Drawing Attention February 2017

Celebrating 10 Years of Urban Sketching

2017 is a special year for Urban Sketchers. Ten years ago our founder Gabi Campanario started a Flickr account and invited artists to contribute their on-location sketches. Today the USk Flickr account has 9,633 members who have posted 226.k sketches!

And that was just the start. An Urban Sketchers Facebook group was launched. Today it has 53,562 followers and our Facebook page has 87,349 followers. Regional chapters were organized at the grassroots level and currently we have 180 local chapters and approximately 90,000 followers. It’s no exaggeration to say that Urban Sketchers went viral!

Urban Sketchers was incorporated in 2009 and gained its 501(c)(3) registered non-profit status in 2011. Managed like any other non-profit, Urban Sketchers has an Executive Board, Directors, Coordinators and thousands of volunteers.

As the organization grew we became more focused on our number one value: education. In 2011 the Workshops program was launched to bring great educational content to our local chapters. The Education Committee oversees the Workshops program and the selection of symposium programming.

To celebrate our 10th anniversary, the Education Committee launched the 10×10 Program. Twenty-six cities from around the world are participating (so far) each committing to organize 10 classes. We want to see as many people sketching as possible!

Click HERE to participate in a class near you.

If your regional chapter would like to participate in the 10×10 program, it’s not too late!

Contact Mário Linhares at mario@urbansketchers.org


Behind-the-Scenes with the Education Committee

By Pedro Loureiro

As Urban Sketchers has grown and evolved over the years, education has become one of the core values of the organization. The Education Committee (EC), under the direction of Mário Linhares (Portugal), includes Workshop Coordinator Gail Wong (USA), Swasky (Spain), Fred Lynch (USA), Nina Johansson (Sweden), Jane Blundell (Australia), and Virginia Hein (USA) pictured above. This team is responsible for approving, endorsing and coordinating every official USk educational endeavor throughout the world.

In January the committee had the massive task of analyzing the 26 chapters’ 10×10 class proposals–that’s 260 classes worldwide! This task came at the peak time of the year for the committee, as they also review all workshop, lecture and demo proposals submitted for the upcoming USk Symposium at the beginning of the year.

“This was the most that we had [for a Symposium]”, says Gail Wong.

Ninety-two workshop proposals were received, 12 demos and 28 lectures. This overwhelming number of proposals had to be split between two review teams of three people each, among the members of the EC.

Gail explains what makes a proposal increase its chances of getting selected for the Symposium. The Education Committee goes through all the proposals individually, asking themselves, Is this a clear workshop? Do I understand what the instructor is trying to teach? Is there a clear focus to this workshop? Are the learning goals evident? Is the content interesting? Is there good information that this instructor is conveying to the participants? Is there a good use of time and pacing? Does the instructor’s background experience and the examples he or she presents give an indication of how the goals are going to be accomplished? The EC members look at the educational value of a proposal, and whether it will make for a good experience. The team tries to look at the proposals as a participant and if it would be a workshop that they would choose to take.

According to this criteria, members of the EC score and comment on the proposals individually, with a simple system of “yes, no and maybe”. “Yes” gets a 2, “maybe” gets a 1, “No” gets a 0. The votes get summed up, with occasional comments included. The reviews are sent to the Symposium Team.

The EC sent its recommendations to the Symposium Team at the end of January. This was a tremendous amount of volunteer work by the EC.

Mário explains that while in the past the EC’s vision has been mostly reactive– depending on instructors to send them proposals for workshops– the EC is becoming much more proactive in that they challenge instructors worldwide to come up with workshop programs and educational ideas.

This makes for, as Gail puts it, “a broader community, because you can go all around the world doing USk workshops”, and that is what the Urban Sketchers community is all about.

Click HERE for more information about the Workshops Program.


The First 10×10 Class

by Barb Nigg

Kicking off the 10×10 program on January 21, USk Hong Kong’s Ben Luk taught the fundamentals of drawing collections and interesting objects in his workshop “Stories of Small Objects”.

Eight students met Ben at a local Chinese restaurant to learn more about storytelling with collections. Starting with the basics of perspective, they moved on to teacups and saucers and by the end of the session were busy sketching their dim sum! The group looked at framing–paying particular attention to either the foreground or background and showing how the relationships of objects in a frame generate storylines.

“I designed the workshop with a series of small exercises,” says Ben who emphasized the importance of storytelling throughout the workshop. It paid off. Everyone tucked into the exercises and shared experiences.

