The official zine of Urban Sketchers OCTOBER 2020
Drawing Attention Mandate Drawing Attention, the official monthly zine 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. Thanks to this month’s Drawing Attention contributors: Managing Editor: Patricia Chow Mailchimp layout: Jane Wingfield Issuu layout: Anne Taylor Social Media Designer: Suzala, Frieda Christofides Writers: Mark Anderson, Cathy Gutterman, Sophie Navas, Anne Taylor, Jane Wingfield French copy editor: Sophie Navas Spanish copy editor: Rosario Muñoz Gajardo Proofreader: Leslie Akchurin Contributors: Parka, Richard Alomar, Javier Mas Pinturas cover image: Rajesh Dhawan Subscribe to Drawing Attention. Read the September edition of Drawing Attention. Circulation: 13k+ Readership: 16k+ Web: urbansketchers.org Urban Sketchers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering the art of on-location drawing. Click here to make your tax-deductible contribution via Paypal. © 2020 Urban Sketchers. Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this publication, including accompanying artwork, are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Urban Sketchers organization.
PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE Dear USk Community, It’s great to see so many of you outside, sketching and sharing your drawings! Remember to check USk social media, USk Talks and the USk YouTube channel to keep up with what’s going on around the world. Urban sketchers are amazing! After a long and productive discussion, the USk Board has set its strategic plan for 2021-2024. I’m sure that for most urban sketchers, strategic planning may not be something for the sketchbook, but it is what provides a long-term vision for the organization, resources to accomplish educational programs and events, and opens up the world of on-location sketching to new groups. The challenges of this year have been met with the sound organizational practices of a strong and sound organization. Our commitments for the next three years are: 1. Global Communications: Make information about USk accessible and easy to
find, improve how we talk and listen to sketchers, chapters, instructors, and volunteers. 2. Diversity and Inclusion: Celebrate the USk global community’s people, regions, languages and stories, and engage people with education. 3. Structured Planning: Provide and assist in the development of a wider array of activities, events, projects, and programs. The planning process has made clear that USk is many things - it is an international organization, a grassroots movement, an educational program, a social group, a family, a group of volunteers, and a fellowship. It is organized and unbridled, cautious and risky, exuberant and restrained, dreamy and pragmatic. Let’s celebrate our variety, diversity, and contradictions, and, above all, let’s show the world one drawing at a time. Please stay safe, engaged, and sketching! Sketching together (one way or another), Richard Alomar, USk President
MANAGING EDITOR’S MESSAGE Greetings, Sketchers! In this month’s issue, we cover protest sketches around the world, meet our newest USk chapters in Castelló (also in Spanish), Chico, California; hear how sketchers have used art to help them get through tough times (also in French); and catch up with a few of the brains behind the popular USk Talks show.
My heartfelt thanks to our fabulous Drawing Attention team who have put together another wonderful issue. If you’d like to join our team, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! Enjoy our latest issue! Patricia Chow, Managing Editor
USK TALKS SERIES
ART AND MENTAL HEALTH
ENDNOTES | REVIEWS
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OCTOBER 2020 3
An Insider’s Guide to the
USK TALKS SERIES THOUSANDS OF URBAN SKETCHERS WATCHED THE FIRST SEASON OF USK TALKS AND SEASON 2 IS NOW UNDER DEVELOPMENT. HERE WE MEET SOME OF THE KEY PEOPLE INVOLVED – AND FIND OUT WHAT GOES ON BEHIND THE SCENES TO BRING YOU THESE INSPIRING BROADCASTS. BY ANNE TAYLOR 4 DRAWING ATTENTION
USk Talks Series
WHEN ROB TAKES TO THE SCREEN AS ‘FRONTMAN’ AT THE START OF EACH USK TALKS EPISODE, YOU’LL SEE A CONSTANT STREAM OF EMOJIS AS FRIENDS AND FELLOW SKETCHERS FROM ALL AROUND THE WORLD GREET THEIR SUPER FRIENDLY HOST. ROB MUST HAVE BEEN AN EXTROVERT FROM DAY ONE. NOT QUITE.... “I was actually an introverted kid but when I started working, because of this round, young-looking face, I was forced to assert myself and I realised I could do one thing: I have a knack for speaking and tuning into an audience.” Rob has since deployed these skills to great effect on stage before thousands, at USk Symposiums, countless lectures and workshops, and, of course, while fronting the Talks. Here, audience feedback comes in the form of texted chat and emojis but Rob’s presence is warm and immediate from the get-go. A big part of his USk Talks process is working with Rita Sabler and Noga Grosman to research artists, then making sure the guests feel comfortable and establishing where their best reception is: “Ninety percent of the time, it’s in the kitchen!” The home setting gives viewers a wonderful insight into their lives and artwork. As to how the idea of the USk Talks originated, Rob had been talking with Mário Linhares and Rita about strategies for sketching during Covid-19, and he’d just completed his first IGTV talk with Australia’s Liz Steel. This switched him onto the exciting possibilities of technology for connecting globally. Season 2 will feature more chats – including viewers being picked out as spot guests for a few minutes – more in-depth interviews, and “a huge emphasis on storytelling”. One of the things Rob has always loved about urban sketchers is our ability to find interest in a piece of crumbling plaster or a broken down wall when everyone else is heading to the postcard view. “So if you have already drawn your living room and think there is nothing more to say, think again. By really opening your eyes and changing your perspective, you’ll find this corner has another story.” Let’s see if we can meet Rob’s challenge in Season 2!
