Monday, January 30, 2017

Sketching Workshops this Spring and Smmer

Urban Sketchers celebrates 10 years, and we want to celebrate introducing the first long term USK course ever! We invite all sketchers around the world to attend ten on location classes with a USK official instructor/s nearby your city to learn or improve the core value of Urban Sketching: sketch the world, one drawing at a time.

The series of workshops “Reporting from Portland” is designed to highlight concepts, city scenes, and cultural and urban phenomena that came to symbolize Portland both to its inhabitants and to the outside community. We will learn how to create visual narratives starting with smaller objects and concepts, progressing to drawing larger architectural landmarks and street scenes and finally culminating in a full reportage about the life of our city with the stories about neighborhoods, markets, and street festivals.

For more information visit

Registration is available through Eventbrite.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Inaugural Day Protest and Women's March: Reporting from Portland

We all needed THAT. After months of listening to lies and insults and feeling nothing but rage, disgust, and fear we finally had our say. For the first time since the election night I saw people smiling again. We didn't seem to mind the pouring rain, the cold, all of the disruptions to the normal life that an event like this brings to a city. The streets were closed, bus service was disrupted—we were all rolling with it, happy that the buses going downtown to the march were too full to take on new passengers. I realize that the new government is cynical and delusional enough not to be moved a hair—not in their emotions nor in their policies—in response to millions of people taking to the streets in the US and the worldwide, but WE needed this march to feel human again.

Live sketching of the inaugural day protests in Portland.

Drawing at march speed. 100000 people marched under pouring rain this afternoon in Portland alone. Especially moved by all of the men in pink hats. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Old Foundry and two Green Dragons

Had a great time on Saturday, November 12 sketching the ghosts of Portland's industrial past with a lovely group of Portland sketchers. The cavernous space of the Old Foundry features a giant centerpiece –an enormous green punch press.

Lunch at the Green Dragon pub–the name that perfectly captured the morning seemed really apropos. Great job Andrea and Greg for putting this together.

Friday, November 11, 2016

US votes 2016: Never Reaching the Acceptance Through the Stages of Grief

As for many people around the world these last couple of days have been a blur of fighting back tears and nausea and being stuck in the loop of various stages of grief but never reaching the acceptance.

Here are some sketches of things I saw starting with the election night. I ducked into my neighborhood bar called Turn Turn Turn to watch the results come in. People were gasping, swearing, holding their heads. They would visibly slouch even lower into their seats as the votes were being counted and state by state the map was being enveloped in angry red, as if a scorching tomato soup was boiling out of its pot.

Next day protesters taking to the streets of downtown Portland chanting "Not my President!" "Women rights are human Rights!" carrying drums, posters, waving Mexican flags.

Everywhere I went I saw people crying, hugging and consoling each other. Some businesses were giving away flowers with the message —"Spreading love and compassion..."

Saturday, October 29, 2016

London and Manchester

Late July of 2016 I traveled to Manchester's Seventh Urban Sketchers symposium to reconnect with some of my favorite artists from around the world, sketch from morning till dawn, and present a couple of lectures on my favorite subject of Travel Sketching.  

 Piccadilly circus (London) energy is undeniable as the light of giant neon displays around the square gets reflected on the classical façades, double-decker buses, and amazed faces

Manchester is a historically industrial city that is majestically dressed in brick and blanketed in moody lilac skies. It undeniably evokes the spirit of industrial revolution in Europe, although the modern city masterfully combines the old and the new.  

I stayed in the Gay village on Bloom street which meant that my jet lag was nursed by the sounds of the restless partiers on the nighty basis. Here is a sketch of the corner across from my apartment with the street cleaners scrubbing the street after another wild party evening.

Lancaster house dominates the downtown skyline. Formally a packing and shipping warehouse it currently appears to serve as a luxury apartment building.

"Drink and Draw" is one of the oldest standing traditions at the Urban sketchers symposiums. I am always amazed and amused  to have a place completely inundated by people feverishly drawing together and such was the daily experience at the classic, brightly colored British pub Peveril of the Peak.  

A swarm of sketchers in front of the brightly colored pub called The Peveril of the Peak during the last Urban sketchers symposium in Manchester.

Another lovely tradition is going out for dinners with a large group of sketchers.   This time we picked Tiffan–an Indian restaurant as our home base and ended up going there for three nights in a row. By the end of the symposium our waiter already knew what we were planing to order. As usual I was hanging out with the group of Portuguese and Spanish speaking sketchers–all of whom are incredibly talented and sweet. 

