On my final night in Portugal, after a day of easy sketching and peaceful wandering, I met up with Lisbon-based sketchers Pedro Loureiro and Silvio Menendez, along with Genine Carvalehiro and her girlfriend Sara, at Rossio in the heart of town. The locals took us over to a place called Eduardino, (“Ginjinha Sem Rival”) which was a tiny little hole in the wall that serves little plastic glasses of a drink called ‘ginjinha’. Now I think I had seen Rick Steves drink a ginjinha maybe, but I had no idea what it was. It’s a Lisbon specialty, a cherry-based liqueur that people will often have on their way out somewhere, good for the health, and comes in two ways – “with” or “without”. That is, with a cherry or without a cherry. I had it with; it was delicious. I drew the little ginjinha bar below, but not on site, I did this from a photo I took, as we were on our way out to explore another part of central Lisbon. We found a little café in a courtyard overlooking part of the city, and had some beers and cheeses. I sketched my very nice company, we talked about the various symposia we had been to (I had forgotten Genine also went to Lisbon 2011, she was in one of the workshops I took; such a long time ago now!). This was up at Largo dos Trigueras (above).
After drinks we went looking for a place for dinner, and bumped into Matt Brehm, who was waiting for Liz Steel and Suhita Shirodkar, so we combined our urban sketching parties and went to a little traditional Lisbon restaurant for food and wine and more fun conversations. I sketched Matt (whose workshop called “the Light of Lisbon” I had taken in 2011 in that very neighbourhood), and also the restaurant owner who served us. We ate until late, talked past and future symposia, about how much Urban Sketchers has grown, about all the new people we’ve all met in that time. I must say, I have been a little bit of a reculse of late, as far as the sketching community goes – I didn’t even tell people I was going to Porto, just in case I couldn’t make it – so it was nice to catch up with old friends from around the world. Now next year, Amsterdam, I do need to promise myself that I will let other people know and actually try to make connections ahead of time; I might go first to Belgium and finally sketch with some of the Belge sketchers I know. Being social can actually be quite a good thing.
Anyway we all said adeus and then I went back to the hotel, for I had an early start the next day. A cab to the airport, then a plane to Atlanta, and another plane to Sacramento. I sketched a plane at Atlanta airport while I had my layover. It was a long, long, long day, and I was exhausted. Three weeks away, and it takes more than getting over jetlag to recover. My mind itself was still over in Europe for at least a week or two afterwards. I think I just have permanent wanderlust. Until the next time!
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.
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.
And here I am with my sketchbook, and my Giants t-shirt.
At this year’s Urban Sketching Symposium in Lisbon the lectures were not small intimate affairs as they were last year, but larger ones to which all workshop attendees could attend, so nobody would miss out on one they might like. They were in the large lecture hall at FBAUL. Unfortunately I was only able to attend a few of them, partly due to long lunches going over on Lisbon time, partly due to the need to call home at those particular times, and from the sketchers I saw dotted around the streets at those times I got the impression many would much rather be out on the sunny streets sketching than inside a big lecture hall. However I was glad to have been able to make the ones I did get to. I particularly enjoyed Matthew Brehm’s lecture on the second day, “Sketching on Location: Teaching and Learning”, as he gave many very interesting tips on how we learn and how we can learn from the work of others. He made some very good and very positive and encouraging points; I enjoyed his talk in last year’s symposium on the history of urban sketching, and he was much quoted afterwards (notably by Lapin) that it was the ‘Woodstock of Sketching’ (and it really was; Portland was definitely an important starting point for greater sketching networks and events, the larger Lisbon symposium being the biggest example).
As were most other non-stop sketchers in attendance, I found I just had to draw and draw and draw while listening. I did make a lot of notes from Matt’s lecture, but still got some sketching in. I don’t know the man I sketched listening to the lecture but I’ve been experimenting with the way I draw people, and I drew a LOT of people in Lisbon, other sketchers mostly. I’m starting to enjoy sketching people more these days.
It was almost complete darkness when I was drawing these. The only light was from the projector, illustrating Matthew Brehm’s excellent lecture on the history of sketching as a social activity, and from the laptop of the guy changing the slides. Well, it wasn’t going to stop me from getting another couple of sketches in, and what a fun exercise. I had no idea what they actually looked like until I got outside into the light; I’m pleased with the results!!
It’s funny; normally, I would draw in a lecture or meeting if I was bored, but this is the Urban Sketcher’s Symposium, and the rules are on their head. Matthew’s lecture was very, very interesting. As an architectural teacher he takes students to Rome every year, and compared his own experiences alongside the grand tours of a couple of centuries ago, as well as looking at old drawing clubs and how the newer phenomenon of blogging and posting your art on flickr and such sites has created a new global community of artists, which has in turn given birth to Urban Sketchers and the Symposium itself. (Which he described as the ‘Woodstock of Sketching’) What I enjoyed was his focus on the connections that drawing has forged between us, not just right now but also to the sketchers of the past – those people walking around cities drawing things, just as we are now, having those same thought processes that compel them to do so. That’s what I was thinking about, anyhow, as I drew these people in the dark.
Symposium blog: http://pdx2010.urbansketchers.org/