ROB SKETCHERMAN ROLE: Frontman & interviewer SKILLS: Storyteller | Continuity chief | Charisma supplier & positivity motivator MOTTO: “There is always a story to tell; it’s just how you want to tell it.” Communicator par excellence, Rob’s CV traverses designer, professional illustrator, copy writer, videographer and voice actor. A self-confessed ‘gadget geek’, he famously eschews pad and pencil for the Apple iPad and Procreate. High profile clients include BMW, Moleskine and Bloomberg. His physically largest project is the multi-story mural for the Madera Hollywood in his hometown of Hong Kong. CONNECT WITH ROB
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RITA AND I CONNECTED A FEW DAYS AFTER I HAD SKETCHED A COASTAL CLEANUP IN MY LOCAL AREA, INSPIRED IN PART BY HER ‘SKETCHING FOR GOOD’ PROJECTS. SHE DESCRIBES HER ROLE WITH THE TALKS SERIES AS “ALWAYS EVOLVING”...
RITA SABLER ROLE: Creative director SKILLS: Education innovator Ideas engine | Challenge guru MOTTO: “We have the power to bring attention to places, causes, and societal change through urban sketching.” Rita (aka. the Portland Sketcher & USk’s Education Director) has fully integrated urban sketching into her personal and professional life. She is well-known for her ‘sketching for good’ reportage illustration and travel sketching. “Urban sketching is my therapy, my passion, and my refuge.” With a background in psychology, art, linguistics, and interface design, Rita is a highly experienced teacher, designer and exhibiting artist, as well as a keen tango dancer and tango pianist. CONNECT WITH RITA
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Rita brainstorms topics with the team, creates an outline, and refines questions for the artists: “I see myself as a person who sets the direction for the program and constantly looks for ways to inspire, connect, and educate our community. I closely work with all of our amazing team members, members of our global community, and instructors to bring this vision to life.” She believes urban sketching is a grassroots movement that brings a democratic approach to art, with sketching and social good being a natural fit. “Our work is highly visible because we draw in public spaces, and the public has the first row, in-person view not just of the end product of our work but of the process as well. So we have the power to bring attention to places, causes, and societal change by the unique process of documenting it through drawings.” In this way, she has raised awareness of the former leprosy colony at Kalaupapa, Hawaii, the human side of the Mexican border, and causes and campaigns in her region. So it’s no surprise that reportage will feature prominently in Season 2. Many responded to Rita’s challenge in Season 1 to document change, recording changes in everything from mundane daily activities during the pandemic, right through to cataclysmic events. “Some said that the talk changed the way they approach drawing and this was one of the biggest rewards of many months of intense work on the program,” says Rita. “We are hoping to continue to inspire and connect sketchers all over the world for the hour of interviews on USk Talks. We are working on bringing more topics that unite our community from focusing on reportage drawing and storytelling, to local chapters, tool makers, urban sketchers through history and beyond.” Stay tuned!
