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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sketches from my first day in Lisbon

Many of you follow my blog/ flickr / facebook and therefore know that I have started to scan and post my sketches from my recent 3 week trip which included the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Lisbon (no need to say how wonderful it was!) However....I am going to post my pages in full here (like on my blog) but with some extra details/ thoughts about the production/ thinking about the pages themselves.

Most of the other Urban Sketchers fill their sketchbooks predominately with sketches and the occasional note. But that is not enough for me... I want my pages to tell the FULL story of my day!! This is resulting in an obsessive attempt to sketch every event in my day – quite a challenge under normal traveling conditions...but when I am surrounded by people(and wonderful artists at that!!!) and just want to spend the whole day talking to them... it is hard. Thankfully, the more I sketch while talking non stop the easier I am finding it!!! Practice helps a lot!

Anyway... Here are my pages from the day before the symposium ..... It was a fun filled day, running into sketchers left, right and centre and struggling to decide what to do and ignoring a headache(I only remember this part of the day now because I recorded it at the time)

07_Wed20 01 The Day before summary

This year I wanted to include more collage in my sketchbook so prior to my trip I was experimenting with a layout for my opening page for each day. The side of the page is a print out from a book of Portugal tile patterns(I adjusted the colour so that I could write over it) I LOVE maps but do find them a bit tedious to do – so I allocated the left side of this first spread for the map so that the book makes sense even if I never get around to drawing them. This year most of my maps have been (and will be) completed at home!

07_Wed20 02 Breakfast and coffee
I wasn’t particularly happy with any of these individual images at the time but the most important thing is the page as a whole (the whole not the parts)... Just keep going, get someone to write on your book, change colour of your pen etc. All games that you can play to make a fun page. Of course I don’t mind those sketches now....

07_Wed20 03 Arco da Rue Augusta with Omar
Ok – here is a ‘proper’ urban sketch. Sitting alongside the wonderful artist Omar - http://omar-paint.blogspot.com/
I love mixing up full page single views with the more random (food) pages. I find page after page of a single sketch in my own book a bit boring... More than 3 pages without a cup of tea and we have a sketchbook crisis on our hands!?!

07_Wed20 04 Lunch and Tearoom view
My favourite page for the day... I was definitely in a complusive sketching mood and didn’t really have time to do a proper view sketch before our lunch arrived so just chose a corner of the buidling near us..I am always thinking to myself “what can I sketch – what time do I have to do it” And of course I sketched my lunch as well to record the event. I stuck the docket done and then continued sketching over the top. I should have gone and had a nap but I went to a tearoom(on my own) instead and wanted to devote a whole page to that so filled up the right hand side of this spread with another selective view from my table. While drawing I discovered a sketcher in view so I popped over to see who it was. It was Eduardo from Brazil!
Last week just before posting this page I decided to add more new gamboge to the building (it wasn’t actually that colour...but no one will ever know!?!) the extra colour which I then added to the top of the trees and the fountain structure really pulled the page together.

07_Wed20 05 Only Tearoom Visit
Tearoom sketch was nothing that special as I was keen to have my tea and go over and talk to Eduardo....but nice to have a simpler page. I made the mistake of not getting the tearoom card at the beginning so couldn’t fit it on my page. The sugar packet is a classic!!

07_Wed20 06 Sketching with others
Off to talk to Eduardo and Joao who he was meeting. After swapping sketchbooks I realised I didn’t have much time till I was to meet 2 more sketchers, Paul and Orling – to go out for a sketch! So I did another quick sketch of a single doorway...knowing that I would have a blank single page to fill at some stage. While I was sketching the great view below I was thinking about what I would do to fill it....so I bravely attempted to sketch my sketching companions. So you can see that I am thinking about my sketchbook all day... it is a game with me – “can I fit one more sketch in????” Crazy girl – I never stop!

07_Wed20 07 Escadinhas Do Duque with Paul and Orling
A great view.... Deserved a nice double page spread!

07_Wed20 08 Night before Dinner
Sketching my dinner despite feeling rather unwell with a headache – it was a way of distracting my mind and telling myself that I was ok (if you can sketch your headache can’t be that bad!) Very rushed loose outline of the gang at dinner...not sure I would have attempted this if I was feeling normal as my inner critic would have prevented me!

What a long post... so much goes into my sketchbook that each page has many stories attached to it... One of the reasons why I am addicted to sketching and recording my life in a little book!


  1. So beautiful! I'm a relatively new reader, so I have a pretty basic question to ask: what all do you bring with you when you're urban sketching? Do you just bring the sketchbook and a pen/pencil, or do you have your watercolors as well? Or is the watercoloring done after you get home? I'm fascinated by this whole practice and I must admit, reading this blog is making it difficult to sit in a cubicle all day! :)

  2. Thanks Melydia.
    Yes ALWAYS carry watercolour with me and always try to paint on location - it is more fun but sometimes I don't have enough time. What I carried with me everywhere on this trip is here
    All fits into the two front pockets of my bag.
    Yes..this blog has a huge distraction factor for me too!!!

  3. Thank you for sharing your kit! As an about-to-be urban sketcher (if it ever stops raining in my little corner of Australia), its useful to know what to carry on my adventures. I really enjoy seeing all the different layouts and notes as well. I hope I can be as bold as you once the sun comes out.

  4. It is such fun, Liz, to follow you on your trips. This one, even more so, because of the other artists with whom you are sketching and enjoying a cuppa. I like so much the additional information that you are including here--your thinking, the colors you choose and why, and how you fit it all into a busy day. It helps our own thinking, as well as being fun.

  5. Really great to record your wonderful trip this way. I so enjoyed your journey.

  6. thank you so much, Liz, for sharing your adventure. I so enjoyed reading about all the places you encountered. I could only imagine going to a place like that, so reading stories is a learning experince alone. Great sketches and colors. Thanks

  7. Excellent post,great sketches and colors.The traveling trip was amazing.

  8. Hi Liz, You did a GREAT job of your sketching companions around the table. I reckon it was worth the headache if that's what it took to make you have a go at it. Ruth


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