Exploring the World Through Urban Sketchers: A Journey into the Art of Direct Observation

Exploring the World Through Urban Sketchers: A Journey into the Art of Direct Observation

Being a sketcher. Stopping to draw is like sitting down at a table to savor a regional dish with its combinations, aromas, and particularities.

In recent years, this practice has been spreading at an increasing rate, thanks to the birth of a true movement initiated in the United States by the Seattle Times illustrator, Gabi Campanario: the Urban Sketchers.

From 2009 to the present, this global community of sketchers, an essential point of reference for all artists who wish to "show the world, one drawing at a time" through drawing and on-the-spot reportage, has been growing. Today, it is present in over 60 countries, with groups registered on the official website urbansketchers.org in over 336 cities, totaling more than 120,000 members.

Exploring the World Through Urban Sketchers: A Journey into the Art of Direct Observation - Borciani e Bonazzi

The Urban Sketchers Manifesto

To understand the philosophy of Urban Sketchers, one only needs to refer to their manifesto, which consists of 8 points defining the objectives and methods of the sketches they create.

Being an urban sketcher means being part of a global community of passionate artists, united by the desire to explore the world through their eyes and brushes.

Every drawing is a journey, every stroke is an adventure, and together, the Urban Sketchers are changing the way we see and understand our planet.

1.We draw on location, indoors or outdoors, capturing what we see from direct observation: Urban Sketchers believe in the importance of capturing reality directly, seizing details and nuances through direct observation.

2. Our drawings tell the story of what surrounds us, of the places we live in and travel to: Each Urban Sketchers drawing is a visual narrative that conveys the story and atmosphere of the depicted location.

3. Our drawings are a record of time and place: Through their sketches, Urban Sketchers immortalize a specific moment in time and space, capturing the essence of the moment.

4. We are faithful to the scenes we observe: Urban Sketchers are committed to representing reality faithfully, avoiding the addition of invented elements or details.

5. We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles: There are no strict rules about the tools or styles to use. Urban Sketchers embrace diversity and celebrate the variety of techniques and artistic approaches.

6. We support each other and draw together: The Urban Sketchers community is characterized by a collaborative and supportive spirit. Artists support each other, sharing experiences, advice, and inspiration.

7. We share our drawings online: The internet is a valuable tool for Urban Sketchers, who use social media and websites to share their work with the world, inspiring and influencing other artists.

8. We show the world, one drawing at a time: This is the core of the Urban Sketchers' mission. Through their drawings, they show the world the beauty and diversity of the places they visit, offering a unique and personal perspective.

The Urban Sketchers organization - Borciani e Bonazzi

The Urban Sketchers organization

Urban Sketchers, or USk, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization incorporated in the state of Washington, USA, that supports and represents a grassroots community of sketchers.

Our mission is to raise the artistic, storytelling, and educational value of on-location drawing, promoting its practice and connecting people around the world who draw where they live and travel.

What is an Urban Sketch?

An urban sketch is a drawing created on location, indoors or outdoors, capturing what the artist sees through direct observation.

Urban sketchers use any type of media to tell the story of their surroundings, the places where they live, and the places they travel to.

Urban Sketchers: Our History - Borciani e Bonazzi

Urban Sketchers: Our History

Urban Sketchers was founded in 2007 by journalist and illustrator Gabriel Campanario.

In 2007, a global community of urban sketchers began to form when Seattle journalist and illustrator Gabriel Campanario created an online forum "for all the sketchers out there who love to draw the cities they live in and visit, from the windows of their homes, from a café, in a park, on a street corner... always on location, not from photos or memory."

A year later, Campanario invited a group of sketchers to share their drawings and stories on a blog, Urban Sketchers, where readers could "see the world, one drawing at a time."

The blog helped the community gain visibility and inspired drawing enthusiasts worldwide to sketch in the spirit of our manifesto.

An urban sketch is a record of time and place, an event, something happening at a given moment somewhere in our world.

For some, it may be a quick sketch of a scene with a brief caption of what is happening, while for others, it is a piece that may take a long time to complete.

