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Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

July 23, 2012 at 3:38 PM

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Portraits of Santo Domingo

I'm back in Seattle after recharging my sketching batteries in the Dominican Republic, where I attended the 3rd International Urban Sketching Symposium from July 12 to 14.

The three-day conference brings together sketching enthusiasts from all over the world and it's a lot of fun. (This is an event I've helped organize since 2010 as a member of the Urban Sketchers nonprofit board.)

In Santo Domingo, we drew in the historic Colonial Zone, home to the oldest European settlement in the Americas. Churches from the 1500s and whitewashed facades reminded me of my native country of Spain, especially of Andalucía and parts of Extremadura, where my parents and several generations of ancestors hail from.

We were also welcomed by friendly locals eager to be sketched and share their stories. Here are some of them (click on the sketches to view larger versions):

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Tomás Reyes, 63, sells mangoes at Calle Colón, a colorful pedestrian boulevard in the heart of the Colonial Zone. He said he can make up to 600 pesos (about $15) daily if he manages to sell 100 mangoes.

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Dicanes Monestime, 28, said he's been selling avocadoes for 10 years. He transports the produce using a three-wheeled bicycle that doubles as a fruit stand. Each avocado sells for 25 pesos (about 65 cents.)

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Taxi driver Máximo Cabrera, 43, said he spent a couple of years living in Madrid, but Spain's soaring unemployment rate made him come back to the Dominican Republic last February.

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Jacqueline Perrero, 44, runs "El Palacio" gift shop inside Mercado Modelo, a lively arts and crafts market where I attended one of the Symposium sketching workshops. She had noticed the group of sketchers roaming the market and when I approached her shop she insisted that I do a sketch of her. I couldn't say no. She quickly sat down and struck a pose, undoing her pony tail to let her hair flow over her shoulders. Talk about pressure! She liked the sketch and showed it to other vendors. I ended up buying two t-shirts for my kids here and we exchanged business cards. Perhaps she'll read this post!

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Carslos Manuel, 17, said he has worked as a shoeshine boy since he was 7. He also attends high school and likes architecture, and when he saw a group of us sketching he wanted to know what we were doing. He seemed surprised when we told him we like to sketch for fun. "You could be a millionaire selling your drawings," he said.

More from Santo Domingo: Symposium participants are sharing their sketches and photos on this blog and this flickr group.


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