Archive for the ‘USk Symposium 2012 - Santo Domingo’ Category

Mercado do Modelo, Santo Domingo

Monday, October 1st, 2012


The days after  the Urban Sketchers symposium ended, there were a bunch of sketchers still lurking about in Zona Colonial, and one day we decided to head up to the Mercado do Modelo to sketch. The streets around this place are interesting, to say the least, for an urban sketcher. So full of life – people, traffic, market stands, street dogs, noise and music, and walking around there makes your hand automatically grip after a pen!

While I was drawing the sketch above, a man approached me, and explained that I should add the word “Mercado” on the roof sign. He made it very clear to me that the real name of the place is MERCADO do Modelo, “don´t forget the Mercado!”. He couldn´t see the meaning of just drawing it the way it actually was. The word Mercado had fallen off, you can see the corner of it sticking out as a little greenish blob to the left of “do”.


We drew for a couple of hours, and then headed down to Zona Colonial again for a bite to eat. We had a quick photo session on those yellow steps before we left:


Symposium participants

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

participants1 participants2

Some participants of the Urban Sketchers symposium in Santo Domingo this summer. It is such a luxury to draw each other in a gang of sketchers – everybody is drawing, everybody is ok with being drawn, and everybody has full understanding if they don´t look quite like themselves in the sketches. : )

Printed background

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

segafredo_cafe sketchcrawl_parque_colon

In my workshop in Santo Domingo, I had the participants try out some methods to make the white paper less pristine before starting a drawing. We did all sorts of things, spattered paint, scraped the papers against the ground, painted the soles of our shoes and stepped on the paper. Or, as in these sketches, painted watercolours onto the pattern of a man hole cover, and pressed the sketchbook against it. In the left image (a café near Parque Colón) it worked quite well. I think the dot pattern adds a bit of interest to an otherwise quite empty background. In the right image, I got a beautiful print that said “Santo Domingo” (mirrored, of course, since it´s a print), but a lot of it disappeared because as I was drawing, I couldn´t help myself but let the sketch swell out over the whole page. The following watercolour washes dissolved the print.

Printing on a page like this is always a bit risky, it may end up well or it may become messy, but it´s a great memory to take home from a place you visit. And the participants in my workshop did incredibly interesting page layouts, involving the prints into their sketches.

Workshop sketches, Santo Domingo

Thursday, September 20th, 2012


I gave a workshop in Santo Domingo during the Urban Sketchers symposium, so I didn´t have much time for sketching myself. But I had the opportunity to participate in two other workshops, What´s Behind An Onion with Swasky and Miguel Herranz, and Capturing The Event with Thomas Thorspecken. Both were fantastic, I had so much fun during these sessions.

onion_workshop_bluecar copy

In the Onion workshop we worked a lot with layers, foreground and background, and how to emphasize one or the other by playing with line width, colour, drawing tools and ways of drawing. I tried out so many fun things here, and hearing two great sketchers talking about how they think and work things out when they draw was very enlightening.

In the Capturing the Event workshop, Thorspecken talked about how he has become a steady visitor at cultural events, where he goes drawing to capture what happens there. He also shared a few things about how he builds up his drawings, and then we headed out to try it out for ourselves.


One point that Thomas really made clear, was that he ALWAYS finishes his sketches, no matter what. I´m sorry, Thomas, I didn´t quite make it with this one. I wanted some more shading on the buildings and something to make the ground feel solid, but alas, it was time to go. This is one of the first sketches where I really struggled to get people at different distances from myself actually have their correct proportions. I really struggled to try to measure their heights, and draw some main features before they disappeared out of sight. Otherwise I am usually quite sloppy with that, I just draw, and if it ends up a bit crooked, it´s not too big of a deal. This was like laying a difficult puzzle, even though there aren´t that many people in the scene.

The great thing about the Symposium workshops is that no matter what level of drawing skills you have, you will always learn something new from the instructors. It is such a cool experience to try on someone else´s technique or ways of thinking when sketching, you always discover new ways of looking at the world around you!

Toyota, Santo Domingo

Friday, July 20th, 2012


I am back home after a fantastic experience at the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic). I haven´t yet had time to scan and sort all drawings and photos from there, but here is a sketch that I photographed in the parking lot where I had my workshop.

The workshop started with the participants making marks on papers with any kinds of tools (I have written a post on that before – how to loose your fear of the white paper), then giving them to someone else to draw on. I got mine from Richard, who cleverly put purple stains on the paper with a fruit that fell down from the tree above our heads (someone said it was almonds, I wouldn´t know).

