring boxes of their hand-made choccies home to England with me. If this all gets redeveloped, what will happen to them? It is the residents of historic Old East Davis who have most to complain about. We don't have a lot of tall buildings in Davis, and if built, this new six-story structure would block the afternoon sunlight for a good deal of the surrounding residents. As I stood to sketch this, still largely unaware of the details of the project other than what was posted onto a telegraph pole across the street, a man eyed me warily, asking me if I was of the project. "Nah, I'm just a sketcher." I showed him my book and talked a bit about Davis's history. He told me a bit more about the proposal, saying it was very controversial and that the residents nearby are not happy. Here is an article in the Davis Enterprise about the fight to save the Old East Davis area from over-development: I'll sketch this building a bit more as its fate is determined.

The Liège USK book: presentation days

Last thursday the Liège Urban Sketchers book was launched, by a well orginazed press conference.
the book was an initiative by Gèrard Michel and the "Emulation" (they organize cultural and architectural events in Liège).
The book recounts the drawings of our group of 13 sketchers, that we made last year in september. We did 4 days of sketching on a 5 meter long strip of paper each. Imagine: 65 meters of sketches!

And the book is fantastic! With drawings of Florian Afflerbach, Simo Capecchi, Fabien Denoël, Rolf Schroeter, Miguel Herranz, Lapin Barcelona, David Emdé Magli, Antoine Michel, Gérard Michel, Corinne Raes, Luis Ruiz Padrón and Inma Serrano. And myself, Rene Fijten.

(for those interested, the book can be ordered through the following Liège bookshops):; ; ;
Of course, for the occasion we took the opportunity to roam the city and make some new sketches.

Here are some of my drawings: Gerard Michel, Florian Afflerback and I thought it was a good idea to sit on the roof of a 6 storey apartment building overlooking the river Meuse/Maas. Lapin was too much used to Spanish temperatures and decided to draw downstairs.

Liège rooftops 

You have to imagine that it is winter in these part: cold, barely above freezing point, and windy. Only if you sat behind one of the chimneys, protected against the wind, the sun was okay.

Liège vue vers Bueren
The top drawing shows the view over the city centre, the other drawing the view to the hills, towards the Montagne de Buren. It's a long staircase against the hill, counting 373 steps, with houses on both sides.

Just to show that I am not exaggerating about the rooftop: Florian and Gèrard Michel in action.

The things we do for art.

SG HEART MAP & Urban Sketchers Singapore

Yesterday's sketchwalk in Singapore was at Marina Bay.

Over the last few months, Urban Sketchers Singapore has worked with SG HEART MAP to organise several sketchwalks around Singapore. Finally, all the sketches from the public are displayed at the exhibition yesterday at the exhibition on The Float. I'm surprised by the quality of work and also the many names that I do not recognise.

I would consider the exhibition very successful because this is probably the first time our work is seen on a larger scale by the public.

Here's the video of the exhibition and part of the sketchwalk.

You can also check out more urban sketching videos on my Youtube page.

I only managed two sketches.

This is the ArtScience Museum. The design I heard is inspired by a lotus flower. It's quite impressive when view from bottom up.

Then it started to drizzle and I went into the Marina Bay Sands shopping mall to sketch the interior. Christmas is coming and they had a Christmas tree at the basement where the skating rink is.

- Parka

November 28, 2015

We’ll always have Paris

Story of my life – the only travel sketches done lately are the ones done from the hotel window or during a lunch.

But I'm glad I finally did some my very own Paris sketches!

 Vive la France!

November 27, 2015

Sunlight and shadow across adobe

Guest post by Dennis Pendleton in Taos, New Mexico

These three sketches are from Taos, New Mexico. This was painted on LeDoux Street which is a little one-way street with excellent examples of old adobe architecture. The blue door opens onto a private garden and a traditional adobe home. It was a beautiful sunny day and the cast shadows were full of color. Taos has been an art colony for over 100 years and some of the first artists in residence built their homes and studios on LeDoux Street.

I did this sketch in an older Taos neighborhood and the setting is typical of the town with the adobe wall and building, coyote fence, and cottonwood trees. This traditional architecture has a charm all its own with its warm colors and gently curving lines. The sunlight in Taos is legendary and it is one of the things that attracted the first artists to the area. 

In the same neighborhood, about 10 steps from the previous sketch, is this charming old home. It is behind an old mission where the local people still worship on Sunday. Just up the dirt road are some newer buildings, but old adobes still dominate. This kind of traditional architecture requires annual maintenance and it is common to see homeowners plastering away on warm summer afternoons.

