getting to where you should be going

sacramento to philadelphia
The first few of a good many “travelling” sketches. The first above was sketched on the flight from Sacramento to Philadelphia. I must say US Airways were pretty good. The last time I flew with them (to Vegas in February) the plane was small and couldn’t carry the weight of all its passengers. The ones I took for these longer journeys on the other hand were modern and spacious, and more than capable of carrying a few extra big-macs. When I got to Philadelphia airport, I had more than five hours to occupy myself. There are only so many airport stores to look in and departure lounge seats to draw, so I took the train into downtown Philadelphia, a very grand East Coast city with nice yellow traffic lights and ornage fire hydrants (wait for the next post!).

philadelphia train

Finally I left Philly, and got my plane back home across the Atlantic. I didn’t watch any of the offered movies, but I did play a few games of chess against the airplane computer. And beat it almost every time (except for one in which I did all I could to get a stalemate, and I got it – I aint losing to the back of a chair). Sleeping was a little more difficult. It always is. I can fall asleep on a five minute bus ride, and miss my stop, but put on a flight across the Atlantic and I’m like a Bizarro Rip van Winkle.

philly to london

my thoughts are far away

torre belem, lisboa

I am finally back from the 2nd International Urban Sketching Symposium in Lisbon, and the accompanying trip home to London, with a massive amount of sketches to scan and post. Where to begin? Well the obvious answer would be at the beginning, but I don’t know if I can be as linear as that, though I will try. So I’m starting in the middle somewhere. This sketch, drawn on “Day Zero” in Lisbon (the day before the Symposium, but halfway through the actual trip) is of the famous Torre Belem, one of the most recognisable landmarks in Lisbon, sat amidst the waters of the Tagus River. It dates back to the early 1500s. In the background is the 25 de Abril Bridge, which resembles a cross between the San Francisco Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge (the same people built the Bay Bridge as it happens). I had arrived in Lisbon that day after five rainy days in London, and the blue sky immediately made me feel more at home (I’m a Californian now, aren’t I).

I have so much scanning yet to do from this trip, it may take me a while! I completed a whole small red moleskine sketchbook, largely with people sketches and journal notes from the trip, and filled the majority of my watercolour moleskine. I met a lot of very cool people from countries all over the world, many of whom I had been following and admiring for several years. It was a busy schedule, for sure, and having twice the number of participants of last year’s symposium in Portland it felt a little overwhelming, but Lisbon blew me away – what an amazing city. Beautiful, colourful, historic, vibrant, yet relaxed, not overcrowded and hectic like London was. I want to go there again!

pete sketching belem

For now, here’s a photo of me sketching in Belem. This is a pose, as the drawing was just finished. I’m telling you it was a pose because I have since seen many photos and many drawings by other urban sketchers in Lisbon that show how I really look when I sketch – if you think I hold my pen in a funny way, you should see how I contort myself when I sit and sketch! I never noticed before. I’ll get around to posting everything very soon. In the meantime, please check out everyone else’s drawings and photos on the Urban Sketchers Lisbon Symposium Flickr Group.