Learn to teach

March was a month invested in education. I enrolled in a Certified Pedagogy Course that enables its graduates to become certified instructors. It starts out by everyone preparing and doing a 10-minute long presentation on any subject they feel comfortable with. Everyone gets to see the presentation recordings and comment on them.

pedagogy, class, presentation, Portugal, Lisboa, Arco Cego, Mestre, course

Afterwards, the class embarks on a month-long voyage exploring several subjects on pedagogic and evaluating techniques, on digital assets, on establishing goals and learning how to empathize with different kinds of classes and individual students. Each module adds a little bit of knowledge that the students will apply on a final 20-minute presentation to the class, in which they showcase their mastery on being an excellent instructor.

project, class, presentation, group sketching, sketching, portrait, Portugal, Lisboa, Arco Cego, Mestre

My final presentation had to do with everyday sketching. By using simple geometric figures, everyone in the class had to do a portrait of their facing colleague in tiny squares of sticking paper. Then, they would stick the portrait into a scene, which I had prepared previously, so that a group portrait of the classroom would result. The conclusion? With simple figures and no great effort involved, people with no drawing experience whatsoever managed to do a collective portrait of the classroom, individually and as a team. They managed to overcome their fear of sharing their drawings, largely because everyone was on the same level and everyone was expected to contribute.

project, class, presentation, group sketching, sketching, portrait, Portugal, Lisboa, Arco Cego, Mestre

During the final class, we had the chance to analyse recordings from our final presentations and comment on the success of everybody becoming excellent certified instructors. Celebrations were held in a restaurant nearby, where I was challenged to appear in one of my own sketches.

course, lunch, class, pedagogy, Portugal, Lisboa, Saldanha, restaurant, Mestre

Lisbon sketching tour

sketching, workshop, students, S. Domingos, St Domenick, church, dominican, Lisbon, Lisboa, Portugal

A couple of friends traveled all the way from Istanbul with their multi-national art class, for a few days’ field trip to Lisboa. I was honored to be invited as an instructor in a 3-hour sketching workshop/tour around the old squares of the capital’s downtown. It was one of those rainy April days, and neither one of the sketching stops I had planned were sheltered. I had to resort to a sketchy (pun intended) plan B. We took shelter wherever we could and altered the route just enough so that we’d be a little bit more comfortable. The workshop took us to Terreiro do Paço, Largo Camões and Largo de S. Domingos, city squares with different atmospheres and historical backgrounds. I didn’t have much time to sketch myself as I was trying to go through the sketching activity of the talented young ones.

fado, Bairro Alto, Lisbon, Lisboa, Portugal, show, guitar, music

After a brief respite, we all went to a fado show in an auditorium in Bairro Alto. The singers started off slow, but got a hold on the crowd soon after. He whose dedication never waned was the man playing portuguese guitar. His strong but intricate fingering of the strings was what was keeping the show in pace!

dinner, Cervejaria Trindade, Trindade, Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal, food

The afternoon ended in the only semi-traditional semi-touristic restaurant that was large enough to fit the entire crew of talented young artists and their talented not-so-young teachers. I was most happy and proud to join them in this short journey across my adopted home town.

 

Freedom Revolution Workshop with Marina Grechanik

Freedom Revolution Workshop, Marina Grechanik, workshop, Lisbon, Lisboa, sketching, Urban Sketchers, Urban Sketchers Portugal, 25 de abril, Largo do Carmo

This saturday, we had the privilege of having Marina Grechanik from Tel Aviv, in Lisboa, for a Freedom Revolution Workshop. The motto was to sketch the revolution by telling the story of its heroes: the people. We used her favored materials and techniques, and I was deep outside my comfort zone, except in the first warmup sketch.

Freedom Revolution Workshop, Marina Grechanik, workshop, Lisbon, Lisboa, sketching, Urban Sketchers, Urban Sketchers Portugal, 25 de abril, Largo do Carmo, expressions

The first challenge was to capture emotions in people’s faces, with a quick gesture, with line or with a combination of wash and line. The sketches with less detail seem to be the most successful in conveying the basic emotions people were showing. Can you spot the instructor?

Freedom Revolution Workshop, Marina Grechanik, workshop, Lisbon, Lisboa, sketching, Urban Sketchers, Urban Sketchers Portugal, 25 de abril, Rossio, postures

We came down to Rossio train station, because of the rain, for the next challenge: to sketch action. To capture basic stances and gestures, body postures of people doing small actions, with line or with a color wash. Near the end of the challenge, I sat next to Paula Cabral, who was kind enough to let me use her ecoline-filled waterbrush – a very efficient tool! And works marvels in combination with the colored pencil and Paula’s wax crayons.

Freedom Revolution Workshop, Marina Grechanik, workshop, Lisbon, Lisboa, sketching, Urban Sketchers, Urban Sketchers Portugal, 25 de abril, lunch, lottery

During lunch, I sketched a panorama of our table, and to avoid further conflicts or complications, the portrayed ladies made a lottery to decide who would keep the sketch. Teresa, the winner, portrayed on the far right side of the sketch, was happy.

Freedom Revolution Workshop, Marina Grechanik, workshop, Lisbon, Lisboa, sketching, Urban Sketchers, Urban Sketchers Portugal, 25 de abril, Terreiro do Paço

The afternoon challenge was longer in time. We took over the Terreiro do Paço, the administrative plaza of the capital, turned tourist attraction in the latest years, and more populated that day especially because it was one of the major sites of the actions that led to the ’74 revolution. The site is naturally charged with a political energy and, as Walter Rossa put it in a conference I attended recently, “it is meant to be inhospitable”. Will all the tourist and leisure life that exists here now soon come to an end? Wouldn’t we want it to come to an end?

