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Rita Sabler

Sketch Tour Portugal | Following the Light

Drawing allows me to find answers, but more importantly, it forces me to ask questions. I let the light lead me to meet people to hear their stories. The information that I absorb is not just visual. It is also a collection of sounds, of bits of conversations, of ambient sounds, smells and impressions. 

From New York Reawakens, 2021

Drawing allows me to tune all of my senses in a perfect moment of stillness and calm, even as the world around me could be busy or even turbulent. I often think of holding a sketchbook and a pen in the midst of activity as standing in the eye of a hurricane. I am calm and untouchable as long as I am drawing. 

Detroit, Oregon from the project: “On the Path of Fire” about Climate Change  fueled Wild Fires

Drawing is also a process of making connections and learning about the place and its character through people that I meet, hearing their stories, and discovering their personalities. 

100 days of Protests for Social Justice in Portland, OR

For a long time, I wanted to be unnoticed, a fly on the wall when I draw, undiscovered and undisturbed…. But eventually I realized that it is hard to discover a place when you are observing from a distance. As awkward and uncomfortable it could be at first you need to stop hiding and talk to people.

Housing for Leprosy Patients in Kalaupapa from the project “Prison in Paradise”

How do you draw a place? What makes a place what it is from an artist’s perspective? Is it its shapes and colors and how the light interacts with them? Is it the natural setting? Is it the people that inhabit it? Is it the stories that you hear and conversations that you overhear? 

Live music on Willamette river during the pandemic from the project “Life Inside Out”

This video is a poetic summary of an even more poetic project of documenting the North of Portugal in drawing and storytelling with a team of two artists, a writer, and a film maker.


“Meanwhile in San Francisco. The city in its own words” by Wendy MacNaughton

“Other Russias” by Victoria Lomasko

“Telling True Stories. A nonfiction writers’ guide” edited by Mark Kramer and Wendy Call

Rita Sabler is a visual journalist, artist, and educator based in Portland, Oregon, USA. She has taught Drawing, Urban Sketching and Visual Journalism courses for Parsons School of Design, Pacific Northwest College of Art, and Portland State University. She also works on a variety of freelance illustration and visual reportage projects. Rita Sabler serves as the Education Director on the board of the global Urban Sketchers organization. 

Rita has presented numerous lectures and workshops around the world inspiring diverse audiences to cultivate a lifelong passion for urban sketching and reportage illustration. Her work has been featured in solo and group local and international shows. 

Rita holds a B.A. degree in Psychology and Art, an M.A. in Linguistics, and a Masters in Interface Design from The Elisava School of Design in Barcelona. She is currently working on an advanced degree in Journalism.

Rita Sabler’s reportage on the Kalaupapa settlement has won Doctors without Borders Coup De Coeur and International Sketchbook Prize at the 2019 Rendez-Vous Du Carnet De Voyage in Clermont-Ferrand.  

Rita’s main areas of interest are Reportage Illustration, Travel Sketching, and Visual Storytelling, but she is often seen on street corners capturing busy markets, festivals, protestors, musicians, and regular citizens living their life in both ordinary and extraordinary ways. When not drawing or teaching she is a busy parent and a tango pianist. 

Broached themes: Travel reportage | Living on the Border | New York Reawakens | Climate Change | Social Unrest


Instagram: @ritasabler

Book: “With a Sketchbook Around the World” (October, 2019, self-published)