Sketching in Manchester, #2

September 11th, 2016


On the 26th of August, I joined a sketchwalk through the Northern quarter in Manchester, with Andrea Joseph and David Lowther. So much fun to walk through new (to me) streets and take in the views together with a bunch of other sketchers! A few of us stopped at this place, the backside of Hatter´s hostel. Such a cool building, but I did have a real struggle with that staircase…


Then on to the Smith´s Arms pub, which is/was apparently one of Manchester´s oldest pubs, about to be demolished in the name of development. Lots of apartment buildings and condos are coming up in this area, and an old pub obviously isn´t worth preserving. A pity, I always like when each period of time is allowed to leave it´s layers on a city.


In the evening, our group met up with lots of other sketchers at the Dukes 92 by the Rochdale canal. It is a special thing to see a hundred or so sketchers in a pub – all the other guests are laughing and talking. Sketchers are concentrating.

Top and middle drawing: 19 x 18,5 cm, bottom: 18 x 10 cm, fude nib fountain pen with DeAtramentis document ink, and watercolours, on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook pages.

Sketching in Manchester, #1

September 8th, 2016


When I was not teaching a workshop in Manchester, I was trying to sketch as much as I could. I just love this city! Oh the red brick buildings, and the mix of old and new in every street!


These sketches are from the 25th of July, and in the evening there was a Drink&Draw at the Peveril of the Peak, the most charming pub I ever saw. And of course, when I got there, Lapin and Suhita Shirodkar were already drawing the place. So I drew them drawing it.

Top drawing: 19 x 17 cm, bottom: 19 x 10 cm, fude nib fountain pen with De Atramentis document ink, and watercolour, on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook page.

Manchester workshop – From Macro to Micro

September 4th, 2016


Teaching a workshop during an Urban sketchers symposium is a real privilege. The will and enthusiasm of the participants in the symposiums gives such a great learning environment, and everyone´s style, techniques and skill levels are all ingredients that enrich the experience.


I had the opportunity to spend three days, with three different workshop groups, at the John Rylands Library in Manchester this year. This building is a real challenge to draw, with it´s peculiar shapes and rich details. Also, since the weather was overcast (to say the least), the façade didn´t offer much differences in light and shade, which made it even more difficult to capture is volumes on paper.


Want to have a look at the handout? It´s available at the bottom of this post.

In my workshop, called from Macro to Micro, we made a collection of sorts of this library, presenting it from it´s entirety to it´s tiniest details, on the same page or spread. We discussed how to fit everything on the page, planning a page layout, and also how to simplify the shapes of the building, to manage to draw it all in the limited time of the workshop (3,5 hours). We also looked into how to include the context around the building (people, city streets, street furniture), and taking colour notes, for those times when you don´t have the opportunity to finish your sketch completely on the spot. We also walked up close to collect some of the more intricate details of this place.


As always with urban sketchers, the participants blew me away with their generosity toward each other, where everyone shares their work in progress in the group gatherings. For me, it´s these gatherings that generate the most food for learning. Seeing how everyone meet the challenges, what problems they encounter and how they solve them, is something that everyone can pick up advice from. Even when the work isn´t finished, or maybe BECAUSE the work isn´t finished, you get a unique look into the process of sketching, and you realise everyone is doing it a bit differently – and everyone is therefore contributing to the collective learning experience.


Of course, the workshop time is usually too short for getting a lot of practice, but you get to try things out, see how others tackle the challenges, and hopefully, you take some new thoughts and tricks with you that you can try out and practice more when you´re out on your usual drawing adventures at home.

The workshop participants in this year´s symposium were of the braver kind. Manchester is a rainy city, and we had some really bad rainfalls during the workshops.


Two of my workshop sessions worked out anyway, because we found shelter under awnings, scaffolding, umbrellas and such. In one session, we had to head indoors half the time, which brought on new challenges – we weren´t allowed to use colours in there! But since we started outdoors, most people had already got colour sketches done before going monochrome indoors.


The weather is the reason why I didn´t get group photos of all the groups, or photos of everyone´s work – sorry about that! It was just too wet!

A great big hug and a loud THANK YOU to all my participants, thanks for your hard work, your contributing to the workshop, and for being so patient with the Manchester weather! :)

If you want to take a look at the handout for the workshop, you can download it in the link below. Mind you, the handout doesn´t contain everything in the workshop. It is meant as a help for participants to remember the most important points from the workshop. I know from my own experience as a workshop participant, that during the sessions, you are so hard at work, that you don´t have time to take notes or remember everything that is said and done by the instructor. I hope this little leaflet helps a bit with that.

From Macro to Micro – workshop handout
(The pdf was originally printed on both sides of an A4 sheet of paper, then folded twice in the middle. This version is web optimized, so images may not look great in print.)


August 27th, 2016


After Hastings, me and M took a train to Manchester and took a good look at the city for a few days. We loved it! Manchester is such a beautiful and interesting city, and the mix of old and new everywhere really blew us away.


When M headed home, I stayed on for the Urban sketchers symposium. On the 25th, I hooked up with old sketching friends and headed out drawing. Among other things, we stopped by at John Rylands library, which was to be both mine and Liz Steel´s workshop location for the symposium. Great to get a first look at this place. Such a crazy building (in a good way!) – beautiful, and so intricate, but much younger than you´d think from looking at it, and so unlike everything else built during the same period (around 1900).

Top drawing: 17 x 16 cm, bottom: 19,5 x 16 cm, fude nib fountain pen with De Atramentis document ink, and watercolours, in Stillman & Birn A4 alpha series sketchbook.


