build it up with iron and steel

steel bridge, portland

Urban Sketching Symposium, Day 2. Lapin led the Urban Line field session down to the banks of the Willamette River, to sketch the Steel Bridge. Portland is famous for its bridges. Can’t leave town without drawing at least one.

I was pleased to sketch this, as I wanted something to really sink my teeth into, or at least my micron pens. I felt once it was done that I’d got it out of my system. The morning started out overcast, and the stark, industrial structure provided quite the drama against the blank sky. The bridge moved once or twice, it’s bottom level rising to allow ships to pass, gerard michellaughing at my previous assertion that I draw architecture because it stands still. Joggers and cyclists passed by as we sketched, freight trains rolled across the river, and the strange sculpture behind us made intermittent and unexplained noises not unlike a monkey smashing a cymbal. We all seemed to have our own approach; I watched how Lapin started from a detail and drew outwards, and how Gerard Michel (pictured right, drawing in the special Urban Sketchers Japanese style Moleskine) constructed it as an architect would, and I leapt in somewhere in between. I started in the middle, but had a rough outline of where I would be going (which I only marginally stuck to), but concentrated on small details as I went along rather than after finishing the outline. I purposely left it incomplete as I liked the effect.

portland convention center

The Sun came out, but I kept my bridge sketch colourless. I did add a little thumb sketch on the same page though of one of the spires of the Portland Convention Center across the Willamette, showing how the sky had turned blue, but the bridge lent itself to cold black and white.

At the end, we laid out our sketchbooks side by side and reviewed each others work. This is always one of my favourite parts of a group sketch, to see all of our different styles and interpretations laid out side by side.



steel bridge in different ways

2 thoughts on “build it up with iron and steel

  1. Elizabeth says:

    That was such a great morning. When I think about it, I remember how loud it was, with that sculpture, the train, the lightrail, the traffic, and even a helicopter! But we all managed to focus and retreat into our heads and sketchbooks.

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