Tag Archives: Urban Sketchers

Book Review: Emma Fitzgerald’s Sketch by Sketch Along Nova Scotia’s South Shore

[Book review by Murray Dewhurst]  

‘Spring is a long time coming on the South Shore, but finally, the leaves start to bud and the daylight extends later into the evening. We start to live life in a way that tries to approximate summer — going outside more….’

The opening statement to the first chapter of Emma Fitzgerald’s Sketch by Sketch Along Nova Scotia’s South Shore (Formac Publishing, 127 pages) is entitled ‘Spring’ and sets the format — it’s a book arranged by season.

Coming from a mild maritime climate myself I have to admit forgetting how weather can impact the lives of those in harsher climes. This book reminded me of that in graphic style with its riot of colourful illustrations depicting spring, summer and even the autumn chapters but followed by a decidedly shorter and drabber winter chapter.

The sport of sketching is obviously a seasonal practice in these parts!

This book is a follow-up to Emma’s first book, Hand Drawn Halifax (read Marc Taro Holmes 2015 review here) as she sketches her way further south along the South Shore.

Emma’s loose sketch style of pen and ink with digital colour added later brings this book to life nicely. The immediacy of her sketches and endearing subject matter will appeal to any inquisitive armchair traveler or urban sketcher (aren’t all urban sketchers inquisitive by nature?) and certainly gave this reviewer an insight into an unknown part of the world.

Fans of architecture will be drawn to the quirky building styles (ever wondered what a Lunenburg bump is?) decorated in their bright colours. There’s plenty of local culture and history to delve into along the way too: from Jo-Ann’s, a deli in Mahoe Bay where cakes reign supreme, to sampling a Knot burger – a tribute to the original German immigrants to Lunenburg, and a recipe for making your own sauerkraut. Emma introduces us to the culture of the Mi’kmaw, the original inhabitants of the region, and takes us to Acadian East Pubnico where the road signs are still written in French. We learn of the hardships endured by the early black loyalist settlers in Birchtown.

I’m impressed with this collection of 127 pages packed with sketches that depict the intensity of life lived along the many bays, beaches, islands and fishing boats on Nova Scotia’s South Coast.

Visit Formac Publishing for more information, order online, or check out Emma’s website to see more of her art.

Would you like to submit a book review? Email your submission to editorial@urbansketchers.org

Opinions expressed by our correspondents and guest contributors don’t necessarily represent an official view of UrbanSketchers.org.


sketches at Buam-dong village, Seoul

[By Lee Yong-hwan in Seoul, Korea]

   Changuimun Gate/

   Mugyewon (Korean Traditional Culture Facility)
    the front view of Jahamun Tunnel scene
the panoramic view of Buam-dong village
 Buam-dong street scene viewed from Seoul Museum
 Seoul Museum
Whanki Museum in Buam-dong residential neighborhood

 Yoon Dong-ju Literary Museum
 the scenery of Buam-dong seen from Bugaksan Seoul Fortress Wall
 a village scenery viewed from Changuimun Gate Pavilion
the cityscape viewed from the hillside of Buam-dong
 (26 x 37cm sketchbook, pen and watercolor)
Last week, I visited Buam-dong village in my neighborhood and sketched various scenes for two days. Buam-dong is a charming village in central Seoul that was once 
occupied mostly by artists and writers. Today, modern galleries, coffee shops, and restaurants stand side by side with old mills and barber shops on the narrow alleyways. The old historic village harmonizes with  Bugaksan Mountain and Inwangsan Mountain, 


Personal Trainers Hate this Sketcher – How to lose weight by drawing!

[By Marc Taro Holmes in Montreal, CA]

Like many professional artists, I’m about 20 pounds heavier than I ought to be.

I think that’s normal for anyone with a desk job. And being an artist and blogger is definitely a desk job. I probably do seven hours at the computer for every one drawing.

Oh, I have more excuses too: we were doing a lot of travel last year – that’s always detrimental to proper diet. And I did all the artwork for my recent digital-art book this summer. That was a lot of butt-in-chair-time. To make matters worse, it’s the holiday season with all the celebratory eating that entails.

To that end, I’ve recently completed a 1 week (7 day) experiment in tracking sketchwalks.

My goal was daily walks of 10 thousands steps, interspersed with motivational drawings of whatever I encounter along the way.

Spend any time reading about fitness-for-the-un-sporty, and you’ve probably heard this 10 thousand steps rule. A magic number that began with the Japanese Manpo-Kei “10,000 step meter” and later adopted by the Fitbits and Nike Fuelband wearables. Both of which I have tried, and either broken, lost, or lost interest in maintaining.

