porto people

Porto Dinner

The Symposium always offers a chance to feel ok about drawing people. Everyone is doing it, nobody judges you about how unrealistic it looks, and nobody feels self-conscious about someone sketching them. Well, usually. I mixed up sketching the public with sketching the participants, and tried to keep it fast (far less than the ‘five minutes’ per person!) and tended to stick to pencil, with a bit of watercolour for effect. I used a Palomino pencil that a pal of mine sent me from Japan (cheers Tel), it does wear down fast though, I had to keep sharpening. Pencil moves fast though, so is good for those really quick people sketches. Above, dinner on the Thursday evening with several of my old sketching buddies. You can see Kumi Matsukawa (from Japan), Shiho Nakaza (from Santa Monica) and Rita Sabler (from Portland), all of whom wrote chapters in my 2015 book ‘Creative Sketching Workshop’ and all of whome I met in the 2010 symposium, which is also where I met Mike Daikabura (from Boston), at the end of the table. There’s also Tina Koyama (from Seattle) who of course I have met at other symposia, great to see her again with her partner Greg, and Corinna from Germany, who I did meet briefly in Manchester. Others at the table are Jane (from LA who was in Portland, but I’d never met), and Elaine and Alex, who I didn’t speak to. It was a nice gathering for the “Drink’n’Draw”. The Drink’n’Draw events were generally done at the Ribeira square next to the river, and were generally hundreds of sketchers messed all over the place, so the fact I actually found several sketchers that I already knew was nice. It was a nice evening.

Porto people
Porto people

Above, sketching the locals. And the tourists. I stood in a couple of spots and tried to capture people as they passed by. I liked the lads in the Porto kits kicking the ball about up the Alfandega, I kinda wanted to join in. The bizarre looking Chef with the big eyes is actually not a person, nor a Frank Sidebottom mask, but a large figure in the window of a restaurant. Below, some people I sketched while waiting for my Francesinha.

Porto people at lunch

Below, some other locals or maybe tourists, eating dinner at Ribeira. The woman on the right, I might have drawn her head slightly too small. The giveaway is that the person behind her has a larger head. As does the person sitting opposite, who is further away from my POV than she is. Now unless they are wearing Frank Sidebottom heads, I’ve got that wrong. Ah well.

People at dinner porto

And below, two fellow sketchers I enjoyed a beer with on Friday evening, Aglaia and Joel, both from the US. Joel I had met in the Manchester symposium, he was busy during this one with accounting and money stuff for Urban Sketchers. He’s wearing his red Chicago symposium shirt, from last year’s event (that I missed). Aglaia teaches history at a university, so we had a long discussion about history and what not. At one point they mentioned they had seen the Beatles film A Hard Day’s Night again recently, and asked about the Wilfred Bramble character and why they kept saying he looks ‘very clean’, which is a reference to steptoe and Son that many Americans these days would probably not get, so I got to do an Harry H Corbett impression and say “you dirty old man!” Also I think I may have done a Simon Schama impression or two. A fun evening.

Aglaia and Joel

Stay tuned for more Porto sketches!!!

porto performative

Amber Sausen, USk President
The reason we were all there in Porto was for the 9th Urban Sketching Symposium. “USk Porto 2018” as it is known (see the hashtag #USkPorto2018 on the various platforms) was the largest one yet – 800 registrants, with a similar number descending on Porto just for the ride. Urban Sketchers is quite big now. The first Symposium back in Portland in 2010 (check out my Flickr album, or look at my Portland 2010 blog posts) had less than 80 people, many of whom had only ever met each other online and never in person, and yet we all seemed to get to know each other. The ‘Woodstock of Sketching’ Matthew Brehm called it. With 800 people it was hard enough to find the people you knew! Yet I still managed to meet new people, though for sure, it was a really big crowd. Above, the current Urban Sketchers President, Amber Sausen, sings to the gathered Thursday morning crowd before they set off for their workshops. Below, Amber introduces the Symposium at the Wednesday evening reception. There was a show of hands; over 50% were first-time symposium participants!
USk Porto opening ceremony
One aspect of the symposium this year were the demos. There have been demos before, but this year we had to sign up upon registration and choose whose demo we wanted to attend. Most were held outside on the streets, in the urban setting, our little groups shepherded by friendly volunteers. I went to the demo of Gabi Campanario, Seattle-based journalist and the founder of Urban Sketchers. I’ve not seen Gabi in person since Lisbon 2011 so it was nice to see him again. He was the one who invited me to be a correspondent on the new blog ‘Urban Sketchers’ when it was first launched, back when it was tiny, so it is great to see a decade later just how big and popular it has become. Gabi’s style of sketching is very particular, he works fast but gets in a lot of information; he sketches for a newspaper after all. I’ve always been in particular impressed with his approach to perspective, and it was this that he helped to demonstrate first. He usually draws fairly small, but sketched on a large pad for the demo so that everyone could see. I drew the group watching and learning.
Gabi demo
We were on the Alfandega, which has a lot of very interesting vistas to sketch, so Gabi continued his demo by showing us a bit about how to go about composing such a sketch. I like the poses he gives. The demo is very much a performance, a piece of street theatre that is both instructive and interactive.
Gabi demo
Finally, here is another sketcher, called Paula. I will post more pictures of the other sketchers I drew, though to be honest I don’t feel like I drew enough of the other sketchers this time. There were 800 other participants after all, plus about that many who just joined in the crowds in Porto. I don’t think she minded me sketching her; it’s expected at the symposium, you will be sketched. I’m including this though because she was very much in the act of sketching (actually by this point I think she was checking her phone). I have always wondered about the line between sketching and performance.
USk Porto Paula

