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March 4, 2015

Volvo Ocean Race lands in Auckland

By Murray Dewhurst in New Zealand.

The Volvo Ocean Race has race arrived in Auckland. I sketched them at the event base yesterday morning where they were already up on cradles for service. Elevated like this I thought they looked more aeronautical than nautical.

The yachts set off on Leg 4 of the race from Hainan Island, China, on February 8th. From what I can tell they then traveled east across the top of the Philippines before heading southward, past exotic sounding Micronesian islands like Pohnpei and Kosrei, then the Melanesian islands of Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

You would have to wonder if after 3 weeks without a shower they would have been tempted to stop off at a coral atoll for some cerviche and a hot shower.

Interestingly they all arrived in port within hours of each other. First in port was the Spanish yacht MAPFRE, followed 4 minutes later by Abu Dhabi (the overall leader) and Dongfeng (that's Dongfen in the sketch top left).

They'll all be back in the water on Saturday morning for an in-port race, before leaving on March 15 heading around Cape Horn for Itajai, Brazil.

March 3, 2015

In Mongolia with the Peace Corps

Guest post by Cal Brackin in Choir, Mongolia.

I arrived in Mongolia to start my two-year service as a Community and Youth Development Volunteer with the Peace Corps in 2013. The Peace Corps started in 1961 under Kennedy's presidency to help people in other countries meet their need for trained men and women, and help promote a better understanding between Americans and other peoples. I work at a secondary school (1st-12th grades) alongside the school social worker. I live in the regional capital of Choir (Чойр) on the northern fringe of the Gobi Desert in the province of Govisumber.

I like to draw the people and architecture that surrounds me, but the most compelling are those subjects that I can build a story from. I like drawing people in dramatic situations, sequences that tell “how-to”, and the picturesque images that I want to embed in my memories. Naadam, for instance, is an annual, summer-time festival where spectators watch archery, horse racing, and wrestling. At least 100 wrestlers compete at any one Naadam, and they wrestle each other in single-elimination bouts until there is one champion. A wrestler loses when his back touches the ground. It is a lot of leaning, grappling, and pushing until one can make a swift trip or throw to knock the other to the ground.

Here I tried to create the image of the crowd around me as we watched the wrestling. When I had finished with the ink and watercolor the man next to me asked if he could see it, and then he passed the Moleskine through the rest of the crowd. (Can you see me in the drawing?) Everyone had a good laugh at picking themselves out.

The people in Choir are hospitable and are mostly employed in the government, schools, railroad, police and fire departments, or local shops. The Google Images version of Mongolians depicted living in the countryside in gers (or yurts) and riding horses is not what my neighbors are like. They drive modern cars, live in Soviet-styled apartments, wear western-styled clothes made in China, watch TV, and carry smartphones.

This drawing, however, is of the interior of the ger in which I lived during my first three months in Mongolia. The dry-sink is where I would wash my hands and face, and the stove in the middle is where I would make fires to keep the ger warm. The stove is the essential item of any ger and is used for cooking, making tea, and heating the home. The landscape surrounding Choir is flat, semi-arid desert with little vegetation. During Mongolia's socialist era, Choir was used as an army base for the Soviet military and at one time boasted a huge base, with 11 apartment buildings and a population of about 20,000 Russians. After the Mongolian Democratic Revolution in 1990, the Soviets abandoned the base and it was razed by the Mongolians for building supplies, but the apartment buildings were left standing as a ghost town for nearly a decade. Today, they are occupied by Mongolians, and now I live in one of the flats.

I went to a shaman ceremony with a friend and I was given permission to draw during the ceremony. The shaman sang, dancers danced, we were given milk, candy, and 10 Mongolian tugriks (less than one cent), which is meant to bring good luck and prosperity. I drew the shaman and then near the end we were told to close our eyes to meditate. We did and the shaman told us we were good. If you go to a shaman, don’t forget to meditate!

For my sketching I use pocket Moleskines with Micron pens and a Sakura field watercolor set. Typically, I buy these products online and nowadays I have them shipped to Mongolia because they aren’t available in the country.