It is an urban sketch as long as the artist has captured the essence of the moment and place on location.

Urban sketchers: esempio di pennello doppio - Borciani e Bonazzi
Urban sketchers: gli strumenti utilizzati - Borciani e Bonazzi
Urban sketchers: realizzazione opera - Borciani e Bonazzi

The Essential Tools for Urban Sketchers: Ready to Capture the World with Art and Creativity

Being an urban sketcher means always being ready to capture the essence of a place, a moment, a scene, with a keen eye and a steady hand.

But what are the essential tools that every urban sketcher should have in their kit?

Let's see them together:

Sketchbook: The heart of the urban sketcher's kit is certainly the sketchbook. It should be portable, durable, and lightweight enough to carry anywhere. Spiral-bound sketchbooks with thick paper are often preferred for their convenience and durability.

Pencil or Pen: A good drawing starts with a solid foundation. A quality pencil or pen is essential for sketching the guidelines and preliminary sketches of the drawing. The pencil allows for greater flexibility and correction, while the pen offers a defined and permanent line.

Travel Brush: If watercolors are being used, a travel brush is a must. It should be compact and retractable to take up as little space as possible in the kit, but at the same time, it should offer precise control during painting.

Watercolors: Watercolors are the ideal choice for adding color to urban sketchers' drawings. They are versatile, portable, and allow for a wide range of effects, from transparency to saturation. Pocket-sized watercolor sets are recommended, with a selection of essential colors.

Water Bottle: Another essential component for urban sketchers using watercolors is a water bottle. It should be lightweight and tightly sealed to prevent leaks during transportation, but spacious enough to provide sufficient water for on-location painting sessions.

Eraser: Mistakes are also part of the creative process. A small eraser is useful for correcting any errors or for removing preliminary guidelines once the drawing is complete.

Case or Pouch: To keep everything organized and protected, a case or pouch is essential. It should be sturdy enough to protect the tools during transportation but comfortable enough to allow easy access during drawing sessions.

With these essential tools in their kit, every urban sketcher is ready to explore the world and capture the beauty and essence of the places they encounter along the way.

Whether it's a crowded square, a rural landscape, or a quiet corner of the city, urban sketchers are ready to turn every moment into an artistic opportunity.

Urban Sketchers: realizzazioni di opere - Borciani e Bonazzi
Urban Sketchers: strada alberata - Borciani e Bonazzi

Travel Brushes for Urban Sketchers: The Essential Tool for Art on the Go

For urban sketchers, mobility is crucial.

They must be ready to capture the essence of a place at any moment and under any conditions.

That's why travel brushes are an indispensable tool in their artistic kit.

Lightweight, portable, and convenient, these brushes offer the flexibility and quality needed to create artwork wherever you are. Here's what makes travel brushes perfect for urban sketchers:

Retractable: Travel brushes are designed to be compact and portable. The most important feature is their ability to retract, reducing their size and protecting the bristles during transportation. This makes them perfect for slipping into a bag or sketchbook pocket without taking up too much space.

Lightweight: Urban sketchers often have to walk long distances or take train or plane journeys to reach their sources of inspiration. Therefore, travel brushes must be lightweight to avoid adding extra weight to their load.

Portable: In addition to being lightweight, travel brushes must be easy to carry. Many models come with a case or protective holder that not only protects the bristles but also allows them to be safely stored alongside other art tools such as pencils, pens, and watercolors.

Quality: Despite their compact size, travel brushes should not sacrifice quality. It's important that the bristles are durable and able to maintain their shape even after prolonged use. The best travel brushes offer good water retention and a wide variety of shapes and sizes to suit different painting techniques.

Easy to clean: Finally, travel brushes should be easy to clean, especially when working outdoors where resources may be limited. Synthetic or mixed bristles are often preferred for their ease of maintenance and the fact that they dry more quickly than natural bristles.

With the right travel brushes in their kit, urban sketchers are ready to explore the world and capture the beauty of the places they encounter along the way, turning every moment into an artistic opportunity.

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