Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Presents from Porto!

I set myself the challenge throughout August to just use the materials I received in the goody bag from USk Porto symposium as I thought it would be good to try something different. 

In addition to the materials in the bag I also used the bamboo pen and stick given to me by Imna Serrano in her workshop, adding a container of Indian ink. 

My other addition was a stick of glue as I was also inspired by one of the other sketchers, Ana Luisa Frazao, who used collage as part of her urban sketching technique. Luckily for me there was a small water brush and two watercolour ‘dot’ cards included in the bag, so I didn’t have to give up painting completely!

Swatches of the materials at the beginning of the sketchbook

I really like the size of the Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook, A5 opening up to A4. It took pen and pencil line very well. The colour palette of the pens and pencils was mainly blacks, blues and reds so that was a change for me. Unfortunately, the Leuchtturm1917 is not made for watercolour so I struggled a little when trying to paint. Still, I found that the ‘White Nights’ colours had a really nice quality even on a plain paper. Imna had stressed in her workshop to try and keep the joy of using new materials and I tried to keep that in mind not worrying about the end result. Hence the sketchbook is rather a mixture of pieces. My favourites so far are the ‘Zebra’ pen, which felt a little like a small brush pen and is able to give a nice variety of line and the ‘Cretacolor’ Nero Soft black pencil.

All the drawings I made in the post about my trip to Lyon were with the new materials and here are some more pages and details, along with the media used.

The 'Zebra' pen in the Leuchtturm1917
Winsor and Newton Water Colour Markers in the Leuchtturm1917

Winsor and Newton Water Colour Markers plus 'Zebra' pen in the Leuchtturm1917

'White Night' watercolours, applied with Faber Castell brushpen plus 'Zebra pen (on receipt) in the Leuchtturm1917
'White Night' watercolours applied with Faber Castell brushpen in the Leuchtturm1917
'QoR' watercolour by Golden applied by Faber castell brushpen and 'Zebra' pen in the Leuchtturm1917
 A big thank you to all the companies who supplied the items in the goody bag!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

'Sketch Tour Portugal' website is live!

Some of the watercolours I made last year whilst being part of the 'Sketch Tour Portugal' organised by Turismo de Portugal and Urban Sketchers, are now live on a dedicated website! 

I was lucky to be chosen to be part of the team of 24, drawing and touring the country in 2017. I drew in the Lisbon area alongside Jose Louro, where we produced at least six drawings a day for a week. It was an intense but amazing experience! 

You can search by region, activity or artist to get a personal view of this beautiful country at https://sketchtourportugal.com/

Friday, August 17, 2018

Long weekend in Lyon

I recently spent a lovely but very hot weekend in Lyon. The high temperatures meant lots of time was spent trying to find places with air conditioning, leading to more drawings of cold drinks than I’d normally make!


As well as the Musée des Beaux Arts in the centre of the city, I also visited the very impressive ‘Musée des Confluences’ which had a wide range of different permanent and temporary exhibitions.

My favourite was an exhibition of work by graphic artist Hugo Pratt, concentrating on stories about his character Corto Maltese.  The exhibition rooms were dark, with theatrical lighting used to highlight images and collected African items. The shadows cast were particularly effective. A soundtrack of jungle noises and drum beats added to the atmosphere. Individual comic frames were blown up, printed on sheer fabric and stretched over frames. In one circular area, projected images were overlaid on one another, giving the impression of animation, all enhanced with a simple colour scheme. Unfortunately, my French isn’t good enough to know whether the stories are good or not, but they certainly looked dramatic on this scale.

There were lots of photo opportunities in the city, particularly in old town area.

 Note to self: Next time you travel make sure that you book an air(conditioned)bnb.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Porto patterns and typography

Last of the posts from Porto, a selection of photographs from my week's stay in the lovely city.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Workshop with Fred Lynch

Of all the artists whose workshops I’d booked at the USk Porto Symposium, Fred Lynch was the person I knew least about. I knew he made beautiful tonal drawings and wrote knowledgeably about the history behind the places he drew but apart from that, not a lot.

It turns out Fred is actually a Professor of Illustration at Rhode Island School of Design and is the font for all illustration knowledge, which he was happy to share with the group.

This is the link to his website if you would like to see his beautiful work 

He started the workshop by asking us to finish the following sentence:

'Porto is so visually interesting because...'

I wrote '...the hills both sides of the river mean that you can see the buildings stacked up on both sides'

Then we set off to draw what we had written. Mine is above.

