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  • Wednesday, July 13, 2011 - 03:26
    Kim Marohn

    Hi from Paris France! My name is Kim Marohn, and I am really excited to be heading off to Lisbon next week for the symposium… at long last!!!

    Time flies, and it’s hard to believe that I’ve already got to pack. Seems like yesterday that Juliette and I were hatching our plans for going. When I look back at it now, it makes me laugh, how we were on the phone together, both in front of our computers the MOMENT registration opened saying, “It’s not working!” and I was saying, “Refresh the screen, refresh the screen! There’s the button – click! click!”. You would think we were two kids trying to get tickets to the Rolling Stones :)

    Afterwards, we spent several days bemoaning the fact that we couldn’t take ALL the workshops – you guys have such a great line up. Difficult decisions had to be made! It is reassuring to read Gabi’s post, and to know that we will get to meet everyone. And that instructors will turn up for other workshops as well. We still can’t believe that we will be meeting so many great artists in person.

    I am still very new to drawing, having just started taking “proper” lessons in September 2009. Before that, I dabbled here and there, studying sumi-e for a year in Tokyo after high school, an evening class in life drawing at the New School when I was working in New York. For some reason I had this silly idea that I couldn’t draw – and I guess I’ll confess, I was actually a bit afraid.

    Then, two years ago, I came across a notion that pretty much changed my life: the only way to be absolutely, positively sure that I will never be able to draw is by just NOT DRAWING. Simple, and so true! So I found a nearby atelier, signed up for a few courses, and two years later, here I am. Still hard to believe.

    I still enjoy getting lost in a drawing, spending hours working it all out. I am just starting to get the hang of “letting go”. And I am quite happy scribbling away in black and white – I’m not quite there with the “color thing” yet. I am so glad that the symposium is open to all levels, and am really looking forward to learning a lot, and hopefully making some great sketches of Lisbon! Just reading this blog, and the Meet the Instructors posts, is an education in itself.

    Here are just two of my latest scribbles. More on Flickr at


    Finally, a quick word about our group in Paris: I first heard about SketchCrawl in May last year, and it was such a great experience being out and drawing with other people of different backgrounds and drawing levels. One thing led to the next, and I started our Google group in August, which led to a blog by the end of the year. In February we voted to take the plunge: I wrote to Urban Sketchers, and we were accepted as a regional blog!

    This has really been a big year for our group here in Paris. We are so happy to be meeting other sketchers from around the world, and being part of this community.
    You can visit our group blog at

    And looking forward to next week!!!

  • Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - 09:19



    Old stairs near Chiado.



    A sketch of the entrance to the ruins of Carmo.


  • Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - 05:33
    Claudio Patane

    panorama_miradouro Igreja Nossa Senhora do Monte!!

    olha video:









  • Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - 02:20

    Tia Boon Sim is an art and design educator at Temasek Polytechnic’s School of Design in Singapore. A founder of the Singapore Urban Sketchers group, Tia will do the presentation titled From Sketching Together, to a Group Exhibition.

    When did you start drawing on location?

    I started sketching when I traveled to Italy in 2001. However, I started combing local Club Street and filling up a A4 size sketchbook on most of my Saturday mornings between April 2007 to November 2009. During that period, I had one and a half hour to spend waiting for my son’s art lessons to end so most of the sketches were done between 20 to 60 minutes as I wandered around Club Street.

    Tell us about a memorable sketching experience for you.

    Singapore is hot and humid throughout the year and there is no four seasons. So when I was in New York in 2001 for a two-year study leave, I was told the best time to visit Central Park was one day after a snowfall. I did just that with the first snowfall that I encountered and the park was so beautiful just like in the postcard.  The temperature was unbearably cold and I was worrying about whether my ears would drop off as I could not feel anything. My fingers were also numb when I finished the sketch but I was happy at the end with a satisfying sketch.

    What’s your advice for beginner sketchers?

    Be observant and let loose. As a start, try to have an imaginary grid in your mind and fix the main object in the middle of the page. It is useful to have the basic understanding of two-point perspective as an urban sketcher. Next is to pull all the vertical, horizontal and oblique lines together very quickly to form a composition on the paper. If all these fail, just relax and do as you like and concentrate on having thick and thin lines. 

    How often do you go urban sketching?