USk Talks Series
I CAUGHT UP WITH CHRISTINA AHEAD OF A GRILL EVENING SHE WAS PLANNING FOR FRIENDS – WE’D CALL THAT A BARBEQUE HERE IN NEW ZEALAND – TO GET AN INSIGHT INTO WHAT’S INVOLVED ON THE TECHNICAL SIDE OF THE TALKS... You might assume Christina works professionally in video production, but in fact she is self-taught via YouTube tutorials and learning on the job: “I’d been wanting to learn how to use Adobe After Effects so I could do more trailers to promote my books, so the Talks were an excuse to learn more.” She’s now adept at audio, animation, motion graphics, and also does digital demos. CHRISTINA WALD ROLE: Video Production SKILLS: Sound checker | Quality control | Bandwidth troubleshooter | Techie go-to Post-production whiz MOTTO: “New opportunties are a chance to learn new stuff.” Cincinnati-local Christina trained as an industrial designer and now works as an illustrator and product, toy and giftware designer. She has worked on major digital projects such as The Lord of the Rings and her illustrations grace over 50 books. She manages the USk Twitter feed and works with Noga Grosman on the USk’s other social media platforms as well. CONNECT WITH CHRISTINA
Christina’s work on the USk Talks starts each Friday with an informal sound check with Rob, Rita and the featured artist/s. She checks out the artists’ various devices and makes a call on suitable backgrounds – which could be anything from a book-lined home office to a cactus-filled balcony in Barcelona (in the case of Lapin). “One of the challenges is how much bandwidth the artists have, which can be an issue if they are in a big city with thousands of people online.” Then it’s back to work on Sunday for the live recording which she does on her desktop computer. Christina adds credits as needed in Adobe After Effects, and extracts teasers for the USk Instagram feed. Each episode is automatically saved to IGTV. Christina says she loves the deep dive into the worldwide sketching community that comes from doing production for USk Talks. Sketching with her local chapter gives her necessary “time out from the screen.” She is currently working with fellow Cincinnati artists on a comic anthology called Cincinnati Cabinet of Curiosities, bringing to light local stories of the paranormal. This will also have a life as a podcast, and she figures her home office will be the ideal hub for recording: “It already has a slightly haunted look with its old staircase!” You can enjoy Christina’s weekly web comic series Embrace the Crone, a personal project she has been working on for the past several years as a motivation to write. And look out for her latest children’s book – A Wish for Pangolin – for San Diego Zoo Global. OCTOBER 2020 7
ABOVE: SKETCH OF WESTPORT LANDING BY JEWEL CARDINET.
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Welcome, USK CHICO! URBAN SKETCHERS CHICO IS A NEW USK CHAPTER IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA. THEY HAVE 14 ACTIVE MEMBERS ON THEIR ROSTER AND 22 OR SO LOCAL FOLKS WHO PARTICIPATE AS THEY CAN. BY CATHY GUTTERMAN
PHOTO OF USK CHICO AT THEIR FIRST ‘NURSERY CRAWL
he Chico group enjoys being part of the international urban sketcher family and 173 people follow them on Facebook, including many from other U.S. states and some from as far away as England and Austria.
application, things moved quickly once they got on the radar. USk Chico feels that the entire USk community has been supportive and so welcoming! They would especially like to thank Suhita Shirodkar and Richard Alomar for providing guidance along the way.
It all started when friends Sharon Stover and Virginia Partain shared experiences they had with urban sketchers while travelling (Sharon in Italy and Virginia in Scotland) and “caught the bug” as a result. Friend and mentor Christine Mac Shane, a professional artist, quickly joined in their enthusiasm and began offering local classes and skill development workshops for the group. Their little band of three quickly grew as other local folks began to show interest in sharing their lives and travels through sketching.
While COVID-19 restrictions and multiple wildfires in the Northern California area may have put the brakes on their outings, the Chico group has stayed in touch. They have shared every view imaginable of their homes and short solo trips via their Facebook page. They have found it rewarding to share their stories and, of course, rejoice when anyone is able to get “out and about.”
The connection with international travel and growing interest in the group made them decide to apply to become an official Urban Sketchers chapter. Although they didn’t hear anything initially after sending in their
Through classes with Christine Mac Shane, as well as such urban sketcher greats as Liz Steel, Ian Fennelly, and Oliver Hoeller, they continue to develop their skills as they look forward to seeing new views once coronavirus restrictions are lifted. Urban Sketchers Chico is excited about the future with their international sketching family! OCTOBER 2020 9
RIGHT: SKETCH OF LEWISTON LAKE BY JAN MATTHEWS.