When I need a haircut, there is one fantastic place called Grace Salon where the barbers take 30 minutes or more per haircut. It is dramatically different from getting a haircut in the States, where the clock is ticking for people to get things done. In Mongolia there is no rush and the quality of the haircut is so much better. People wait a long time at the salon for their turn, which gives me time to sketch, but the quality of the haircut is well worth the wait.

The Mongolian countryside can be dramatic. A friend happened to find me perched on a cliff drawing the early evening and took this photo.

I live on the Trans-Siberia train line and use it to travel to the capital, Ulaanbaatar. The train departs at 1:40am so when I get on the 3rd class, most people are already sleeping. If I can, I’ll try to make a drawing before I settle in and sleep. I drew a resting train in Choir during a warm day in the summer. The train workers were curious about the strange, drawing foreigner in their community and would occasionally probe me with questions. I added the watercolors for this when I returned home.

My girlfriend Samantha traveled to visit me in Mongolia and she is a beautiful subject to draw, plus she entertains me by holding relatively still for as long as I ask her to. She enjoys crocheting so one night we busied ourselves with our hobbies and I was able to sketch her while she made a hat.

When I finish my Peace Corps service in July 2015, I will return to the United States where I will finish a graduate program in NGO Administration at the University of Wyoming. You can see more of my work at

March 2, 2015

Can you draw me?

by Marina Grechanik, in Jaffa, Israel

Last week I finally managed to visit my friend's Aurore new studio at Old Jaffa. As usual, sketching together was one of our plans, so we sat down at the Kikar Kedumim square, which was filled by bright rays of the end of the February sun. 
I tried out my new oil pastels:
And did this very quick watercolor sketch of the opposite side of the square:
Groups of tourists were constantly filling and leaving the square: Japanese, Indian, European Christian... One of the groups that came there was a group of local Arab pupils - they approached us and started with the usual questions: What are you drawing? Why? Who's paying you? When it became clear to them that we're doing it for free and for fun, one the boys asked me to draw him. Of course I agreed, and after I finished, he asked me to sketch one of the girls ( the most beautiful, with the pink scarf). I think they both were happy with the results and they wrote their names in Arabic and Hebrew. 

I love interaction with people on the street, these rear moments make me feel like a real urban sketcher :)

various types of buildings around Jongno-3ga, Seoul

By Lee Yong-hwan in Seoul, Korea

a large building under remodelling (former Dansungsa theatre) 
viewed from Jongno-3ga Station

Lotte Cinema Piccadilly opposite the former Dansungsa theatre

KookilKwan(Dreampalace), service and recreation facilities 

Pimatgol, means "avoid horse alley", was over 600 years ago
during the "Joseon Dynasty"

Jongno Catholic church and the surroundings

the main gate of Jongmyo Shrine

shabby buildings in a narrow alley

Jongno Tower Building viewed from Jongno-3ga Station
(pen and watercolor, 21 x 29.6cm sketchbook)

The area around Jongno-3ga is the origin of many famous film theatres, and a large number of shops and jewelry stores along the street near Jongmyo(Royal Shrine). In spite of the old downtown in central Seoul, redevelopment and reconstruction projects of this area are highly restricted now. So this area contains some interesting attractions from diverse cultures of historic Seoul between old and new buildings.
I enjoyed sketching the various scenes from the buildingscapes along the street around Jongno-3ga.

March 1, 2015

Gb3 Clovis

Over twenty years ago, my wife and I joined a health club down in Southern California. It was one of those deals you just couldn't turn down, and we were convinced we were saving hundreds of dollars by paying for a full year's membership. After our check went through, the health club went bankrupt, and it was back to jogging around the block. So I was a little tentative to get back into a membership once we moved back to the States. But George Brown fitness centers (Gb3) here in Fresno have been a great thing. We pay a very reasonable family price per month, and you can hang out on the treadmill or rowing machine as much as you want. There's a jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, free weights, machines galore, tons of classes, babysitting, and even a protein shake cafe. But today I decided to exercise my pens instead of my muscles and just sketch the place.

Mission Bay, San Diego

By Lydia Velarde

The Barefoot Bar and Grill is located in Vacation Village, tucked away on gentle Mission Bay in the heart of San Diego. The restaurant was the location of this sketch done in pen and watercolor.

