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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Pocket Urban Sketching with Gabi

Three small vignettes 
Gabi Campanario kicked off Seattle’s series of Urban Sketchers 10x10 workshops with “Pocket Urban Sketching” – an introduction to using the small sketchbook format. Going back to his roots, Gabi showed us some of the many small books he filled before he ever conceived of Urban Sketchers. The portable format enabled him to sketch whenever he found a moment to capture an image, and he encouraged us to do the same.

“A small, easy-to-carry notebook makes sketching less intimidating and is ideal to create fast drawings on the go,” he said in his handout, and he spent this morning showing 14 sketchers how to put a large picture onto a tiny page.

Three small vignettes 
Amazon campus in the South Lake Union neighborhood was our workshop site. On this cold morning (I sure was glad I wore my down jacket and fingerless gloves!), our first exercise was to create a spread of three vignettes in varying sizes. Making a small-, a medium- and a large-sized image on the same spread gives visual variety and interest to the composition. White spaces can be filled with the date, journal writing and other notations.

Our second exercise was to make a single wide cityscape across the page spread. (This is my personal sketching challenge and the reason I took the workshop: I always feel like I need a large page to capture a large scene, and yet I know it’s just a matter of scaling. I wanted to learn how to fit it all in!) Standing on a street corner facing the Amazon spheres, Gabi demonstrated how he first decides the scope of his composition, then chooses a building to be the relative measuring gauge for everything else that will appear in the sketch.

7" x 5 1/2" page spread
As we started the exercise, my first inclination was to walk across the street to get as far away as possible from the spheres so they would become “smaller” in my eyes. But I wanted the challenge of the full, in-your-face view, so I stood close to the spot Gabi stood for the demo. I was pleased by how much I got into the spread (at left)!

I think both exercises – the three small vignettes and the wide cityscape across a spread – are ideal for travel sketching, because I’d be able to capture more small images in shorter periods of time. We were given 3 ½-by-5 ½-inch softcover sketchbooks (donated by Stillman & Birn) for the workshop, and I think I might use the rest of mine to practice these concepts before the next time I travel.

It was a fun and informative morning learning from Gabi, and it was also a privilege to take a workshop from the Seattle Sketcher!

Gabi demos how he fits a huge scene into a small sketchbook spread.

Gabi discusses the three vignettes exercise.
Chilly workshop participants listen attentively!

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