First Two Days at the USk Symposium!

Since Chicago may be the closest that the symposium will be to Hawaiʻi for some time, I snagged the opportunity (with some help) to attend this year!

Two days before all the fun kicked off, I caught a red-eye out of Honolulu and arrived in Salt Lake City (SLC), Utah by 3:00 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time. The first two sketches are from that approximately six-hour leg. The lightning storm was gorgeous, but a challenge to sketch in a dark cabin using just ballpoint pen. I followed that up with a doodle of the view out of the airport terminal’s windows whilst I noshed on a sandwich during the layover. After my snack, I decided I would focus on getting to O’Hare in one piece instead of diagramming new airplane seating arrangements to hand to the complaints desk.   :)

Only a few hours after arriving in Chicago, I ran into Mark Leibowitz (from NYC) and Eileen Goldenberg (from San Francisco) at the famous “Bean”!

After exploring the city and a handful of its many attractions, I checked in at the symposium on Wednesday, where I had the pleasure to personally meet urban sketchers that I had long admired from afar. The first item on the schedule was a sketchwalk. Exhilarating! It seemed like we took over the entire sidewalk, and by the time we had arrived at our sketching destination, the Art Institute’s gardens, we had definitely established our presence. Two city blocks were dotted with – I dare not guess how many – sketchers sitting on stools, leaning against walls, standing in groups, and sometimes sprawled on the ground. It took a little time for my sketch gears to warm up, but here are two of my drawings from the walk.

And here’s our group photo at the end of it. What a huge crowd! And even more people were streaming in when this photo was taken.

Later that evening I attended the official opening event which featured Gabi Campanario sharing his experiences with starting Urban Sketchers. It is amazing how widespread the Urban Sketchers organization is now.

And to think that this was only the first day of the symposium … and not even a full day!

Yesterday, I had a 9:30 a.m. start at Millennium Park with the fantastic Lynne Chapman for my first workshop “Rhythm and Blues”. She introduced us to a sketching approach that involves layering, taking advantage of different media, and integrating colored construction paper into our sketches. During the workshop, the wonderful music of an orchestra and chorus rehearsal sailed over to us from the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Here are all my sketches, finished or not, along with a few photos…

Afterward, I grabbed a bagel and took off to meet the next sketchwalk group heading to Federal Plaza (featuring a 53-foot-tall sculpture, “Flamingo”, by Alexander Calder). On our way to the plaza, we were treated to a brief historical overview of attractions, thanks to local USk volunteer Joann.

Later that afternoon, I enjoyed an excellent watercolor demonstration by Uma Kelkar – she painted a scene from Hawaiʻi!

And lastly, I caught an evening lecture by Mark Leibowitz who presented some of the latest tricks, gadgets, and homemade urban-sketcher product improvements.

Along the way, countless other run-ins took place with excited sketchers from around the world; we shared our artwork and passion for urban sketching with each other. Creative energy abounds! All in all, I think an apt description for the symposium would be: fast paced and packed to the brim with sketching fun!

And it is not over yet – check out the live-streamed videos on Youtube!