Drawing Attention – March 2015

Urban Sketchers Events and Workshops

Don’t miss the live chat with the Urban Sketchers Executive Board this Monday, March 2! At 15:00 – 16:00 (3 – 4 p.m.) GMT and again at 22:00 – 23:00 (10 – 11 p.m.) GMT, visit the Urban Sketchers Facebook page. The board is ready to take your questions!

Opportunities for Urban Sketchers workshops abound all over the world! See the Workshops tab on the Urban Sketchers blog or specific links below for more details on these exciting classes:
San José, Costa Rica, March 30 – 31, “The Market Adventure”
Coventry, England, April 8 – 10, "Space Oddities - Pushing Your Sketching Boundaries in Coventry"
Lisbon, Portugal, April 25, “Freedom Revolution Workshop!”
Miami, Florida (USA), March 27 – April 12 (3 modules), “Sketch-it-On: Miami”
Orange County, California (USA), May 1 – 3, “Line to Color”
Volterra, Tuscany (Italy), June 24 – 28, “Journey into Matter with Ink and Watercolor”

The third annual West Coast Urban Sketchers Sketch Crawl will be in San Diego (USA) Aug. 7 - 9, 2015.

News from Urban Sketchers Communities

USk Southampton just celebrated its first birthday!
Urban Sketchers Southampton (UK), now 159 members strong, will celebrate its first birthday with a group exhibition opening March 28 at Southampton City Art Gallery. The exhibition is part of Southampton’s “50th anniversary as a city” festivities, said Heather Butler. Organized by founding members Kay Brown and Darren Shorter, and Peter Jarvis of Southampton Solent University, the show will include sketches in four themes.

In February, Urban Sketchers Málaga sketched immigrant children who are supported by the nonprofit organization Málaga Acoge to help raise awareness. “This was our first time that we went specifically to sketch children, and we really had a great time with them!” Patrizia Torres said. See sketches and photos on USk Málaga’s Facebook page.

Meanwhile, the Málaga sketchers are getting ready for Malagráfica May 1 – 3. The event will include conferences and sketch gatherings at the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo and at some urban locations in the city center, the port and the botanic gardens. Among the lecturers are Emily Nudd-Mitchell, Gérard Michel, Luis Ruiz, José Antonio Sencianes and Alfredo Ugarte aka Urumo, said Luis Ruiz.

USk Málaga gears up for a three-day sketching event.
What is Urban Sketchers Costa Rica up to lately? Plenty! In January, Teletica, a major local television company, produced and showed a documentary on urban sketching featuring sketchers Erick Víquez and Fernando Villar.

Then on Feb. 18, Julia Stephan and Isabel Niehaus were interviewed by Tico Times, an English-language online newspaper, about Urban Sketchers and the sketching activities in San José.

Finally, only three days later, a reporter and photographer from La Nacion surprised Urban Sketchers Costa Rica by showing up at the group’s sketchcrawl. An article about them appeared in that major newspaper Feb. 22.

Another Urban Sketchers group that recently attracted media attention is Albania. A major TV program, Top Channel, featured Urban Sketchers Albania and talked about the Urban Sketchers movement. Beginning with only four sketchers, the growing community is “young and with a great desire to explore our country through sketching,” said Mario Shllaku.

Professional and amateur artists are invited to submit work highlighting the beauty of Mount Royal for a group exhibition presented on Mount Royal, Les amis de la montagne, in association with Urban Sketchers Montréal.

Many urban sketchers groups took part Jan. 31 in the 46th World Wide SketchCrawl, including Korea, France, Japan, Birmingham (UK), Los Angeles (USA) and Seattle (USA).

Sketchers in Action

Sketch by Juliette Plisson, who will have an exhibition of her
urban sketches in Paris.

Juliette Plisson (France) will have an exhibit of her urban sketches March 26 - April 25 at the Paris boutique Dis bonjour à la dame.

Lapin (Spain) reports that the travel sketches of 30 urban sketchers have been published in a new book, Diários de Viagem 2, edited by Eduardo Salavisa.