The majestic John Rylands library in Manchester
The three days of the symposium always fly by way too quickly. Fortunately, the trip was still not over and I had a few days in my favorite London ahead of me. 

London skyline sketched from the Tower Bridge
I met up with my old friend Isabelle Perez, and together we explored and enjoyed London. I took Isabelle out for some Pho–British style, a serving of which almost made her small French stomach explode.

My friend Isabelle having trouble with her Pho

Approaching Big Ben and the Parliament we witnessed the Afrikan Reparations march. 

Wet and cold London weather pushes us indoors. Fortunately there is no shortage of museums with free entrance.  First we duck into Victoria and Albert Museum and then pay a visit to the Natural history museum, which not only boasts an amazing collection but is also housed in an impressive space.

Samurai at the Victoria and Albert Museum 

Natural History museum with the giant dinosaur in the middle

Late night drinks and laughs with one of my favorite people in the world at this bohemian London bar in Shoreditch.

The visit to England would not be complete without the pompous affair of the afternoon tea.

High tea at Fortnum and Mason

High tea at Fortnum and Mason

Verge Bar where no hipsters are allowed

Friday, October 28, 2016


Practicing my Pho soup eating and sketching skills ahead of the trip to Vietnam at the always delicious son and mother enterprise–Pho TNT.

Sketching from Pittock Mansion

When the rainy October unexpectedly gifts you a crisp sunny day it is time to summon the fellow Portland sketchers and head somewhere with a view. Fortunately, the Pittock Mansion never disappoints.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Sketches from Venice, Italy

Doge's Palace–standing in the river of tourists

Last August I traveled to Venice to visit a close friend of mine. Plans changed and she could no longer come to the city. The trip suddenly turned into a unique chance to spend one week alone with my sketchbook undistracted, with no other obligations but to draw. I was in heaven!

To celebrate I headed to a quaint trattoria in Sant' Elena and set out to sketch the local clientele over a glass of house wine and an appetizing plate of Spaghetti alle vongole.

First dinner in Sant' Elena–a quiet neighborhood bordered by a pleasant park and away from the flood of tourists

Sketching the clientele on the outdoor terrace

As with many Italian dishes I am not sure what I enjoy more–the food or its name. In this case the name "vongole" is onomatopoeic with the sound small clam shells make against your fork as you try to twist the fork in the heap of spaghetti. The chef was watching me impatiently as I drew, desperately signaling that the dish is going to get cold if I don't put down my pen and pick up my fork.

Spaghetti alle vongole

I spent the next few days roaming the city with my sketchbook, dodging aggressive pigeons and selfie sticks. Even in August there are plenty of peaceful corners like this one on Rielo dei Furlani.

Rielo dei Furlani

My small but lovely room in the Venice neighborhood of Dorsoduro

An obligatory sketch of the Piazza San Marco. Found a quiet spot with a great vantage point from the Museo Correr second floor café

Basilica San Marco
St. Mark's Clocktower with its winged lion 
Going out to dance tango in Venice I get distracted by the amazing setting—the decadent architecture of the Hotel Hungaria on Lido island. It is hot and humid. Dancers fan themselves on the gorgeous outdoor terrace.

Tango Dancing at Hotel Hungaria

San Marco neighborhood
Cute café called Osteria de Baba café. The lady in pink sat there and ranted into space over her espresso for over 30 minutes

On my last day in Venice I decided to challenge myself  to create a continuous unfolding spread of Grand Canal only giving myself 30 minutes per two panels. I used the spiffy Navigator sketchbook that was one of the give-aways at the Manchester Urban Sketchers Symposium. See the final result.

Here is the beginning starting with the east side

Better hurry—only 7.5 hours of day light left to go. Stopping for a quick espresso
 I ended up sketching continuously for 12 hours and completed the stretch of the canal between Ponte di Rialto and Ca' Rezzonico in the course of one very long day.

See the final result.

Last sweet drops of Portland's Summer 2016

Other sketchers successfully demonstrate that you could produce amazing work even in sub-zero temperatures in the middle of Minnesota or Stockholm winter. I am not so brave, which is why I was truly savoring the last few dry sunny days of the beautiful Portland summer.