    Today, I continue to comb the local streets with a group of sketchers. We sketch, walk,  rest, eat and drink - a great way to foster friendship while actively promoting location drawing in Singapore. We call it "sketchwalk" which is arranged on the last Saturday of each month. I also sketch during lunch time, tea breaks or sometime during meetings. sketching has been part of me. 

    Tell us more about your lecture and how your exhibits of sketches came about.

    Last year, four sketchers from Singapore took part in an exhibition entitled “Outside-in: Sketches of Tiong Bahru” on 30 Jun 2010. This year on the same date on 30 Jun 2011, the same four sketchers were invited back by the gallery to stage another exhibition on Tiong Bahru, the same location. I will be delivering a lecture to showcase the preparation work from sketching on site to staging the exhibition with emphasis on how we engage the community, new and old residents in the process from planning, activities, preview, opening night and closing day. I will use visuals and video to share with the audience the cultural heritage of Tiong Bahru and how the artists capture the sense of place in our sketches. 

    What subjects do you like to draw?

    My favourite sketching subjects are buildings, streetscapes, activities and people. I particularly like to sketch the iconic buildings that offer special features and I like to pick up the strong shadows. I am always intrigued by the shape of shadows and how quickly they move and change on the building facade. Sketching on location offers that opportunity for me to observe and capture the shadows or it will disappear when the sun decides to hide behind the clouds.

    What are your primary drawing tools?

    I used to sketch in black and white with Lamy Safari fountain pen with Lamy ink cartridge which was not waterproof. I now sketch with Hero M86 fountain pen with waterproof Noodler's ink in black and sometimes in Peranakan brown. I like to use Hero fountain pen because I can control the upturned nib to vary my thick and thin lines on the papers. I also use Daler-Rowney Aquafine watercolour pocket set with only one Holbein waterbrush to complete the colouring. The papers I use are long format 200 x 400mm Daler-Rowney Aquafine 300g/sqm cold pressed watercolour papers. When I am in a hurry, I like to sketch on 90x140mm Moleskine Pocket Sketchbook with my Hero pen.

    Besides sketching, what other hobbies do you have? 

    Two year ago, I reconnected with my old classmates of 30 years and we formed a Chinese orchestra just like the old days. I played the Chinese instrument called the Pipa in the group but I was not very good at solo pieces. I am also one of the active members of Thow Kwang Clay Artists Studio and we carry out wood firing sessions at the Dragon Kiln from time to time at the Pottery Jungle in Singapore. Recently the jungle area had been cleared and made way for a big Clean Tech Park and we were quite upset about the lack of clear communication at the ground level on the future of the dragon kiln. I am actively involved with wood firing and pottery work to do my part to preserve the Dragon Kiln. 

    Follow Tia's work on her blog and flickr.

    Q&A, Tia Boon Sim
  • Monday, July 11, 2011 - 10:45
    joao jesus

    Hi, my name is João Jesus and i am a junior architect from Coimbra, Portugal.
    I've always been passionate about drawing since i can remember.
    Now i'm pursuing a more serious attitude towards it so... I'm hoping to learn a lot from everyone and have fun as well.

    These are some of my "experiments"...PS. You can check my blog at

  • Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - 01:58

    Lisbon native Guida Casella is a scientific illustrator, working mainly with archaeologists. She draw as a surveyor in excavations. Later, she works on the drawings (excavation plans and sections) on the computer, doing vector-based combined plans and sections for publication. She also does illustrations of artifacts with traditional pen and ink stippling. “The best part of my job is to explain to the archaeological results to the audience, when I am asked to make historical reconstruction paintings or infographics for museum display,” said Guida, 37.

    Guida will teach the workshop Lisbon’s Ruins at the Carmo Archeological Museum along with Spanish artist and educator Clara Marta.

    Here's our Q&A with Guida:

    When did you start sketching on location?

    I have drawing records from when I was 10, 12 year old. But actually keeping a sketchbook and drawing on location, I remember I was in Venice when I was 17, 18 and started drawing what I saw in order to have the effect of urban sketching: to have a personal memory of a city, to be carried away by being immersed in a culturally different environment, to keep a record of those beautiful impressions to my eyes...

    Tell us of a memorable sketching experience.

