faces from around the world

BCN view from hotel, Barcelona
I’ve not been sketching much lately, so not posting much…but I realized, I still haven’t quite finished posting from Barcelona! My people sketches, for one thing. The view form my hotel room as well, which is above, sketched in purple. So anyway, here finally are my people sketches, mostly from the evening drink’n’draw sessions at the CCCB and dinners with old sketching friends afterwards. So many great sketchers from around the world, old friends to catch up with such as Gerard, Jason, Liz, Lapin, Omar (and many more!!!), so many that I was meeting for the first time such as Stuart Kerr (who is a great character, love to hang out with him more some day), the french urban sketchers (I’ve been following for a while so was great to meet them all), and the Spanish urban sketchers, many of whom I met in Lisbon but I bumped into many across Barcelona. Plus the sketchers who had travelled from Asia, quite a big Singapore contingent, including Tony Chua and Parka, whose work I recognized as soon as I saw their sketchbooks. I wasn’t part of the Symposium itself, and how well that worked out for me I’m not really sure about (I was a little disorganized), but it was great to catch up with so many old friends, though all at once was quite overwhelming. So here are my sketches!
BCN Drink-n-Draw, Thursday
BCN DrinknDraw2
Below is Sue Pownall, the excellent artist from Britain who travesl the world, currently living in Oman, and I had the great pleasure to meet her again in London. Kumi Matsukawa was there too, from Japan, we met in Portland in 2010, I love her work. Another sketcher I was meeting for the fiorst time was Debo Boddiford, who I know from Flickr, and who has a wonderful southern accent. It’s funny to hear people’s voices having only read their words online. People probably think that about me!
BCN DrinknDraw people
On the Friday evening I went for dinner with the French and Belgian sketchers. I’d only met my friend and sketching hero Gerard Michel and his nephew Fabien Denoel before, and had a great time meeting and chatting with them (though I kept forgetting to speak French, though I can understand it). Gerard is sketched above; below are some of the others there that evening.
Une Soiree Franco-Belge

On the Saturday there was an end-of-sketchcrawl meeting, at which I caught up with many others. There’s Marc Taro, urban sketcher from Montreal, Eduardo Bajzek from Brazil, Stuart Kerr form Scotland, Rita Sabler who I met in Portland in 2010, Parka from Singapore (wow what a sketchbook he has!!), Simone Rudyard from Manchester, Amber Sausen from Minnesota, and Julie Blaquie and Martine Kervagoret from France.

BCN sketchcrawl
These final few were form the final gathering at CCCB (into which non-badged sketchers were initially barred from crossing the barrier, unlike previous symposia); Mark Leibovitz from New York, Daniel Green from Minnesota, and Matthew Brehm from Idaho, who I know from previous USk symposia, a great guy and a great teacher.
BCN DrinknDraw4 sm
Below was at a nice meal on the Saturday evening, attended by Paul wang (Singapore), Omar Jaramillo (Germany, orig. Ecuador), Yara (Germany, orig. Brazil), Nina Johansson (Sweden), Liz Steel (Australia), Jason Das (USA), Suhita Shirodkar (USA, orig. India), Virginia Hein (USA) and me (USA, orig. UK). What a worldwide line-up!
BCN Saturday evening Meal
And finally, my wife Angela, eating paella on the Sunday afternoon. I love Barcelona!
Angela eating paella

the incredible sagrada família

Sagrada Familia
Another one checked off the life-long wish-list! This is the famous and magnificent Sagrada Família, the ongoing masterpiece of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. I love to sketch a cathedral. Of course this isn’t technically a cathedral, it is a “Basilica and Expiatory Church” – there’s no bishop, you see. It’s also only really half a church, because as you probably know it is not quite finished yet, stunning and unbelievably detailed though it is. It is over a century and a quarter in the making, entirely funded by donations, and naturally is a huge draw for tourists. It is expected to be finished by 2026, with a massive central spire still to be added. I quite prefer it like this. It is quite something to think that this will look really different the next time I go to sketch it. Finally however I have sketched it, this building I have always wanted to see and draw.

This was done on my last day in Barcelona, when my wife and I took the metro out on a bright Sunday morning. We found that lovely spot across from the pond looking up at the Sagrada Família, and as I sketched there were other urban sketchers from southern Spain also there capturing the view. Always nice to meet the Spanish sketchers, I’m a big follower of the various groups around the country, and learn from them a lot. Once they were gone, I was joined by a group of elderly Catalans; the old woman sat next to me chatted away to me in Catalan, tried to teahc me a few words, and they kept me in good company while my wife went off to take photos. This is the Nativity Façade, which pre-dates the Spanish Civil War, sketched in the Stillman & Birn ‘beta’ sketchbook.

I didn’t go inside this time. The queues are fairly enormous, and our time was limited. I’d love to in the future. There will always be another trip to Barcelona.

