A hell of a couple of performances

sketchers, Dsenho Cru, raw sketching, Martim Moniz, Lisboa, Portugal

A room full of sketchers eagerly awaited the two performers of the Desenho Cru session of March. Some of them had heard that they were in for a special surprise. Warm up took some time as one of the performers couldn’t make it. A substitute had to be found.

Viktorija Tumaite, make-up, Lithuania, sketchers, Dsenho Cru, raw sketching, Martim Moniz, Lisboa, Portugal

Viktorija came to the rescue. The make-up artist from Lithuania turned into her own model and demonstrated on herself the transformation of make-up. She showed the long process women go through privately or in pairs, in bathrooms, languidly and meticulously, sipping red wine and enhancing her red lips, in front of 20-something sketchers. All the while, in the backstage, a different make-up strategy was taking place.

sketchers, Dsenho Cru, raw sketching, Martim Moniz, Lisboa, Portugal, Kina Karvel

Suddenly, and after headlamps were distributed, the lights were out! A chilling, shrieking, spooky song started in the background. A horned silhouette approach from the outside. It came to the center of the stage, dark robes absorbed all the light. Its red eyes gleamed as the demonic figure threatened to impale all of the sketchers to their seats with a blood-stained pike. Pens and pencils were in awe of the imposing and macabre visage of Kina Karvel, demon-performer of the night.

sketchers, Dsenho Cru, raw sketching, Martim Moniz, Lisboa, Portugal, Kina Karvel

After the music was over, suspension of disbelief was broken, as the demon started speaking in an unexpectedly high-pitched voice, and proceeded to strike a few poses during the following hour or so.

sketchers, Dsenho Cru, raw sketching, Martim Moniz, Lisboa, Portugal, Kina Karvel

It was some impressing minutes, those of Kina Karvel’s performance. Hard to picture them in a sketchbook.

Poets in stone

Parque, Poetas, Parque dos Poetas, Oeiras, statues, poets, park

In Oeiras, a township next to Lisboa, there is a public park peppered with statues from Portuguese poets ranging from all epochs. It was the setting for an Urban Sketchers Portugal sketch meeting, last weekend. I decided to bring along Maria, my 8-year-old niece, given that she had shown great interest in sketching during the summer holidays.

David Mourão Ferreira, statue, poet, park

At first she goofed around quite a bit, being that some of the statues portrayed naked poets and she was in awe of their buttocks. But soon enough, while sketching David Mourão Ferreira’s odd looking statue, she had her moment of absolute focus. Here’s my own, for comparison:

David Mourão Ferreira, statue, poet, park

But her focus period didn’t come to an end. She found Florbela Espanca up the hill and proceeded to sketch her more shapely stony female body. Both sketches were loudly praised by all the sketching community gathered there.

Florbela Espanca, statue, poet, park

Right after sketching Fernando Pessoa’s statue, she had a brief moment of touching sadness, as the pictures of the final gathering were being taken. She realized the sketch meeting was over and she didn’t know when the next one would be.

Fernando Pessoa, statue, poet, park

So I decided that I want to take her to the most meetings possible in the near future. I’m curious to see what lies ahead and how will she progress in her art. In the end of the day we did a collaborative sketch, where I did the linework and she the coloring. I hope she kept good memories of the afternoon and of all the sketchers.

cakes, coffee

The Maritime Museum of Ílhavo

Fauna Maior, Museu Marítimo de Ílhavo, Maritime Museum of Ílhavo, museum, sea, fishing, ship, boat

The sketch meeting in the Maritime Museum of Ílhavo was a nice excuse to get away for the weekend.

Museu Marítimo de Ílhavo, Maritime Museum of Ílhavo, museum, sea, ship, boat, shells

In the debate of architecturally neutral museums and museums that parttake in the exhibitions within, this one falls in the latter category. It goes back and forth, down and up, meandering along an exhibition of real life ships and objects of life aboard a fishing vessel, plus many many shells and a fish tank with a few unfortunate cod fish.

Cod fish, bacalhau, fish tank, tank, fish, Museu Marítimo de Ílhavo, Maritime Museum of Ílhavo, museum, sea

While during the sketch meeting, everyone was pretty much focused on their sketching activity, it was only later in the day that everybody started to mingle, just before the museum ended. The meeting gave place to a visit to a nearby illustration exhibition of one of the participants.

Museu Marítimo de Ílhavo, Maritime Museum of Ílhavo, museum, sea, ship, boat, sail

Sharing sketchbooks and techniques is an inevitable part of any sketch meeting. And so it happened with the fine people of Aveiro Sketchers and I, around a late lunch table of pizza in the fishing town of Gafanha, of the south bank of Aveiro’s lagoon.

Aveiro, sketchers


Agriculture 2.0: back to the roots

Grela, Poço de São Tiago, bridge, Vouga, farm, farmhouse, rural

Ana and Zé are two former city-dwellers disillusioned by life in the concrete jungle. A year ago they made the move of going rural, becoming part of a small group of youngsters that are going back to the roots and to a simpler life. It takes a hairy set of cohones and a good warm wardrobe to pull it off, as the nights in the farmhouse by the Vouga river are cold and humid, but they might just pull it off. The foodstuffs are growing fast and lively and they easily mix the study of the elements and its patterns with all the might of the theory, so easy to come by all over the internets. Learning-by-doing is backed up by careful planning and the research skills acquired in their formal professional lives. It’s a sort of agriculture 2.0, where ancient techniques are improved by permaculture notions and a sustainable lifestyle that recycles everything that comes out of the kitchen. It might be the future that they are tilling there.


granary, Grela, Vouga, carnival


In the sloped terrain that they’re taking care of in the small location of Grela, stand a couple of Espigueiros, small typical granaries made of wood, stone and ceramic tiles to keep the grain nice and dry.

The people on the right-hand side are a good friend from Sweden and his daughter being welcomed into the Portuguese carnival tradition of dressing up weirdly and face-painting. They performed wonderfully!

Nazaré: fish and record-breaking waves

Nazaré, landscape, beach, sea, ocean, street

Nazaré is a fishing village in the coastal region known as The West, or sometimes The Wild West. Its beaches have wooden structures that were used to dry the fish upon arrival to preserve it so that it could get to the inland parts of the country. A funicular railway stretched up the cliff dating back to the 19th century, testifies the relevance of the town’s economic development in past times. Recently, though, it has gained the world’s attention due to a couple of instances of record-breaking surfing on gigantic waves: the first instance in 2013 by Garrett McNamara (here’s a short tour of the town by the Hawaiian surfer), and the second one, in 2014 by Benjamin Sanchis. There’s bound to be major tourism potential here, if these guys keep breaking records like this. But for now, it’s still a simple carnival-lovin’ small town by the sea.

Nazaré, Sítio, landscape