Downtown Portland from the Burnside bridge
Portland in scaffolding. For better or worse the city is being demolished, rebuilt,and gentrified even more

"If you don't like my CD, send it back, and I will send you one I don't like..." advertises Bob in his raspy voice as the duo poses between their blue grass songs. They sing about having problems with IRS and wanting to pay more taxes if it means having decent education and medical care for everyone. The lovely, low key farmer's market in the waning hours of the summer in Portland.

King Market Live Band

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Sketches from British Columbia

Scraggily hemlock against the muted hues of the Tonquin beach. 30 minutes.

A photo posted by Rita Sabler (@ritasabler) on

12 Hours on Grand Canal

Complete book (now with the West side) of sketches created over 12 hours of sketching the Grand canal between Ca'Rezzonico and Ponte di Rialto. On the last day of my visit to Venezia I gave myself a fun challenge to fill the entire Laloran accordion sketchbook with the facades of the beautiful palazzos lining the canal. With roughly 15 minutes per panel the entire project took 12 hours of pretty much non-stop sketching.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Biking and sketching the Pacific Coast from Coos Bay to Arcata in 5 days (with one morning of unintentional cyclocross)

Here is a day by day map of the biking tour along with the food we consumed to power us up the coastal hills.

Day 1: North Bend, OR to Port Orford, OR

The Pacific coast cycling and sketching adventure started at this sleepy Southwest Oregon regional airport. As I am sketching the airport building and the bridge behind it the gusts of wind are so strong I let the wind move my hand and watch it draw lines on paper.

Of course I could not help myself and not a do a super quick sketch of my neighbor on the airplane–flying from Portland to North Bend, OR–the whole 40 minutes in the air!

Loading on raw fish protein in Coos Bay before 60 miles of riding. This is a cyclist equivalent of pouring premium fuel in the tank.

Only about 3 miles away from our final destination for Day 1, when the anticipation of food, rest, hot bath, and other creature's comforts grew all the more incessant I get my first (and luckily last) flat of the trip. Here is a "Fixing a flat tire in 7 easy steps tutorial". Biking along highway 101 one has to ride over tons of shattered glass, gravel, truck parts, animal corpses, and nails. Getting a flat is pretty inevitable.

Redfish Marine Reserve

This view and a glass of wine is a fantastic reward after 60 miles of biking the coastal hills.

Day 2: Port Orford to Harris Beach Camp Ground

First time trying tayberries (from the local Co-op)—more tart and softer than marionberries. I used their own juice to draw them.

Off to bike another 57 miles but first we are grabbing some lunch and doing a quick sketch of this couple from Mendocino–both retired public school teachers–who are here for some kite surfing.

Day 3: Harris Beach to Crescent City, CA

Clifford Kamph Memorial Park, CA

Cycling Pacific coast adventure continues. Some "helpful" people at this camp site decided we were carrying way too much weight on our bikes and decided to take our tire pump to make our load lighter.

Staying with Patree in Crescent City, CA

She made us a raisin pizza for dinner and fed us lots of home made bread for breakfast Patree is a tattooed 50 something year old liberal leaning retiree in predominantly conservative Crescent city, California. The main employers here is Pelican Bay State Prison and a giant Wallmart. Patree rents out a room in her house, listens to NPR, commands Alexa (the Amazon voice robot), and collects giant red lips and other brick a bracks.

Day 4: Crescent City to Prairie Creek Redwood Park

Tallest, some of the oldest, and most graceful living beings on earth–the majestic redwoods. Biking through these beauties made biking up the highest hill of the trip (1250 feet) almost pleasant.

Prairie Creek Redwood/Murrelet State Parks

Camping surrounded by elk, mosquito swarms, and bears, drinking water out of the creek, and eating half raw noodles with a knife because we didn't pack any utensils.

Day 5: Prairie Creek to Arcata

The day started out with some unintentional cyclocross–the path that was supposed to get us in and out of the coastal edge of the Prarie Creek park was really not that bike friendly. We had to carry our bikes over the giant fallen trees had blocked the path in 4-5 places. Additionally, crossing multiple creeks, steep and dusty gravel roads that had to be shared with giant SUVs all made for a long and tiresome trip out of the beautiful wilderness area where we spent the night.

Fortunately, the rest of the trip that day was incredibly scenic–passing Humboldt lagoons, sweeping vistas of the ocean and the cliffs, and finally the last 11 miles of mostly off road trail (Hammond trail) that took us straight to Arcata.

Final point on the Pacific coast cycling and sketching tour—the funky and sweet town of Arcata, CA with its hippy feel and old houses like this one.

Windy sketching conditions