For the second exercise he read us a quote from writer Mary McCarthy:

‘Any Portuguese town looks like a bride’s finery. Something old, something new, something borrowed something blue’.

We then set off to draw 'a bunch of ideas' inspired by the text, which we would show to the group and then decide which one to pursue with. He emphasised that an illustration didn’t necessarily have to replicate what was in the text but could compliment it and add to it.

Fred was an excellent communicator and full of energy, with a great sense of humour and I really enjoyed this last workshop of the symposium.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Workshop with Veronica Lawlor

One of the best things about the Urban Sketchers Symposium is that you get the chance to be taught by some of best drawers in the world! Veronica Lawlor from New York City is an amazing reportage artist, teacher and author and I was lucky to get a place on her workshop in Porto. This is the link to her website if you’d like to see her work - http://www.veronicalawlor.com

The workshop was entitled ‘Reportage - Memories of a city’ and Veronica started by saying that the translation of the word reportage is ‘to carry back’ and talked about how we can show Porto to our family and friends in our drawings on our return. She talked about how, early on in her career she had travelled to the Vatican, made lots of great drawings but on her return, when talking to her family about what the place was like, had realised that she had not drawn the essence of the place. And she needed to go back and draw some more!

We started by moving around making ‘thumbnails’ on our sketchbooks, to give each of us an idea about what we might be interested in drawing.

Next, we focussed on one particular topic, I was interested on the people working behind the scenes.

Lastly, we spent a longer amount of time doing a larger drawing. I think my smaller studies were more successful than the larger one as I got a little caught up in the actual setting rather than the people themselves. Veronica was a great teacher, giving lots of encouragement and positive comments to all the group. A great workshop!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Workshop with Simo Capecchi

We crossed the river by boat to the area where the ‘rabelos’, the traditional boats used to carry the barrels of port downstream, were moored. Simo talked about the commission she works on for the Italian travel magazine “Dove’. She illustrates the back page every month and has done for the last three years. She has built up a good relationship with the art director over that time. She uses her own location drawing when possible and works from reference photographs too. She emphasised the fact that the text needs to be written from a very personal viewpoint, saying that the sketch was one thing, the writing a second and together they made a third new element.

I’ve always found writing in my sketchbook so difficult and the exercise she set was always going to be challenging. She asked us to tell the story of port in a single page reportage. Many of the other people at the workshop seemed to have thought about this quite a lot beforehand and had great ideas, lots with a personal spin and I felt I should have done my homework!

Initially, we made thumbnail sketches of how the page might be laid out. As I hadn’t really thought of a personal angle, I made several and Simo pointed out one which might be good to take further. I drew a rabelo which had its sail blowing in the wind and started to think about my story. As I’m not a great drinker I hadn’t tasted the port and decided that this might be something I could use – the fact that visitors could enjoy the city even if they didn’t taste its famous wine.

Most people didn’t finish the project on site, so Simo asked us to send her the final versions when we got home. I tried a couple of layouts, which you can see below. 

Final version

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Workshop with Imna Serrano

My first workshop at the USk Porto Symposium was with the very talented Imna Serrano. Her work is full of life and energy! Check out her website if you are not familiar with her work – http://inmaserrano.es/

Imna gave all of the workshop participants a gift at the beginning of the session, containing a bamboo pen, wooden stick, a length of paper, business card and badge. She talked about the feeling you have when using new tools and encouraged us to ‘play’ with these new materials.

We warmed up by making marks with the bamboo pen and wooden stick, using Indian ink which she supplied. We then drew a large foreground object/person with a small background element, followed by the two elements drawn a similar size. She said that she often used a large foreground element, cut off by the bottom of the page, as a way of drawing the viewer into the picture. We then drew each other, front on and then from the side, but as if it were one drawing.

The first large drawing exercise was called “The Pathway’. She encouraged us to sketch with long lines, keeping the pen on the paper. Then we added details, shadows and finally repeated the same colour across the picture helping the viewer to read the pathway. She suggested with my drawing that I might have made the foreground figure much bigger to improve the composition. 

I used Photoshop when I returned home to see how it would have looked if I’d drawn it like this! 

For the second exercise, we put down large shades of colour to define elements before moving in with pen line.

It was a cloudy day so we weren’t able to complete the third exercise which was about “The Big Shape’ - putting in the shadows as big, black shapes but I tried it by myself in the afternoon. Mine is probably a little cartoony but I think it’s something I could try again.

She emphasised the importance of keeping the joy of using new materials and capturing the essence of the scene in front of you.