Archive for the ‘travels’ Category

Brazil, part 7 – São Paulo

Sunday, 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

Thursday, 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

Saturday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Saturday, 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

Friday, 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

Monday, 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.

Cars and coolness

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

Saab 92 de luxe

Sometimes drawing is great in so many ways. Sweden has had a heat wave lately, it´s been 32°C every day for quite some time now, both in Stockholm and elsewhere. Anywhere you go, you sweat. Sitting in the shade doesn´t help much.

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Visiting my in-laws, I found out there is a vehicle museum nearby. I thought I might as well do something useful in spite of the heat, so I went over there to draw some cars. Turns out the museum had a lovely temperature of 18°C inside! Sweet relief! So, apart from having a great time drawing some beautiful cars, I was cool and comfortable the whole afternoon. :)

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Thanks to the nice people at Torsby fordonsmuseum, for letting me hang around drawing!

Top two drawings: 21 x 14 cm, UniPin fineliner and watercolours in Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook. Bottom drawing: Duke calligraphy nib fountain pen with Platinum carbon ink, and Pentel Pocket brush, and watercolours, on Fabriano Artistico cool press 200 g watercolour paper in handbound Russell Parry sketchbook.

Last days of Naples workshop, part 4

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

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I am back from a bit of a posting hiatus – or vacation in a slow internet environment, honestly. Trying to catch up with scanning and posting now. These are the last sketches from the Urban Sketchers Naples Inventory workshop days. After the fantastically strange Cimitero delle Fontanelle (see previous post) we took on the challenge of the busy market street Via Pignasecca, where I held my workshop session. The challenge was to sketch in the street among lots of people, and to try three different ways of collecting what you see around you in such a complex place – we tried the chaotic way, the grid style and the focused collection. I only made two line drawings myself, and added colours later, because I was mostly walking around to see how everyone was doing. But I would have loved to sketch more in this busy environment, there was such an abundance of visual information here, messy, colourful and always moving, and although it was difficult to capture it, it was totally worth the effort.

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In the second part of the workshop, we were all drawing from the platform of the Montesanto funicular and train station, which meant we had a slight bird´s view over the street. I didn´t manage much, but the participants made some fantastic work here!

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After a feedback session on the very hot station roof, where the kind station manager brought us several bottles of ice cold water, we headed on to see the workshop exhibition in the Ramaglia art supply shop, where both instructors and participants exhibited sketch work during these four days. (Photo below by participant Massimo Messina – thanks a lot for helping me out with the camera!)

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Then, on the last day of the workshop, we headed into Quartieri Spagnoli, where street artists Cyop & Kaf have left a trail of fantastic paintings on doors and walls, and Simo Capecchi had us all trying to unfold the lost story of their imagery. Drawing in these blocks of Napoli was a really special experience, where some passers-by were at first a little apprehensive of us capturing the work of their fav artists, and then, after understanding what we were up to, showing us where we could find more! :)

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I was so thrilled by how these guys have developed their very own world of imagery and stories, and managed to make it something that the local inhabitants seem proud of having on their walls. Very inspiring indeed!

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After lunch, we found ourselves at the very last point on the workshop schedule – the collective sketchcrawl afternoon around Palazzo Reale. I tried my hand at the smashing view of the harbor and Mount Vesuvius from the terrace behind the palace. I was so tired here – happy tired! – for four days of constant seeing and drawing takes it´s toll on both instructors and participants, even if it´s in a positive way. I kind of felt like I squeezed out the last few drops of paint and energy in this view, and I didn´t quite finish it, but I´m happy with it anyway. It was the end of an incredibly inspiring four day experience, where I had the luxury of being both instructor and participant in workshops all evolving around the fantastic place that is Naples.

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After this, a long sleep, and then the return flights to Stockholm. And of course some airport sketches to go with it. :)

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Cimitero delle Fontanelle – Naples workshop, part 3

Friday, June 20th, 2014

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Cimitero delle Fontanelle is one of the most peculiar places I´ve been to. One of Simo Capecchi´s workshop sessions during the Urban Sketchers Naples Inventory workshop took place here, in this old tuff quarry-turned-graveyard. Skulls and bones are piled neatly along the walls in the many rooms of this place, and even though there is lighting and candles in some places, the overall impression is darkness and stillness.

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These caves have been used as a graveyard during the plague in the 17th century and the cholera epidemic in the 19th century. Over time, a cult emerged, where local people started “adopting” skulls, giving them names, building little houses for them, and laying down little gifts on or around them. Eventually, the church banned this cult, and the little houses look age-old, but some of the gifts look curiously new…

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Surprisingly enough, I didn´t find it especially scary or eerie to walk around here, but it is a bit mind-boggling to think that all of these skulls were actually once real, living people. It would be interesting to hear their stories.

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All drawings: drawn on 21 x 15 cm Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook pages.


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