Back at Slussen

October 19th, 2014

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After returning home from Brazil, of course I had to check up on Slussen, one of my fav places to draw in Stockholm. I almost thought Kolingsborg – the oval building in this sketch – would be torn down by now, but it was still standing. All of Slussen is about to get demolished and rebuilt, but the process has been taking a long time, with protests and appeals against the building plans.

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After the elections in September, Stockholm (and Sweden) has a new government. The new politicians in City Hall want to review the building plans for Slussen, since they don´t think they had enough insight in the project before, so now you never know how long Kolingsborg will be standing there, overlooking Old Town. And you never know how long I will be sitting there on my folding stool sketching.

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All drawings: approx. 14 x 21 cm, various ink pens and watercolours on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook paper.

Brazil, part 7 – São Paulo

October 5th, 2014

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These are the last of my sketches from Brazil, from my very short stay in São Paulo. I wish I had had more time to explore this huge city, but I only had one evening and the following morning. Spent the time drawing together with Kumi from Japan, Andrea from the US and Cinthia, local sketcher from SP. We were sitting opposite the MASP (Museu de Arte de São Paulo), outside a park packed full of actual jungle (the parks in Stockholm are a little less… overwhelming). The museum was closed – fortunately, because otherwise we would probably have gone inside, looking at art instead of being out there drawing.

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The bus ride from Paraty to São Paulo was an incredible feast for the eyes. We passed through fantastic sea landscapes, the dense mata atlantica forest, rolling grass-filled hills and then São Paulo, which through my Stockholm-sized eyes is such a huge monster of a city that I couldn´t really grasp that I was actually there. Anyway, I tried to draw during the busride, which was an interesting experience – the road was not bad at all, but veeeery curvy! The guy sitting in front of me was suffering so badly from motion sickness, I felt so sorry for him – and so lucky that I´m not bothered by it.

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I also made an attempt at the view from my hotel window in a backstreet of Avenida Paulista. I would have loved to go on sketching the view above these old houses – they had huge skyscrapers looming above them – but got too tired and needed to go to sleep.

And, the very last sketch, from Guarulhos airport in São Paulo, waiting for my flight home. There I was, in an airconditioned aiport, cafe latte in my hand, looking out at an expensive aeroplane being pampered by technicians for hours – facing a huge favela. Makes you think.

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All drawings approx. 21 x 14,5 cm, various ink pens and watercolours on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook paper.

Brazil, part 6 – more from Paraty

October 2nd, 2014

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The historic center of Paraty during the 5th Urban sketchers symposium was all about sketchers. Wherever you turned, around every street corner, there were people sketching. I wanted to draw the Igreja de Santa Rita, because it is such a strong symbol of Paraty (do an image search on “Paraty” and you´ll see what I mean) – and of course, in front of it, there were a bunch of sketchers! Liz Steel´s gang of workshopers were working hard on capturing the very same building. In the bars in the evenings – sketchers at every second table, at least. And hardly any room for food and beverage, since sketchbooks took up most of the space.

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The boats in Paraty are a chapter of their own – so colourful! They are all painted in at least four bright colours, and walking along the harbor is a somewhat psycedelic experience.

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I didn´t manage to squeeze in a boat ride during my stay in Paraty, but I captured a few of these fantastic creations during our morning sketch sessions.

All sketches: 21 x 14,5 cm, various ink pens and watercolours on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook paper.

Brazil, part 5 – In the Mood

September 27th, 2014

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My own workshop during the Urban sketchers symposium in Paraty was called In the Mood. We worked with different ways to add more mood/atmosphere to our on-location sketches, by playing with different line qualities, colour schemes and contrasts.

Gabi Campanario had made these fantastic workshop tickets for everyone in the symposium, where several tickets from the same workshop put together made up example images from the instructors. Very clever and fun – it´s all in the details!

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We started the workshop with group discussions about our associations to colours, lines and contrasts, and what mood they convey. This is of course not a subject with any right or wrong answers, rather it´s full of openings to discuss and compare views and thoughts. (Funny thing: the colour purple caused the most discussions, it seems we have different associations to it on the two sides of the Atlantic ocean. Interesting!)

As a starting point for the discussions, each group filled in a worksheet together, trying to figure out what tools to use to best convey different moods. (On the first workshop day, the rain was pouring down for a few hours. Fortunately, we found a kind café owner who let us use a few tables to work at.)

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Then we did three sketches of Paraty “dressed” in different moods. Between each sketching session, the group met and compared sketches to see how the others met the challenge, and to seep up some ideas and inspiration from each other.