On one hand we are working in our private journals, they are our business and not really anybody else’s. You aren’t under any obligation to show anybody anything you have drawn. On the other hand, there is an unwitting performative element to the urban sketcher. I think it’s one that fascinates the public. This is something that I would love to explore further; years ago I used to do interactive theatre, and so many of the workshops and skills and ideas I picked up in those days have informed my attitude to urban sketching. I really want to explore this somehow. When we as sketchers are out in public, creating art, we are in fact engaging in two kinds of performance art. There is the result, the sketch that we share online (and we usually do, as part of Urban Sketchers). Then there is the act of sketching itself. Once I stopped finding a place to hide when I sketch, I started to lose my fear of being watched while I sketch. Why do people watch? They are fascinated that you are creating something. So many times people will come up and say, oh wow that is beautiful, and I have literally drawn five pencil lines and spent ten minutes squinting up at a building. Is that really the thing that is beautiful, or is it the act of going out and actually trying to draw something that is beautiful? I think it’s more often than not the latter. “Wow, did you draw that?” I know artists who get very upset with that statement; in the early days, I would often imagine sarcastic responses too, and mumble them under my breath, but that’s not what the person is asking. They aren’t asking if you drew that. They are making an exclamation of wonder, often not even of the drawing but of the act of drawing, of the bravery that it takes to attempt the drawing in public, the performance. Honestly I could write a long article on this, and go back to my old drama degree theory stuff, Eric Bentley (A plays B watched by C). It is worth thinking about though, when you are next out sketching, how much of it is personal and how much is public performance, albeit of a quiet kind. If that is the case, USk Porto 2018 was one of the largest pieces of public theatre I’ve been to in ages.

porto parochial

Santo Ildefonso, Porto

It was a bit of a race for me: will I draw more fire hydrants or more churches? Fire hydrants was always going to win because of the ease/speed factor, but by day two it was neck and neck and if I hadn’t spent so much time schlepping up and down hills I might have spent that drawing even more Porto churches. There are so many beautiful ecclesiastical buildings in Porto, with accompanying dizzying views, sculpted masonry and often those very Porto-esque blue and white tiles. Above is the church of Igreja Paroquial de Santo Ildefonso, at Praça Batalha, which was right outside my hotel (I drew a map, below) and on the other side of a deep valley facing the iconic Torre Clerigos. A lot of sketchers drew this church. I never went inside, but I loved all of the tiles outside. This was the first sketch I did in Porto, sat outside my hotel eating a couple of ‘Natas’ and drinking a Fanta Orange.
Porto Map Batalha

Below is the Cathedral of Porto, the Sé, another magnet for sketchers, not least for its incredible views over the city. I do wish I had drawn it more than once from another angle, as I really liked the views approaching the cathedral from behind. I wanted that view of the front with the sun shining down on it. I stood outside some houses in the shade, looking up, a group of older Portuguese men stood to my left just chatting and smoking, and shaking hands with the occasional local passer-by, while an old lady sat outside her house to my right yelling at pigeons while another one (or maybe the same one, I wasn’t paying much attention) threw things at pigeons from an upstairs window while hanging out laundry. Ok, why am I drawing cathedrals? I should be drawing that. The Sé building dates from 1737.

Se do Porto

Now below is the one that, if you were an urban sketcher and didn’t sketch this at the symposium, you weren’t really there. Ok that’s how it seemed anyway. The Torre Clérigos was used as the symbol of the Symposium and was that one tall tower visible from everywhere. I sketched this one (below) on the last Saturday of the Symposium, making sure I managed to get it in before I left the city, forgetting I had actually drawn it three or four times already from a distance. It’s on a very, very steep slope which is great for the perspective sketching, and I sat in the afternoon sunshine with a wide-brimmed hat on to draw this. The Clérigos was built by renowned baroque architect Nicolau Nasoni, who designed many other grand buildings in Porto.

Clerigos Porto

Below was one of the more spectacular churches I saw. The building shape itself was not inspiring, but you don’t look at a painting and say, yeah but it’s just a rectangle of canvas. It was the amazing decoration, covered completely in smooth blue and white tiles, covered in beautiful ornate paintings. It was like the Sao Bento train station but inside out. I didn’t have time to go inside. I came across this church, while walking around late at night looking for an easier way back to the hotel that involved no mountaineering. By the way it is called the ‘Capela das Almas’ and is located on Rua Santa Catarina, opposite the Bolhao Metro station (Santa Catarina is actually one of the few I walked down that was actually a flat surface). This church dates from the 18th century but the tiles were added in 1929 by Eduardo Leite. At night it was lit from outside and so it shone like a beacon, with all those smooth tiles, but I was tired so drew it in the daytime, my last sketch in Porto before leaving. In fact I only had time to draw the lines, I added the paint afterwards. This would be an amazing one to do a huge drawing of, spending a long time with intricate details, but I would need (a) better glasses, (b) loads more time and (c) loads more natas.

