Urban Sketchers, are you ready?

[By Mark Alan Anderson, 2019 symposium correspondent, in Amsterdam

Although we’ll be spread out across Amsterdam tomorrow and the following days, today we stayed close to home with the majority of activity taking place in and around Zuiderkerk. People were milling about as early as 9 AM even though registration didn’t begin until 3 o’clock this afternoon. Are we excited or what?

Inside the church was a sea of red. All of the volunteers – and there are a lot of them! – are clad in the official scarlet T-shirts of this year’s symposium. They had the instructors queued up for registration and a briefing – actually a very, very brief briefing because they are hurrying to catch a bus for a tour at Royal Talon.

I visited the second floor of the church and attempted to stay out of the way. Vendors scurried to get their wares ready because soon, hundreds of Sketchers would descend upon this gallery. Everyone was in motion, booths came together like magic, everyone and everything had a purpose at this moment.

After lunch the number of people in the courtyard had grown exponentially. Rather than standing in line, the majority of attendees were sketching the church exterior under the comfort of shade cast by the trees. Part of my job is to document the pre-registration “buzz” and for the first time since arriving here I included a bicycle into my sketch of the place. I sense it won’t be the last! Bicycles are a ubiquitous foreground element in nearly every view of Amsterdam.

A turquoise colored motorbike captured my attention and I wandered over to inspect it. Perhaps even more interesting than the bike though, was the very artistic looking gentleman, Nick Tischler from Cambridge England. As he developed a small watercolor of the church I couldn’t help but think how much he looks the part of a sketcher.

Perhaps an hour before the official registration, people began to form a line. It’s hot. Sketchers were sweating and waiting patiently for 3 o’clock to arrive. In some ways this line was reminiscent of what you might see at a rock concert. Despite the heat and the general craziness that goes into planning an event of this size, things have gone astonishingly smoothly. This is due in no small part to the monumental dedication and preparation by the local Urban Sketchers and volunteers.


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