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Originally published April 7, 2012 at 7:00 PM | Page modified April 8, 2012 at 10:47 AM

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'Urban Sketching' book takes armchair travelers around the world

"The Art of Urban Sketching" — a new book by Seattle Times staff artist Gabriel Campanario — takes readers around the world through sketches by travelers.

Special to The Seattle Times

Sketches online

When Gabriel Campanario's visual blog debuted three years ago in The Seattle Times, the concept of "drawn journalism" was relatively unheard of in the United States. It is a more established tradition in Europe, however, and Campanario, a Spaniard, clearly has championed the form here.

See Campanario's sketches at www.seattletimes.com/seattlesketcher.

Campanario also has founded www.urbansketchers.org, a website and nonprofit organization that is building a global community of on-location sketchers.

Author appearance

Gabriel Campanario

The author of "The Art of Urban Sketching" (Quarry, 320 pages, $26.99) will discuss his book at 1 p.m. April 29 in the Microsoft auditorium of the Seattle Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Seattle; free (206-386-4636 or www.spl.org).
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Fans of this newspaper's regular "Seattle Sketcher" feature, which shares observations of our region via the pen and brush of Seattle Times staff artist Gabriel Campanario, will be glad to know that Campanario has come out with a new book called "The Art of Urban Sketching."

In this era of instant messaging and digital graphics, it might seem antithetical to revert to a form of visual communication that is rendered by hand and relies on ages-old tools.

But, in a trend perhaps akin to the slow-food movement, sketching seems to be catching on big time — it may have something to do with sensory savoring. As Campanario says, "because we took the time to create it, instead of snapping a photo in an instant, the sketch has the power to bring back much sharper memories."

With their motto, "See the world, one drawing at a time," scores of artists from Seattle to Sydney to Singapore have contributed their unique takes on the places they live in and visit. "The Art of Urban Sketching" is packed with hundreds of full-color illustrations that interpret life in towns and cities on every continent (except Antarctica).

There are glorious panoramas of Istanbul, Naples, Los Angeles and Barcelona. Oceans apart from one another, artists depict soaring skyscrapers in Tokyo and Sao Paolo, Brazil.

On a more modest scale, one artist records a barbecue joint in Kansas City, another documents the charms of a bookstore in Malaga, Spain.

This book has drawings of cafes and farmers markets and food trucks in a multiplicity of interpretations. It shows parks and monuments, palaces and plazas, temples, cathedrals and mosques.

There are people at work: the shoe repairman in Jakarta, fishmongers in Hong Kong, a taxi driver in Dubai, sushi chefs in Tel Aviv.

For armchair travelers, "The Art of Urban Sketching" contains hours of viewing pleasure — detailed glimpses into more shops, down more alleyways and around more corners than even the most intrepid world explorer can ever hope to get to in a lifetime.

But of course this book is for more than just us looky-loos. Artists and aspiring sketchers will find encouragement and inspiration in a set of principles that are spelled out in the beginning of the book as "The Urban Sketchers' Manifesto." Beyond that, seasoned practitioners spill plenty of good tips throughout these pages, from what they include in their portable sketching kits, to how they approach a subject.

"The Art of Urban Sketching" is a glorious visual feast. Beyond the obvious gift it provides in documenting faraway moments and places, this book should also open our eyes more fully to the scenes we witness in our own lives.

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