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Mass sketchers turn the world to art in a day

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - People and their pencils from New Zealand to New York are hitting the streets four times a year with a common aim: Turn the world into art for one day.
/ Source: Reuters

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - People and their pencils from New Zealand to New York are hitting the streets four times a year with a common aim: Turn the world into art for one day.

The 30th global "SketchCrawl," a worldwide, day-long drawing binge that takes place four times a year produced a gallery of images posted on website this month.

The images depict life across the world through a day of art. From penciled snowscapes of Iceland to watercolor palm trees in Hawaii and sketches of people chatting over drinks in a Norwegian café to a bustling coffee shop in South Africa.

"It's so satisfying seeing other corners of the earth, corners we might never see, observed and captured by a fellow artist's pencil," website founder Enrico Casarosa told Reuters.

The story artist, who works on animation and comics in San Francisco, conceived the idea of sketch "marathons" after going on a pub crawl for a friend's bachelor party a few years ago. Now, hundreds of people join the website's global SketchCrawls.

"I think the act of drawing can really renovate our appreciation to all that is around us," he added. "It's a wonderful way of being present."

The marathons, for people of all artistic skill levels, encourage participants to pay more attention to their everyday surroundings, while also stoking a sense of solidarity between those with a common interest in drawing and painting.

"This is my first experience, I'm very excited," Natalia Bobrova said of her first group SketchCrawl in London. "It's really great to meet people who love drawing, painting and sketching because I don't know anyone in the UK who does it."

Wrapped up in scarves to fend off the cold, the London group of 10 or so sketchcrawlers kicked off their morning of sketching on Jan 22 at an outdoor rink at Somerset House, a cultural center at the heart of the city.

Some focused on intricate details of the building's neo-classical structure, while others brought skaters to life in pen and pencil, hurtling across the pages of their sketchbooks.

American visual effects artist Tom Dow said he enjoys the sense of support from organized events.

"It's difficult when you're working on your own, you feel a bit isolated," he said.

Driven indoors by the bitter weather, the group continued their drawing spree inside Britain's National Gallery.

Meanwhile, thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean, in Brazil a group sketched the day away beneath a "high and burning" sun in a park overlooking Rio de Janeiro's famous Sugar Loaf Mountain.

Thais L. M. Canavezes, who joined the Rio group, said the city's diversity made it a great place to draw.

"You see the sea and the mountain, the hotels and the slums, the city and nature, the old and the new," she said. "We were having such a good time that we forgot to have lunch."

The 21-year old architecture student said that she viewed life through changed eyes after she started drawing.

"You really start to appreciate every detail, that for most people is unnoticed," she said.

Far earlier on the same day, before dawn had even broken in Rio, Kumi Matsukawa was already heading home after a morning painting the cityscapes with the Tokyo group.

The story board artist for TV-commercials said that sketching helped to uncover the charms of Tokyo.

"Maybe Tokyo it is not as picturesque as other prominent tourist sites, yet when you find interestingness in this chaotic world you'll be hooked on sketching."

For information on when these events take place and how to take part, visit