Swasky’s (Spain) blog includes photos from a current group exhibition by nine urban sketchers at Mitte Barcelona Gallery.

Veronica Lawlor (USA) is one of three artists whose work will be shown at the Artists for Art Gallery in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The exhibit, which will include Veronica’s reportage sketches, runs March 5 – 28.

Lynne Chapman (UK) was featured in The Leverhulme Trust’s glossy newsletter in January about the residency she was awarded with the Morgan Centre at Manchester University. The year-long residency will involve “shadowing their research projects with my sketchbook in hand,” according to Lynne’s blog.

“Urban sketcher returns to share tricks of trade” reads the headline of the article about Liz Steel (Australia) in the Launceston, Tasmania, newspaper, The Examiner. Liz will be offering a travel sketching workshop there in October.

Yum-yum. . . Richard Sheppard's sketch now appears on
Ghirardelli Chocolate's packaging.
Richard Sheppard (USA) recently completed a sweet commission: sketching Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco for the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. The final drawing now appears on the 5-pound chocolate bar packaging and on Ghirardelli’s point-of-purchase craft bags.

Katherine Tyrrell (UK) just published a new book about drawing and sketching. Published in the UK (Apple Press), USA (North Lights Books) and Asia (English edition, Page One), the book has “Three different titles, three different covers and three different publishers - but it's the same book underneath!” Katherine said. Called Sketching 365: Build Your Confidence and Skills with a Tip a Day in the US, the book is available on

The Seattle Greenlaker, a neighborhood blog, featured Seattle (USA) artist and urban sketcher Steve Reddy and his sketches of local coffee shops and houses.

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!

February 28, 2015

Drawing Venice

Here's a brief video I cut together of a recent sketch trip to the Venice Canals, Los Angeles. I found a peaceful spot away from the chaos of the sea front and set up a camera to record the drawing. You can see the finished sketch on my personal art blog here

Eating and Sketching: When 2 passions come together!

By Mike Daikubara in Boston, USA

I love food.
As with many Urban sketchers I love to get a quick capture of the food before going into experiencing the taste. This allows me to enjoy the food visually then go into enjoying the food through the other senses.
In January I went to one of my favorite seafood restaurants in Boston called B&G Oysters and as usual made a quick sketch of our food. One of the waiters saw my sketch, said he really liked it and asked if I could send them the sketch. I sent them this sketch.

B&G Oysters

A few days later I was contacted by Stephen, the Chef of the restaurant mentioning that he really loved my sketch and had a crazy idea. He told me they were starting an event called 'Shellabration" where each week for 7 weeks they were going to introduce a different pre-fixed meal and asked me if I could come sketch it. In return he offered my wife and I a free meal for each visit. I was really excited since this was one of my favorite restaurants to begin with and gave me an opportunity to sketch a different meal each week.

Here's the capture of the weeks I was able to visit:

Week 2: Paella Valenciana w/Pulpo a la Gallega and Bravas
B&G Oysters: Shellabration Week 2

Week 3: Fritto Misto w/Fennel and Pork Lasagna and Warm Squash Salad
Meal before the Blizzard

Week 4: Puerto Rican Chillo Frito w/Lechon Rice and Beans and Papaya Mofongo
Shellabration Week 4 & B&G Oysters

Week 6: Maryland Crab Bash w/Smoked Oyster Hushpuppies and  Hominy Chowder
I'm focusing real hard here since the faster I could sketch, the faster I can eat!

Shellabration Week 6: 3 Whole Crabs!

Final Week: New England Clambake w/Rhode Island Clam Cakes & Grilled Pork Sausage B&G: Shellabration Final week

They used these sketches each week in their social media pages and seems like it was getting quite a number of visitors.

This was a great experience fulfilling both my eating and sketching passion!

February 27, 2015

sleeping fish in aquarium

By Byung Hwa Yoo, Bucheon Natural Ecology Museum, Bucheon city, Korea

I took this photo on 2:44 pm just after I began to draw. It seemed to have stayed same for long before I came. It didn't move near to 30 mins during my sketching. 

The fish disappeared when I finished and took this photo on 3:18 pm. 

