a city full of urban sketchers

Wow, it has been three months since Lisbon! It’s quite incredible. The second Urban Sketching Symposium was an overwhelming experience, and it was so much fun to spend good sketching time with so many other urban sketchers from around the world, many of whose work I have followed and been influenced by for years.

During the Symposium, Portuguese journalist Patrícia Pedrosa filmed some of the workshops, and has produced a couple of great videos which bring me right back to Portugal. The first documents Day One, the second Days Two and Three. You’ll spot me I’m sure, the one holding his pen in a funny way and crouching distorted on the ground. Here they are: I hope you enjoy them!

Urban Sketchers 1 from Patrícia Pedrosa on Vimeo.

Urban Sketchers 2 from Patrícia Pedrosa on Vimeo.

See this post over on Urban Sketchers. Thanks Patrícia for producing these!

a little more lisboa

skyline of lisbon

Views like this just exist to make people feel jealous, I think.  Certainly more scenic than Davis! This was sketched on the second evening of the Symposium, from the square outside FBAUL, Lisbon, as the Sun started to set, pouring golden syrup over everything. There’s the 12th Century Sé Cathedral, and the red rooftops of contrasting the turquoise blue of the Tagus River. Below left, the road winds uphill, while the castle of Lisbon lords it over the city below.

lisbon view, early eveninglargo do carmo

Finally, a sketch made during lunch on the first day of the Symposium, an interesting monument in the middle of Largo do Carmo, Chiado.

And this, I think, may be it for Lisbon… I will post a more reflective entry about the symposium, a month on, but that has been a lot of scanning, cropping, posting… I forgot to submit my drawings for the Symposium book (oops!), and in the meantime I have actually been doing a lot of drawing, including some on a trip to Monterey. Keep on sketching…

lisbon symposium, day 3: worldwide sketchcrawl #32

rua augusta, lisbon

The final afternoon of the Lisbon Urban Sketching Symposium was the 32nd Worldwide Sketchcrawl. For those of you who know, the worldwide sketchcrawl (see sketchcrawl.com) was started about seven years ago in San Francisco by Enrico Casarosa and quickly established itself across the world, encouraging sketchers to just meet up with other sketchers, pick a spot, spend all day drawing, then share the results online for the world to see. As you can see, I’m sharing rather later than I usually would (had a bit of a backlog!). Most sketchcrawls I’ve been on in the past have usually been finished by 4:30, but we had barely begun!

urban sketchers as far as the eye can see

We met at FBAUL and moved en masse, snaking down the hill (see above) to Praco Comercio, where we would be meeting with many non-symposium sketchers. I got distracted and sketched a fire hydrant, but made it down to the group eventually. I decided to sketch off on my own a little though, and drew the big arch from Rua Augusta (see top). As I sketched, people gathered around (one smart young lad pointing out how long it had taken me to draw the picture, by looking at the clock in the drawing!). At one point, a group of people were all around me taking photos. I wandered up Rua Augusta, I wanted to have a look around Baixa district not having explored this part of town much. It was full of shoppers and tourists (and pickpockets, quite likely), as well as street musicians like the one I sketched below, looking like a snake charmer. It was very ‘world music’ and not very good to be honest, quite repetitive, but people still stopped to watch (or sketch). I also sketched a dress in a shop window (oh no!), to illustrate that this is a shopping district.  

baixa dressbaixa street musician

What I REALLY wanted to draw though was the building below. Inever got a chance to go up the Elevador Santa Justa, but I was not going to leave Lisbon without attempting to draw it. I found a nice little spot, looked up and sketched away. It’s an interesting neo-Gothic building, essentially just a nicely decorated lift, with an impressive view from the top (one of the workshops I never attended, ‘Panoramania’ with Simo Capecchi, was held there – that would have been so cool! But I hear it was windy). It was built at the end of the 19th Century to get people up from Baixa to Largo do Carmo.  

elevador santa justa, lisbon

I sketched another hydrant (see previous post on fire hydrants), and went back up to FBAUL to meet with the returning sketchers for the final get-together, and to look at eveyone’s sketchbooks…

sketching the urban sketchers (part 3)

isabel fiadeiroagnes bolley

Final batch of Urban Sketcher portraits…I wish I’d sketched more! Quite a lot of people who afterwards I was thinking, oh wish I’d sketched him, wish I drawn her; maybe next time! The two above though were done in the very early hours of sunday morning (see the time-stamp!) at Cafe A Brasileira, after the Symposium had ended. I was out late there sketching with Liz Steel, Paul Wang and Lee Peng Hui, when Isabel Fiadeiro and some others came in, sat down and straight away it was a sketch-off! A bit like gunslingers in the Old West in an old saloon, Urban Sketchers are quick on the draw. (How cheesy, I can’t believe I just said that…)