    One of my memorable sketching experience was to draw in Museu Arqueologico do Carmo — the place where I will be teaching the workshop in the Symposium. I made the survey of a medieval King's tomb (watch the video). And in order to do this survey I had to sketch from life some parts of the tomb. It was a very emotional task and I learned a lot about what I was drawing. I kept on discovering new shapes and figures.

    What's your advice for someone who is just starting out as an urban sketcher?

    Well, besides just get loose in a city with a sketchbook and practice... Have a peek at urbansketchers blog and follow the immense info online! Attend an USK Symposyum as soon as possible... and get inspired by Eduardo Salavisa's books!

    Do you have a specific time of day or week when you practice drawing on location?

    Usually, I would say I draw weekly on my sketchbook. But these days I have been drawing more frequently when I travel south to Mértola - a very picturesque place where I teach archaeological illustration, which is once a month. I think that being in a 'traveller mood' triggers the need to sketch!  

    Tell us a bit more about your workshop at the archeological museum.

    I will talk about drawing techniques I use in archaeological illustration and how you can transfer skills to sketchbooking. I believe these few tips on using measuring techniques and light and shadow modeling, can give a new vision on how you can teach your brain to work when drawing from life. I will talk about an experience I had when drawing medieval scultpure in Museu Arqueologico do Carmo, and I will try to share my enthusiasm towards heritage sites  and museums. I will make efforts to pass on the sense I have that in museums you find great subject matters, that they can be a great source of inspiration.

    What subjects do you like to sketch the most?

    I like to sketch interesting shapes and forms. Anything that captures my attention. Usually I draw in Museums or in Heritage Sites. I might as well want to capture some colours and atmospheres in a cityscape. I draw a lot in museums. In a way it's like taking notes, but visual notes, noting down what has impressed you. Could be a shape, could be a colour harmony, could be a proportion or composition... I am attracted to  what is magical about a place, or an artifact. I never really thought about this, but it is true, I usually don't draw people or parks! Definitely I draw constructions made by people.

    What are your preferred drawing tools?

    My favourite technical result in sketchbooks is the use of pen and watercolour on the smooth paper of the (purple label) moleskine! I like the definition you can get from the pen, but also the way the watercolours don't get immediately absorbed... The colours kind of become greyish over this type of paper. Usually I use technical pen for stippling drawings in my day job as an archaeological illustrator. But sometimes I feel the need to use more loose techniques to complement, and to contrast with the stiffness of scientific illustration techniques. Watercolours are suitable to this immediate caption. I have tried gouache once and honestly, it was quite an experience! 

    Besides urban sketching, what other hobbies do you have?

    Hobbies... How am I spending my free time?.... Well,  I like to do barbecues with my friends, and enjoy other people around me... Listen to their stories... Watch my son grow up...

    Follow Guida’s work on her sketchbook blog, her archeological illustration blog, and Facebook.

  • Sunday, July 10, 2011 - 06:47
    Nina Johansson

    I can´t believe the Symposium is just around the corner now! It will be so great to meet you all and get to hang out drawing together for a few days! :)

    Since I like seeing what tools others use, I figure there must be other drawing gear nerds out there, so I thought I´d show the stuff I am bringing to Lisbon.

    I´m not sure about what amount of empty sketchbook pages I need for the Symposium, but at least these two books will follow me there. I need to mend the red one first, though, I guess I haven´t been too gentle with it, so the spine is beginning to peel off.

    That leather pouch can hold a LOT of stuff, without getting too bulky. I have crammed a little more than usual into it now, of course, since drawing for three or four days in a row will give a lot of opportunity to try some new tools.

    My main drawing pens are the four fountain pens. They are filled with different inks, but the one I´ll probably use the most is the black one with Platinum Carbon ink in it.

    The black fineliners are mainly backup pens, in case I run out of ink or crash a nib on a fountain pen (a horrible thought). The coloured ones, however, are new. It took Swedish art supplies stores some years to discover that waterproof colour ink pens even exist, and now that they are FINALLY available here in Stockholm, I decided to buy some to try them out.

    The hair clips are for holding sketchbook pages down in windy conditions - an idea I happily stole from Lapin in Barcelona, and that works remarkably well. I used to carry classic paper clips for this, but they are so bulky. These take no space at all.

    The multicoloured kid´s pencil at the bottom of the image is just for making a point in my workshop with José Louro. ;)

    I prefer real paintbrushes instead of waterbrushes, but the waterbrushes are great for situations where you need to be quick or discrete, so they will come along anyway. They are too small for my liking, though.

