Downtown Singapore

August 31st, 2015

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Scroll above to see more details!

I had too little time to see everything that I wanted to see in Singapore (which is a good reason to come back some day!), but I did get a little sightseeing done after the Urban sketchers symposium ended. Among other things, I headed down to the water at Marina Bay, to enjoy the views. There is something special with skyscrapers – especially when you live in a city where there are very few. I had so much fun with Downtown Singapore and the watercolours!

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Another must-sketch was of course the Marina Bay Sands hotel. I saw this building in every sketchbook I flipped through during the symposium, so I figured I had to draw it too. Found a place to sit in the shade underneath the ArtScience museum, happily sketching, when suddenly heavy rain surprised me – the only rain that I experienced in Singapore. Had to run inside for lunch together with that day´s sketching company,  Mark Leibowitz and his friend Alan from New York.

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And the food in Singapore! One Singaporean sketcher told me that in Singapore, there are two national sports: eating and shopping. And I can totally understand the eating part! The food I had here was fantastic. There is everything in asian food to choose from in the hawker centres, and it´s cheap, fast and really good.

I also had a lot of kopi here, the local coffee where the beans are roasted with sugar and butter to give it that special flavor. It is brewed in big metal pitchers and come in a lot of varieties. It´s usually served with milk, or evaporated milk, and sugar. And as I am not a sugar-in-the-coffee person, I had to try all kinds, and learn all the words for it (there is a whole list!), to find my favorite: kopi-C Xiu Dai. Kopi with evaporated milk, no sugar. Perfect. :)

Top sketches: 42 x 15 cm, bottom 20 x 15 cm, various ink pens and watercolours on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook paper.

The ordinary

August 25th, 2015

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I love drawing the ordinary things in life, the stuff that you usually consider so everyday and banal that you don´t really notice them. In Singapore, I saw these high apartment buildings everywhere, with their ever repeating patterns of balconies. Also, these little Nissan and Toyota trucks were everywhere. So, during one of the early morning sketch sessions that I did with a few other instructors I couldn´t resist this view. And while we were sitting there, drawing, a waitor from the nearby Crossings Café brought us tea out in the street. An absolutely lovely gesture, putting a gold rim to an already good morning.

15 x 15 cm, ballpoint pen on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook  paper.

180° Purvis street

August 24th, 2015

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Scroll above to see some details of Purvis Street, Singapore!

During the Urban Sketchers symposium in Singapore, I had the chance to participate in one workshop from another instructor, and I chose Lapin´s “180° – all you can see”, where you work with a wide angle way of looking at the world.

I have tried wide angle drawing before, but in a more scientific way, almost in the area of technical drawing, which is not my preferred way of working. I just don´t have the patience to measure and make everything perfect! So I was curious to see Lapin´s take on this, since I know he works quite fast, and I don´t think I ever saw him holding up a pen to measure anything, which gave me hope that this could suit me fine if I could just wrap my brain around it.

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We started off doing some quick sketches to understand the concept of the 180° drawing. One thing I discovered already at this stage, was that modern cars are easier to draw if you are allowed to twist them a little through a wide-angle filter. ;)

After this, we drew some small details from the street, and then we went on to do the whole view of Purvis street in one spread of a sketchbook.

I was great to see everyone else´s take on Purvis street! It´s so funny in these workshops, that even if everyone is trying to follow a concept or an idea of how to work, you are still going to see as many styles and temperaments in the sketches as there are participants in the group!

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A great thing in this workshop was that we had quite a lot of time to do the final sketch. Usually, in a workshop, you are a bit short on time, and you have to see it as a learning opportunity and then keep trying out what you learned on your own, afterwards. But here, almost everyone got a complete view of the opposite side of the street at the end of the workshop. Not everyone got around to add colours (me included), but I headed back some days later to do that.

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Purvis street sketch: 42 x 15 cm, ink fineliners and watercolours in Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook.

My workshop at the USk symposium, Singapore

August 23rd, 2015

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My workshop at the 6th Urban Sketchers symposium in Singapore was called Light in the space inbetween. The workshop location was in Princep Street, at the charming Selegie Arts Centre building. I had three sessions, with 15 fabulous participants in each.

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Basically, we were dealing with two things in this workshop:

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1. how light changes on it´s way down to street level in a city. Light gets reflected by facing buildings, weakened by tall buildings, “eaten” by trees – in short, there is a lot less light at street level than at the top of the buildings, and knowing/seeing this adds a lot more atmosphere to a location sketch. (The quick example sketch above is from Renstiernas gata in Stockholm.)

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We also looked at how different kinds of shades usually take on different values. For example the shade side of a wall is darker than a sunlit wall, but the shadow that it casts onto another wall will usually be even darker, as in the example above (from Santa Maria del Mar in Barcelona).

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2. how to mix watercolours without making mud of everything, and then treating this changing light with colour in your sketches. Here I demonstrated how I work when I mix watercolours. In theory, I use this colour wheel as a guide, to add a bit of complementary colour to darken or dull down a colour. But of course in reality, pigments do not always behave the way you think they will. To get good at colour mixing you need to know your colour palette well! I also did a demo on how to do a relatively trouble-free gradient in watercolour, without too much blooming and brush strokes showing up. I use a lot of gradients in my sketches, when working with light and shade.