This is definitely one of my odd-ball ideas. Only valuable to a very niche audience. You have to be someone like me who resents any time spent doing exercise – because of the time it takes away from drawing!

I have to admit, I got this idea from playing Pokemon Go. A game which is designed for this very thing – to get gamers to invest in exercise, by giving them a game that rewards walking. I actually prefer Niantic Studios‘ grown-up version; a game called Ingress.

The main thing you need for this idea – is time. About an hour a day for the sketch walk. Maybe a bit less if you’re a brisk walker.

Gear wise, it’s just a matter of a pocket-sized sketchbook and a couple of basic pens – my usual minimum: a fine nib and a brush pen.

Painting your sketches should be optional. A bad idea even, as it’s a distraction from the main point of MORE WALKING.

Mostly the drawings should be as simple as possible. I would ask Siri for a 7 minute timer while I dug out my pens, and I’d accept whatever I could draw in that time window. I could see right away, if I didn’t use the timer – and limit myself to line drawing – I’d end up over my one hour-ish time-allotment.

Maybe in summer I’ll try this with 7 minute watercolors. About 1/3 of the time I spent on my miniature marathon sketches. That would be a challenge 🙂

To keep score: I’ve been using a pedometer app to count steps. [Pacer, free on iOS].

The app works on older iPhones (like mine) lacking the improved motion tracking in the iPhone 5s or better. It has all the expected features – a graph of your daily step count, little motivational messages to cheer you on, and/or yell at you when it doesn’t detect enough activity.

In order to get visual feedback, I’ve been using a custom google map to record a GPS position for each sketch. I just drop a map pin at my location, and upload a cellphone shot of the drawing to the map pin’s custom description. It would be nice if there was an easier way – after all, your phone can geo-locate a photo automatically – but I couldn’t find a simple way to covert my Places album into a shareable map. Any geeks out there know a solution?

What I do like about google maps is the potential to collaborate with other sketchers. If anyone really loves this idea – why not message me and I’ll give you editing permissions on the map. If we are both adding pins we might stick with it longer!

Yes, I had to stop by the grocery store and sketch the lobsters. I never get tired of drawing lobsters.

So yes, after seven days, here’s my results:

The Pillars of Hercules

[by Luis Ruiz in Ceuta, Spain]

This is a very special place. Here lies one of the limits of the ancient world: the Pillars of Hercules, as the greeks called the two mountains that flank the Strait of Gibraltar: the Jebel Musa on the African side and Jebel Tarik –Gibraltar- on the European side. In between, the waters of the Atlantic blend with those of the Mediterranean.

I drew the first sketch from the port of Ceuta, a Spanish city on the African shore. It is incredible how close the coast of the South of Europe looks; it seems you could even touch the cliffs of the opposite side. In fact, the Strait is just 15 km wide at its narrowest point. The wind is usually high in this area, but the sea showed a deep blue colour, the sky was clear and the panorama was a glorious one. I liked the counterpoint that the cement silos on the foreground offered to the distant rock of Gibraltar and I really wanted to capture that moment on my sketchbook while the gentle breeze tried to turn the pages.

The next day was time to travel back to the Iberian Peninsula, after a short stay at Ceuta. The ferry only takes 90 minutes to sail from there to Algeciras, whose ports are only 7,7 nautical miles apart. The morning remained nearly as beautiful as the afternoon before, and the ship’s departure was greeted by the seagulls and dolphins that are very common at this ravel of waters. But soon the Strait showed his ugliest face and reminded me how treacherous it can be. In very few minutes the sea was surrounded by a dark mist. I was drawing on the upper deck when I suddenly noticed I was alone, everybody had looked for shelter inside because of the sea spray and coldness… drawing soon become impossible as it started to rain, and I had to put the color below deck. It was a shocking but nice experience as I was traveling on a big and comfortable vessel.

Some other thoughts came to my mind. This Strait is also a paradise for birdwatchers as it is a major route for migrant birds to cross from one continent to the other. But it is not easy at all for people to follow the same path at sea level, due to the borders man set between countries, and many immigrants risk –and many of them  lose- their lives on small boats trying to reach European soil avoiding customs controls. I tried to imagine the fore mentioned experience while sailing on an overloaded one.



[By Behzad Bagheri in Isfahan, Iran] She said politely that she hopes I build a day such a great building, not only copy it again and again on my paper.

I said: I am not sure if I can design or make such a wonderful structure a day, but I think it is more essential to observe surrounding. Again and again.
And sketching helps me.
Observation opens a window in our heart. It’s also important to see carefully ourselves and what happens here in mind when we are looking at around.


It is not a duty but an essential need for letting that window to be open in heart. Maybe a day a fresh air will blow through the window.


