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  • Monday, July 18, 2011 - 15:00

    Post any questions you may have as a comment and we'll do our best to answer them! We also recommend reading the comments on the previous open thread, which includes lots of tips and useful information shared by all of you!

    open thread
  • Thursday, July 14, 2011 - 03:45
    Ea Ejersbo

    Hello sketchers, this is Ea Ejersbo from Denmark. I've been a correspondent and board member on Urban Sketchers since the beginning, but have still to meet a fellow USk'er face to face. I am very much looking forward to the symposium and to sketching together with all of you.

    Preparing for the symposium I have been most worried about the heat. I hope the Lisbon squares offer a shady tree or two to sit beneath, because I don't think my hat will do the trick!

    Here are my sketch kits for the symposium, sans bag or sketchbooks - possibly subject to slight modifications until I leave on Monday:

    You can see the image in my Flickr stream for a view with notes on the contents:

    And this is my artlog, where I post scans of my sketchbook drawings:

    See you all in Lisbon next week!

  • Saturday, July 16, 2011 - 01:17

    James Richards sketching in New Orleans

    James Richards is the co-founder of a small urban design consultancy in Fort Worth and Dallas, Texas, where he creates plans for old town centers, new town centers, urban villages and transit-oriented developements. As a landscape architect, James focus is on the connective tissue between buildings, where the life of great cities takes place. “My freehand sketching is at the heart of my creative process and a signature element of our firm's work,” says James, 56.

    James will be doing the presentation titled The Freehand Renaissance.

    When did you start sketching on location?

    My first on-location sketching was done as a landscape architecture student in college back in the 1970s.  My early career involved design drawing on an almost daily basis, but I didn't return to location sketching with gusto until I began traveling around the world to study cities and projects in 1999. I now travel quite frequently for work and pleasure, and sketching has become an integral part of the travel experience for me.

    Tell us about one of your most memorable urban sketching experiences, what did you draw and where?

    While in a village in Thailand, I was startled by a gentle but firm nudge from an enormous female elephant that had approached from behind in complete silence as I was absorbed in sketching her mate chewing cane.  To this day I don't know if she was being playful or letting me know it was time to move on.  It was a good lesson in being aware of one's surroundings!

    What's your advice for someone who is just starting out as an urban sketcher?

    My best advice is to collect and study books on sketching with drawings that speak to you. Spend time analyzing, copying and even tracing the drawings you like to develop a feel for what it takes to create the lines, tones and textures that are attractive to you.  Don't worry about compromising your own style; your individuality will emerge like weeds through the concrete.  Do this a few times, then head outdoors and try your hand at capturing a scene that begs to be sketched.  Your practice will put you well ahead of a beginner starting from scratch.  

    How often do you go urban sketching?

    My urban design work involves a lot of travel, for my own project work and to study other cities and projects. Most of my sketching takes place during "found time" waiting for planes, in between meetings, or while my wife and daughters are exploring yet another boutique or shoe store.  The Urban Sketchers network has inspired me to sketch more impressions of my own home city; I try to work in a local sketching outing once or twice a week.

    Tell us more about your presentation in Lisbon.

    My lecture is called "The Freehand Renaissance." Our growing network of urban sketchers is riding the crest of a cultural phenomenon. The over-saturation of slick digital imagery in design, commerce and communications is resulting in a pendulum swing back towards a growing appreciation for creative, hand-drawn work.  We see evidence everywhere in ad campaigns, film production, and best selling books like "The Napkin Sketch." In this fun session, we'll observe current trends, celebrate the role of location sketching as a part of this phenomenon, and speculate on the future of drawing, both as a creative tool and as a way to see and value culture.

    What urban subjects do you like to sketch the most?

    I've long enjoyed sketching great traditional architecture, but my passion is the life between buildings--lively streets, plazas,waterfronts, sidewalk cafes and other public spaces that attract people and people watchers.  Music and food are usually part of the mix. I love the sense of discovery when finding these special places, and the challenge of capturing the mood of the place in a sketch.  

    What are your primary sketching tools and sketchbooks or paper, what do you like about them?

    My favorite method currently is sketching with pencil in a hardbound Moleskine watercolor sketchbook (200 gram, cold-pressed paper), then washing over the pencil sketch with watercolor using a Niji waterbrush. The soft lines of the pencil and transparent watercolor complement each other well.  Like everyone else, my style is evolving. I am doing more rapid sketching in ink these days to try to get a spontaneous feel to my work. I own a few travel watercolor sets, but am still searching for a great one!

    Besides urban sketching, what other hobbies do you have?

    I'm an experience junkie. I love travel; I've visited the key cities and villages in 31 countries over the last 12 years. I enjoy writing for magazines and am working on my first book, "Freehand Visions." I like searching for and collecting folk art, enjoying good food, listening to live music, and classic motorcycles (my current bike is a Triumph Bonneville).  My wife and I travel to outdoor festivals and as many American college football games as we can manage.

    Follow Richard’s work on flickr.

  • Wednesday, July 13, 2011 - 23:04

    This city is intriguing and attracting me. Since Wim Wenders' moovie Wrong Movement (Falsche Bewegung), some fleeting sights of the streets of Lisbonne are still present in my mind.
    It is time to leave behind me my computer, tablet and mouse.
    It 's time to get back to drawing. As I have neglected this practice for long, I am looking forward eagerly to awaking my observational skills and hearing again my pencil scratching on the paper. I have never met the urban sketchers before and I couldn't find a best community to make up with drawing and start something new. Let's change to colour !

