Riga Sketching Interview

Masha and Agnese are the great minds behind the Urban Sketchers Riga. I, and many other artists and instructors have witnessed first hand their incredible dedication to spreading the practice of sketching in the Baltic States. Their latest initiative, the Riga Sketching School gathers online workshops, interviews and other activities that you can watch or sign up to. I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Agnese last month, and share how my art has progressed throughout the pandemic of the Covid-19 virus. Watch mine and other interviews on YouTube or on the Riga Sketching School website.

A Masha e a Agnese são as grandes mentes por trás dos Urban Sketchers Riga. Eu, e muitos outros artistas e formadores testemunhámos em primeira mão a incrível dedicação que depositam em espalhar a prática do desenho nos Países Bálticos. A sua última iniciativa, a Riga Sketching School junta oficinas online, entrevistas e outras actividades disponíveis para ver ou inscrever. Tive o prazer de ser entrevistado pela Agnese no mês passado, e partilhar a forma como a minha arte tem progredido pela pandemia do virus Covid-19. Vejam a minha e outras entrevistas no YouTube ou no site da Riga Sketching School.

Road to Riga

Today, I’m flying off to the north of Europe. The final destination is Riga, in Latvia, where I’ll lead two sketching workshops with fellow sketcher Pedro Alves, in the Urban Sketching Winter School Riga 2019. But the journey starts further north, in Helsinki and Tallinn.

To get familiar with the northern palette, I’ve tested this night view of Riga’s cathedral. You might not believe it but it was sketched live and on location… well… sort of. This live webcam might had something to do with it. Still counts as urban sketching, right?

Hoje, voo para o norte da Europa. O destino final é Riga, na Letónia, onde irei conduzir duas oficinas de desenho com o companheiro de cadernos Pedro Alves, na Urban Sketching Winter School Riga 2019. Mas a viagem começa mais a norte, em Helsínquia e Tallinn.

Para me familiarizar com a paleta nortenha, testei esta vista noturna da catedral de Riga. Podem não acreditar, mas foi desenhada ao vivo e no local… quer dizer… mais ou menos. Esta webcam pode ter tido algo a ver com isto. Mas ainda conta como urban sketching, não é?

Mushrooms on Österlen

Pizza making

Österlen’s coastal landscape is beautiful indeed. But it looks even better after a nice dinner with friends and a good night’s sleep.

Pizza at Kivik

The picturesque crooked roads that lead from Lund to Kivik opened our appetites to the home-made pizza that our swedish-spanish hosts had prepared for us. Champagne and good wines flowed, mouldy cheeses and spicy olives were devoured, the drums rolled.


Board games were set, pseudo-punk spanish kids TV-show music chimed in, bringing in weird childhood memories for those who hailed from those parts. Even a sketching workshop for children was going on, until it was way past bedtime.

Landscape at Vitemölla

The morning after, all residues of the tiniest hangover vanished at the sight and smells of Skåne’s east coast. In Vitemölla Strandbackar nature reserve, just north of Kivik, the calm waters of the Baltic touch the dunes of sand, the dirt of land and the trunks of pine trees, simultaneously. Something didn’t add up, and yet, it was very pleasant to walk around, up and down from the field to the forest and back to the beach in less than a kilometre. It’s as if three different landscapes came together in the very same spot, like three different sentences that don’t belong to the same paragraph, punctuated regularly by the pre-emptive concrete bunkers of the WWII-era. Later, I learned that this type of landscape is known as sand-steppe – something very particular to this area of the Baltic sea, and that the pine forest is actually planted. Our hosts explained that this area generates some discussion because it seems that the pine forest is conflicting with the native sand-steppe landscape.

Cooking fresh mushrooms

Oblivious to these reflections on the conflicting landscapes, Jesus picked mushrooms for lunch. And they were slimy-licous fried in garlic and coriander!

Crossing the Öresund

There is a great way of travelling around the strategic waterway known as the Öresund: the Öresund Rundt ticket. It gives access to all the trains around the strait on both sides, subway in Copenhagen plus two trips across the strait, one through the Öresund bridge that connects Copenhagen to Malmö, and one via the Helsingborg-Helsingør ferry. For the westbound trip, we chose the latter.


After crossing the gate from the huge access ramp to the deck of the ferry, we gasped, and then we wondered whether we were already on the boat or if we had one more gate to cross because that didn’t look like any boat we had seen before. It was nothing short of a food court in a shopping mall. Mind you, it was not that impressive of a food court, but we were on a friggin’ boat, not a mall! It seemed all the more surreal since the trip would only take about fifteen minutes. I tried to imagine finding the time to place an order, get the food, find a spot to sit, chug the meal and wash it down with coffee before ropes are thrown to the pier. Plus, an ad read: alcohol sold in Danish waters, tobacco in Swedish waters.

Feeling that our memories of an actual ferry experience, filled with the stench of diesel fuel and enamel paint rusting away from steel joints and bolts were being washed away by that glorified image of super-sized lattes and crispy sanitized hot-dogs, we rushed to find an outer deck! Didn’t stay long though. Too cold outside. Wind was blowing from the Skagerrak. But at least, it took us back in touch with an actual ferry experience – the bottom deck loaded with lorries, the seagulls hovering, the old customs buildings and the horns – all things that the inside of the boat was designed to obliterate from perception.

Fishermen on the shores of Kronborg

On the Helsingør docks, we proceeded to Kronborg, a 16th century fortification with a knack for drama. It is better known as the source of inspiration for the setting of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. But in a more prosaic perspective, it was the fortress responsible for charging dues from passing ships inbound to the Baltic and a great source of wealth for the Danish crown – going as high as two-thirds of the crown’s income at times. Around the fortress, a short strip of rocky shore surrounded by green grass, was home to idlers and leisurely fishermen. We settled, had our picnic with some Portuguese wine, harboured from the winds by the rocks.