UsK Symposium and trip finale


Day two of the Symposium continued with one event after another, a painting demonstration “From Splashes to Lines” by  Delphine Priollaud Stoclet, an exhibition opening with illustrator Lynne Chapman, “Unfolding Stories: Sketching the Everyday” and finally dinner with Bay Area urban sketchers at a Korean restaurant. A late bedtime followed!


Next morning “Shape Shifters: Overcoming Complicated Scenes with Dynamic Results” with Paul Wang was at a restaurant appropriately named Rain Bar (in fact it did rain once again). We were handed four watercolor pigments and taken through a series of exercises leading to (hopefully) new skills to tackle those complicated urban scenes. If I’d had time to do one last painting. . .I think I would have gotten it!  Ha! Great workshop, Paul.

UsK024When you’re in this urban sketcher crowd you never know when someone may be sketching you. This one by Don Low, teacher of “Decisive Line in Drawing Figures in Movement and Repose”, caught me unawares, until he introduced himself and asked me to write my name on it. (In retrospect I should have asked him to take off a couple of the chin lines!) But no kidding, he totally captured me with that big juicy black brush pen of his.


Everyone was sketching this clock tower on the Palace Hotel. I was a bit worn out at this point but managed to sketch the top from a comfortable vantage point in my hotel across the street.

UsK014along with this studied view of the canal, train tracks, and a dizzying variety of urban angles and textures. I had learned to focus on something of interest and leave out the rest. Like this bustling city overflowing with urban sketchers, Jazz festival goers, costumed Comicon attendees, an army of bulldozers and construction workers, and aggressive geese, I was overflowing with images, impressions, and a kind of frantic desire to take it all in, tempered by exhaustion from the effort.


And suddenly it was all ending, and 500 of us from 43 countries were melting ourselves into one picture. See me there on the right?!


That evening at the closing reception where I waited in vain to win the raffle, the symposium site for next year was announced (like the next Olympics) drum roll. . .Chicago.


Then there was one more morning where I was free to wander the city alone and sketch.

UsK017Still trying to understand buildings and the mystery of sketching volume in the flat light of a cloudy day.

UsK018I treated myself to lunch at the Town Hall sculpture cafe where the chairs are old leather and the busts are of 19th century mayors.


And that’s it. Getting back to California from a Europe recently traumatized by terrorism was an exhausting affair. But the memories of an amazing journey arrived home with me intact.


along with happy memories of my traveling companions, gratitude to my wonderful teachers as well as all the other sketchers and local hosts I shared experiences with along the way.

I arrived home in California with the Urban Sketchers manifesto emblazoned on my heart: We aim to show the world, one drawing at a time.

(For more about Urban Sketchers, visit

And you can be sure there is more to come. . .


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