Click here to see Upcoming 10×10 Classes


USk Seattle Lecture Launches 10×10 Program

USk Seattle launched the 10×10 Program that celebrates the 10 year anniversary of Urban Sketchers with a lecture by USk instructors: Gabi Campanario, Stephanie Bower, Steve Reddy, Sue Heston , Anita Lehmann, Gail Wong, David Chamness and Michele Cooper. The attentive audience crowded into Seattle’s Daniel Smith art supply store is looking forward to 10 workshops in 2017. The lecture was broadcast live on Facebook and can be seen HERE.


Volunteer Opportunity: Grant Writer

The Fundraising Committee is looking for volunteer Grant Writers to help prepare applications for funding provided by an institution such as a government department, corporation, foundation or trust. Experience with foundations preferred. You are detail-oriented, enjoy doing some online research and have excellent written communication skills. 4-10 hours/month.

To apply email a CV and letter of interest to Joel Berman at berman@urbansketchers.org.


Bring a Workshop to your Chapter

Meet Mike Daikubara.

In 2016 Urban Sketchers organized 16 workshops around the world in collaboration with USk chapters from San Diego to New York. These workshops were taught by our top instructors: great teachers such as Mike Daikubara, Arno Hartmann, Marc Taro Holmes, and more! If you would like to bring an official USk workshop to your chapter, email our Education Director, Mario Linhares at education@urbansketchers.org.


Upcoming Workshops

USk is pleased to announce new workshops coming in 2017!

May 5-7, 2017 Puzzling Out The Picture, with Veronica Lawlor, in New York City, USA.

Many times, when a sketcher arrives at a busy urban location, there is a sense of being overwhelmed. This workshop will teach you how to puzzle it all out, bringing the pieces together in a wide picture full of dimension and graphic expression, which ultimately can tell the story of a place. For more information, click HERE.


April 12-15, 2017 Space Oddities, with Isabel Carmona, Lapin and Swasky, in Barcelona, Spain.

How do we represent space? Drawing is a matter of belief, do you believe in perspective? Experiment with perspective and spatial representation and learn about different ways of drawing what you see from different viewpoints. For more information about this workshop, click HERE.


2016 Symposium Videos

Meet Ed Harker

Videos of presenter lectures from the 2016 Symposium are now available on our website. Click HERE to view lectures by Ed Harker, Lynne Chapman, Alvin Wong and more.


Registration Dates for 8th International USk Symposium

Early Bird Registration:

Opens February 11 at 8:00 a.m. CST (14:00 GMT)

​Workshops pass $415.00 USD

Basic pass $120.00 USD

Standard Registration:

Opens February 18, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. CST (23:00 GMT)

​Workshops pass $475.00 USD

​Basic pass $160.00 USD

Click HERE for more information.

** Symposium logo design by Barbara Weeks, USk Chicago


The Healthy Urban Sketchers Chapter

by Mark Leibowitz

Looking at the big picture there are many Urban Sketchers chapters world-wide that thrive and are successful. There are others, however, that fail and go out of existence. We are rooting for your success, so it might be worthwhile to consider what factors contribute to a healthy Urban Sketchers chapter.


We’d all like to belong to a chapter that cares for its members, encourages their personal growth, stimulates their art, helps them develop their skills, fosters a supportive climate, boosts its members, assists them and strengthens each member. How do you do that? It starts with you. It starts with the interaction you have with every sketcher in your group. It’s helpful if this attitude is fostered by the chapter’s leaders but to succeed this spirit needs to be adopted by everyone. The creative process is a delicate flower that needs all the sunshine and warmth it can get. A healthy urban sketching chapter nurtures its members.

Consistency and Patience

Rome wasn’t built in a day, so they say and patience is a virtue. Chapters are built one event at a time. Word spreads slowly. You need to trust that the time you invest will be rewarded. At my chapter’s least successful sketch event, three people showed up. Two of us were the organizers. We sketched a bridge tournament that day. People playing cards are basically posing for you. It was a great day of sketching and we viewed it as a successful day. Things take time. A few dependable regulars are all it takes to get things started. A healthy Urban Sketchers chapter meets regularly.


A healthy chapter attracts many different types. A successful chapter has 3 Administrators and an active involved membership. The sketchers have different backgrounds, different skill levels and different training. Each person brings their own unique gifts to the chapter. There are many ways to do things. Explore new ideas based on the feedback you get from your members. A healthy Urban Sketchers chapter values diversity and encourages input from everyone.