Capela Das Almas, Porto

 

Here it is in the flesh, at night:

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There were so many other church buildings I did not get to sketch, such as this one below. Actually it is two, right next to each other, located near Porto University. Perhaps next time I’ll draw all the ones I missed this time.

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Stay tuned for more Porto sketches!

 

porto perspectives

São Lourenço (Grilos), Porto

It is time to post my Porto sketches, and I have decided against the linear storytelling method of posting, rather I will loosely theme my blogs, and when I say loose, I probably mean barely connected at all. I will tell the story of the symposium from my own point of view, the people I met, the places I visited, the panoramas, the perspectives, the perambulations, and other words that will inevitably all begin with ‘p’. In fact the letter ‘p’ will probably be the prominent/predominant theme. Photos will be presented along with pen, pencil and paint pictures. So without further pause, let’s proceed.

I arrived in Porto from Madrid and took a cheap shuttle from the airport to a downtown bus station that was unfortunately just outside the range of my map. Being the navigator I am, I decided to follow my nose. My nose however had other ideas and led me and my small rolling suitcase in the complete opposite direction, into a neighbourhood of steeply sloping streets, brightly coloured tiled houses, and old women standing around yelling at each other, while old men stood around shrugging at each other. My initial encounter with Porto is still how I would describe the city, even after almost a week there. I was looking for my hotel, but did not mind being lost; I wasn’t in a hurry, though I wanted to start sketching. Eventually I found my way to within the boundaries of my small Lonely Planet guidebook map (note to self, the nose can smell pastries from a hundred feet but has no sense of direction whatsoever) and made it to my hotel, on Praça Batalha.

Igreja São Lourenço

The photo in this golden early evening light brings out the colours in the sketch more than the cold scanner

 

So it looks like I am starting out by telling this story chronologically after all. Well let’s move on from that, and go with the theme of exploring. Hang on, that doesn’t begin with a ‘p’. ‘Perspiration’, perhaps, from all the steep hill-climbing this city forces you to do. Ok then, let’s start with ‘perspectives’. The sketch at the top of this post is São Lourenço, aka ‘Grilos’, and was in fact the fourth sketch I did on my first day in Porto. I left the hotel and explored, sketching churches and fire hydrants, and found that it was hard to get very far because everywhere is so sketchable. Everywhere you turned, an impossible view. Already several sketches in by this point, and having come across many other sketchers dotted around the city already – my people! – I felt it was time to go and eat dinner somewhere, try some local cuisine. The sun was lowering and the light was golden, and I turned around a corner and saw this view, looking over the city with the tall ornate façade of São Lourenço sweeping down a cliff like an opera in stone. There was the river Douro, there were all the orange-red rooftops, showing me that all two-dimensional maps of this city were woefully inadequate; what I had though may be short cuts turned out to be like hiking up and down impenetrable mountain paths. The perspective was exciting. I stood on a bench for a slightly better view. You can see from my eye-line how high up this was, as high as the peaks of the hills across the river. The street down below in the distance is roughly parallel to this building so followed through to the same vanishing point, but other streets twisted and followed their own paths. I was pleased when I was done as it was the first Porto sketch I did that I felt encompassed how I saw the city (I hadn’t even drawn the bridge yet…). As I sketched I overheard young travelers from other countries talking the way young travelers do, the way I might have done twenty years ago when I was a young backpacker. I spoke to a few other sketchers, all of whom had the same ‘I must stop and sketch this now!’ moment I did. This view was one of many epic views over the city I would encounter, and you can’t draw them all but at certain times of day the light demands it. Dinner can wait. I ended up having a cheap kebab on Aliados if you must know, followed by a Nata. Well, there was another view I wanted to draw, the rooftops with the iconic Clerigos towering above them. All I had time for was the outline, and the glowing dusk.

Porto skyline

I think I will stop here for now. Please join me for the next chapter, which will either be “Porto People”, “Porto Parrochial”, or “Porto Postcards”. Or perhaps none of those?

six planes, one train, no pain

SMF-LAS 2018 sm

Sketching on a plane helps me relax. That is my excuse for sketching on a plane. I have this book, this little Miquelrius book that I use for in-flight sketches (the one with the Lapin-designed cover), and I brought it with me to record all six flights (and one train journey) on my trip to Europe. Twenty years ago I took a five-week train trip around Europe and I really wish that I had done the same back then. Sketching all the night trains. Pete of 2018 would definitely have enjoyed that, Pete of 1998 would perhaps not so much, but Pete of 1998 was so much easier with speaking to strangers and making friends with fellow travellers than Pete of 2018. Pete of 2018 is a little shyer, but makes up for it with readiness to sketch. Pete of 1998 did sketch a little but not much and very loosely, though he drew a lot of cartoons and wrote loads, writing like there was no tomorrow; I kept two diaries on that trip, one for me personally, written small and densely, and one with just briefer notes about the train journeys and cities, at the back of the special book I had prepared ahead of the trip. Wow, this was going on 20 years ago now. I will need to write my thoughts about that trip very soon, it was a pretty formative voyage for me. Anyway, back to this summer’s Euro trip – not as many countries, but still a fair bit of travel, and probably more miles covered (what with flying across the world and all). Above, the first leg of the journey, flying from Sacramento to Las Vegas on a very bumpy flight over the desert. I liked stopping in Vegas, we got to go to an amazing lounge (my wife organized that, she knows the best stuff), though my son was less impressed with Vegas, thanks to the turbulent descent on the plane. Soon we were off again, flying Virgin from Vegas to Gatwick.