BELOW: SKETCH OF SUNFLOWERS BY BONNIE CHIROS
CONNECT WITH USK CHICO
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MEET USK CASTELLÓ,
WHEN THREE SKETCHERS MET AT PLAZA MAYOR OF CASTELLÓ TO SHARE THEIR LOVE OF DRAWING, URBAN SKETCHERS CASTELLÓ WAS FOUNDED. BY CATHY GUTTERMAN
ANGEL GERMÁN SIMARRO SKETCHING OCTOBER 2020 11
rban Sketchers Castelló, on the east coast of Spain, was founded by Miriam Ruiz Rubio, Rosana Carceller Alicart and Ángel Germán Simarro. Their story began by chance when Miriam met Rosana drawing ancient olive trees with USk Maestrat, and learned about Ángel, another sketcher from Castelló. The three planned their first meeting in the Plaza Mayor of Castelló to introduce the Urban Sketchers movement to the city. People thought it was a drawing contest and could not believe that they were drawing just for pleasure.
After the COVID-19 confinement, USk Castelló members really wanted to draw and make up for lost time. This summer, they had more outings than usual, visiting several villages and an environmental museum. On the street, they always wear a mask and practice social distancing as directed by the health authorities. In addition to preparing further events for the coming months, USk Castelló will continue to promote Urban Sketchers and encourage people to join them.
Miriam and her team thought that the process to become an official Urban Sketchers chapter would take longer than it did. From the time the Castelló drawing group was created in October 2019 until April 2020, when they became an official USk chapter, they took the steps to become an official group very seriously. They would like to thank Javier Mas Pinturas from USk Sevilla, for his guidance during the process. USk Castelló advises prospective groups wanting to become an official USk chapter to be patient and not to be discouraged. At first, your group may have only a few members, but little by little people will join. The best way to grow your group is to keep social networks active with meeting notifications and advertise your group around the city. While they sketch in their own city, USk Castelló members also sketch in other nearby cities and towns and also try to attend meetings held by other groups including USk Valencia and USk Maestrat.
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CONNECT WITH USK CASTELLÓ
AERIAL SKETCH BY ANGEL GERMร N SIMARRO
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PLAZA DE LA PAZ SKETCH BY MIRIAM RUIZ RUBIO
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Conoce al nuevo Urban Sketchers grupo en Castelló, España POR CATHY GUTTERMAN
rban Sketchers Castelló, en la costa este de España, fue fundada por Miriam Ruiz Rubio, Rosana Carceller Alicart y Ángel Germán Simarro. Su historia empezó por casualidad cuando Miriam conoció a Rosana dibujando olivos centenarios con USk Maestrat, y conoció a Ángel, otro dibujante de Castelló. Los tres planificaron su primer encuentro en la Plaza Mayor de Castelló para presentar el movimiento Urban Sketchers del dibujante urbano. La gente pensaba que se trataba de un concurso de dibujo y no podía creer que estuvieran dibujando solo por placer. Miriam y su equipo pensaron que el proceso para convertirse en un grupo oficial de Urban Sketchers tomaría más tiempo del que tomó. Desde que se creó el grupo de dibujo de Castelló en octubre de 2019 hasta abril de 2020, cuando Urban Sketchers les dijo que se habían convertido en un grupo oficial USk, tomaron muy en serio los pasos para convertirse en un grupo oficial. Están muy agradecidos a Javier Mas Pinturas de USk Sevilla, por su orientación durante el proceso. 16 DRAWING ATTENTION
USk Castelló aconseja a los posibles grupos que deseen convertirse en un grupo oficial de USk que sean constantes, pacientes y no se desanimen. Al principio, su grupo puede tener solo unos pocos miembros, pero poco a poco la gente se unirá. La mejor manera de comunicarse es mantener activas las redes sociales con notificaciones de reuniones y publicitar su grupo en la ciudad. Mientras dibujan en su propia ciudad, los miembros de USk Castelló también dibujan en otras ciudades y pueblos cercanos. Se reúnen el último domingo de cada mes y también tratan de asistir a las reuniones de otros grupos como USk Valencia y USk Maestrat. Después del confinamiento del COVID-19, los miembros de USk Castelló tenían muchas ganas de dibujar y recuperar el tiempo perdido. Este verano tuvieron más salidas de lo habitual, visitando varios pueblos y un museo medioambiental. En la calle, siempre usan mascarillas y mantienen el distanciamiento LAMP POST SKETCH BY MIGUEL ANGEL LOPEZ
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social según las indicaciones de las autoridades sanitarias. Si no pudieran encontrar un lugar que les permita reunirse de manera segura, esperarán. Uno de los beneficios de pertenecer a Urban Sketchers es conocer personas con intereses similares y con las que te conectas rápidamente. El pasado mes de agosto, Miriam, Ángel y Rosana fueron a dibujar en el bonito pueblo serrano de Ares del Maestrat donde conocieron a tres dibujantes. Uno se unió al grupo y desde entonces se ha convertido en un miembro muy activo. ¡Es asombroso! Además de preparar más eventos para los próximos meses, USk Castelló seguirá promocionando Urban Sketchers y animando a la gente a unirse a ellos.