Hello 2017. Here’s to the success of your Urban Sketchers chapter.


How to Start a USk Regional Chapter (from Scratch)

You love the idea of Urban Sketchers but there is no regional chapter near you? What to do?

First, search our list of regional chapters to see if a regional chapter is already established in your area.

If not, search our Global Directory for your city. If there are other urban sketchers in your area you may wish to contact them. Add your own name to the Global Directory so others can find you.

Become familiar with our Manifesto and decide if you are prepared to commit to it.

Become familiar with our website especially our Chapters section.

Read through our Regional Chapter Guidelines.

Invite some friends to go sketching with you.

Establish a free online platform where your members can post their sketches. Approximately half of our chapters use a blog platform and half use a Facebook group page.

Identify two other sketchers who will take on the responsibility to be Regional Chapter Administrators with you. Together you will plan events, encourage your members, and clean up non-urban sketching images from your online platform.

Once you have established a group and organized enough meetings so that you are familiar with the responsibility and commitment required, then you should apply for official recognition.

Have fun! ☺


Urban Sketchers Capture Worldwide Women’s Marches

Sketch by Cathy McAuliffe

On January 21, 2017, Urban Sketchers witnessed and documented in reportage sketches some of the 654 local Women’s March events around the world in which an estimated 3.3 million to 4.6 million protestors participated. 

Click HERE to see just some of the on-site sketches of the events made by urban sketchers.


Celebrating the USk Logo

The official USk logo, designed in 2009 by Franco Lancio, is finally copyright protected in the US! Drawing Attention had an opportunity to catch up with designer and architect Franco Lancio to learn more about what inspires him.

In addition to being an architect, Franco’s interests are also graphic design which began prior to his architecture studies. “I like to work with things. Almost all of my artistic projects make use of objects. And of course I also love to draw, one of the reasons I am involved in Urban Sketchers.”

Since college, Franco began following Urban Sketchers activities with friend Simo Capecchi whom he also collaborates with on USk workshops held in Naples and Volterra, located in the Tuscany region. “Simo has forced me to draw ever since! I’m too lazy to take the initiative myself.”

When designing the USk logo, one goal was to be simple without being trivial–a design approach Franco uses frequently. Simo asked for Franco’s professional design skills to advance the idea of a ‘sketchbook’ into an identifiable and recognizable symbol of the organization. Franco’s USk logo became a sketchbook cover and cityscape; where the number of windows represents different points of view on the world.

With an abundance of interesting views in Naples to capture, Lancio enjoys drawing directly with a pen, preferring the Ultra Fine Uniball Signo 0.38, filling surfaces with nervous and erratic lines. He occasionally adds watercolor.

“One tip I can give to urban sketchers is to come to Naples. Many sketchers have already come for the five Urban Sketchers workshops that Simo and I have organized since 2012. In October 2016 we were based in Aragonese Castle of Ischia with C’hing Kiah Kiean as a guest artist: what a treat!”

Click HERE to learn more about Franco Lancio.


Funky Group Shots


Hey Regional Chapters, you love to sketch together as a group. You always have a throw down and a group shot for posterity. Sends us your creative, fun and funky group shot and get featured in Drawing Attention! Send the photo to drawingattention@urbansketchers.org.


Sketching Urban Nature with Richard Alomar

By Meagan Burns

Richard Alomar, originally from New York City, co-founded New York City Urban Sketchers in 2012, and is a professor of Landscape Architecture at Rutgers University. “Sketching Urban Nature”, which he taught at last year’s Manchester Symposium is one of several workshops Richard has developed.

The “Sketching Urban Nature” workshop focused on the experience of visiting open spaces by creating an overhead map of a specific area and parlaying that into sketch form to capture a sequence of those spaces. Richard explains that green spaces can be described as a set of basic elements, and there are ways of sketching these elements to capture specific structure, form and other characteristics specific to the space.

“Sketching in general and urban sketching in particular is a wonderful way to connect mind and body to my surroundings,” Richard says. “Urban sketching, in a group or alone, is an embodied experience that creates heightened perception and a deep connection to the space, objects and nature that surrounds us all.”

Click here to meet Richard Alomar and click HERE to learn more about Sketching Urban Nature.


Veronica Lawlor’s Workshop: Puzzling out the Picture

by Lauren McVittie

When registration opened for Veronica Lawlor’s workshop, “Puzzling Out the Picture,” sketchers pounced at the opportunity to learn how to tell stories through their sketches and the workshop was full in a week.