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la boqueria

La Boqueria St Josep, Barcelona

I was really excited about visiting the Boqueria market off La Rambla in Barcelona. Its full name is the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, and on a Saturday afternoon it was a colourful vibrabt place. I knew I would need to sketch in here, though finding a good spot where I was out of the way was not necessarily easy. I wandered the whole market, taking in all of the colours and smells – fresh fruit, fresh fish, chocolate, wine, olive oil, all sorts of goodies. I had some delicious snacks from a place called Rostisseria Ramon, breaded mushroom and spinach things, I forget exactly what they were called except they were tasty. I eventually found a spot next to a market stall that was closed for vacations, and sketched the scene ahead of me. The butchers opposite were very interested and kept checking my progress excitedly. I added a nose and mouth for the third butcher as he felt left out, and he was well pleased to be included. It is fun talking to people as you sketch these types of scenes, even though my Spanish and my Catalan is really non-existent. I coloured it all on site and went off to draw the sign.

La Boqueria Sign
The market dates back many centuries, in various iterations. The current roof structure dates back about a hundred years. Below, there I am with the Stillman & Birn sketchbook. I really enjoyed sketching this one! Markets, now there is another sketching theme I am really warming to…

sketching boqueria

under dreaming spires

Barcelona Cathedral

This is Barcelona Cathedral. Not the Gaudí one you’ve all heard of (and not the Camp Nou, which is also a kind of cathedral, of sorts), but the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, built between the 13th and 15th centuries in the old town. The neo-Gothic façade wasn’t built until the 19th Century,  so all in all this makes the Sagrada Familia seem like a rush job. These sort of epic buildings take time. It’s all quite stunning. This was on a warm Saturday afternoon, and I was on my way to the final sketchcrawl meeting at the end of the Urban Sketching Symposium. This took me less than an hour of quite rapid sketching, which for all the details I was quite impressed with. I added the colour later on, as I had to get a move on. I do wish I’d had time to go inside, I understand the interior is quite lovely. I sat in the shade to sketch this. I love sketching a cathedral. Cathedrals, pubs and fire hydrants, that’s me.

més que un club

Camp Nou, Barcelona

As you may know, I like football. My team, miles above anyone else, is Tottenham Hotspur. however ever since I was a kid I’ve always had a soft spot for FC Barcelona. Back in the 1980s, my favourite striker Steve Archibald went there, and a couple of years later Gary Lineker (a hero to a ten year old) signed for them too. I loved their simple stripes, and was always in awe and disbelief when I would see pictures of their stadium, the Camp Nou (or Nou Camp as it was sometimes called). I used to get butterflies coming into White Hart Lane as a kid, seeing all those people, hearing the roar, back before it was all-seater and when the stands were much smaller. The stands at Camp Nou however, they had three tiers. THREE TIERS! Wow, that must feel like the stadium goes on forever! I always wanted to go there, and so I would occasionally follow them growing up to catch a glimpse of that enormous stadium with its roaring crowd and its three tiers. Barcelona were special, refusing to have any sponsorship on their kit until only a couple of seasons ago, and being governed primarily by and for the fans. This was a proper club; no, it was more than a club. That is their motto, més que un club. I liked Italian football too and particularly liked Sampdoria (it was their unique shirts, plus Mancini and Vialli), so the 1992 European Cup Final at Wembley, when it was still the proper European Cup, was one of my favourite non-Spurs-related matches. Barcelona wore an orange kit, and changed into the home kit for the celebration at the end. I used to go down to Soccerscene on Carnaby Street and find those two kits and just look at them, feel them, dream about pulling one of them on and walking out at the Camp Nou. Of course, that all paled next to my love of Spurs, but it’s been a lifelong ambition nevertheless.

Cut to 2013. If I was going to Barcelona, I was going to the Camp Nou, goddamit. On the second day there I put on my 2012-13 Barça shirt, took the Metro out to Collblanc (after another massive chocolate-filled pastry), and paid my money for the ‘Camp Nou Experience’. It isn’t cheap, but this is the Camp Nou! They need that money to buy Neymar. There were a lot of other people there, so the museum was pretty crowded. There was an enormous trophy cabinet stretching the whole length of the museum, which may well have been even bigger had Franco not bombed the stadium during the Spanish Civil War and destroyed many of the cups (lots were saved by a quick-thinking employee). The entire history of the club was on display, from its foundation by Swiss immigrant Hans Kamper (aka Joan Gamper), who chose the ‘blaugrana‘ colours based on his team FC Basel back home, through the days of repression by Franco, through the period of the legendary players Kubala and Cruyff, through the ‘Dream Team’ of the early 90s, right up to the modern super era of tiki-taka, Messi and the Champions Leagues. A special cabinet was made for the four European Cups (the three later ‘Champions League’ trophies are slightly bigger than the first 1992 cup), and there was another special area devoted to Lionel Messi and his ballons d’or and golden boots. I couldn’t sketch too much, being crowded by so many people, but also there was so much to see I just wanted to see it all.

Camp Nou Experience

I toured the stadium, taking the stairs up up up to the top of the highest tier, and back down again. I came out and looked at the stadium, as impressive as I’d imagined it, though not filled with supporters and noise. In these days of super stadia, the Camp Nou still felt like a huge cauldron of magic. I sketched as best I could, as hordes of young kids on outings, some not much older than my own son, made noise and threw bottles and things all around me. I didn’t mind, and they all left me alone to sketch, in fact they were kind enough to take pictures of me holding my sketchbook afterwards. There I am look, one happy sketcher. Lifelong dream of visiting (and sketching) the Camp Nou – check.