LAS-LGW 2018 sm

I drew this one in pencil. I am trying to use pencil more, for the looser scenes. My son and I played a few rounds of MarioKart on the 3DS, and we couldn’t wait to land in London, where it was hot and sweaty and the trains weren’t all running, so we squeezed onto a train to Mill Hill. This time we were travelling light, no large bulky suitcases, I didn’t even bring the backpack carry-on. I could have probably travelled even lighter. I didn’t need the second pair of shoes (my main ones were so comfy), though honestly I should have brought more underwear. That whole washing in the sink thing in Portugal really didn’t fly for me, so I ended up buying some, wait for it, Cristiano Ronaldo brand underwear. Yep old CR7 has his own line of pants and socks.

STN-MAD 2018 sm

Well England was fun, it flew by, but then it was time to go to Spain for a few days in Madrid. After getting the coach from Golders Green on Friday the 13th, we flew Ryanair from Stansted (fourth airport on the trip) to Madrid (airport number five on this trip, oh I love airports, don’t you know). There’s my son playing FIFA. We were sad about England losing the semi finals a couple of days before, but excited for the World Cup final. We were still humming tunes from Hamilton, which we had watched in London the night before (amazing show). I’m always sad leaving the UK, excited about going to other countries but there’s always that sense of loss when I go, it changes a little bit more every time I return.

MAD-OPO 2018 sm

Wow Madrid flew by, eh! Eating dinner late, getting up early, going to the Bernabeau, visiting Toledo. The family flew back to America from Madrid while I went on to Porto for the Symposium, flying with Iberian. Airport number 6. Porto airport was really nice actually, though I took ages leaving it as I decided to hang about and get a shuttle that would drop me off miles from where I needed to be, and I got lost in a neighbourhood of tiled houses and steep hills, smart move. Note to self, get a larger map next time. Or a taxi. Ah, you know, I love to wander, I am an explorer. Not much of a navigator though.

PORTO-LISBON 2018 sm

Many many sketches later, many many hills later, I took the Alfa Pendular train from Porto to Lisbon. That is the fast train. It zipped along the Atlantic coast for a bit, the fog hanging out there like a large grey Nothing. I do wish I had spent some time on the Portuguese coast now. There is so much Portugal to discover. So much World in fact. I want to go Everywhere. Well maybe not everywhere, I could give probably places like Swindon a miss (sorry Swindon, I’m sure you’re lovely) (I would probably like Swindon actually, there’s a historic Ossie Ardiles/Glenn Hoddle connection). I have my tall thin Pepsi Max can there. I was so worried about being hungry or thirsty on the two-and-a-half-hour train ride that I got a load of snacks at cafe in the station. It’s funny cos when I travel I will sometimes go from breakfast until late dinner without eating a bite (I often don’t get hungry when I’m busy sketching), but put me on a train and I’m anxious I might go crazy if I don’t eat a Mars bar.

LIS-ATL 2018 sm

Lisbon was relaxing, the hills much less stressful than Porto, and my hotel was amazing. I could have spent most of the time just chilling out there. I met some sketching friends in Lisbon on the last evening for dinner, and it was a nice way to cap off a long trip. And then, back home. Lisbon (airport number 7) to Atlanta (airport number 8) on Delta, which was a really nice flight actually, I would fly them again. Once more I got as many snacks and ate a bunch of food getting on the plane, prompting my seat neighbour to cheerfully remind me that they will be feeding us. I had never flown Delta before so sisn’t know how much that would be true – airplane food can sometimes be a bit rubbish – but it certainly was true and their food was really good, and plentiful. I had a good chat with my neighbour too, interesting man who flies a lot and works in DC. On the flight I watched Rush (that movie about James Hunt and Niki Lauda, such a fun film), and Lady Bird, the one set in Sacramento, which I really enjoyed and it made me a little yearnful for my adopted home. Well, a bit. The flight was good and transferring in Atlanta was fairly painless.

