Sunday, August 14, 2016

UK, Part 1: Manchester and the Symposium

7/27/16 opening sketchcrawl

The 7th International Urban Sketchers Symposium in Manchester, England, was my third symposium experience (Barcelona and Paraty were the other two). Each time when I’ve returned and started blogging about it, I’ve had difficulty summarizing the many thoughts and feelings I’ve had around the three-and-a-half-day event (as well as the months of anticipation leading up to each). The intensity and immersion of non-stop urban sketching (and as a correspondent this year, I do literally mean non-stop!) and meeting and becoming reacquainted with hundreds of sketchers worldwide are at times invigorating and at other times overwhelming.
7/25/16 Palace Hotel

All of this was hard enough to keep up with when I was a regular attendee. This year, however, my added responsibilities as a symposium correspondent were challenging, to say the least! To adequately cover the symposium’s 26 workshops, eight activities, four demos and 11 lectures scheduled over the course of three days, my three correspondent colleagues and I made and used a color-coded Excel spreadsheet with coordinated maps! Running from workshop to workshop was complicated by rain, which required many instructors to change their venues at the last moment.

I knew that my typical sketching methods (spending 30 – 60 minutes per sketch) weren’t going to work as a correspondent. Surveying the workshop scene, I had to very quickly assess and convey the essence of what I experienced. As I listened to the instructors, I sometimes found myself (perhaps unconsciously) trying to emulate whatever concepts were being introduced with my own sketches. I gave myself at most 10 or 15 minutes per sketch, one or two per workshop or event, then moved on quickly to the next assignment on my schedule. All told, I made 27 sketches during the three-and-a-half days, then blogged each night (or first thing in the morning) about each day’s events. (I won’t even go into the challenges we faced in uploading sketches and composing text while using the hotel’s slow and sporadic Wi-Fi!)
7/31/16 Manchester Cathedral

Whenever I felt exhausted and overwhelmed, the dedication and commitment of Liz, Kumi and Javier kept me inspired and motivated! They were among the most positive, hard-working people I have ever had the privilege to work with in any context.

Shown here are some of my favorite sketches from the symposium as well as the few sketches I was able to make of Manchester on my own time. You can see the entire collection, as well as photos from the event, in my symposium Flickr album.

If you missed my live coverage during the symposium, you can find the posts on the Urban Sketchers Symposium blog:

7/30/16 final sketchcrawl

7/29/16 Sketchers sketching musicians.

7/28/16 Marc Holmes' students at Manchester Museum.

7/28/16 Ed Harker giving a presentation on urban sketching's roots.

7/28/16 USk President Elizabeth Alley speaks to the
crowd at the opening reception. (I put this sketch
into the auction, and Elizabeth bought it!)

7/27/16 Manchester Town Hall

7/27/16 Symposium opening reception at Town Hall.

Here's the symposium correspondents team looking fresh and lively
the day before the symposium began!

And here we are four days later at the closing party, looking happy, relieved and weary!


  1. Tina -- I have read your blog since the very beginning, and your enthusiasm, inquiring mind and dedication have been inspiring to me.

    I'm a timid sketcher but I am making it my goal, inspired by you, to scan and upload at least a couple of my (very beginner) sketches somewhere and to join Urban Sketchers by my 60-something birthday in December. And then I plan to attend the 2017 Symposium in Chicago next summer, which is a reachable destination for me. It just sounds like too much fun to miss!

    I have been educated by your product reviews since 2012 and I take heart from your willingness to forge ahead and just SKETCH no matter how things are going for you. And I have seen the fruits of your labor as your sketches have blossomed with depth and animation in recent years.

    So...Thanks! You may not realize it (or maybe you do), but with posts like these you are bringing lurking sketchers like me into the light :-)

    1. Wow, thank you so much for writing, Jean! I am moved and flattered to know that my blog and sketching practice have inspired you! I am very much looking forward to meeting you in Chicago next year, and until then, please forge ahead and sketch, sketch, sketch! :-)

      - Tina

  2. I think I was able to keep up with your posts from Manchester, and I'm impressed with the job you did!!! Bravo! It must have been hard to try and grasp the essence of each workshop in so little time. My favorites of these sketches are the first one by the canal and the one of the Manchester Town Hall with that wonderful grainy sky behind it.

    I have been trying to get set for my trip this week. I hope I can successfully blog from Venice. We are staying most of the time in an apartment and there was a change from the original one that we booked and I'm not sure if we have wi-fi. Wish me luck!

    1. Joan, have a wonderful time in Venice! I'll certainly look forward to your sketches, whether you blog from there or not!

      - Tina

  3. A great blog post Tina that reflects your wide experience as a symposium attendee. It was a privilege to work with you and the rest of the team too and thank goodness for our collective energies for pulling this off. I didn't have the travel and jet lag to deal with so have a lot of admiration for all 3 of you. Thank you so much for your logistical and leadership skills which undoubtedly were our saving grace during some of the difficulties around weather etc! !

    1. Thanks so much, Liz! It was a joy working with you, and without your familiarity with Manchester, we would have been lost -- literally!

      - Tina


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