Hardly Moved On From Urban Sketchers Symposium, Singapore

Submitted by viravira on 30 July 2015   •  Abroad

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urban sketchers singapore
Arab Street

“I’m not bringing my camera, I’m just going to sketch in Singapore,” I texted Mumun the night prior to my departure. I knew she wanted to complain because we’d need good pictures for our blog, but I really didn’t want to be tempted to take so many pictures, more than I would sketch. But how many sketch is enough sketch? Well, on this trip with fellow sketchers, as many as you could make.

The event was the sixth symposium of Urban Sketchers held internationally, from July 22-25, 2015. There were workshops, activities, demos, lectures and sketchwalk that paying participants could partake. I hesitated at first, for financial reason, but upon knowing that a few people I know were going and a good-paying project suddenly popped up, I had no reason to not go!

* * *

On the first day of Symposium, I was meeting Motulz and Yandi at Changi International Airport, along with some more Indonesian sketchers, Nadia, Artyan and Wahyu. Later on Sheila, the artist behind Trinity’s travel comic, joined us on the event. We signed up only for the Sketchwalk, and a few more Indonesian sketchers signed up for the Workshops and Activities. I’m guessing Nino signed up for none, because he was one of the wokshop instructors. Awesome!

urban sketchers singapore
At Queen St, Seah St, and behind the NDC hall

On the first Sketchwalk session around Seah Street and Purvis Street, I was already wowed by the other sketchers from around the world. They sketched mostly buildings and the streets, with various styles and medium. Little did I know, Urban Sketchers have a lot of architects and interior designers as their members.

A lot of them use watercolor, such as Vanont from Bangkok, who creates such expressive pieces and makes watercolor looked so easy to use. He’s so good, we gathered around to see how works the magic. Turns out, sketchers in Bangkok always gather for a sketchwalk every first weekend of the month, and Vanont wasn’t the only one with great watercolor skill. I’m definitely going to contact them on our Bangkok trip for TBEX in the coming October!

On the following days, we met more great sketchers from other countries, such as Hong Kong, Malaysia, U.K., Taiwan and more. Tia Boon Sim, a Singaporean sketcher who was one of the organizing committee, showed us her effortless-looking sketches while we were sketching the St. Joseph church. That was the first time I saw a watercolor sketchbook with very long folded leaves, and how someone could blind sketch, that is sketching an object while looking elsewhere! She is such a pro!

urban sketchers singapore
Selegie Art Center, sketches by international participants, Tia surrounded by Indonesian sketchers, Nadia with her version of me!


A few more friends came from Bandung, Sule and Mitchy, who were filming us at the event. And then Teddy, who now works in Johor, Malaysia, joined us for the last sketchwalk session.

It’s a trip filled with sketching, walking, sketching, eating just to keep you alive, walking and then sketching and sketching again. I got to meet people of the same hobby and some old friends, who are generous with tips and information! Since I had only came back to the sketching world not long ago, and not as active as most of these people are, I needed to catch up on many things; what are the best mediums to create certain effects or color quality, like the brush, the paints, or the papers, which sketchers have what style and what we can learn from them, and so on.

Actually, that kind of information is great to know but also dangerous! We went straight to art supplies shops since day 2, which was only a short walking distance from the event’s main venue, the National Design Center. After some consultations with these guys, I purchased some art supplies including two sketchbooks and a small pack of watercolor. I would also buy a pack of artist series oil pastels if only I had enough cash.

urban sketchers singapore
My new sketching tools, Yandi & Wahyu sketching from hotel room, Nadia and I testing watercolor papers


My sketching spirit went skyrocketing when I’m around this doodling bunch. I didn’t care how amateurish my skill is compared to them, I just sketched and sketched and sketched! It felt great! The last time I filled most of my days expressing myself through art was in college, and that was a long time ago. These four days of sketchwalk made me realize how I missed it!

As I’ve mentioned here, one of the things I like about sketching is how I can make everything of my own version. Even better when I start out unconfindent, but end up finishing a whole scene on a paper anyway, in the style that I wanted. It is great as it is, but honestly, sometimes receiving positive comments from the other sketchers and passers-by take me by surprise and actually make it feel even better.

urban sketchers singapore
Holding up sketching locations, sketching, sketching and sketching!


Singapore is one of my favorite cities as you’ve probably read here. Now I found another reason to love it: I like how I can comfortably sit almost anywhere outdoor – because everywhere is clean and sidewalks are decent – and just lay out my sketchbook and pen down an urban view, whether it’s the peranakan, art deco or a futuristic styled building, or simply the everyday people. Some of my favorite sketches were the Singapore skyline viewed from Marina Bay Sands, the Selegie Art Center, and the Raffles Hotel viewed from Seah Street.

I did about 10 little sketches using drawing pen, watercolor, markers and graphites on this event. Even the day after closing I still went for a sketchwalk by myself at Arab Street and Haji Lane, the so-called hipster streets. I didn’t want to let any moment pass by without sketching, like I was addicted or something.

urban sketchers singapore
Motulz with Bangkok sketchers; little boys sketching with my markers; Announcement of symposium 2016 in Manchester!


Now that I’m back in Jakarta to my usual writing routine, I’m finding it difficult to find time to sketch, it makes me sad. Having that said, I did find comfort in coloring my Haji Lane sketch when I came home tired after a meeting through a traffic jam last night.

And guess what, I’m not giving up. Yes, these last three days I have been too busy with other works, but I will make more time to sketch. It’s good for my soul. Diyan and some other friends could even feel that happy vibe when I was telling them about the event. I just need to adjust my daily routine, which is not so routine after all. I want to sketch more because it’s one of the ways I can pay more attention to details, realizing more awesome things I had not noticed before, and simply makes me happy.

Do you like to sketch?

If not, what do you like to do that always makes you happy?


Note: photos were taken with my phone camera and from the rest of the gang.

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Suma CM
5 years ago

Great summary of your symposium experience!!

Tang Winny (www.tangwinny.com)

Woww..love your sketches!