ATL-SMF 2018 sm

And so from Atlanta back to Sacramento. I was sat next to a tall man who didn’t mind me jumping over him to use the bathroom the one time I needed to. I often don’t need to get up at all during a flight, which is why I like the window seat (or the very middle of the middle row) but on this occasion I did. It was a long journey back. I watched Notting Hill, which I’ve not seen in years and still makes me laugh. I landed in Sacramento exhausted, happy to see the family again, but missing Europe and vacation time. My head is still somewhere over the Atlantic I think, though my feet are finally returning to Californian soil. Travel is great; air travel is annoying and stressful, but sketching on a plane helps me relax. Or that’s my excuse anyway.

porto pumps

Porto Hydrants sm
I should start at the beginning. I should start in england, with the few sketches I did there, and with stories about watching England win and then lose in the World Cup, with the heatwave of London proving too much for my air-conditioned Californian constitution. I should maybe even add my sketches of Madrid first, since they at least are all scanned now; one of the great things about coming back from a trip where you fill an entire sketchbook in a short amount of time is that there is so much scanning to do to digitize them when I get home. I always do that as I go along, a point that came in handy for my ten-year retrospective exhibition in 2016. I could dive straight into the Porto symposium, although I am still digesting my experiences there, and figuring out what new things I have learned (something that may take me months). So I will start with the easy stuff, the fun stuff, the thing that I am known for the most (actually the second-most – I certainly got the “oh you’re the one who holds his pen in a funny way” more than “oh you’re the one who draws the fire hydrants” this time when meeting new people.). I sketched fifteen hydrants in Portugal, nine in Porto and six in Lisbon (quickly checks my maths). Actually I just realized there was one more, but it is small and part of a larger reportage sketch so doesn’t count. For a close view, here they all are – and I have tried my best to remember where they all are, but I didn’t write it down as I often wasn’t sure where exactly I was when I sketched them, Porto is a little bit like that.
Porto Hydrant
This little red one was at Rua Chã, near the Cathedral and not far from my hotel. Now I must tell you that the little scribble in front of the hydrant, that was dog poo. No, I’m not saying there was a lot of dog poo in Porto because there wasn’t, it’s not like Charleroi in the 90s. What I’m saying is that if you have dog poo in your sketch make sure you keep it in the drawing. This is a pretty standard hydrant for Porto, though the big bulky silver ones were common as well.

Porto Hydrant
This model was very exciting, not only to me but to everyone else who was excited to see unusual fire hydrants on my behalf. I opted to draw a really rusty version, which was across the street from the Sao Bento station. Rusty hydrants are beautiful, and give off that used-universe vibe. They would look great in Mos Eisley.

Porto Hydrant
Now this little oxidized beauty was on a very steep street next to the Igreja Dos Grilos (and the Museu de Arte Sacra e Arqueologia according to the sign I read), but I didn’t go further down that mazy street as I was getting a little lost, so climbed back up. It’s similar to the first one but not painted red.

Porto Hydrant
On my second evening in Porto I got a bit lost (to say the least) trying to find my hotel, which as it turns out was at the top of a very steep hill with a few different routes to get up there, none of them particularly great. I stopped for a rest at one point when I saw this little hydrant in an alley in Ribeira, looking like it had been blindfolded and abandoned. It reminded me a bit of a young Scott Summers. There was wine bar just opposite. It took me 45 minutes to walk back to the hotel in the end (well I will stop to sketch hydrants). Perhaps I should have called a cab, but I’m an explorer after all and I need to sue my own two feet (my two very tired feet, those Porto hills are a nightmare).

Porto Hydrant
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Ooh now this was an exciting find. I was over in Vila Nova de Gaia, which is on the other side of the Douro river. Technically not really Porto any more but it totally is. I crossed the enormous Ponte Luiz II bridge via the road at the top, and after sketching the view of the river I tried to find my way down. That wasn’t easy. I’m sure there is an easier way down than the long steep quiet path that I took, but I found this hydrant painted in bright pink which I just had to sketch.

Porto Hydrant
Now this model is one that usually have a big plastic lid on it. I sketched ones like this in Lisbon, years ago. They do look a bit like overturned wine bottles. This one had no lid however, and I was drawn to it because someone had stenciled a picture of a fox onto it. I had seen this fox all over Porto, on the side of buildings and fences, sprayed onto the cobblestones on the ground, and now here on a hydrant. I did not figure out the fox’s significance (because I never actually asked anyone, surprise surprise). The Portuguese word for ‘fox’ is ‘raposa’. I don’t know what the word for ‘do some deeper research’ is though. This one was found next to the Palacio da Bolsa, on Rua Ferreira Borges.

Porto Hydrant
This is another one from Vila Nova de Gaia which I sketched on the way down the mountain, same model as the pink one you may remember from a couple of paragraphs back. I never saw this model on the other side of the river, which doesn’t mean they don’t have it, just that I never saw it.

Porto Hydrant
This bright blue version of the second one is found on Rua das Flores, in Ribeira. OR it was Rua Mouzinho da Silva. I can’t remember. Maybe it was neither. It was very blue though.

Porto Hydrant
Now THIS one was on Rua Mouzinho da Silva. That is a main street that goes from Sao Bento downhill into the Jardim do Infante Dom Henrique. Henry the Navigator, as he was known. I should have had a similar nickname, for the amount of times I got lost in Porto. This one I am calling ‘J’Existe’ because of the sticker on the top. This as you can see is one of those ones that is covered up with a nice Kinder-Egg style lid.

