Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Symposium Participant: Shiho Nakaza

Hello! My name is Shiho Nakaza and I am a Los Angeles correspondent for Urban Sketchers. I was born in Okinawa, Japan, and have emigrated to United States with my family as a child, and have lived in Los Angeles since. In that time, I've studied illustration in college and fell into the field of graphic design field after graduation. I have been working as a print production artist/graphic designer for majority of my career while I continue to draw on the side, and I take workshops on drawing and painting whenever I can. Urban Sketchers has encouraged me to sketch every day, even for a few minutes during my lunch hour or after work, and I find happiness in making lines on paper to describe the world I see.

My sketching gear was cobbled together from tips I learned from workshops and other sketchers over the years. Here is my current setup - I keep it very lightweight and minimal so I can carry it around to the office or on my errands - I want to be ready to sketch whenever I have few moments.

My everyday tools that I carry around daily:
  • Uniball Signo pen in sepia - 0.5mm regular or 0.38mm superfine
    0.5mm bleeds when painted, and 0.38mm has waterproof ink. I like the brown color because it looks softer than black.

  • Sketchbook - about 6 x 8 inches (15 cm x 20 cm)
    I like smaller sketchbooks that are easy to toss in my bag and are discreet enough to use everywhere. I love Holbein sketchbooks but my favorite ones with thicker paper are discontinued, so I also use sketchbooks by Canson, Daler-Rowney and Strathmore.

    + a painting kit for times when I know I'll have a few hours to work on drawings (pictured with water for drinking):

  • Watercolor kit - I use Winsor & Newton Cotman kit I got when I was in college and have popped the pans out and filled the empty slots with watercolors from tubes (various brands: Winsor & Newton, Holbein, Jack Richeson). Colors are cool + warm tones of primaries (reds: alizarin crimson + cadmium red, blues: ultramarine blue + phthalo blue, yellows: jaune brilliant + cadmium yellow light) + greens: (turquoise green + cerulean + viridian + permanent green) + brown ochre.

  • Rag to sop up water/paint - a small giveaway towel cut up in half to fit the mesh pouch. Sometimes I use paper towel/napkin instead (Viva brand of paper towel works well).

  • Pentel Koi waterbrush - very handy when doing quick painting on location. I now paint with this exclusively when I'm out and about.

  • Small Post-It notepad - for using as a ruler when painting: paste it down on the paper and do a wash over it for a straight edge, lift when paint is dry - though these days I paint free-form and haven't used it in a long time.

  • Small watercolor sheets - for when I have time to sit at a table to make a "nice" painting (hopefully during this Symposium!) I happened to have Fabriano Medioevalis 208S on hand. I love Arches cold-press sheets, so I save small leftover pieces of Arches that I cut out from sheets I use for larger paintings.

  • Mesh pouch - to carry all the gear. I then toss them all in my purse.

  • + optional gear for longer sketching outings (shown in photo here):

  • Binder that can hold sketchbook as well as rest of my gear - this binder is originally made to hold a schedule book/calendar. It comes in handy for toting everything around in a backpack that is bigger than an everyday purse I normally carry.

  • Camping chair - so I can sit and paint on location comfortably.

  • + depending on the weather:
  • sunglasses + sunscreen (mandatory year-round in Los Angeles), hat, jacket, fingerless gloves (it came in handy when I sketched in Alaska!) - I would eventually like to figure out a nighttime flashlight setup like some of the fellow Urban Sketchers. I usually never sketch in the rain...I'll look to Portland folks for suggestions!
This will be my first time in Portland, so I am very excited to be able to visit the city and meet and learn from fellow artists. I also love to try new food and cycling leisurely to discover new places, so I'm looking forward to checking out the food carts and possibly renting a bike to explore the city (unless it's raining...)! See you all soon!



  1. " find happiness in making lines on paper", I just love that Shiho, that says it all. Wonderful post, lots of info and super drawings. Hope we can say hello in Portland.

  2. Your sketches are lovely. I'm eager to see Portland through your sketches at the symposium.

  3. Hi Shiho, thanks for the detailed information about your sketch gear and I like the idea“ keep it very lightweight and minimal ”Not only for every day
    use but also when you travel long distance like I do this time. See you soon.

  4. I hope to see a lot of you in Portland soon! Kumi, keeping it minimal sure helps a lot - I know I tend to overpack!

  5. Looking forward to meeting you, safe travel

  6. Good tips! I might have to pick up a sepia pen and try it out...

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