As always in Urban sketchers events, I am in awe over how open every participant is to sharing and discussing their work with others. I love it when everyone can let go of the final result and start to see the process as the important thing at hand. There is so much to learn from seeing how others work – while they are working, because workshop sketches are often not quite finished when the show-and-tell takes place – and the discussions around these sketchbook spreads are always a grand learning experience.

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As usual when I´m leading a workshop, I am not focused on photographing, so unfortunately I didn´t manage to get a photo of all my workshop groups – wish I had. But at least I managed to get a snapshot of the last – and smallest – group. A big thank you to ALL participants of my workshops in Paraty, you all make preparing a workshop SO worthwhile! :)

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Brazil, part 4 – Symposium start

September 24th, 2014

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Teaching in an Urban sketchers symposium workshop is an incredibly fun and rewarding experience, but there is one small downside to it – you get a little less time for actual sketching. To squeeze in a little more drawing action, I and a few other instructors staying in the same hotel got up early to go sketching together in the mornings. (Yes, I took time off from work to go to Brazil, and still got up at six almost every morning.) After breakfast, we headed out for about an hour of drawing before the day´s symposium activities began.

Morning sketchers, Paraty

A happy bunch of morning sketchers: Esther from Scotland, Liz from Australia, Behzad (and here) from Iran, Stephanie from the US, Suhita from the US/India, and Marc from Canada – and Marc´s wife Laurel behind the camera.

On the first day of the Urban sketchers symposium I had the opportunity to join Behzad Bagheri´s workshop The joy of the movement. He showed us ways to loosen up and start sketching and painting without thinking so much, adding paint to paper even before deciding what to actually sketch.

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One of Paraty´s street dogs got very attached to fellow sketcher Kumi, and decided to stay on as our workshop mascot. He took center stage, almost competing with Behzad about our attention. :)

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Behzad had us trying out his way of working with watercolours, which was a very liberating and inspiring experience. (Same church as in the top sketch, but from another angle.)

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All sketches: approx. 21 x 14 cm, various pens and pencils and watercolours on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook paper and Moleskine watercolour paper.

Brazil, part 3 – Paraty

September 13th, 2014

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After spending a few days in Rio de Janeiro, I and five other sketchers hopped on the bus to Paraty, a beautiful little coastal town about 300 km southwest of Rio. The old colonial center of Paraty dates back to around 1700, when gold from Minas Gerais was shipped from here to Rio de Janeiro and Portugal. When the gold found other ways later in the 18th century, the importance of Paraty declined, people moved out, and the place stayed pretty much the same until it was rediscovered as a tourist destination not too long ago.

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Arriving here after Rio was fantastic, partly because the tempo is so different – the calm quietude here makes you let your shoulders down and just breathe – and because I bumped into urban sketchers around every corner. It is quite lovely to travel to literally the other side of the earth, and meet people you know in the streets.

Paraty, high tide

One of the more peculiar things in Paraty is the high tide, when some of the streets are flooded with tidal water from the sea two hours a day. This is no mishap, Paraty was constructed like this, because in the 17th century everyone used the streets as a sewer, and this was a clever way to clean them. Now it seems a bit nuts, but I kind of like it. I especially like how the people living in Paraty deals with this. If you need to go to a place in the flooded part of town, you either wait for an hour or so to go there, or you just take off your shoes and wade! :)

Pousada do Sandi, Paraty, Brazil

I stayed in the same hotel as many other instructors from the symposium, and when I got there, the street outside was already full of people drawing the place. Makes you feel at home. My first whole day here was pretty much spent sketching, talking and eating together with old and new acquaintances from the urban sketchers community.

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All images: approx. 21 x 14,5 cm, various ink pens and ball point pens and watercolours on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook paper.

Brazil, part 2 – Rio de Janeiro

September 12th, 2014

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(Click the images for larger view.)

During the few days I spent in Rio de Janeiro, I had the opportunity to see so many incredibly beautiful views together with my fellow sketchers. Many cities have some places where you can get up high and see a panorama view of the city, but Rio really makes the rest of them look a bit… ordinary. The mountains right in the middle of the city makes nature take center part of the view, in spite of the size of this place. And because the mountains keep appearing behind one another, as far as the eye can see, the impression you get is so atmospheric. It is quite a breathtaking experience to see a sunset from Pãu de Açúcar, Sugarloaf mountain. And it is a bit stressful (but fun!) to try to draw it while the light disappears! The sunsets in Rio are much shorter than they are in Sweden this time of the year, I was quite taken by surprise several times when drawing near sunset – the light just disappears in a quarter of  an hour!