  • Wednesday, July 13, 2011 - 18:41

    Last sunday, USK Portugal had a meeting in Benfica, a neighborood in Lisboa where forgotten heritage needs to be protected and rebuilt.

  • Wednesday, July 13, 2011 - 19:40
    Isabel Fiadeiro

    I've just spent a week in Lisbon and I'm now visiting my family in the South getting back for the Symposium soon. I was staying not far from where Cathy Gatland and I will be doing our workshop, the Miradouro of S.Pedro de Alcântara the view is so beautiful that we're going to have trouble trying to stick to portraits. looking forward to meeting you all soon.

  • Wednesday, July 13, 2011 - 13:40

  • Wednesday, July 13, 2011 - 11:50
    Asnee Tasna

    It's just a week away and I'll be in Lisbon, attending the 2nd International Urban Sketchers Symposium. It's my first time attending such event that will let me be among all the great people with such talents and enthusiasm that I have enjoyed just looking at their works and admired their different styles and ideas in Urbans Sketchers site. Just a week away, I can hardly wait and thought perhaps I'd start having fun first (why wait!) starting with trying out on how to use this blog. So, here I am! I will be working on CONTRASTE, a workshop dealing with a peculier condition of Rua da Bica. Since I have not been to the place yet, so, what I can do is just to anticipate what I would do when really facing with the real thing:-) I thought I might try someting base on the style of work I have done before, just to start with!

     The sketch above was done on location with line work of brush-pen and base watercolor then some high light with wax pastel were added on.


    I also consider using ink line work as base then watercolor wash over as in the sketch above. The ink used here wasnot water proof but then, the smudgin effect might be used as part of the over all appearance too.

    Another possibility is to use the bold brush-pen and colors to express the theme of the contents, as below.

    However, it's probably all depend all how we, the sketchers, react to the location and its embience. That is totally natural and indeed, that's where the fun is and what sketching is all about :-)

    Well, it's just a week away, I am sure that all of us are just as excited and eager to have our hands on Lisbon, so, Lisbao, here we come! However,  a week's time is long enough for all of us to have fun here, let's do it :-)

    Look forward to seeing all soon. Cheers


  • Wednesday, July 13, 2011 - 03:44

    Hello sketchers,

    We are almost there, aren't we? It's time to close the class lists but we still have a few overbooked workshops (see the Schedule). Now that we've posted Q&As with the instructors, you may want to consider changing some of your workshop choices. That will go a long way in helping us deal with the overbooking before we are all in Lisbon.

    If you have signed up for any of the workshops listed below but don't feel strongly about your choice, consider signing up for another one where there's room. If you are at the bottom of the list for those workshops (See Attendees Per Session page) please choose another workshop where there is availability. We need all workshops to be within the limit of 19 people, which includes the instructors. In a previous blog post I laid out some points to consider as you make your choices.

    (In parentheses, number of people who need to move to another workshop where space is available)


    10h00 to 13h00: Cityscapes (+1), Environments (+3), Exploring Chiado (+3)

    16h30 to 19h30: Panoramania (+1), Cityscapes (+1)


    10h00 to 13h00: Exploring Chiado (+3), Lisbon's Perspectives (+1)

    16h30 to 19h30: Lisbon's Perspectives (+1), Cityscapes (+2), Exploring Chiado (+2)


    10h00 to 13h00: Contrastes (+1), Unfinished Business (+1), Urban Portraits (+2)

    Stories of the Square (+2), Light of Lisboa (+6)

    We plan to close the lists by Thursday, July 14, 17h00 GMT. If you have any questions, you can email us at

    We hope to keep getting better at this process. Please understand that this is only our second year organizing a Symposium and we are still figuring out the best way to do this as efficiently as possible!

    Once we are in Lisbon, we'll try to address in person any individual issues you may have regarding your workshop choices.

    I have no doubt that, no matter what, we'll have a fantastic experience sketching together. I'm really looking forward to seeing you all next week!

    Safe travels and happy sketching along the way!

    gabi campanario

    P.S.: Quick tip: To make sure your images appear when you do a blog post, remember to check the "Full html" option under "Input format." Haven't done a blog post yet? Here are the instructions.

  • Wednesday, July 13, 2011 - 02:07

    Lisbon-based artist João Moreno was born in Oporto and studied in Brussels. João, 41, will teach the workshop Sketch Mix along with Pedro Fernandes. Here's our Q&A with João:

    What's your advice for someone who is just starting out as an urban sketcher?

    To sketch all the time - a bit like breathing. To make drawing a daily obsession.

    Desenhar, desenhar, desenhar, compulsivamente, constantemente, como respirar. Fazer do desenho uma obsessão diária.

    What are your plans for your workshop?

    My goal is to pass on my enthusiasm for sketching and to share some techniques that I find useful in order to work quickly and efficiently.

    Partilhar o meu entusiasmo pelo desenho e sugerir técnicas que permitam desenhar com maior rapidez e eficácia.

    What urban subjects do you like to sketch the most?

    People, due to the endless diversity, constant mutability, gestures and attitudes. I like to capture facial and bodily expressions, cloth details and textures from people in various environments - street, subway, coffee shop, airport, beach and so on.

    Pessoas, pela sua diversidade e fugacidade constantes, pelos gestos e atitudes. Gosto de captar as expressões faciais e corporais, pormenores de vestuário e texturas de pessoas em vários ambientes - na rua, no metro, no café, no aeroporto, na praia, etc.

    What are your primary sketching tools?

    Watercolor and graphite 2B to 4B.

    Aguarela e grafite 2B a 4B.

    Follow João's work on his blog Sketchbook Stories.

    João Moreno, Q&A