After I came home I looked for information about this fish. I learned that it is distributed in South Korea only, its name is 'Odontobutis Interrupta' and it grows to 15 cm long. Though I couldn't sketch many except this one the rare meeting of the fish would be memorable to me.

Constructing the Shrem

By Pete Scully in Davis, California

shrem museum under construction
More construction on the UC Davis campus, and this one is very significant. This is Vanderhoef Quad, a square on the side of campus which includes the impressive Buehler Alumni Centre, the modern Graduate School of Management, the new UC Davis Welcome Center and Conference Center, and of course the massive and renowned Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. This is the gateway to campus and has been gradually sculpted and added to since I first arrived in Davis. So what are they building to complete the square, well this will soon be the Shrem Museum of Art. That is, the "Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art", to give it the full name. When the museum was announced it was very exciting news and the designs for the new building were modern and innovative. The final design, by Brooklyn-based architects “SO-IL” along with San Francisco based Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, was announced in 2013 and the ground-breaking ceremony took place last spring. You can read about the design here. I am seriously excited about this museum. Davis is an artist’s city and UC Davis an artist’s campus (I should know eh, drawn it enough times) and this is going to be an amazing addition, and visible form the I-80 freeway. I will be sketching its progress as the building goes up, and this is the first. I stood to sketch in the shade of the Mondavi Center (it is very sunny here in California right now, apologies to those buried in the snow everywhere else in America).
You can learn more about the Shrem Museum of Art by visiting their website at:

Live Chat with USk Executive Board

Join us for two live chats with the Executive Board on Facebook on Monday, March 2:

3:00-4:00 pm GMT-1 hour
10:00-11:00 pm GMT -1 hour

We will be hovering around our laptop ready to take your questions. You can ask us any question, any question at all (except no math questions).

Looking forward to chatting with you!

Elizabeth, Gabi, Jessie, Mario and Brenda.

Hunting down vintage signs in San Jose, California

Suhita Shirodkar in San Jose, California

There's the kind of vintage sign that you will see on a decrepit building, one that is in danger of being torn down. Like the Burbank Cinema on South Bascom Avenue, which is currently rented out as a dance studio but will eventually be sold to a developer. My guess is they'll tear it down and replace it with a spanking new apartment or office complex called, ironically, The Burbank.

Or this really charming revolving carousel-atop-a-sign at Cambrian Park Plaza, another plaza that, rumor has it, will be gone pretty soon.

And then there are beautifully restored vintage signs in neighborhoods like Willow Glen, with it's Garden Theater (named from when San Jose was called the Garden City). The sign remains and lights up every night, although the theater is gutted and is now a retail and office space.

And the city of Los Gatos recently completed a huge renovation of their theater in downtown on Santa Cruz Avenue.

I'm always on the lookout of theater marquees and strip mall signs in older neighborhoods. Other places with fantastic old signage? Liquor stores and Donut shops.
This store is called Lincoln Liquors (both google maps and a small sign on the front of the store say that) but the sign reads "Arkin Liquors"

And here is Supreme Donuts.

My growing collection of vintage signs from what is now officially an obsession lives here on flickr.

February 26, 2015

This was my first visit Hayama marina since 2011

By Kumi Matsukawa, in Kanagawa prefecture, Japan

Cold winter prevented me from going out for sketching for a while... but I found time and place to make quick sketch when I visited Hayama Marina the other day. It was windy day. I wonder what kind of people own these boats.... Although I used to visit this area once or twice a year before, I still feel myself very stranger whenever I come. I don't belong here, but I like this place...

Hayama Marina

Last time I drew this place was in 2011 just one month before the biggest earth quake and consecutive massive tsunami hit Japan.

hayama marina

on Sunnyside Ave

Sunnyside Avenue, just north of Bullard in Clovis, California. Winter is long gone here in the Central Valley. Throughout the month of February, kids were swimming laps in the outdoor pool at the local high school across the street. But the warm weather has everyone wondering just how sweltering the coming summer is going to be, and how desperate the economy will be if the drought continues another year. The surrounding mountains this time of the year should be topped with snow, ready to melt precious irrigation water into our valley this spring. But the canals winding through our suburbs are bone-dry this year once again, begging the skies to bring rain.