On-location drawings capture the spirit of place | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

A huge surprise was the discovery a portfolio of drawings by Urban Sketchers Philippines, an organization affiliated with Urban Sketchers, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering the art of on-location drawing.

It is a nonprofit organization dedicated to “raising the artistic, storytelling and educational value of location drawing, promoting its practice and connecting people around the world who draw on-location where they live and travel.”

Urban Sketchers aims to “show the world, one drawing at a time.”

Members in London, Barcelona, New York, San Francisco, Lisbon, Singapore and Seoul are avid sketchers who portray their city’s everyday life—from urbanscapes to commuters in packed rush-hour subways or coffee drinkers at a sidewalk café.

“Drawing a city isn’t just capturing it on paper, it’s really about getting to know it, to feel it, to make it your own,” says Nina Johansson, a correspondent in Stockholm.

Established only two years ago by Gabriel Campanario, illustrator and journalist of the Seattle Times, the organization has some 4,000 members around the world and recently concluded its second symposium in Lisbon, Portugal, where 200 attended.

The Philippine group was officially launched in May this year and has been sponsoring a monthly three-hour sketching session around Manila.

Sketching or drawing on-location offers a very direct and personal way of recording what is seen, felt and thought, leading to truthful records that tell the story of a city and its inhabitants.

For members, the level of artistry is not important, neither does the result matter much. The goal is to capture the elusive spirit of place on paper.

Heritage places offer a particular challenge for sketching. The cultural and artistic richness of these places makes the artist focus on the urban ensemble, its details, before interpreting his impressions of the scene in his own personal manner.

“The façade of Capitol Theater on Escolta, Manila, was particularly interesting since we noticed the details of the sculptural relief panels that would have otherwise been unnoticed,” say the artists.

“Streetchildren started to flock to us, curious of what we were doing. We wished we had extra pads and pencils to give away for them to have a chance to sketch along with us.

“Adults who stop would strike conversations with us, be reintroduced to the city that they take for granted. [The interaction] enriches our whole experience.”

Members of Urban Sketchers Philippines are design professors, artists, architects and students.

Urban Sketchers Philippines aims to encourage Filipinos to experience and understand “our country through sketching. We believe it is an essential way of reviving our arts and culture.”

Sketches are shared in their blog site—http://urbansketchers-philippines.blogspot.com, which is linked to the main Urban Sketchers site at urbansketchers.org.

Feedback is welcome at pride.place@gmail.com.