Dennis Pendleton is an artist and art teacher who lives in Denver, Colorado. These sketches were painted during a workshop he teaches in Taos. See more of his work on his website.

sketches at Korea University, Seoul

By Lee Yong-hwan in Seoul, Korea

Main Hall, landmark of the campus square

Central Library of Korea University

Hae-song Law Library

Media Hall

KU-Lyceum (Institute for Continuing Education)

Main Gate of Korea University Campus

Main entrance of Anam Hospital

Hana Square and Science Library
( pen and watercolor, 21 x 29.6cm sketchbook )
Last week for two days, I dropped in Korea University Anam Campus that is my alma mater. Korea University, established in 1905, is widely known as one of the oldest, largest and top-ranked universities in Korea. The campus is located in Anam-dong near the downtown Seoul, and is well arranged in a colorful and natural setting of old and new buildings harmonized with the surrounding environment. On entering the campus, I was impressed with its stately stone architecture, new intelligent buildings, sprawling lawns, seasonal trees and natural flora, and so on.
I sketched colorful sceneries here and there around the broad campus, enjoying beautiful fall leaves pleasantly. While sketching some familiar buildings existed from my college days, I was lost in old memories for some time.

Our old newspaper shop.

A few months ago, Suhita wrote a story about my neighborhood near Ghent, and I illustrated it with this serie of sketches. As I told in my previous post, when taking the old road from Brussels to Ghent, one could be deceived by the ugly dreary ugliness of Ledeberg, which you have to cross before arriving in the splendid old town of Ghent.

Is it a coincidence that the other end of this road is situated exactly in Molenbeek (Brussels)? Didn't you ever hear about Molenbeek? Wake up!
BTW: there has no war broken out in Belgium and this is one of the nicest countries to live in. So, potential tourists, don't change your plans. You're always welcome.

But soon, it will be finished with the ugliness. That's what some real estate developers have decided. Not only there will be a new road and a new tramway (I hope it will be a lane with four rows of trees, large cycling paths, and a few cars, but maybe I'm a dreamer.

The owner of the newspaper shop has already closed his doors some months ago. In the morning I like to get my newspaper delivered to the doormat, by the postman. To read it near the stove before my coffee gets cold, without having to put on my shoes, my hat and my coat. So I have never been a good customer for the the poor newspaperman. But when I needed another newspaper or magazine I always managed to find his shop. From now I have to go to the supermarket. Big deal? No, big problem for me whenever I need a foreign magazine or newspaper such as Libération, XXI, or the Wall Street Journal. Even to get a Dutch newspaper as NRC Handelsblad or a French-language papers of my own country, as Le Soir, I have to start an expedition with my bike hoping to find it somewhere else in town.

Yesterday they started to break down the newspaper shop (the building in yellow brick on the left).
For many decennia I have been dazzled by the dreary ugliness and the stinking traffic jam on this road from Brussels to Ghent. But now the road is closed for all through traffic. For almost a year now we have to walk in the mud with the bike in the hand, slowly. And I see things I never saw before. The nice art deco architecture of the old newspaper shop. What was the ambition of the man who constructed this building many years ago? I guess he wanted to create a nice place to live and an attractive building to do his business in Ledeberg. What's the motive of the real estate developers who will build a skyscraper here? (I don't know them but I guess it has to do only with money.)
But I have to end this post now, put on my shoes and my coat and return to that place. What will I see today? Maybe only some rubble.

November 25, 2015

Italian Explorations

By Fred Lynch, Boston, Massachusetts

It's that time of year again when I share a bit of the work created last July by my college students in Italy. The group was amazing - pushing the possibilities of "urban sketching". My co-teacher this year, Kelly Murphy and I couldn't have been more pleased with the results - only a little which I share with you today.

What we see here, are selections from a few Final Projects - explorations of singular, narrow topics. 

The class also focuses on “voice, ” that is, by pushing students to celebrate how each artist has a different style of drawing - a different aesthetic - different interests.  In other words, we aim to make our point as well as make our mark through our drawings.

Ok, with all that in mind, here are some examples from last summer - series' that address particular themes. Creating works as a series promotes deeper investigations and artistic advancements. I hope you like them as much as I do.



Ashley Caswell, a Maryland Institute College of Art student from Needham, Massachusetts, made lists comparing characteristic features of the city.


Chrissy Dreyer, a Dual Degree student of both Brown University and RISD, from Maryland, explored the passages of light, space, and color, through the city's narrow roads using acrylics.


Angela Hsieh, a student at RISD from Pennsylvania, explored the feeling of being lost in a foreign city.



Taylor Pendelton, from RISD and Massachusetts, explored bright colors and texture, creating an incredible collection of images in a short period of time.



Edward Yang, a RISD student from California, using each drawing as part of a cafe review, incorporating a great deal of writing.

Many more great works from other students can be found on the course's blog: Drawing Viterbo.