My workshop at the USk symposium, Singapore

August 23rd, 2015


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.


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


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.)


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).


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. :)



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.


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.


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.


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


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?


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.


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! :)


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!


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.


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! :)


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


Still life in the woods outside Torsby, Värmland.

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


July 24th, 2015


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


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.


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


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


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


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


June 7th, 2015


Finally things are cooking in my sketchbook again! I have been swamped at work for a whole long while, but now the grades are done, the students are finishing up for the summer, and I´m finding more time to go out sketching again.

Today I met up with a few of the Stockholm sketchers for a tour around Skeppsholmen, a small island in the middle of the city. This is where you´ll find those charming old boats, the Modern Museum, a few quirky vehicles and other interesting things.


We were also blessed with some annoying gusts of rain during the day, which is not ideal when working with watercolours and ink. But hey, at least I´m out there sketching!

Both images approx. 21 x 14 cm, Copic Multiliner SP and watercolour on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook pages.


May 4th, 2015


At the end of April, I went sketching with some friends in Bergianska trädgården (Bergius Botanic garden) in Stockholm. It´s still spring, in that nothing is lush and green, but so many flowers had begun peeking out, and it was great fun to draw them!


Funny story during the day: I met a little guy, about three years old, on a tricycle. He stopped right beside me where I was standing, drawing some cherry blossoms, and said:
“Excuse me, what´s that?”, and pointed at my tiny folding stool beside my bag.
“It´s a tiny stool that I sometimes sit on when I´m drawing”, I said. The kid was quiet for a moment and really scrutinized me, as if he thought I was lying.
“But your butt is so big?!”
Hehe. True.
“That´s right, but that little stool actually works very well anyway. In spite of my butt.”
The kid scrutinized me again.
“Show me!”.
So I did. I sat down on the stool, and ended up at about his eye level. Then he watched me sitting for about five seconds, said “Hm.”, and pedaled away. :)

21 x 15 cm, Duke calligraphy fountain pen with Platinum carbon ink, and watercolours, on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook page.

More daily drawings

April 13th, 2015

(If you can´t see the video above, here is a link to it. And please excuse the square video, but it is so instagrammable.)

I am still at it with my daily drawings from imagination, and I have to say this is a really interesting and fun thing to do, in many ways. The technique is not complicated – pencil and ink – so that´s really not much to write home about. But the ideas, characters and stories that are beginning to evolve are interesting to follow. Because that is what I feel I´m doing, I´m curiously following and wondering what will happen next.


Some characters have developed over these first three and a half months, and some of them keep coming back, showing up in new situations, meddling in the “lives” of other characters. Some drawings that started as single drawings, develop into little stories of two or more images, which is kind of surprising to me. I didn´t mean to make up stories, they have kind of made themselves up as I draw.


Coming up with ideas for these drawings is a strange process indeed. Some days I really don´t know what to draw until I sit down, pens and paper in front of me, close my eyes and think hard for a while. Other days, the ideas just pop into my head without any effort, all finished with details and all. Poof! Just like that. These are usually better visual ideas than in the first scenario, and they are usually easier to draw, for some reason.


And then, sometimes, I´ve noticed that I tend to collect little things here and there during the day (I usually draw these in the evening) and weave it all together, via some weird association path, into an image. Which usually, in the end, has nothing to do with the impressions I collected during the day.


Drawing-wise, I´m getting a good challenge in trying to draw the things I see before my “inner eye”. People, animals, buildings, environments, and all these strange perspectives are really giving me a good workout.


I will keep at it, my aim is to fill the whole calendar during 2015. I hope you will follow along! I´m posting all the images on, and some of them end up on my instagram too, sometimes along with a short timelapse video,

All drawings: approx. 8 x 13 cm, ink fineliners in Moleskine calendar.

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