(Above Left): Isabel Fiadeiro, USk correspondent in Nouakchott, Mauritania (but originally from Portugal), one of the organisers of this year’s event, I met her last year in Portland. (Above Right): Agnes Bolley, an artist from France.

luis ruiznina johansson

(Above Left): Luis Ruiz, USk correspondent from Malaga, Spain. It was a highlight of the symposium for me to meet and sketch with Luis, his subtle but powerful work is among my favourites. (Above Right): Nina Johansson, USk correspondent from Stockholm, Sweden. I’ve followed Nina’s work for years, very influential. I took her workshop ‘Unfinished Business’, though I never got a chance to actually sketch with her.

inma serranoisaac

(Above Left): Inma Serrano, USk Spain correspondent from Sevilla. She had this tiny sketchbook made into an earring that sketchers contributed to (I drew a tiny fire hydrant, what else!). Sketched at lunchtime near Rua da Bica, she was sketching me at the time. (Above Right): Isaac, from Spain; I didn’t get to speak to him other than to ask his name but he had a great profile to sketch! 

ea ejersboliz steel

(Above Left): Ea Ejersbo, USk correspondent from Aarhus in Denmark, sketched while out at dinner with other urban sketchers and her husband Reza (a great guy!). I’ve followed Ea for years, I really enjoy her drawings and the fact she’s from Aarhus, as I visited that city a couple of times many years ago and loved it.  (Above Right): Liz Steel, USk correspondent from Sydney (alongside Borromini Bear, not seen in this picture). Liz is one of the most well-known Urban Sketchers and it was great to sketch and hang out with her in Lisbon, having first met her in Portland last year.

daniella rodriguesmarina grechanik

(Above Left): Daniela Rodrigues, USk Portugal sketcher from Lisbon who I spoke to during the Light of Lisboa workshop. Finally, (Above Right): Marina Grechanik, USk correspondent from Tel Aviv, Israel, sketched at the same dinner as the pistures of Ea and Liz. Marina even tried to draw holding the pen the way I do!

And that’s it! Well, I have more sketches from Lisbon to be posted, but these are all the people I drew. Some I drew in my watercolour Moleskine, but most were drawn in the London/Lisbon ‘Volant’ Moleskine, the small red one that looks like a passport.

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

keeping an eye on the world outside my window

shiado hostel window view

In Lisbon I stayed at the Shiado Hostel on Rua Anchietta, a stone’s throw away from the symposium location at FBAUL. It was a nice hostel, modern and inexpensive with free wireless internet access and breakfast included. It had been years since I stayed at hostel; I stayed at mnay both good and bad all over Europe in the 90s, and this was definitely up there in the good. The staff were very friendly too. I did get woken up a few times by people coming into the room in the wee hours; on my second night it seemed I had the room all to myself, but then at 2:00 am three people checked in, moving all their rucksacks and stuff in with them. They tried to be quiet, of course, but coming in and out for the next hour wasn’t easy to sleep through. Still it makes little difference to me – I couldn’t sleep well in a room by myself last year, so it wasn’t a huge issue. One of the best things were the views from the windows. the view at the top was from the lounge area, sketched one afternoon when I just needed to go back for some quiet time. Below, views from the hostel dorm room window. The location was pretty unbeatable, and quite a few other symposium participants (such as Jason, Paul, Rolf, Oona) were staying there.

hostel window viewhostel window view

the lisbon streets at night

rua anchietta at night

Night-time sketching is fun, as the light is all different and in summertime in Lisbon, people are out on the streets enjoying life, or sketching the world. Right below the Shiado hostel on Rua Anchietta where I stayed was a cafe called Kaffeehaus (it was Austrian). I went there on a few occasions for dinner or a drink with some of the other urban sketchers who were staying at the hostel, such as Paul Wang (Urban Sketchers correspondent in Hong Kong, originally from Singapore), who I sketched above. I was pleased to have met Paul (who also spent some days in London prior to Lisbon, though I didn’t sketch with him) as I love his colourful sketching style, it’s so nice to look at. We were at dinner with Liz Steel and Omar Jaramillo; you couldn’t get a more multi-continental group of sketchers!. Our hostel was just around the block from a square where nightly open-air concerts filled the air with classical music, right up until bed-time. I’m no classical buff, so couldn’t really tell you your Schubert from your Chopin, but it was nice to hear. It was still going on when I got back to my room, and so I looked out of the window and sketched the scene below me.