The Toyota truck was looking all beat up and interesting, and just standing there in the parking lot, as if waiting to be drawn. I used a bamboo pen and india ink, then added watercolours. Fun fun fun. :)

Workshop booklets

Monday, July 9th, 2012


Leaving my dear M at home for a few days, I am taking off for the 3rd Urban Sketchers Symposium in Santo Domingo. I have packed the booklets for my workshop and far too many pens for my own good (and a toothbrush), and I am so looking forward to spending three intense days with sketchers from all over the world!

Messing up some paper

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012


I am preparing for the workshop at the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Santo Domingo in July. It´s going to be all about getting out of your drawing comfort zone by giving yourself some limitations when you work (limited time, tools, colours, subjects – we will try to challenge ourselves in many ways).

In one of the exercises in the workshop, to relax from the pressure of producing great results, we are going to work on messed up papers. A pristine white surface can stifle creativity a bit sometimes, and I´m trying out some nice methods to make paper less threatening. Turns out shoes are a great help in this process.





Another important ingredient in the workshop is to avoid working with your usual tools. I hope each participant will get a chance to try some tools they never tried before. This is something I´ve been working on a lot lately myself, trying to broaden my repertoire of drawing utensils beyond my fountain pens and watercolours.

The BY FAR most annoying tool I´ve tried so far is this carpenter´s pencil (which is what I used in the drawing above). This thing drives me nuts, and I love it.


One second it gives me beautiful expressive lines, the next I completely miss the spot I intended to draw on, because the nib shape is so crazy. I´m definitely bringing some of these pencils to Santo Domingo.

Top drawing: 24 x 19 cm, carpenter´s pencil on half ruined Plano drawing paper.

Preparing for Santo Domingo

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012


Another sneak peek at what I´m preparing for my workshop in Santo Domingo this summer. Working with blunt crayons on tiny papers is tricky at first if you are used to drawing with a fine point pen – but quite liberating as you get into it. There is no way you can fiddle with little details in these, it´s hard enough to make the crayon land approximately where you want it to on the paper surface.

I used coloured papers as a base for these, and chose just a few crayons for each. I didn´t want to concentrate on colour here, more on values. (I did add few accents in the top one, though, I fell in love with those brightly coloured signs.)


In the yellow/green sketch I also left out as many lines as I could. See how those two buildings in the middle are actually part of the same green surface, without a line to separate them? You still perceive them as two buildings – the shapes of the roofs help to separate them. You don´t always need a line to describe things.

15 x 11 cm, Neocolor I crayons on coloured drawing paper.

The relaxation of stained papers

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012


Just a little taste from my Urban Sketchers Symposium workshop in July. I prepared some messy stained papers to bring with me when I go out sketching. It´s very relaxing to draw on paper that is already dirty and messed up. I don´t suffer from “fear of the white paper”, but I still feel more laid back drawing on an already used paper.

I used thinned acrylics to cause some action on these surfaces. I would have loved to use my usual transparent watercolours, but I find they tend to let pigments off onto the tips of ink pens when you draw on top of the paint, and this kind of ruins the pens after a while, so I chose acrylics this time. I poured some paint on the papers, made splotches, tried out some old handcut stencils, spilled out some paint and then lay down some cardboard and other stuff on top and let dry.

24 x 16 cm, acrylic paint, Snowman drawing pen and pencil on heavy drawing paper.

Urban Sketchers Symposium 2012 – Santo Domingo

Friday, March 30th, 2012


I am going to be one of the instructors at the Urban Sketchers Symposium  in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) in July. Last year´s symposium in Lisbon was a blast. It was so wonderful to meet sketchers from all over the world, and drawing together with likeminded people in such a beautiful city for three days in a row is quite an unforgettable experience.

My workshop this year is called Challenge through limitations, and will deal with getting out of your “drawing comfort zone”. I think it´s good to challenge yourself sometimes, give yourself some time-, subject- or technique limitations, and get out of your normal routines when drawing. Hopefully, it will make you look at your surroundings in new ways, and broaden your range of styles and drawing tools. In my workshop, participants will get the chance to try some tools they may not have used before, and capture things on paper in ways they normally don´t. 

Read all about this event on the Symposium site, and check out all the other inspiring workshops too. And then sign up. : )

Meanwhile, I´m trying out all kinds of fun stuff for my workshop in sketchbooks and on random pieces of papers. Stay tuned for more. 

Approx. 19 x 12 cm, cheapo children´s coloured pens on drawing paper.

Copyright © 2018 Nina Johansson. All Rights Reserved.
No computers were harmed in the 0.152 seconds it took to produce this page.

Designed/Developed by Lloyd Armbrust & hot, fresh, coffee.