    My favorite travel brush is the grey one, a da Vinci no 10 sable brush. I love big brushes, and I doubt I will use the other two much, but I decided to take a flat and a smaller round brush with me anyway, just to see if they make any difference at all.

    Note to self: clean that miserable watercolour palette and refill the paints before leaving for Lisbon.

    See you soon!

  • Sunday, July 10, 2011 - 01:59

    Portuguese illustrator and cartoonist António Jorge Gonçalves will share his experiences urban sketching in subways around the world on the presentation Drawing me, drawing you.

    What's your advice for someone who is just starting out as an urban sketcher?

    Have fun, no fear... and remember that the frustration of not being able to put things right on the paper is something that any drawing artist has to live with.

    Tell us more about your lecture?

    My lecture will be about my experience of drawing people, face to face: I'll be telling you a lot about what happened while I was drawing people sitting on subway trains around the world (my project and book "Subway Life.")

    What urban subjects do you like to sketch the most?

    Anything, really, but humans tend to grab my attention very easly since they are the most complex (and difficult) to put on a paper.

    What are your primary sketching tools?

    I use fine markers, needle-like ones: it feels like playing the violin.

    Follow António's work on his blog.

  • Monday, July 18, 2011 - 15:01

    With the Symposium just two weeks away, you may have started to pack your suitcase. Are you agonizing over how many watercolors and sketchbooks to pack? Should you change some of your workshop choices? (please consider that if you are in an overbooked session!) You may also have other questions not necessarily related to the workshops. How hot will it really be? Will it cool off at night? What shoes are a better fit for Lisbon's cobblestoned pavement? What other cities should I visit? Where can I find a vegetarian restaurant?

    Use this post to ask any questions you can think of and we'll do our best to answer them. I bet you'd get some answers from the local participants too. No questions are bad! If you have tips, feel free to leave a comment as well with your insights, or do a blog post, just like Pedro Cabral has done already sharing tips to protect your sketching gear, and what things not to forget to pack.

    Still shy to start blogging here? I say read this post with instructions and give it a go, you're among the most supportive group you're going to find. You'll get nothing but nice and positive feedback!

    Not confident about your written English? Leave your questions in Portuguese, Spanish, French, German... I think we have more than enough people who could translate. And there's always Google Translate!

    open thread
  • Friday, July 8, 2011 - 02:11

    Florian Afflerbach, 30, was born in Siegen, Germany. For several years he worked as an architect in Stuttgart and he is currently enroled in a Master Degree program on architectural communication and interpretation at BTU Cottbus, near Berlin. He will teach the workshop Lisbon Perspectives along with Belgian architect Gérard Michel.

    When did you start sketching on location?

    That was during my studies of architecture in Paris, 2004. I made an exchange semester there and began to draw the whole city with two other like-minded guys.

    What’s a memorable experience of drawing in a city since you started urban sketching?

    Drawing the Piazza San Marco with its extraordinary cathedral was very memorable! I think the Piazza is one most drawn places on earth!  During my session, there were sitting more than 10 other drawers and painters next to us, expressing the same location on their paper and canvas, but always different, and another 30 people looking on what we were doing. What a great feeling! But I didn't like the pigeons sitting above us!

    What’s your advice for beginner sketchers?

    Try to draw what you really see. Figure out volumes, proportions and shadows. Be aware of certain rules that will let you do a good drawing.

    When do you go urban sketching?

    As often as I can! On the weekends, there's more time for it, but there's always time for a little sketch, I think.

    Tell us about your workshop with Gérard.

    We will show some rules dealing with correct architectural perspective, construction and illustration.

    What are your favorite subjects to draw?

    As I am an architect, I mostly draw architecture, and I'm happy when buildings have a kind of a meaning or unique feature. I also love to draw vintage cars that are still used in the streets. 

    You normally use pencil and watercolors, how about sketchbooks? Which ones do you prefer?

    I use a large Boesner Sketchbook (27 x 35,5 cm, 170 g/m29. The paper is a little bit beige. The big size is important to me, because I can both, large and small drawings. I don't like ring binder sketchbooks, you can't use them as a double page.

    Follow Florian’s work on his Facebook page: Freiezeichnerei