And there you have it, my Porto hydrant sketchers. I’ll post the Lisbon ones separately. But finally, I didn’t draw this one but it made me laugh anyway, because of the owl sticker, and because it looks a bit strange. IMG_8616

PS I originally titled this post ‘Porto Hydrants’ but changed it to ‘Porto Pumps’ to match my blog theme of ‘Porto + P-Word’. Editorial consistency!

porto!

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This is a view of Porto, the second city of Portugal, from where I have just returned after taking part in the 9th Urban Sketching Symposium. I was away for three weeks, visiting family in London, spending a few days in Madrid, sketching the hell out of Porto, before flying back to America from Lisbon. While not as epic or multi-countried as my 1998 trans-European train trip, which I should really do a blog post about, I slept in nicer places, there were no night trains and I filled a whole sketchbook. It will take me a while to scan them all, finish off unfinished sketches, organize my notes and thoughts, and I am still dealing with jet-lag and a truly enormous inbox, as well as the readjustment from being a sketch-constantly-everywhere person to a, well, ok I do sketch a lot anyway, but lots of other things too. Porto was amazing, a really sketchable city, with epic vistas and accompanying steep streets and pathways. My legs were hurting a lot. They are very strong now. Portugal left its mark on me but I am really bad at Portuguese. I did a lot of sketching, both in pen (architecture) and in pencil (people). You can check out the sketches of everyone else on all the various social media platforms by searching for #USkPorto2018, Urban Sketching Symposium, #USkSymposium, and if you want to see what I posted photos of you can check out my Instagram page (yeah I have one of those, though I still feel like I’m not getting it right) at https://www.instagram.com/pwscully/. I’m looking forward to sharing my sketches here, and my stories and thoughts too, and will do my best to make it concise and not nonsensical at all, but as Han Solo once said, “Hey, it’s me!” He also said “Don’t Get Cocky.” He also said “No match for a good blaster at your side kid,” which I will adapt by replacing the word ‘blaster’ with ‘sketchbook’. Oh, I also drew a LOT of fire hydrants…

