Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Sketch Reportage: Saving Luma


7/23/23 Luma stands in the way of construction in the adjacent lot.

I’ve mentioned a couple times now that I’ve been working on a sketch reportage project related to trees. “Saving Luma,” a story about a 200-year-old cedar that captured the hearts of Seattle, has been published by On the Spot, Gabi Campanario’s online newsletter of sketch reportage. I’m showing all the sketches here, but please visit On the Spot to read the full story.

7/26/23 Luma stands tall in the Wedgwood neighborhood. 

The back story: Several weeks ago, the Seattle Times published a couple of articles about an ancient cedar that was scheduled to be cut down to make room for a housing development. Since he knew that I frequently like to include trees in my urban sketches, Gabi asked me if I would be interested in covering the story for On the Spot. When curious onlookers at the site asked about my sketching, I was tickled to be able to say I was on assignment for On the Spot as a reportage artist! Many thanks to Gabi for giving me this unique opportunity.

It wasn’t just an exciting sketching and writing opportunity, though. I learned a lot about Seattle’s mature trees, the critical services their canopy provides to humans and wildlife, and the alarming rate at which they are disappearing, mostly to new construction. I feel a greater responsibility now to do my part to save them. To help raise awareness, my goal is to sketch as many endangered Seattle trees as I can before they come down.

7/23/23 Activists and other concerned citizens gather around Luma.

I also got a taste of all the work involved to be a reportage artist. Visiting the site three times to sketch, talk to various parties, and take notes about different angles of the story, as well as doing research back at home, I had a greater appreciation for the hundreds of columns Gabi wrote and sketched for the Seattle TimesI enjoyed the work, but I also felt a responsibility to my readers to cover the story well. Sketching isn’t just fun; I it can also be a powerful storytelling medium.

As for the writing itself, Gabi gave me very helpful feedback to my initial draft that made the narrative much stronger. After all, sketching is only half the work; the other partner is compelling writing that gives context and meaning to the images. It was an honor and privilege to learn from a master storyteller. 

7/28/23 Detail of Luma's branch

(If you enjoy On the Spot, which is probably one of very few publications devoted to sketch reportage, please consider becoming a paying subscriber to support Gabi and his contributors.)

7/28/23 Handwritten signs express concern for all trees.


  1. Sounds like you are enjoying the reportage project! I've been really interested and following the story as you are posting...good for you!!

    1. Thanks for reading, Joan! I'm learning so much ... and it's alarming how many trees are coming down constantly! I'm not going to be able to keep up. :-(


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...