CONECTAR CON USK CASTELLÓ
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CLOCK SKETCH BY ROSANA CARCELLER ALICART
LEFT: NH HOTELS SKETCH BY MIGUEL ARMELLES
LEFT: WHITE BUILDING SKETCH BY ESTHER PERTIERRA OCTOBER 2020 19
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STREET SCENE SKETCH BY ANA BELÉN DÍAZ ARROYO OCTOBER 2020 21
MARINA GRECHANIKâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S PROTEST SKETCHING GEAR 22 DRAWING ATTENTION
– One Sketch at a Time BY JANE WINGFIELD
A global pandemic, international protests, wildfires, hurricanes – 2020 has been a tumultuous year. We see it on the news, but these four urban sketchers picked up their pens and put them to work documenting watershed moments, one sketch at a time.
JOEY MASON, LOS ANGELES, USA
he Los Angeles area saw over 300 protests in June alone over various causes, from immigration issues, to police brutality, to saving the post office. Animator and urban sketcher Joey Mason, draws for a living. “Drawing people is part of our regimen as animators. We like to capture their gestures, movements.” Lately he’s had a lot of opportunities. He sketched his first protests in 2016 after the election. At first it was just a good opportunity to sketch people. “It was somewhat cathartic.” In May of this year he was again compelled to take to the streets when the protests surrounding the death of George Floyd erupted in the U.S. It was a way to get and give an insider’s view as opposed to the outsider’s view seen in the media. “Drawing up close gives you different perspectives that you don’t see in the news.” Joey follows social media to learn the locations of some of them, packs a small backpack with pencils, pens, a water bottle, and a sketchbook, and makes his way to the action. He first “establishes the shot – the wide angle,” and sketches that. Then he finds the most energetic speaker, takes notes of key phrases, and while people are standing, he sketches individuals. He especially loves sketching people with signage. The graphology captures the cause. OCTOBER 2020 23
“There’s so many people and there’s a lot of opportunities for different groups of people to get together to support a certain cause.” While on vacation with his family in July, they visited Portland for a few days and Joey sketched some of the protests there. “I’ve really enjoyed getting to see the range of how people express themselves.” The mood and energy is different for each protest.” The USPS protest, for example, was very calm.” He used to think that there was a certain group of people who would go out and protest, but now “there’s a place for everyone to get out and express in whatever way.” You can find Joey’s protest sketches on Instagram under the hashtag #sketchesderesistance.
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GEORGE FLOYD PROTEST, LOS ANGELES OCTOBER 2020 25
BLM GEORGE FLOYD, LOS ANGELES
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CONNECT WITH JOEY
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RAJESH DHAWAN PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
he Czech Republic recently celebrated 30 years of freedom from Communist rule. That’s 30 years of being able to exercise freedom of speech publicly, and they are taking advantage of that freedom now with protests for all kinds of causes. Rajesh Dhawan, admin for USk Prague, has been documenting some of them, beginning with the Student Climate Strike marches in March 2019. This summer he captured crowds protesting the election in Belarus in a series of powerful sketches. When sketching a protest, Rajesh will “find out the location and schedule – speakers, logistics.” If it’s a moving protest and he’s going to join the protest, “I make sure I’m carrying very lightweight and agile materials where I don’t have to sit down and draw.” He carries a lightweight sketchbook, a small pouch with fountain pens, a waterbrush, pencil, and an Altoid box with small Caran d’ache pastels. For protests that remain in one place, he brings a large format sketchbook, and if he knows there will be a lot of people, he makes sure to bring fountain pens to capture a lot of people and details quickly. He first spends 5-10 minutes walking around to immerse himself in the environment, learn the rhythm of protest, look at signs, and “soak in the scene.” He pays attention to all of the shapes and sizes of people and signage. The Belarus protests took place in Prague’s Old Town Square, so he had a variety of interesting angles and recognizable landmarks.
CONNECT WITH RAJESH
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Then he looks for smaller stories taking place, such as groups of people discussing things, and makes a few pages of thumbnails to warm up, establish his point of view, and identify the stories he wants to tell. When the action starts heating up, speakers take the stage, and the VIPs arrive, he starts drawing the main sketch. He looks for iconic gestures, such as the victory (peace) sign, that symbolize the event. He always draws people close by to lead the viewer into the sketch, and to capture the full depth of the protest. “It should appear as if you could walk in.”
