The 8th International Urban Sketchers Symposium Chicago 2017

Chicago was honored to be choose as the host for this event. Months of preparation were necessary to make of this international gathering a success. More than 500 participants from 34 countries came to Chicago to sketch the city. I was one of the lucky ones. I also happened to be a volunteer for the Chicago team in what I call the ground level, a  sergeant under the orders of captains and the core planners the generals, well....sort of. I was happy to help. The weather was lovely for the duration of the symposium since we had extreme weather days before the symposium so we were lucky. 



During the opening ceremony Gabi Campanario, the founder of the group, addressed the audience to tell the story of the beginning of this group and how far it has grown after these 10 years. Everybody was excited and eager to begin our symposium adventure.

The following morning was foggy and humid, this is Chicago. The view from my room towards the South of the city was amazing. The horizon line where the water of Lake Michigan meets the land was completely vanished. I sketched that blurred line, if any, and everything in between.

The first workshop I took was called Extreme Angles Reloaded with Norberto Dorantes. Norberto is born Mexican, like I am, so we get along very well. He lives in Argentina and I was his guide/assistant. I learned an eye opener concept which will make look at Chicago with new eyes. This is my sketch.

Later that day I watched Suhita Sirodkar demostration called Quick Capture. It was fascinating to watch instructors styles and how they perform during the making of their sketches.

The following day I attended my second workshop in the morning. Nina Johansson was the instructor of Make Room for a View. We walked to the Kemper building near the Chicago Riverwalk and went up the 41st floor. We were granted permission thanks to the suggestion and influence of one the Chicago team captain volunteer. The view was 360 degrees, incredible. I wasn't hard for me to choose my view, yes, I went to the cooler corner away from the blasting sunlight and this is what I found.

Later that day I attended another super talented artist, well I happen to be an admirer of ALL my instructors, I wouldn't be taking them workshops if I wasn't right? Lay it on the Line was the workshop Stephanie Bower presented. I spend a good time of this workshop watching her working on her sketch so I couldn't finish mine, later I worked on it to finish it, but and here it is.


That night, we were invited by one of the volunteers to attend a concert of classical music in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in the Millenium Park. There the magnificent stainless steel structure above the stage frame a couple who sat close in front of me. They were madly in love and the didn't have eyes for anyone else, that touched me and inspired me to sketch the story.

Next day I went to my last workshop, Trees and the City by Shari Blaukopf, a Canadian watercolorist whose work I admire also. The step by step to build a tree and her talk about composition was very informative. I didn't finished my sketch, again....but I finished it at home.



That afternoon we had the last sketchcrawl of the symposium. We walked to several locations and stopped at every one to sketch for some minutes to finish the sketchcrawl at the location where the final photo would be taken. Since the plan was to make several sketches on the go, I switched gears and change my media from watercolor to something simpler and fast to pack. I took a sketchbook given generously to us by sponsors and a two multicolored pencils I bought during the symposium. Speaking of which.....this media is becoming my new favorite for its portability, fast sketching and color. This is the sketch of the first stop.

The second  stop I sketched the guide of the sketchcrawl who was another volunteer.

This sketch shows the last spot, General John Logan Monument in Grant Park, where sketchers started to arrive for the final group photo.
The closing ceremony sealed new friendships and strengthen old ones. The Chicago Symposium was a success thank to the planning team, volunteers, sponsors and participants. The new host city for the 9th International Urban Sketchers Symposium 2018 was announced at the end.
Porto, Potugal

I took the train back to home, I sketched people with my new colored pencil, thinking, perhaps, that Portugal might be a fine destination next year.



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