Jardim Botânico, Rio de Janeiro

On one of the days in Rio, local sketcher Thais lead the way to Jardim Botânico. I really enjoyed drawing all the fantastic organic shapes, wish I could have spent more time there, though, there was so much to discover! And, as a bonus, I got to see the first wild monkey I´ve ever seen. Cutest little thing. And no, it didn´t really lend itself to sketching, it was moving too fast. ;)

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The morning after visiting Pâu de Açúcar, we headed up to Corcovado, where the famous statue of Christ stands – and where the next fantastic view was waiting to be drawn. This view is sort of the opposite of the one from Sugarloaf, so visiting both gives you a pretty good idea of the layout of Rio. Also, it´s funny that from one of these mountains, you can draw the other, and vice versa. :)

Th train ride to get to the top of Corcovado was actually a nice part of the whole experience, moving through very dense forest which now and then opened up to completely breathtaking views.

Corcovado view, Rio de Janeiro

Cristo Redentor, Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro

I was happy to spend at least a few hours in Centro in Rio, a part of town which is more about business than about smashing views. We grabbed something to eat in the classic Confeitaria Colombo, and of course everyone was drawing during the whole meal. I also managed to squeeze in more of a street sketch before heading back to the hotel for the evening. Needed to get some sleep before the bus trip to Paraty and the 5th Urban sketchers symposium.

Confeitaria Colombo, Rio de Janeiro

Centro, Rio de Janeiro

All drawings: 21 x 14,5 cm, or 42 x 14,5 cm, various ink pens and watercolour on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook paper.

Brazil, part 1 – Rio de Janeiro

September 8th, 2014

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It feels a bit unreal to say, now that I am back home, but the lack of posts here lately is due to the fact that I have been drawing in Brazil for ten days. I had the great fortune of being one of the instructors at the 5th Urban sketchers symposium in Paraty, Brazil, which was a fantastic experience. These events keep getting better every year, and this time was no exception.

On my way there, I stayed in Rio de Janeiro for a few days (too few!) and got the opportunity to meet up with both local and foreign sketchers to see and draw some fantastic places in this city.

Jardim Botânico, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

On my arrival in Rio, I met with local sketcher Nathalia. She had the perfect remedy for an exhausted traveler – we had a nice lunch and then went to the art school at Parque Lage near Jardim Botânico and sketched in the park. It was warm, calm and fabulously beautiful. As a little bonus, the Cristo Redentor was looming up above in the background. Thanks Nathalia for keeping me company that day, and showing me around for a bit. You really made my day!

The next few days, more sketchers arrived in Rio, and I met with – among others – Orling, Karina, Miriam, Flavia, Christina, Joel, Thais, Gabi and Kumi. The company of these guys made Rio an even more awesome experience. :)

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Apart from Rio de Janeiro being a very beautiful city, full of great views, things to see, sketch and do, I found a tremendous amount of little things to be incredibly interesting. You know, the stuff that is almost the same as at home, but not quite. I think I could have spent days just sketching stuff like this; street furniture, groceries, little old houses, traffic, plants… But I only had four days, so I had to move on to the grand views. More scans coming up soon!

Dino bar in Rua São Clemente, Rio de Janeiro

All drawings: approx. 21 x 14,5 cm, various ink pens and watercolours on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook paper.

Drawing with Inma

August 22nd, 2014

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It is always fun when other sketchers visit Stockholm. A little while back, Inma Serrano from Sevilla was here, and we almost missed each other because I was out of town, but in the end we managed to squeeze in three hours and a lunch before she and her company had to leave for the airport. We sketched a bit at Djurgården, and JUST when I had finished the boat, a whole bus load of Russian tourists came and sat down in front of us with their pic-nic – hence the sketchy background…

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After Djurgården, a quick stop at Berzelii park, to draw some people.

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Inma is one of my drawing heroes – totally fearless sketching! – so it was awesome to at least get a little moment with her in Stockholm.

Both drawings: 21 x 14,5 cm, ink and watercolour on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook pages.

Fishing huts

August 18th, 2014

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At the Southern end of Norrbyskär, there is a group of fishing huts, dating from the sawmill era. They are huddled up so tightly together, that walking around among them, you feel like you are walking into someone´s private home. But it is a nice spot to draw, so different from the rest of the island, where the workers´ homes stand in straight lines, at exact intervals.

Wish I had had time to do some more sketches here, but I drew this on my last day on the island for this summer, so I guess that will have to wait until next year…

21 x 14,5 cm, UniPin fineliner and watercolours on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook page.


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