RajeshUSk Dhawan Chile
BELARUS PROTEST OCTOBER 2020 29
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RITA SABLER, PORTLAND, USA
he 2016 election in the U.S. was the event that started it for Rita Sabler, urban sketcher from Portland, Oregon, and USk Education Director. “It was a huge trauma and going out to sketch it was a kind of therapy.” Rita made a commitment to sketch all the protests she could. Since then she has filled several concertina sketchbooks and bound sketchbooks. During the initial months of the pandemic, Rita had not done much outdoor sketching, but in early May 2020, while walking in her neighborhood park, she happened upon a protest. “It was such a sight because during the pandemic maybe you would see one or two people outside and not in groups and all of a sudden there were thousands!” After that first protest, more started springing up all over Portland. Two adjacent squares in downtown Portland, Lownsdale Square and Chapman Square, have become the epicenter. As the political situation escalated and protests became more prevalent in her hometown, sketching protests became her mission. “We have found ourselves on the front lines of several challenges. Portland is not the kind of place you find on the front pages of international newspapers, and now it’s just one thing after another.” The protests started out with a “Portland flavor,” meaning people in costumes, live music by the local band, Unpresidented, “like some sort of Comicon event. There is so much energy and visual material.”
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FIRST JUSTICE FOR GEORGE FLOYD PROTEST, PENINSULA PARK 05/29/20
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Rita always brings a mask, a water bottle, and her sketching supplies. She begins by drawing the people closest to her. “My anchors.” She doesn’t do a lot of planning or worry about composition. Her focus is trying to capture characters, eavesdrop on conversations. “I position myself and draw things that are very representative – the main characters and what they represent.” Sometimes it’s a convergence of groups, the Wall of Moms, the Wall of Dads, the Wall of Vets, Antifa, BLM Activists, Proud Boys. She tries to capture the different factions and her style becomes less precise in these situations. For an urban sketcher living in these times, it’s a “perfect challenge because it has all the elements of what urban sketching is about–it’s the reportage, the energy, people, scenes. People are the main subjects, but I always include at least some elements from architecture and the natural world. You need to show where you are, a sense of place. The signs and the messages of what people carry tell so much of the story. Follow Rita’s protest sketches on Instagram at #diaryofresistance. 34 DRAWING ATTENTION
PROTESTORS IN FRONT OF THE FEDERAL COURTHOUSE, PORTLAND 07/22/20 OCTOBER 2020 35
PROTESTORS IN LOWNSDALE SQUARE 36 DRAWING ATTENTION
CONNECT WITH RITA
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MARINA GRECHANIK, TEL AVIV, ISRAEL
arina’s energetic sketches reveal her passionate energy. Demonstrations erupting all over the country are offering plenty of opportunity for the reportage sketching that she loves. “I feel like it’s a way I can help a little bit to make some changes in my country. When I show my drawings, people look at my drawings, they like the drawing style but they may also get the message.” “I like to tell stories. In this kind of sketching you don’t need to take down the story. You don’t need to interview people because when you see the people you see the story very clearly.“ The protests in Israel started with the first wave of coronavirus and the first lockdown. The lockdown coincided with the third election in three years, and shortly thereafter the Parliament and the Courts were locked down. Alarmed, people took to the streets fearing for their democracy. At first just a few people drove to the Knesset in Jerusalem waving black flags, the adopted symbol of their objections. Black flags started appearing at protests all over the country – on overpasses, street corners, public squares. There are many groups protesting different things – corruption allegations, the handling of the coronavirus crisis, the economic situation, the high unemployment rate, women’s rights, the state of their democracy – everyone has their cause. Marina traveled to Jerusalem at one point, to Balfour Street in front of the Prime Minister’s residence, where there has been reported police violence and many arrests. She arrived early so she could find her place in the middle of the action. At first people were suspicious of her as she sat with her paper and pens. The police even asked what she was doing. When she told them she was sketching, they asked if she could draw them. “Maybe,” she told them. “There was great energy there – all kinds of people, religious, secular, Jews, Arabs, young, old. The main difference was many young people joined it. They understood that something was happening to their future.”
