Archive for the ‘travels’ Category

Brazil, part 3 – Paraty

Saturday, September 13th, 2014


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.


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.


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


(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. ;)


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


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. :)


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.


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. :)


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



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.


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!



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!)


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! :)


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!




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.




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


Cimitero delle Fontanelle – Naples workshop, part 3

Friday, June 20th, 2014


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.



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…


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.


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

Naples Inventory, part 2

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014


The beginning of day 2 of the Naples Inventory workshop was spent in Museo di Zoologia in Naples – a museum so hidden that I doubt I would have found it even if I was looking for it. We had a look at Franco Lancio´s exhibition of three  little zen animals, Tza, Tzi and Ki, that he found and put together. Then Federico Gemma asked all the participants to capture eight different species of animals in just under two hours, in different techniques. I´m not a fast sketcher, but I managed, even if I had to hurry with that poor ermine. And I even squeezed in a ninth, the caracal, just before leaving. :)



The afternoon was spent at Museo Archeologico, where Caroline Peyron had us working in layers again. She brought us to the “scrap statue room” (feels a little blasphemous to call it that, but it seemed to be just that – the place where they put all the statues that are broken or misplaced, or just don´t fit in the exhibition). I found these two guys standing behind one another, and was intrigued by their difference in scale, and the drama of the blue guy sort of trying to stab the innocent looking fella. ;)


Then added another layer when we entered the actual exhibition – the incredibly calm faces of two marble women.


Another try:



And then another one, just because I couldn´t get enough of the marble ladies. They looked so serene and still so empty with their blank eyes…


In the evening, we went to see a tableaux vivants and live sketching performance by Teatri 35 at Riot Studio, where three actors made the paintings of Caravaggio come alive. The performance was very beautiful and dramatic, and constantly moving – and of course, the point of us being there was to sketch the whole thing. All I can say is that it is INCREDIBLY difficult to draw fast moving versions of Caravaggio´s paintings.




All drawings drawn on 22 x 15 cm pages of a Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook, using various ink pens, pencil, fountain pens, coloured pencil and watercolours.

Workshop in Naples, part 1

Monday, June 16th, 2014


I have just returned home from Naples, where I had the honor of being invited as an instructor to Simo Capecchi´s and Caroline Peyron´s workshop Naples Inventory. I had such a great time, meeting so many incredibly nice participants and other instructors. I also experienced Naples, which is a city unlike any other I have visited – an intense, faded beauty, vibrant with life and full of surprises around every corner! Of course Simo and Caroline brought us all to the most varied, unaccessible and fantastic places in town for the workshops, most of which I would never have found as a ‘normal’ tourist.


The first workshop day started off with me and Federico Gemma doing a demo each on the terraces of Museo Nitsch. The view I had in front of me would have deserved a whole day of drawing, but having only one hour I went for a small part of it.

Next up was a stop at Bosco Capodimonte, where we all had a go at the fantastic Fontana del Bramante (or was it called Fontana Belvedere? Noone was really sure…) while enjoying a tasty veggie picnic that Slowlina brought to us. (I don´t usually put links to non-art related companies on my blog, but these guys really deserve all the attention they can get – I have never had such great picnic food and in such fabulous packaging. Kudos to you, guys!)


I haven´t seen a fountain like this before, it had kind of it´s own little eco system – much like the gaffophone of Gaston that I used to read about as a kid. ;)

In the afternoon Caroline Peyron had us drawing in layers of transparent paper, inside the restauration laboratory and the ballroom of Museo di Capodimonte. The themes for the drawings were Order and Disorder. VERY inspiring technique, I have to try some more of this layer work on my own, I almost couldn´t stop once we got started on this. There is something about the layers of different drawings that I really like.




All images: 21 x 14,5 cm, slightly more for those who stretch across the gutter of the book. Mostly ink pens and watercolours on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook pages.

Östra Stranden, Halmstad

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Another sketch from our trip to Halmstad (scroll sideways to see the whole thing). Halmstad is a true summer city with nice beaches along the coast, though the beach season hasn´t quite started het. We went to Östra stranden (”East beach”) to take a walk and I sat down to sketch for a while.


We picked some seashells (why is it you always have to do that on a beach? It´s not like you haven´t done it before, right?) but I had to add them to the drawing later – after about twentyfive minutes my hands were deep frozen, due to a harsh wind from the sea.

45 x 15 cm, pencil, grey Copic Multiliner SP and watercolours on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook spread.


Sunday, May 4th, 2014


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.

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