lisbon symposium, day 3: contrastes

contrastes rua bica

The third and final day of the Urban Sketching Symposium was a gloriously sunny morning (weren’t they all?), and after meeting at FBAUL to talk about our experiences so far, we set out on our final workshops. I was with Asnee Tasna’s group, going over to the long sloping Rua da Bica for the workshop on Contrast (“Contrastes”). Asnee Tasna is the USk correspondent from Bangkok, and I really enjoy his colourful and expressive style. His co-instructor was Joao Catarino, USk correspondent from Lisbon. Rua da Bica is an interesting location because of the famous yellow cable-car (‘elevador’) that pulls up and down the gritty narrow street. People squeezed by us on their day to day routines, laundry hung from balconies, ‘super bock’ and ‘sagres’ bottles and empty cracked glasses littered the path telling tales of the night before, with the accompanying smells, the stinking streets of summer. I’m sure it was quite the party. This was another good group of sketchers – Liz, Luis, Inma, Swasky to name but a few – and another enjoyable morning, learning from one another. I used a few different pens – a Pitt brush pen above, a brown-black uni-ball signo um-151 (oh yeah) below left (I enjoyed that sketch, influenced by the quick sketches done in the Lght of Lisboa workshop), and my regular micron 01.

contrastes rua bica contrastes rua da bica

Above right, well the workshop is about contrasts, right? Here are the beer bottles. I think I like this sketch most of all, it tells an interesting story about urban life. It’s good to focus on the small ephemeral details alongside the sweeping vistas. But I love a sweeping vista too, so it was highly enjoyable to sketch the scene below, looking down the rua and towards the turquoise blue Tagus.

contrastes rua bica

And here is the Moleskine! Just so you can see how it all looks on the page. The beer bottles are on the other side. After this we all went for lunch at a tiny Portuguese place at the top of the street. I ate sardines, and drank a super bock.

contrastes, rua da bica

and the band begins to play

More sketches from San Francisco. I trotted into Washington Square, at the heart of North Beach, where nearby there were many bars and cafes, and all around me there were green-t-shirted revellers galloping (for want of a better word) from pub to pub in honour of St. Patrick’s Day. I sat and drew the church of Saints Peter and Paul. 

washington square

I saw an unpleasant sight. One of the gallopers in green, a rather plump lady, had some embarassing sweatmarks on her shirt. Not just coming from under the armpits, but around the whole bra area. A hoop of dark sweat around a lurid green t-shirt. It was a pretty cold day, I might add. I recomposed, and walked down a street where some interesting jazz or whatever (cool old men with trumpets and a big double bass, and an oboe and stuff) wafted out of an old looking pub, the Savoy Tivolisavoy tivoli jazz bandIt was pretty cool, so I went in and got a drink and attempted to capture the scene, failing spectacularly; however, I was trying different pens and a different style, and I don’t normally draw musicians, so funny enough I quite like the results, unmannered though they are. 

There weren’t as many St.Patrick’s drinkers in there, but plenty more everywhere else. America really goes mad for it, more so even than in Irish north London which is my background. It’s ironic; years ago, St.Patrick’s day was the one day in Ireland when pubs were closed (presumably, people go out drinking because they think that’s all the Irish do or something). It’s funny how in America, people get very sensitive on tv and in advertising with the word ‘Christmas’, or even ‘Easter’, yet nobody bats an eyelid at exclamations celebrating the religious day of a famous saint. And all this ‘luck of the Irish’ stuff you see everywhere? I don’t get it, over the years the Irish have been one of the unluckiest peoples in history (living next to the English didn’t help much); possibly all of the four-leaf clovers plastered everywhere means that people don’t realise it’s the three-leafed shamrock that symbolises Ireland. And another irony: St.Patrick’s colour was actually blue.

I did my bit though; got myself a nice big green margarita, shortly after sketching my last urban scene of the day, a cable-car waiting on California St. Back to my typical old way of sketching. More to come.

a cable car on california