Below: from the night before, sat in the same place, but this time sketching Florian Afflerbach and Rolf Schroeter, two of our USk correspondents from Germany. I appear to have sketched Florian and Rolf in slightly different sizes, kinda! The couple sat behind Rolf were enjoying themselves. We were there with Jason Das that night, having all just been at the USk correspondents dinner. One thing I remember most is the damn street-lamp flickering away…

florian and rolf at kaffeehaus

come out, come out, wherever you are…

The Fire Hydrants of Lisbon. You can just imagine how excited I was when I saw that they had them there, and that they didn’t all look the same. Some of them are rather Grecian-urn, others are more Venus-de-Milo, but with a suggestion of a dismembered C-3P0 in there too. Feel free to draw speech bubbles and make them talk.

hydrant on rua ivenslisbon hydrant
lisbon hydrant, chiadohydrant rua serpa pinto

Most of the hydrnats were red, but the occasional one was yellow, such as this one near Rua da Bica, splotched with purple. Beside it, a shapely one sketched over at Rua Santa Justa in Baixa.
yellow lisbon hydranthydrant rua santa justa

Finally, an unusual hydrant – it has a plastic cover! I sketched this on the long sloping street that winds down from FBAUL, as scores of sketchers walked by on their way to the sketchcrawl meet-up on Praca Comerco. 
covered hydrant in lisbon


lisbon symposium, day 2: light of lisboa

light of lisboa, largo sao domingos

The afternoon workshop on day two was “Light of Lisboa”, led by Matthew Brehm. This workshop, located in the largos and ruas north of Rossio, was great, and the exercises Matt gave us – making quick pencil sketches of no more than three-four minutes, focusing on the darks to make the light stand out more – were refreshingly liberating. Having spent all morning on what felt like a bit of a painstaking drawing it was nice to free myself up a bit. I like drawing in pencil – I do it so little these days that I forgot how enjoyable it feels. Of course, I ultimately like seeing my pen drawings, and so I did my ‘longer’ drawings in pen, but played about with one particular view (below), my favourite of them being the quick one in orange micron pen. It made me want to do all my drawing like that. I won’t, but it will for sure influence the drawing I do usually do.

light of lisboa studies

light of lisboa study colourlight of lisboa study orange

I think this was one of the workshops that I came away from with the most new knowledge; the simple tips Matt pointed out to us really made me think about certain aspects of making a sketch. That’s what these symposia are all about, learning from the way others do things.

light of lisboa rua das portas de santo antao

And here I am with my sketchbook, and my Giants t-shirt.  

Light of Lisboa

sketching the urban sketchers (part 2)

miguel herranz (freekhand)rolf schroeter

More attempts at quick portraits of some world-renowned urban sketchers at the Lisbon Symposium…

(Above left): Miguel Herranz, aka Freekhand, Urban Sketchers correspondent in Barcelona whose distinctive work I’ve enjoyed for years. He did a great sketch of me! (Above right): Rolf Schroeter, the amazingly prolific USk correspondent from Berlin, sketched at Kaffeehaus in Rua Anchietta.

jason dasflorian afflerbach

(Above left): Jason Das again, aka Floodfish, USk correspondent from Brooklyn. This was sketched during the correspondent’s dinner. (Above right): Florian Afflerbach, aka Flaf, USk correspondent in Cottbus. I’ve followed Florian’s amazing work for years and so was delighted to finally meet him in person. I’ve said it before, more red-haired/glasses-wearing urban sketchers is a good thing! This very quick sketch is best viewed with 3D glasses…

saidya heynickxgerard michel

Allez les Belges… (Above left) Saidja Heynickx, from Aarschot in Belgium, sketched during lunch on the first day. Always nice to meet more Belgians! (they always laugh when I tell them I lived in Charleroi!) (Above right) Gerard Michel, one of my sketching heroes, who I first met and sketched with last year in Portland, and who I sketched here in Lisbon during one of the morning welcomes.  

More sketches of sketchers to come!