Freedom Revolution Workshop, Marina Grechanik, workshop, Lisbon, Lisboa, sketching, Urban Sketchers, Urban Sketchers Portugal, 25 de abril, Terreiro do Paço

The challenge was divided into two parts. Number one: to sketch a story of a single place, using only a line tool, gathering information about the actions, the characters and the interactions that happen in that particular spot. Number two: same as number one, but with washes and colors.

Freedom Revolution Workshop, Marina Grechanik, workshop, Lisbon, Lisboa, sketching, Urban Sketchers, Urban Sketchers Portugal, 25 de abril, Terreiro do Paço, music

The stories I captured in line weren’t so successful, so I hurried to get to do some more washes. My education in washes began in the Lisbon Urban Sketchers Symposium in 2011, in Cathy Gatland and Isabel Fiadeiro‘s Urban portraits. Now with Marina, this technique awoke from the ashes and, hopefully, is in me to stay.

Freedom Revolution Workshop, Marina Grechanik, workshop, Lisbon, Lisboa, sketching, Urban Sketchers, Urban Sketchers Portugal, 25 de abril, Terreiro do Paço, music

The musicians in the previous story were performing under the archways of the Terreiro, surrounded by some Banco de Partilha Social and around a couple hundreds of school kids going about their diverse kid’s businesses. Somewhere along the way, one of the girls borrowed a guitar and a high school band immediately and spontaneously formed and performed three songs with enough vigor and power to attract a small mob.

Freedom Revolution Workshop, Marina Grechanik, workshop, Lisbon, Lisboa, sketching, Urban Sketchers, Urban Sketchers Portugal, 25 de abril, skateboard, Terreiro do Paço

Some skaters improvised an obstacle from a sunshade support. Soon afterwards, the light drizzle had turned to a more proper rain. We took shelter under the archways, Marina wrapped up the workshop and we moved along the Baixa to drink some tea and some moscatel, to warm up our bodies and lift up our spirits.

Freedom Revolution Workshop, Marina Grechanik, workshop, Lisbon, Lisboa, sketching, Urban Sketchers, Urban Sketchers Portugal, 25 de abril, tea, moscatel, Baixa

Rule of thirds

Nelson Paciência, Urban Sketchers Portugal, sketching, workshop, sketching workshop, Casa-Museu Vieira da Silva, Lisboa, Amoreiras

The Casa-Museu Vieira da Silva (Historic House Museum of artist Vieira da Silva) has a year-long program of sketching workshops, held on saturdays every two weeks, in cooperation with several members of Urban Sketchers Portugal (myself included). The themes are quite diverse so, even if you’re an experienced sketcher, there’s something for you.

Nelson Paciência, Urban Sketchers Portugal, sketching, workshop, sketching workshop, Casa-Museu Vieira da Silva, Lisboa, Amoreiras, Vicente

I decided to attend Nelson Paciência‘s workshop a few days ago, titled “How much stuff fits in my sketchbook”. Fitting title for a sketcher who skillfully cramps stuff in the small canvas of his sketchbook.

Nelson Paciência, Urban Sketchers Portugal, sketching, workshop, sketching workshop, Casa-Museu Vieira da Silva, Lisboa, Amoreiras, Vicente

He showed us how to use this cramping style, and suggested several techniques to help us in the process. One is to deform the subject to the canvas. Another one is to turn the head and look at more than just the view in front of you. Another yet is to keep out the stuff you don’t want to sketch, so that you get more free space for the stuff that matters. Here he is, stating that he “likes to squish heads”. Game of Thrones style?

Nelson Paciência, Urban Sketchers Portugal, sketching, workshop, sketching workshop, Casa-Museu Vieira da Silva, Lisboa, Amoreiras

He then proceeded to teach us how to use the famed photographers rule of thirds to our advantage. A simple layout device that allows us to direct the focus of the viewer to what we want to give focus to. And this is when we – the students – sprung into action. We had to make a few sketches based on the rule of thirds, with different focuses, foregrounds and backgrounds, etc.

Nelson Paciência, Urban Sketchers Portugal, sketching, workshop, sketching workshop, Casa-Museu Vieira da Silva, Lisboa, Amoreiras

It was a pleasant morning to learn and practice something new. Quite challenging also! On my way home, this Fiat 126 was waiting for me to sketch it.

Fiat, Fiat 126, Amoreiras, Lisboa, vintage cars

Classical ballet

The awesome cooperation between Urban Sketchers Portugal and the Dance School of the Conservatory (EDCN) allows for sketchers to attend some of the classes and doodle the classical ballet and contemporary dance students in action.

ballet, EDCN, dance, classic, dance school, class, students, Conservatory

Taking advantage of this very intimate hours of these youngsters feels very weird at first – like an invasion of a private moment and space. But soon after the concentration levels are high, everyone just minds their own business and focus on what they love best – the students, the sketchers, the dance teacher, even the pianist who’s setting the tune for the whole act.

ballet, EDCN, dance, classic, dance school, class, students, Conservatory

It’s an extraordinary weekly opportunity for sketchers to grasp the shape and movement of bodies in their finest moment. Although it is very challenging at first, the exercise pays off in the end. It’s also an excellent visual memory stimulant, to save in the mind’s eye a single pose, or a single movement in the myriad of elegant steps and twirls these students undertake for the three hours of the duration of the class.