Lydia Velarde hovers over her sketchbook outside of a bustling Starbucks, pen grasped, recreating the flurry of the coffee shop onto paper with quick strokes of her hand and a vigilantly observing eye.
Velarde, a San Diego native for 25 years, is one of 100 artists from more than 50 cities invited to contribute work to The Art of Urban Sketching, a collection of on-location drawings compiled by Seattle Times staff artist and illustrator Gabriel Campanario.
Released this month, this book takes readers on an illustrated world tour through the eyes of artists who draw cities in which they live or have traveled.
Representing San Diego, Velarde uses pen-and-ink and watercolor to evoke what she describes as the free, relaxed and fun nature of this multi-faceted city. Sketches of the San Diego Zoo, Spanish Village at Balboa Park, Junipero Serra Museum and Hotel La Valencia give readers a glimpse of America’s Finest City.
Missions, train museums, and even graveyards have also come to life through Velarde's pen.
“I just see a lot of beauty in it,” she says, describing the excitement of exploring San Diego with a pen and notepad in-hand.
Instigator of the urban sketch movement, Campanario encourages artists to draw the world around them and share their artwork. Campanario’s next mission, Velarde says, is to promote sketching as a community. The book's involvement of sketchers spanning from Buenos Aires to Bangkok has already begun building a sense of community amongst these far-flung artists.
"No extravagant tools or formal artistic training is needed to draw on location," reads the introduction of The Art of Urban Sketching, a call for almost anyone to join the growing movement. "Let your hand interpret what your eyes see, as you explore your city, making marks on paper.”