August 19th, 2016


Before the Urban Sketchers symposium in Manchester this summer, my dear M and I decided to take a look at Hastings on the South-Eastern coast of England. We had a great time revisiting places where M spent some time as a kid, and taking walks around the city center and the old town.


Cornwallis street was a really fun place to sit and sketch. So many nice people stopped by for a chat, and since a few of them lived in the street, I got a bit of inside information about the place, along with some history lessons about Hastings in general. Too bad the red little truck parked there before I had a chance to draw the green house behind it. The colour of that house was exactly the same as I had on the walls in my childhood room. I´ve never seen it on the façade of a building. (Actually not in any other kids´ rooms either.) The guy who owned the house came by, and told me that quakers built it back in the 1860´s.


I was a bit blown away by the Stade, the beach where the fishing boats are launching and landing directly from the beach, with the help of tractors and winches. I could have spent a week drawing only on this beach – so many interesting things there!

Top image: 19 x 8 cm, ballpoint pen. Middle: 19 x 13,5 cm, Namiki Falcon with De Atramentis black document ink, and watercolours. Bottom: 19 x 13 cm, fude nib fountain pen with De Atramentis black document ink. All in Stillman & Birn A4 alpha series sketchbook.

Workshops, traveling and such

August 14th, 2016


It´s been a long hiatus on the blog, due to traveling, vacationing and giving a workshop (and generally having a great time) at the Urban sketchers symposium in Manchester this summer. Scanning is underway, and posts will appear soon, with drawings, workshop images and new sketchbook work. Meanwhile, I hope you do follow my instagram, @nina_sketching!

Image: handouts for my USk symposium workshop. Stay tuned for more on that!

Saltsjöbanan revisited

June 26th, 2016


I went drawing at Slussen with Urban sketchers Stockholm today. Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side, the rain was pouring down at noon. But no matter how worn down and half deconstructed Slussen gets, it still provides roof over your head for sketching, so we were ok.

I was surprised to see that the tracks at Saltsjöbanan were already removed – a railroad station without rails is a very strange view. I decided to sit down on the former tracks and do a remake of sorts, of this drawing from 2014:


Then, on my way home, I couldn´t help stopping by at another place I´ve drawn before. Another take on the Northern entrance to Blå bodarna:


And an earlier version from 2013, when the place was still in use (but already far from it´s former glory):


Top drawing: 21 x 15 cm, Blå bodarna from today: 12 x 14 cm, both UniPin fineliners and watercolours in Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook.

Filming for Sketchbook Skool

June 22nd, 2016

Gabrielle, me and Peter, filming in Juniparken in Midsommarkransen. Photo: Koosje Koene

I have spent the past two days in a role I am not quite used to – in front of two film cameras and a boom mike.

I have been working with an incredibly professional and inspirational group of people, filming material for Sketchbook Skool. It has been two days of constant concentration, big time learning, and lots of fun. Now I´m looking forward to joining the fakulty of SBS, and to meeting new students and creatives online!


Koosje and yours truly, outside Tellusbion in Kransen. Photo: Koosje Koene

Koosje Koene from Sketchbook Skool has been guiding me through the experience, and she was absolutely fabulous at keeping everything on track. I have seldom worked with someone so completely focused on the task at hand, while still leaving so much room for laughter, great conversations and afterthought. Thanks a lot, Koosje, it´s been a great two days!


Would also like to thank the film crew, Peter Östlund and Gabrielle Wikhede for their expertise and complete calm in this project. It´s been fabulous to work with you guys!

Also, big thanks to the good people at Tellusbion, who kindly let us use their café for indoors scenes.


June 17th, 2016


(Click for larger view.)

A couple of weeks ago, I went drawing with Stockholm urban sketchers in Hökarängen, a 50´s suburb south of Stockholm. It´s a charming place, feels like a suburb built with humans in mind back in the day. It´s also one of the friendlier places that I´ve sat down to draw in, because so many people stopped to talk for a minute or two. Had really nice discussions: talked about art in general, discussed whether my eyes have a better wide angle lens than the local photographer´s camera (he stopped by and took a few snapshots), compared drawing to making music (met a local musician), of course, commenting the weather (which was fantastic that day) and how difficult it is (or not) to paint watercolours.


Also, I watched a woman´s bicycle while she did a bit of grocery shopping – her lock had broken the day before – and she gave me a bag of chocolate dipped walnuts for it. Brought those to the nearest café and had a feast with my drawing buddies! :)

Check out the works of the rest of the group here.

42 x 15 cm, Kizuna DecoPen (fude nib) with De Atramentis document black ink, and watercolours, on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook spread.

Concrete jungle

June 12th, 2016


This is a place I have passed by in our car and on my bicycle so many times, thinking that in spite of the grim and noisy atmosphere, there is actually a beautiful light here. And now in summer, there is even this shimmering green playing with the sunlight inbetween the concrete tree trunks. Beautiful, in a weird way. It´s like a forest, even if it´s man-made and very mathematical.


This weekend I decided to explore this place a bit with pen in hand. It´s more fun than you´d think to sit under one of the biggest highways in Sweden drawing! There are some pretty cool perspective problems to work on here. I´m not used to sitting with my head practically touching a highway, so had to think for a bit how to capture the depth of these ramps and bridges. (Plus I had to wash my hair when I got home, this is definitely one of the dirtier spots I´ve been drawing at.)


In spite of the noise from the roads, it is very still down here. It is dry, dusty and almost unreal in it´s quietude, even though cafés and shops are open just a few minutes bikeride away, and people are rushing past in their cars just one or two meters from my head. Contrasts are not only about colours and values, are they?

First and last drawing: 21 x 15 cm, middle drawing: 42 x 15 cm, fude nib fountain pen with De Atramentis document black ink, and watercolours, in Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook.

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