USK Workshops coming up! (Click on the banners below for more info about each workshop)

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

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 the Chef from the restaurant mentioning that he really loved my sketch and had a crazy idea. He told me they were starting an even 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.

Out and about in Jozi

By Cathy Gatland, Johannesburg, South Africa

As nobody really knows who "Johannes" was, this city is known by many names - Joburg, Egoli, Joeys, Jozi - though some say that's like calling your Rottweiler 'Fluffy'...
Two occasions where I've been out for coffee and a sketch with friends lately, the first at a pavement café in Braamfontein, after seeing the wonderful William Kentridge tapestries exhibition at the Wits Art Museum - maybe that is what moved me to use a soft pencil instead of my usual pen? I tried out a new white gel pen on the metalwork on the old Lord Milner Hotel across the street.

And in the Exclusive Books store in newly revamped Rosebank Mall - more chat than sketching went on here!

February 25, 2015

Insdie Smith and Barber Sculpture Atelier

By Marc Taro Holmes in Ottawa, ON, CA

The other day my friend John Wright called up from Ottawa. His drawing group had lined up a fascinating opportunity. They were going to the Smith and Barber Sculpture Atelier. A local studio specializing in the ancient art of ornamental carving in stone.

Two hours drive to sketch in the workshop of these master craftsmen? Count me in! That, after all, is the whole point of location sketching. To get out and experience new things. To see the world through the lens of drawing.

Sure, I only managed a quick sketch. But at the same time, it was a chance to draw with the folks in Ottawa and meet Phillipe Smith, one of the two lead sculptors. He was more than generous with his time, hanging out as we pillaged his shop, regaling us with stories about his unusual art form. Everything from the dangers of silicosis to the origins of some of the irreplaceable blocks of stone they carve.

I was excited to hear Smith and Barber are also founders of the Canadian Stone Carving Festival - coming up July 10, 11, 12th 2015 in Gatineau QC at the Museum of History. I hope to make it out for that, and get a chance to sketch craftsmen from around the world in action.

I've enjoyed sketching ornamental stone sculpture from so many different time periods and places - to now have the chance to step into one of those workshops, well, that's something worth dropping everything and making happen.

If you've had any great sketchbook adventures of your own recently, leave us a note in the comments. Let's give people a tour of all the hidden places our pencils have taken us.


Sketches from Vigo, Spain

Guest post by Carlos Castro Perez in Vigo, Spain.

I love urban sketching. For me it is a way to know the world and its people. It's just real life. I also find it meditative: to be more aware in the moment, to be still in this fast-paced world in one place at a time contemplating my surroundings.

My process is simple. I choose a place to draw, sometimes the day before. At other times I just walk around the city and stop in a place I like, and observe the composition. On location I do small thumbnails first and then do the big image first in pencil very lightly and second in ink with permanent black pen.

Some of my thumbnail sketches which I start with before I draw larger.

Here I am sketching on location:

And here is a closer look at the ink drawing I made:

Later at home I scan and add colors with Photoshop. Sometimes I take a photo as a reference for the colors, at other times I work from memory. I am often asked why I use photoshop. I prefer Photoshop because for me it has a lot more possibilities to capture the color and the feel you remember on the location: you have thousands of colors (all of them free) and you can undo and correct mistakes and do color variations if you don't like the result. I used to paint before with watercolors, but I have much more experience with digital mediums.

Below are more of my sketches. I hope you enjoy them!

This image on the street is a typical Saturday morning on Prince Street, in the city of Vigo. I wanted to capture the people walking and also the historic buildings.

This is a famous historic Christian church in the town of Pontevedra in Galicia (Spain). It is a town on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. This church is called "The Peregrina", which, translated in English, means "The Woman That Walks the Road".

This image of the ship is sketched in Vigo. The line drawing made on location is above, and the colored version is below.  I did it in one afternoon. I wanted to capture the ship in the foreground and also the city in the background.

Carlos Castro Perez was born in Vigo (Galicia, Spain) and studied illustration, design and computer graphics. You can see a lot more of his work here on his flickr stream.

February 24, 2015

Exhibit in Scranton PA

1Hello Urban Sketchers!
If you will be in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on Friday evening, March 6th, please join us from 6pm to 9pm at the Artists for Art gallery for the opening of this exhibit, featuring my reportage work, and the work of two other talented illustrators, Kevin McCloskey and Chris Spollen. And on Saturday, March 7th, come by for the AFA Afternoon of Art, including workshops by Chris Spollen and myself. The Artists for Art gallery is located at 514 Lackawanna Avenue, in Scranton PA. Please click HERE for more info. Would love to see you there!brooklyn_bridgeBrooklyn Bridge, NYC, drawing made for Brooks Brothers, one of the illustrations that will be in the exhibit.