symposium people

Simone Ridyard
And now for the final post about #Uksmnachsrte2106 (sorry, been typing it so many times I have forgotten how to type) (that looks like a joke but I corrected about half the words typed in this sentence just now so it isn’t) (my autocorrect has just given up on me and gone home). The final official day was on Saturday July 30th, we had a Closing Ceremony, and they announced that CHICAGO will host the next one! Hooray! I do hope I can go. Anyway here are a few more sketches of people that I did over the days of the Symposium, in no particular order, but starting with Simone Ridyard, above, Manchester resident and one of the main organizers of this whole awesome successful symposium. Here she is announcing day three, with some of the main stage backdrop behind her. Well done Simone and all the Symposium team! I have Simone’s book Archisketcher, by the way, it is very good.
Bridget March
Next up is Bridget March, a lovely lady I met in the first workshop, who is from Harrogate (I had a friend at school from Harrogate, sounds nice there) but lives and works in Saigon in Vietnam. We ate with some others at a great little street-food type snack bar on Oxford Road, while rain drizzled down outside.
Danni Hoedemakers
Here I did my only digital sketch of the Symposium, made on the iPad with the Paper app. this is Danni Hoedemakers, from Belgium (Hasselt), who I met talking with Corinne Raes at the Peveril of the Peak. She was telling me about these really interesting tours of Hasselt that she gives, “Happiness Tours” I think they were called, which I really liked the sound of, though I struggle to explain them. This gave me a few ideas of doing similar things but including sketching or writing. Anyway, it sounded like fun. There were quite a lot of Belgians at the Symposium, always a good thing, allez les Belges!
Mateusz
Now here we meet Mateusz Hajnsz from Poland, who I remember from the USk Manchester facebook page, nice to meet him. He actually had a copy of my book to be signed! So I sketched him as well. I sketched him later during dinner as well as part of the group at the Indian Tiffin Room.
Stephanie Bower
Speaking of signing books, this is Stephanie Bower from Seattle. I really like Stephanie’s artwork, very architectural and full of light, and she is a delight. Her book “Understanding Perspective“, the latest in the Urban Sketching Series, just came out, so she was signing copies at the Symposium (I bought my copy in the US) when I sketched her.
Quarto Staff
And here is the book-signing event several of us who have books were asked to come and sign them at. these two fine people are from Quarto books, Ben and Emma, with a selection of publications such as the Urban Sketching Series books (of which Stephanie’s is one), Gabi Campanario’s “The Art of Urban Sketching”, Katherine Tyrell’s “Sketching 365”, Simone Ridyard’s “Archisketcher”, and James Hobbs’s “Sketch Your World”. Ok then…where was Creative Sketching Workshop? When I got there they had none. They had some the day before, apparently, but none now. So I stuck around anyway and sketched Ben and Emma, and then after a while they found at the bottom of a box a few remaining copies and put them out, so I added those in! I didn’t sign any though. I never know what to write when signing books anyhow, I always think I should write “Happy Birthday”!
Vincent Daniel and Kalina
At the final Closing Ceremony party at the School of Art, I was already feeling tired, but I did spend time talking to people and sketching, saying my goodbyes and see-you-in-Chicagos, and I’m very glad to have rubbed shoulders with so many international sketchers, old and new friends. The funny thing about urban sketching symposia is that you might only say a few things to someone, see them in a few workshops, raise a drink and say “great job on all the sketching, here’s my Moo card” but then over the next couple of years you make a point of Liking their FB pages, commenting on their sketches, checking out their websites, being inspired by their prodigious output, and then next time you see them in another country you feel you know each other a lot more, and it all begins to feel like a big global sketching family. Above, on the right is Vincent Desplanche, from France, who I met briefly last year in Strasbourg and was blown away by his sketchbooks, and who I have followed with great interest over the past year, it was great to see him again in Manchester, and hopefully we’ll sketch together in the future. He is talking to Daniel Nies, from Germany, who I met for the first time in Manchester but I recognize from the Urban Sketcher group on Facebook. He told me that he is a beekeper, and was very interested in the bee symbol of Manchester (though it’s an inaccurate bee, he said!), and made a really cool lino-print of that same bee emblem. Incidentally the bee represents the worker element of Manchester, the home of the Industrial Revolution. On the right is Kalina Wilson from Portland (aka Geminica), who I’ve known since the first symposium (uskpdx2010) and feels like an old sketching buddy. Also a fellow pirate. Here she is disbelieving me when I tell her that I used to teach Cockney Rhyming Slang in classes at a university in Belgium, but this fact is absolutely true (it even came up in their exam). So glad she was able to make it to the UK this summer, and she even came to the Wren crawl the weekend before in London.
Matthew and Alec
Here are a couple of sketchers from Yorkshire (I do like a Yorkshire accent!), on the left is none other than Matthew Midgley from Huddersfield, who I have wanted to meet for years, I love his artwork. Super nice guy, who likes to draw food. On the right is Alec Turner, who I did not know, but was also friendly and a nice subject to draw.
Ed Harker
Next up was Ed Harker from Bristol/Bath, who I had spoken to earlier in the day, and whom I saw sketching me in his long accordion notebook. Well, I couldn’t resist sketching him back! You will notice that I am sketching most of these people in pencil, which is quicker and a bit more expressive – I’m doing this more, and it’s fun. Little dab of paint, lovely. Ed was a lovely bloke, and his sketches are lively and fun.
Lynne and Liz
Above, two well-known urban sketchers, Lynne Chapman and Liz Steel. Lynne from Sheffield (though originally from the south of England), a much-published children’s illustrator who also recently brought out a book about Sketching People, which I haven’t yet got but I certainly will do. It came out in March, just a little bit too late for me to read while writing my own book about sketching people – shame, as I am hugely inspired by how Lynne draws people, she does such a fantastic (and often very colourful) job. Speaking of books, Liz Steel (from Sydney, Australia) (there was a big contingent from Australia this year!) But Liz has been to every single symposium, since Portland 2010) also has a book coming out this Fall – it is the ‘other half’ of the one I wrote! “Five Minute Sketching Architecture” will be published in the US on October 1, same date as my “Five Minute Sketching People
USk dancers
Ok now these were sketchers dancing at the closing ceremony party. The pen scribble is an aborted attempt at sketching Marina Grechanik that just didn’t work. The other sketches on the page however are obviously super accurate and obviously detailed likenesses. Maybe not, but sketching dancers isn’t easy – it is fun though.Two of them I do recognize, the others I don’t know who they are. There was a lot of dancing; they even did the Conga. Pete doesn’t do the Conga.
with Vincent Desplanceh and Marc van Liefferinge
Pete does dress up as Captain America and pose heroically though. Here I am with Marc van Liefferinge from Belgium (a photographer whom I met in Strasbourg last summer, this time he was photographing the big symposium!), and Vincent Desplanche from France.
Paul Wang, Liz Steel and Pete
And finally, Liz Steel once more, and Paul Wang from Singapore. More old Urban Sketching friends! I remember nice evenings at dinner with Paul and Liz in Lisbon and Barcelona. Hopefully again in Chicago!

There were about 500 people sketching Manchester this symposium, and I’m pretty glad I was one of them. Too many however to meet them all, though I gave it a good try, but not ever overwhelming. I think that was Manchester itself, which despite being the first time I was there, had a real familiarity about it. I didn’t even mind the rain. I think it was the Chips in Gravy. A huge thanks to all the Symposium organizers for showing us Manchester, and who knows, see you in Chicago…