Sixteen people will gather in New York City for three days in May to sketch some of the city’s iconic scenes: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park and Times Square.

As any urban sketcher knows, it can sometimes be a challenge to capture a hectic city scene. This workshop focuses on improving participants’ ability to find focus in a picture, how to incorporate people and buildings, and how to capture the general vibe of a scene.

“How you compose a picture is a very personal thing. As you pay more attention to picture design, your storytelling becomes stronger and your images become more unique,” said Lawlor.

“Puzzling Out the Picture” was originally offered at the Manchester Symposium in 2016 and the New York City workshop is the second time Lawlor is offering the course. Since the response to this workshop has been so positive, Lawlor is considering offering the course again in the fall.

Stay tuned!


Bare Bones Sketching with Shari Blaukopf

By Chris Ruys

Shari Blaukopf is a Montreal-based painter, graphic design teacher, illustrator, and an Urban Sketcher correspondent who is best known for her urban scenes in watercolour. A co-founder with Marc Taro Holmes of USk Montreal, she has taught many watercolour workshops through the USk Workshop Program and on her own.

At last summer’s USk Symposium in Manchester (UK), Shari conducted a workshop called “Bare Bones: Working with Limited Palettes in Watercolour.” She chose the restored Castlefield Urban Heritage Park and Rochdale Canal district as a location because, she says, “the canals and narrow boats, the restored brick buildings and the train viaducts offered endless sketching opportunities.”

At each of her three workshops on the same theme, Shari demonstrated how to use varying combinations of limited palettes, mostly primary triads. For a sketch of narrow boats on the canal, she chose Phthalo Blue, Permanent Alizarin Crimson and Quinacridone Gold. To view her preliminary sketch for the workshop, click here. In a sketch of the canal, she combined Hansa Yellow Medium, Permanent Alizarin Crimson and Ultramarine Blue to capture the traditional Manchester brick. You can view her preliminary sketch here. Finally, she combined the unlikely trio of Cobalt Teal, Permanent Alizarin Crimson and Quinacridone Gold to paint Castlefield Bridge where the River Medlock flows into the canal. Click here to see her preliminary sketch. In general, if she wants a moody effect, she uses one opaque and two transparent colours. If it’s a sunny day, she leans towards a palette of transparent colours.

Despite all her planning, the cold, rain and wind threatened to end each workshop prematurely, but most of the enthusiastic participants barely missed a beat as they took refuge under the arches of the train viaduct and continued sketching. Those who toughed it out found comfort at a nearby restaurant where they warmed up with cups of steaming coffee as they put final touches on their sketches.

Click here to meet Shari Blaukopf, and click here to read her workshop handout.


Parka Reviews

Teoh Yi Chie is an infographics journalist who joined Urban Sketchers Singapore in 2009. He’s probably better known as Parka from Parkablogs.com a website that reviews art books and art products.

This month Parka video reviews the Tropicals watercolor set from Prima Marketing.

Check it out!


See your sketch on the USk Blog Flag and USk Facebook Page

Get your sketch featured on the USk blog flag and USk Facebook Page cover! For more information, click HERE (scroll to the bottom of the page) then send your flag to shiho@urbansketchers.org.


Read the January 2017 edition of Drawing Attention

Drawing Attention Mandate

Drawing Attention, the official monthly newsletter of the Urban Sketchers organization, communicates and promotes official USk workshops, symposiums, sketchcrawls, news and events; shares news about USk chapters; and educates readers about the practice of on-location sketching.


Share your Chapter’s news with our Readers

Contact us to share your chapter’s news, special events, joint meetups, and exhibitions with our readers. You don’t need to write the story yourself. We will assign a writer to cover your story. drawingattention@urbansketchers.org.


Thanks to this Month’s Drawing Attention Contributors

Writers and contributors: writer, Barb Nigg; Managing Editor, Brenda Murray; writer, Lauren McVittie; writer Mark Leibowitz; writer, Meagan Burns; contributor, Parka; writer, Pedro Louriero; writer, Chris Ruys; writer and website layout, Joann Sondy; Mailchimp layout, Suzi Briggs.


To subscribe to Drawing Attention click HERE.


Drawing Attention circulation 4,934 (1 Feb 2017)


Urban Sketchers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering the art of on-location drawing. Consider making a donation today. Click HERE to make your tax-deductible contribution via Paypal.


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