I do drive too, but this is my fav distribution of work when traveling – my dear M driving while I tend to the drawing. Somebody´s gotta do it, right? ;)

We took a mini vacation in Halmstad on the west coast this weekend. The weather was cold-ish but sunny there, while incredibly bad in Stockholm, so it seems we picked the right weekend to go.


I spent about an hour sketching Stora Torg (Big Square) in Halmstad the next day. The city center of Halmstad is really pretty, with lots of old buildings (that church over there is the oldest, from the 1400s). I would have loved to do more sketches, but we had a lot of relaxing to do too, so…

Quite a few people stopped for a chat while I was drawing, and one lady suddenly stood right in front of me and spread her arms out in a dramatic pose, asking “”Will I look ok like this?”. Gotta love the Halmstad dwellers and their sense of humour. : )

Top drawing:22 x 14,5, UniPin fineliner, PITT artist brush pen, grey Copic Multiliner SP brush tip and watercolours, bottom drawing: UniPin fineliner, grey Copic Multiliner SP fineliner and watercolours, both on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook pages.

12 Responses to “Halmstad”

  1. I gotta say I absolutely love the vehicle illustration great way to focus in. Nd the arrow makes me smile. Great work, I can’t wait to meet up with you again Nina so we can go sketching again :)

  2. I love the tiny self-portrait! How do you get your lines to not be squiggly in the car??

    - Tina

    • Thanks Tina, glad you noticed that I´m in the picture too. ;)
      Actually, I didn´t have a very hard time sketching in the car. We were mostly driving on nice roads, plus M is a smooth driver. ;) There are some extra curves to the lines here and there, but it probably looks better because I filled in the black after the first thin lines, so that gave me a chance to correct some little jumps. I did most of that too in the car, but it worked.

  3. Lovet that arrow too! And I think I have to go and try that two tone outer lines sometime, since I really like the effect.

    And a quick question too: I’ve been thinking about getting one of those Stillman & Birn books a try. It seems that the paper of the Alpha-series takes watercolours well, right, but how much water can it actually take? Does well does wet-on-wet work? And a practical follow-up: where do you buy yours?

    • Thanks Kaisa!
      About the Stillman & Birns: the Alpha series takes water quite well, but the paper is not super heavy, so it buckles a bit if you use heaps of water. I haven´t considered it a problem so far, for the amount that I use. And I always find the book itself flattens the papers a bit when you keep using the book. I know many sketchers like the Beta series too for watercolour, but I haven´t tried that yet, so I can´t tell. Maybe check with Liz Steel or Marc Holmes, I think I have seen them mention the Betas.
      I actually got my first Stillman and Birn sketchbooks from S&B themselves, to try out and give them some feedback. Which got me hooked, because I really like them, so the one I´m using now I bought in Barcelona the last time I was there. I wanted a slightly bigger landscape format, so I bought several so I don´t run out too soon. ;)
      Unless you have them in Finland, I would look for them when traveling or simply order online. You should be able to find them on some European site, so you can avoid some of the shipping fees from the US.

      • Thank you, Nina! I think I just have to give it a go myself and perhaps try the zeta series. Or get them both. After all, it’s not like it would be left blank… It’s really hard to find good sketchbooks in Finland for some weird reason. Most are flimsy and are often made of thin, glossy paper making them more suitable for notes than journaling. Go figure. Or maybe I’m just really picky :D I’m going to Edinburgh in September and I have planned to hunt for sketchbooks! :)

  4. Isa says:

    alors là bravo !
    Je sais que tu as du talent (et ton conducteur certainement aussi), mais les routes en Suède doivent être très belles pour que tu puisses dessiner ainsi en roulant :)
    J’aime beaucoup ces deux dessins.

  5. Russell Parry says:

    Great sketch from the car; just how do you manage to do that? I also love the way you get what would be a ‘fisheye’ view with a camera. Again, how do you do that? My field always seems to stuck on what would be 50-125mm on a 35mm camera, if that makes sense. I do not find Focussing in too hard, but widening is sooo hard for me. Any hints?

    • Thanks Russell! Yes, I´ve got some hints:
      I got the inspiration once in a mindboggling workshop with Gérard Michel: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gerard_michel/sets/72157608539473139/ – but I don´t always have his patience with constructing a decent perspective. Then, one day I made this drawing, through the “peep hole” in our apartment door: http://www.ninajohansson.se/2011/12/december-29/, which gave me the idea to buy a door viewer to practice. It´s been an excellent tool to get the feel for how to “bend” the perspective to fish-eye. You really just need a quick look through it before you start drawing – looking through it the whole time would drive me mad…

      So now, if I do this, I usually do it freehand, like here: http://www.ninajohansson.se/2014/03/long-flight-home/. Not perfect, but it works to me. The main principle then, if I try to say it in words, is that what you have exactly right in front of you has to be the highest/tallest part. To the left from there, draw as if you turned your face that direction and draw the perspective there with receding lines towards the vanishing point, bending the vertical lines a bit outwards (like a circle), then do the same in the opposite direction. So, if you were standing very close to a large flat wall, face towards the wall, you would draw it almost in the shape of an almond. Does this make any sense in words?!
      In the case of this car drawing, I had to do a quick check through the viewer (which I sometimes carry with me when traveling), because I couldn´t bend my mind around how to do the right window. It´s probably not a correct “spherical” perspective on the right side, but it kind of makes sense anyway.

      • Diane says:

        Thanks for that explanation. I recently did a scribbley sketch from the passenger seat but I like your idea so much better.

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