of these northern streets

Grosvenor Picture Palace
And now for a post showing many of the other buildings and views I sketched in Manchester during the 7th Urban Sketching Symposium. Usually sketched between workshops or activities (or while skipping activities because sketch-sketch-sketch). I would love to explore Manchester – the north of England in general – in more depth and at unbound pace, but here are some street scenes and buildings that I managed to fit in. Above, the Grosvenor Picture Palace, a building I feel sure was sketched a few hundred times that week, being right opposite the Manchester School of Art on Oxford Road.Buses whizzed by as they do, and while it was damp it managed not to rain while I sketched, stood on the corner of All-Saints Park.
Lass O Gowrie
This pub, the Lass O’Gowrie, was on the way back to my apartment and I just had to sketch it. however the time I chose to sketch was probably the wrong one – I got the time of the final big group photo wrong (6pm), thinking it was 6:30pm (doh!), and so I missed it because I was sketching this. Second time I have missed the final group photo at a Symposium! It’s becoming my Thing. Still I am not too downhearted about that, as I probably would not have had the chance to sketch this pub, and I’m happy I did, a traditional looking Mancunian ale-house, next to a small canal-way. I went for a half-coloured-in look because I only half-coloured it in before dashing back to All-Saints Park for the final group photo, like an idiot. At least I got into the American group photo (I am after 11 years in California an honorary American now after all (at least where urban sketching is concerned!), a nice group to be in.
Johnny Roadhouse Music sm
This was sketched earlier in the afternoon, right opposite All-Saints Park. It only took twenty minutes or so, Johnny Roadhouse Music, but that was because I considered doing a big panorama (decided against it!). You can see my ‘working-out’ on the sides there.
Ormond Building
After sketching Johnny Roadhouse Music I walked back over to the School, on my way to one of the presentations I’d signed up for, however I got side-tracked talking to Paul Heaston and Marc Taro, who were sketching the Ormond Building, another that was surely sketched several hundred times (and then some) over those few days. Sketchers were starting to dot around the area as part of the Final Sketchwalk (all waiting for the Final Group Photo; yeah, that was a good idea). What with chatting to fellow sketchers and working on the perspective this building took about an hour and a half, compared to the quicker music shop sketched before it. I always worry I’m not going to come back from somewhere with enough sketches to ‘justify’ the long journey out there, and I still had a few things left on my list. Still I enjoyed the experience sketching this building, and it was nice to talk to people, and learn from how they approached it.
Hotspur Press
The Hotspur Press! I had to sketch it. I drew it on the way back from Veronica Lawlor’s workshop, drawing quickly in pencil beneath a railway arch to shelter from the rain, but I had to add colour afterwards as I needed to get back to the School; I had been told I was to be signing copies of my book (though I got there, and they didn’t even have any copies of it). The rain-soaked old brick and industry, that’s the North isn’t it. Hotspur by the way would be a reference to the Percy’s; Harry Hotspur was a medieval knight and member of the Percy family, Henry Percy, son of the Earl of Northumberland. This is why Tottenham Hotspur are so named, too – they were originally Hotspur FC, and the Percy family owned land in the Tottenham area (think Northumberland Park).
British fire hydrant
For the Silent Auction many of us were asked to donate a sketch, and so because my other Thing (apart from Missing the Final Group Photo like a late idiot) is of course Fire Hydrants. Now in England they are underground, so I drew one of those, with an explanation as to how to find British hydrants. Here it is! And it sold as well!

Panorama of sketchers

Here is a group of sketchers sketching the streets around the School of Art. Speaking of which, there will be one more post before I have exhausted all #UskManchester2016 news, and it will be long and full of quick people sketches. and then, back to the present month…

dinnertime in manchester

Chop House dinner 072716 sm

Dinnertime at the Symposium is naturally a time for taking a break from sketching, putting that pen or pencil down, breaking bread and drinking wine and naaaaah, KEEP ON SKETCHING! It’s just what we do, and here we have permission, justification, obligation, compulsion. We can never really stop. Of the four evenings spent in Manchester I went out for meals with fellows sketchers on two of them (the other two, I ate at the apartment, or at the closing reception). It’s a good time to flex those people-sketching skills. I remarked more than once that I don’t often like sketching people, because I’m quite self-conscious about it in public, but at the symposia (and this one especially) I let loose and sketch away. It’s quite liberating. I had never sketched an entire table of people in one sketch before though (I don’t think I have anyway), always running out of space, and on my first night in Manchester I joined some of the French-speaking sketchers for dinner at Thomas’s Chop House. Actually it turned out to not just be the Franco-Belgian sketchers, but from all over the world, the Symposium in a nutshell. There was Spanish, German, Portuguese, French and English spoken, and it was a really nice evening. It was cold too so many of us, sat outside, were given blankets by the restaurant to keep warm. I shared a blanket with Arnaud De Meyer, a sketcher from Luxembourg who was sat next to me. The long sketch is above – click on it for a closer view. It’s actually over two double-page spreads.

Tiffin Room dinner sm

The third night in Manchester I went with a group for a late dinner at the Indian Tiffin Room, which was obviously a popular choice for the urban sketchers as the place was full of them! Our group was mostly Portuguese (Vicente, Luis, Nelson and Pedro) but also Rita from Portland, Mateusz from Poland and Silvio from Argentina, a great bunch of people. There was a lot of Spanish spoken though, I couldn’t keep up with that! (I never did learn Spanish, I must remedy that) The food was great and the company friendly, and I sketched the scene above, managing to just about fit everyone in, though I had to place Nelson into an inset window. Pedro Loureiro did do a sketch of me on one of the paper menu-placemats, but it got curry spilled on it (I didn’t mind that, seemed appropriate! I love a curry, as my cheeks will attest…)

Pete (plus curry) by Pedro Loreiro
Dinner at the Tiffin Room

Stay tuned for more #UskManchester2016 sketches…