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When she goes to sketch protests, Marina carries a pouch with pens, pencils, a water brush, etc., that she hangs around her neck. She carries a lightweight sketchbook in her hands. “It’s like static animation. I’m not freezing the moment. I’m sketching people coming and going and coming. I’m just adding them like a movie director. I’m choosing who I want to capture because I want interesting characters, interesting signs. People are just moving and moving, that’s why I like it so much.”
CONNECT WITH MARINA
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BLACK FLAGS RALLY
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Art and Mental Health BY MARK ALAN ANDERSON
hhhe ongoing pandemic – especially considering adjustments we’ve all had to make with regard to connectivity, community, and mindfulness – left me curious about our collective mental health. I asked Urban Sketchers: How are we coping? Has the physical act of sketching helped some of us get through these stressful life situations? Research supports the notion that creative activities relieve stress. Bernie Siegel, MD suggests in Love, Medicine & Miracles that the act of drawing may provide relief from fear and anxiety. Furthermore, the journal Art Therapy found that people – regardless of prior art-making encounters – experienced lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol following a short art-making session. Personally, I found myself much less engaged in sketching during quarantine. Some Urban Sketchers described feelings of loss or creative block. Rene Fijten told me that “...in Corona times I had to work from home. My desk is in my drawing/sketching/painting room, and after a day’s work I didn’t want to spend more time there. I didn’t draw as much as I liked. I really missed it.“ Sketchers have responded overwhelmingly, leading me to believe there’s a very real need to share at this particular
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place and time in our history. In fact, I’ve come to understand that sharing is a large part of what drives us as Urban Sketchers; perhaps it’s not so remarkable to understand the catharsis of sharing is intimately intertwined with who we are as visual chroniclers of the world around us. So, what exactly are sketchers sharing?
DEPRESSION – Many sketchers describe drawing as an
effective strategy for overcoming depression brought on by quarantine. Claire Sullivan found a sense of normalcy by sketching every day and “enjoying the sketches others in the group posted on our Facebook page.” Judith Coe shared that “sketching is a way for me to switch off anxiety, fear, depression, worry, and anger about all of the dark things going on in the world at the moment... sketching is a way for me to feel human again.” Judith’s friends – artists, writers, and musicians – mirror that sentiment, saying that Art “is saving them.”
PHYSICAL TRAUMA – Entirely unrelated to the pandemic, some sketchers have experienced serious physical trauma, and in some cases lived post traumatic stress. Acts of mark-making, and even doodling on paper, seem to have healing power.
One Sketch at a Time
COPING/HOPE – A great many Urban Sketchers
describe drawing as a means of coping, a pathway to hope. “I use sketching as many different things,“ says SooJan Olij. “As a way to cope with progressively worse news every day about the pandemic, as avoidance coping mechanism when I can’t get outside and I don’t want to be staring at a laptop. I use it as a way to express the things I am feeling... as a way to feel hopeful.” Others have described drawing as a form of self administered art therapy throughout the pandemic. “I’m not sure I could’ve gotten through it so far if I hadn’t been sketching all along,“ shares Tina Koyama. “I take a walk through my neighborhood every morning and sketch along the way. It’s my one small piece of normal.“
MEDITATION – Many, like myself, used the
opportunity to begin art journals. Often these are made up of sketches from around one’s house and garden, the view outside an apartment window, any available perspective. These often sound to me like a form of self reflection, of mindfulness. Sketcher Cathy Raingard has never been a person who could do sitting meditation. However, her urban sketching practice has been a means of achieving that very end. “It’s a joy to deeply observe a bit of our big, beautiful world, and draw what I see. During COVID, with no ability to meet up with fellow sketchers, I would car sketch with my dog at my side, far from other people.”
“Sketching is a way for me to feel human again” – Judith Coe “It’s a joy to deeply observe a bit of our big, beautiful world...” – Cathy Rainguard
Jean Edwards, in a poignant expression of urban sketching says “I find that the combination of sketching, being in the company of others who are doing the same and being outside is what lifts my spirits.” Yet, the pandemic has OCTOBER 2020 43
Art and Mental Health
made such camaraderie difficult, if not impossible for most of us. So, Lee Kleine initiated a correspondence journal with his best friend of 74 years. And while many describe sketching on location as an act of meditation, perhaps Benek Altayli said it in a way most us will find familiar: “my smart watch registers me as sleeping when I am sketching… It’s a way of meditating and shutting out the world for me.” I like to think of it as “being in the zone.”