The end of the Railway

By Pete Scully in London, UK

the railway, edgware

This is the Railway Hotel in Edgware, at the topmost end of the Northern Line in London. It’s not actually a hotel, it is a pub with a carvery restaurant above it. Haha, why am I saying ‘is’ – it used to be a pub. It has been closed down for years now, boarded up and left empty, one of the most interesting buildings on Station Road just left for the mice. Locally it’s just called the Railway (it’s not actually a railway) and was built in 1936 around the time that Edgware and other suburban areas of London were experience growth due to the expansion of the London Underground a decade before (the term ‘Metro-Land’ was used to describe these areas, enticing people to move out there).  Big buildings such as this were thrown up in the Mock-Tudor style in these burgeoning and now-connected suburbs, to emphasize the ‘rural’ appeal of suburbia. Edgware itself goes back centuries, its name being Saxon in origin and meaning ‘Ecgi’s Weir’, and is on the historic and vital Roman Road of Watling Street (actually called Edgware Road from here to central London; you’ve seen Edgware Road on the tube map, it is miles away). There are some genuinely historic buildings here, one around the corner being an old tavern that the famed highwayman Dick Turpin is rumoured to have stayed at. Right across the street from the Railway is St.Margaret’s Church, whose tower dates from the 15th century, with the building dating from the 18th century. And while it’s not particularly historic, George Michael’s dad used to own a restaurant a few doors down from here called Mr. Jack’s. The Railway Hotel may not be so old, but it was beloved locally. I remember the pub being a nice, warm place, friendlier than many other more raucous pubs nearby (and there were a few). I remember going to that carvery restaurant for my friend Terry’s 18th birthday, all those years ago. Some nice memories here. I grew up not far from here in Burnt Oak, and Terry and I walked past the Railway every day on our way to Edgware School. In those days, you thought big old buildings like this would last forever.
I sketched this on Christmas Eve, as big red buses poured by and last-minute Christmas shoppers converged on Sainsbury’s (here’s a tip – Sainsbury’s at 3:30pm on the day before Christmas isn’t fun). I don’t think the Railway will re-open. It is apparently not a Listed Building, and so the ever hungry ‘Developers’ are likely to erase it and build something much less interesting. Goodbye, all the old pubs.


Totem Pole

Yun and I took her mom and grandma to Seattle to see her brother’s new baby. The temperatures were in the mid 90s, so the sun and heat were a bit much for the old ladies. Yun’s grandma walks with a cane and is a bit unsteady on her feet. There is a little park next to the famous Pike market. I told Yun I was going to do a drawing of the totem pole down by the water. She asked if I could take her grandma, so her and her mom go go around and do some shopping without having to lug grandma. No sweat. They left and as I entered the park, I knew I had to put grandma in the shade or she would melt quickly. The first thing I noticed though, was that the area with shade was very limited. There are tons of tourists around but none of them have shade. You see, the shade is cornered by the drug dealers and homeless people. They have to be there all day. It’s their office. Obviously they get there early and take the shade spots. There happened to be a tiny space so I was able to park grandma in between the pot dealers and a big heavy set homeless guy with a big beard. Yun’s grandma doesn’t speak English, so she was none the wiser about what was happening. I had to leave her there alone because to to my drawing of the totem pole I had to be positioned elsewhere, in the sun of course. Every 10 minutes or so I would look back to see that she was doing OK. She seemed content surrounded by her new friends. I finished in about an hour and went over to her. I showed her what I’d drawn and the homeless guy got very interested. We had a long talk while we waited for Yun and her mom. He told me the whole history of the totem pole. He was a regular encyclopedia. Finally Yun showed up and grandma said goodbye to all her drug dealer pals. Another typical day of vacation.


Sketches of Londoners on Public Transport (Groups)

These are some original mounted sketches I have done in the past. Each head sketched is 6″ x 4″ inches.

Hope you enjoy them and if you are interested in owning one of them- just go to my blog

These are people I sketch everyday and I really enjoy this form of urban sketching!

If you want to learn with me on some tips on how I go about this you can sign up at my SketchInspiration Blog

By: Urban Sketchers
Via: Feedbin Starred Entries
Source: http://www.urbansketchers.org/2013/07/sketches-of-londoners-on-public.html

1917 German Machine-Gun

This is another sketch I did at the Leeds Royal Armouries SketchCrawl last weekend. I was really very pleased with it, as it is so outside my usual subject area.

It was a full-size exhibit which stopped me in my tracks. I was drawn to the eeriness of the gas mask under the helmet and tried to capture some of that disturbing facelessness in the feel of the drawing.

(Via Urban Sketchers)