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

Carbon and other elements

For more than four years, I was part of Fc-Acto, the Lisboa’s faculty of sciences very own academic theater group. Yesterday I had the opportunity to be a spectator of one of their shows. As many other academic groups, it’s fueled mainly by the goodwill and hard work of the students/actors themselves and their director. Every year, Fc-Acto puts together a play, and frequently competes for a spot in the program of FATAL – Lisboa’s Yearly Academic Theater Festival. Groups from all over the country, together with a few foreign guest groups, perform in stages all over the city.

In its 10 years of existence, Fc-Acto has participated in a few editions of the festival, not without leaving behind blood, sweat and tears and having its moments of doubt and insecurity when faced against the admission criteria and jury for the festival. This year, Fc-Acto was, in fact, selected for the program and put forward a play called “Carbono e outros elementos“.

FC-Acto, FATAL, Lisboa, theater, academic theater, cantina, faculty of sciences, Portugal

In natural sciences, life is all about carbon. In “Carbono” the students/actors themselves built the atmosphere and the contents of the play by bringing their own life, names, likes, pets, cellphones, music, books, photos and stories into the stage. The show is, according to its director, A. Branco, a play about the making of the play. It exhales more process than plot, and the scenes build up to become a cadavre exquis, in that each individual scene becomes interesting to watch by itself and by how it connects to the next one.

tertulia, FC-Acto, FATAL, Lisboa, theater, academic theater, cantina, faculty of sciences, Portugal

As part of the FATAL program, the actors and the director held a tertulia in the aftermath of the play. While the structure and scenic quality was under debate and mostly admired, the true elephant in the living room was the final scene of the play, where a lone actor read a few lines from a notebook into a microphone, which stood unused throughout the entire play. The lines are excerpts from public statements issued by two other academic theater groups in 2009 and 2013, accusing FATAL’s organizers of being borderline arrogant and/or disorganized altogether, and pointing out murky, flexible and unclear criteria. Isabel Tadeu, the festival’s director, who watched the play, started the tertulia by classifying the play as inelegant and disrespectful to the festival. Whether these accusations, from both parts, are true or not is left to opinion. But the word is out on the street, thanks to Fc-Acto’s bold gesture of democratic and artistic creativity.

A year of sketching for the future

Eduardo Salavisa, Jardim das Amoreiras, Casa Museu Vieira da Silva, workshop, sketching

Eduardo Salavisa is a monthly instructor in the year-long program of sketching workshops organized by the Casa-Museu Vieira da Silva (Historic House Museum of artist Vieira da Silva).

Eduardo Salavisa, Jardim das Amoreiras, Casa Museu Vieira da Silva, workshop, sketching

His workshops endeavor to map the area around Amoreiras public park. In the february workshop, he challenged us to sketch the same subject three times in a row, using different levels of detail.Eduardo Salavisa, Jardim das Amoreiras, Casa Museu Vieira da Silva, workshop, sketching

The first sketch had to be done in 2 to 3 minutes. The second one in 10 minutes. And the last one in half an hour. Most of the color was added indoors, afterwards.Eduardo Salavisa, Jardim das Amoreiras, Casa Museu Vieira da Silva, workshop, sketching

Lisboa in the turn of the century

The 20th century, that is.

Lisboa City Hall is promoting an activity amongst the Portuguese Urban Sketchers community that focuses on a list of 19th to 20th century threatened buildings. The aim is to attract attention to these buildings, alerting the civil society about the dangers of letting these gems perish.

My contribution to the common effort is a portrait of a former industrial building known as “A Napolitana“, a pasta factory, built in 1908, in the industrial area of Santo Amaro. It’s one of the first examples of food production mechanizing and one of the last remaining specimens of its kind. Santo Amaro became a fully integrated part of the city and is no longer industrialized, but many buildings in the area still preserve industrial archetypes. It is built in yellowish brick, an uncommon material in Lisboa, and its façades are decorated with small tile panels.

Napolitana, factory, building, architecture, Lisboa, Portugal, Santo Amaro, Alcântara, 20th century, tiles

Most of the residential buildings around the area are former workers’ houses. Lately, the area has been subject to a mild gentrification, mostly due to LXFactory, another former factory that has been converted into a design district and offices.

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.