So, in the workshop, we started out with pencil sketches, to concentrate on seeing light and shade, without worrying about colour at this first stage. As usual, all the participants very generously shared their results with each other, and we had some good discussions about what happens with the light between the buildings. In one of the workshop sessions, the weather went from bright sunshine to overcast three times, which added some interest to these discussions. :)

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Then we went on to sketching the absolutely charming Selegie Arts Centre in colour, to practice some watercolour mixing. I am sure some of my workshop participants now have a love-hate relationship with this building, since it offers a lot of tricky light/shade challenges, as well as difficult colour mixing, especially when the weather changes. Everyone did a great job, and found pigments in their palettes to work on the shadows in the façade.

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In the last workshop sketch, the participants put all this stuff together, and drew a subject of their own choice, and worked with both light and colour mixing at the same time. I am always in awe of this stage of a workshop, when everything comes together and sketches of all shapes and styles are created! It is so much fun when everyone returns at the end, laying out their sketchbooks on the street for the end discussion. Everyone is looking, pointing, asking each other questions, and sharing their own experiences with the group. This is such a great learning opportunity, and everyone is welcome with their input/questions/tips and tricks.

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It is an absolute luxury to teach in these symposiums, because you have students that are super dedicated and interested, from all skill levels and from all walks of life. Everyone is willing to try anything you suggest – and share their results with everybody else in the group. And the cool thing is that I often see very experienced sketchers learning something from the beginners, as well as the other way around, which of course will encourage the beginners to keep up the good work.

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A big thank you to all the participants in my workshop this year! You worked so hard and were so dedicated, in spite of 31°C and blazing sun! I am still full of energy and inspiration from seeing your efforts and fabulous sketches! And a big thank you to my assigned assistant, Siew Huan Kok, who took a lot of the photos in this post.

Urban Sketchers symposium 2015 – Singapore

August 15th, 2015

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Long time no post – let´s do something about that!

In July, I had the opportunity to go to Singapore, to give a workshop at the 6th Urban Sketchers symposium. This event is an amazing experience for people who love drawing on location – three and a half(ish) days full of drawing, learning, sketching, socializing, workshoping, looking, painting, seeing, together with 3-400 likeminded, wonderfully enthusiastic people – plus eating great food. Could it be better?

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I had two days in Singapore before the symposium started, and I spent them drawing and getting used to the 31° C humid heat. Other sketchers had also arrived early, and I had no problems finding excellent drawing company. Had dinner with the New Yorkers in a hawker centre the first evening – chicken rice, almost a national dish in Singapore. A very pleasant first encounter with the food here.

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The next day, I did some essential shopping in one of the best equipped art supply stores that I have ever visited – Straits Commercial art co. Found, among other things, some pretty fabulously clever small plastic bottles that you refill your fountain pens with – always a hazzle when you travel with ink. Also, I found the – popular among sketchers – green Sailor Fude de Mannen pen, so I finally get to try this little tool. Hats off for the helpful people working in this store! :)

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For some reason, my first sketches from Singapore have a religious theme. I can´t even recount how many churches, mosques, hindu- and buddhist temples I saw the first day, and I was happy to see so many of the big world religions co-existing here, seemingly without trouble. The hindu temples make a sketcher feel like a kid in a candy store, with sculptures and striking colours everywhere. You can´t not draw these!

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The blue mosque at a street corner was so beautiful in the morning sun, when I, Suhita and Liz headed there to do an early morning sketch. I love the fact that there are always other sketchers and workshop instructors in these symposiums who are keen to head out drawing early in the morning. It´s lovely to go sketching before the heat gets pressing, and before the intense symposium program begins. You never have to go out drawing alone during these events.

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On the first day of the symposium, the hosts welcomed everybody to the National Design Centre, where I finally got to meet the Singapore USk team – some of which I have interacted with online for a long time, but never actually met before. It is always so nice to put real faces to the names! :)

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Next morning, it was time for the workshops to start. More about mine in the next post!

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

Resting workhorses

July 27th, 2015

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Still life in the woods outside Torsby, Värmland.

21 x 15 cm, UniPin fineliner and watercolour in Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook.

Elsevice

July 24th, 2015

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Sometimes when I draw, I get so caught up in the process that I don´t really think about any parallel processes – such as spelling. So, from the store sign on this little charming house in Torsby, Värmland, it is actually now a little difficult to understand what they actually do…

21 x 15 cm, UniPin fineliner and watercolour, in Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook.

T´s place

July 21st, 2015

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While in Värmland, I had the opportunity to visit T. He lives in a small cottage, without running water and electricity, but with a good spring of fresh water nearby. The little house is surrounded by meadows and forests, and offers an incredible stillness away from the buzz of people, commerce and the internet.

I was welcome to draw there for a while, and I had a lovely time, listening to the ravens crying in the woods, while drawing T´s place.

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T´s old International is collecting a bit of dust these days, but it´s done many a work day since he bought it a long time ago. “But it didn´t do any good in winter. It was impossible to start when it was cold”, T says.

Both drawings: 21 x 15 cm, UniPin fineliner and watercolour in Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook.

With the head in the clouds

July 17th, 2015

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Me and my dear M have spent a few days in Värmland in Western Sweden, hanging out with the in-laws and generally having a good time. M went to the local flying club there, and while he went flying with one of their pilots, I stayed on the ground trying to capture their gliders and TMG (touring motor glider – I´ve learned a new abbreviation!) in my sketchbook.

These planes are a totally new sketching subject to me, but they have such beautiful shapes, all streamlined and white, and they´re a joy to draw. Lesson learned, though: bring a BIG sketchbook to fit the wing span of these planes on paper…

21 x 15 cm, UniPin fineliner on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook page.

More flowers

June 24th, 2015

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I have been drawing some more flowers, can´t seem to get enough of these fantastic shapes and colours!

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Both drawings: approx. 21 x 15 cm, various ink pens and watercolours on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook pages.


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