IMG_2665

Another room featured a massive interactive area where you could see video clips of goals and events from all of the club’s history. I saw a great Lineker hat-trick vs Real Madrid, the moment where Maradona had his legs sawn off, Archibald knocking one in against Juventus, Messi’s first match, Iniesta with more hair, the 2006 vistory over Arsenal, and of course, the thunderbolt free kick by Ronald Koeman at Wembley.IMG_2646 IMG_2639I didn’t get one of those cheesy photos they offered of me lifting the Champions League trophy. I’ll do that next time. I did spend a great deal of time in their two-floor superstore, the FCBotiga, Before I knew it, it was well after three o’clock, and I’d somehow managed to spend all day there. There was still a lot more sketching to go that day, surely! And this was all I’d managed. I didn’t mind. I’d finally been to the Camp Nou.

rambling free

La Rambla, Barelona

Back to Barcelona… I was impressed with all the shop fronts in Barcelona. On a future trip, I will organize myself better, and spend a whole day sketching ONLY shop fronts. As it was I managed just a couple, on the big bustling thoroughfare you’ve all heard of, La Rambla. Also called Las Ramblas. La Rambla is bustling alright, full of tourists rambling up and down, lots if interesting sketchable buildings, and absolutely no other reason to stay there whatsoever. It’s not really my thing, all those people. Pickpocket paranoia on overdrive. Ok, I must confess, what actually bugged me were those guys walking about making the bird-whistle noises with those little plastic kazoo things. It sounded like Sweep (of Sooty fame) being beaten up. Annoying noises aside, the architecture and shop fronts were a sketcher’s delight. I loved the one at the top, Viena, which I sketched in the Beta book. A group of young Australian lads who were staying in the hotel next door chatted to me excitedly about this place while I sketched, saying they had amazing breakfasts. There were lots of groups of excited young lads from other countries in Barcelona. It a popular place for stag parties (bachelor parties). My friend Francesco came here for his one several years ago, went to an FCB game (I couldn’t come, I was in America). Definitely a good-time city.

Farmacia Nadal

Above is Farmacia Nadal, which I sketched on the last day when strolling back to my hotel. Below, a much quicker sketch, the warm evening sky with La Rambla going left to right, looking down Carrer del Carme, Catalan flags waving from balconies. I bumped into a few urban sketchers while sketching this one, on their way back from their USk workshops, including Matthew Brehm; it was his workshop in Lisbon back in 2011 that inspired me to try this sketch out.

La Rambla & Carrer del Carme

els quatre gats

Quatre Gats, BarcelonaAfter eating some delicious paella up at a place next to Lesseps Metro station (see the sketch included below for reference) I decided I needed to see the Sagrada Família at last. It’s been a long wait for me, and I was astounded when I got there, as it truly is an epic undertaking, and not one that I will talk about in this post, because I didn’t sketch it that day. After squeezing through crowds and peering through trees in the park opposite for the best possible view, I found a spot I liked, sat down, got the Stillman & Birn ‘Beta’ sketchbook out and felt the first “plop” of warm summer rain. Now I’d heard somewhere that the rain in Spain fell mainly on the plain (which may be true but I don’t wish to be inaccurate) but either way it meant sketching this cathedral would be much more difficult, robust and hardy though the Beta paper is (and it really is; it’s an excellent book to travel with, and the pages fold very flat). So I decided to up sticks and do one. After spending a bit of time in the FC Barcelona shop next to the cathedral (mmm, football shirts) I metro’d it to the Barri Gotíc. About a hundred million people were out shopping; Barcelona is a shopping paradise, even I was getting sucked in (I saw some wicked adidas trainers), but this day was getting away from me and I had to sketch stuff. A couple of Gaudís, a bowl of paella and some flags wasn’t going to cut it for my first full day in Spain. It was still raining, so I stopped outside the famous restaurant Els Quatre Gats (“4 Cats”; I imagined the Two Ronnies in here giggling about headwear for cutlery). A professor back in my department in Davis had told me about this place, its connections to Picasso and the Cercle Artístic de Sant Lluc, and I’d promised I’d sketch it. I popped my head inside, and one day would like to sketch the interior, but I stood outside and sketched the entrance. I had to squeeze tight against an opposite wall to stop rain from hitting my page, a small narrow balcony about me providing my only shelter. The streets and alleys here are narrow, I remember being told that when it’s hot these narrow streets are a great place to cool down, they are so shady. Not much rain cover though! But I managed it, and here it is, Els Quatre Gats.

I didn’t eat here though, sadly. I was still full from my paella from earlier on, and here it is. Looks tasty, doesn’t it! It was ‘Paella del Señorito’.

Cerveceria Lesseps Paella, Barcelona

Incidentally…you can buy a print of this Quatre Gats sketch at my Society6 site… http://society6.com/PeteScully/Quatre-Gats-Barcelona_Print