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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

The Art of Urban Sketching: Victoria

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This week, Spacing presents excerpts from The Art of Urban Sketching, the new book by Seattle-based artist and journalist Gabriel Campanario. The book examines a global movement driven by urban sketchers drawing their cities and sharing their visual dispatches.


For local architect Matthew Cencich, Victoria’s Chinatown neighbourhood and downtown ornate architecture are favourite sketching subjects. The climate in the western Canadian city is relatively mild, but it’s often wet and chilly, so sketching outdoors can be a challenge. Still, Cencich says he has done some of his best sketches in winter, often making it back to a coffee shop chilled to the bone and vowing not to return until spring.

Looking into Broad Street
8.75″ x 12″ | black Sharpie fine-point markeron Canson sketchbook (heavyweight paper suitable for watercolour; 1 hour.


West Coast Air Terminal at Inner Harbour
5″ x 16.25″| black, nonwaterproof, fine-point marker, watercolours, and Prismacolor coloured pencils on Moleskin watercolour book; about 1 hour

Matther Cencich

“My work in the architectural field requires amazing patience before a project is actually realized. With onsite sketching, there is a much more immediate payback; the intense effort of seeing and scratching lines onto paper gives great and immediate satisfaction – sometimes!”

“Urban sketching, to me, is a way of capturing a place in a sketch, most often pursued while traveling but also in my own town. I started by sketching architecture that I admire and continue t find architecture – and urban design – my favorite subjects. The online urban sketchers community has inspired me to expand my range. It has been a real motivator to include the surrounding context in my sketches.”