GRIEF/LOSS – Some of the most painful anecdotes I read came from sketchers who embraced drawing as a way to process loss. Sue Pownall sketched her late father’s belongings. Painting and sketching helped Nora Kag learn to live, and ultimately thrive after the passing of her longtime spouse. And a very personal image Nichole Schumacher drew helped her to somehow deal with the pain and loss of a terrible accident.
“...sketching, being in the company of others who are doing the same and being outside is what lifts my spirits” – Jean Edwards
44 DRAWING ATTENTION
Clearly, sketching is cleansing for many of us, providing a welcome release – even a sense of purification. Perhaps it’s too simple to attempt to encapsulate that experience as one thing or another. That experience and net effect seems to be different for each of us, but this sketching thing we have embraced promises at least the possibility of hope. “Sketching is a way for me to move,“ Judith Coe told me. “To breathe. To be. To feel alive. To contemplate beauty. To go forward, a day at a time. One sketch at a time.”
Art and Mental Health
Dessiner pendant le confinement PAR SOPHIE NAVAS
es motivations sont nombreuses pour se mettre à dessiner dans un carnet. Cela peut être dessiner son quartier ou sa ville ou son village; ou alors créer un carnet de voyage pour mettre en images le récit de ses vacances. Mais en ces périodes d’incertitude, le dessin est aussi un refuge. Nous nous sommes demandé: comment la communauté Urban Sketchers francophone gère-t-elle l’art et la création en période de stress? Et comment les dessinateurs ont-ils appréhendé la période de confinement, entre mars et début mai? Sans surprise, le mot qui revient le plus souvent dans la bouche des USk c’est “méditation”. “Le croquis a le pouvoir de m’extraire du temps”, raconte Gérard Michel (USk Liège). “Il faut du temps pour entrer dans le sujet, et du temps pour en profiter pleinement.” Lors du confinement, beaucoup ont profité de ce temps et de cette liberté retrouvés.
Lee Kleine initiated a correspondence journal with his best friend of 74 years
Passée la confusion des premières semaines, la communauté USk s’est organisée autour de défis quotidiens ou hebdomadaires en ligne, comme les défis lancés par Anne Rose Oosterbaan ou par Celestinha OCTOBER 2020 45
Art and Mental Health
das Alminhas, du collectif Inky Fingers à Clermont-Ferrand. “A cette occasion j’ai constaté une plus grande adhésion des membres du groupe que lors de nos sorties en présentiel!” Tous le disent, cette émulation collective en ligne a permis de surmonter cette période difficile, de garder la motivation de créer et de rester en contact. Comme le résume Marc Dejoux “[Cet] exercice a fortement contribué à réduire l’oppression de la sensation d’enfermement.” Malgré tout, d’autres personnes n’ont pas pu dessiner lors de périodes de grand stress. Lors du confinement, certains ont pu constater un “blocage”. Sonia Vande Velde l’avoue elle-même: “Si au début j’ai eu l’illusion de l’échappée virtuelle, à un moment je me suis sentie au contraire totalement prisonnière (...) de la frustration de d’auto-illusionner sur les voyages qu’on ne vit finalement pas, de la 2D, des écrans.” La pratique du dessin nous accompagne dans toutes les étapes de la vie, les meilleures comme les pires. Si parfois, lors d’un deuil ou d’une maladie, on peut s’en écarter, la pratique artistique fait presque toujours partie du processus de guérison, comme témoigne Thierry Denfert: “Quand on a un petit peu de force et que l’on arrive à dessiner on oublie notre condition, la douleur est moindre, bref ça aide vraiment.“ Painting and sketching helped Nora Kag learn to live, and ultimately thrive after the passing of her longtime spouse
Tous sont d’accord sur une chose: la “bulle” créée grâce au dessin sur carnet a été bénéfique, mais à présent tout le monde n’attend qu’une chose: pouvoir se retrouver, en vrai, dans la rue, pour continuer les échanges commencés dans le monde virtuel! Merci aux membres du groupe Urban Sketchers France pour leurs nombreux témoignages.
46 DRAWING ATTENTION
Sue Pownall sketched her late fatherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s belongings
OCTOBER 2020 Tina Koyama
Welcome to new USk Chapters! Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re pleased to welcome two new chapters to our global family: USk Bergamo and USk Jacksonville.
48 DRAWING ATTENTION
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BY TEOH YI CHIE
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 Micro Portable Painter. Check it out!
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Our Manifesto • We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation • Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel • Our drawings are a record of time and place • We are truthful to the scenes we witness • We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles • We support each other and draw together • We share our drawings online • We show the world, one drawing at a time.
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