Lessons from Portimão

Whenever I teach in a sketching workshop I end up teaching myself something in the process. Either I manage to sum up my latest work processes and experiments, drawing some unforeseen wisdom off of it, or I remind myself of practices and techniques I hadn’t used in long.

Ao ensinar numa oficina de desenho, acabo sempre por aprender algo no processo. Ou faço uma revisão dos meus processos de trabalho e experiências, recolhendo alguma sabedoria imprevista, ou relembro práticas e técnicas que já não uso há muito.

170325-portimao-02

In mine and Pedro Alves‘ workshop in Portimão last weekend, the sketches I did on Sunday were heavily influenced by the challenges we had laid upon our students on Saturday. Urban Sketchers Algarve and the Municipality of Portimão invited us to teach a full-day workshop, and we decided to give a a test run to a programme that we had prepared before. It’s called “The narratives of architecture and the people that experience it“, a two-chapter workshop that challenged participants to 1) tell a sketched story of a particular piece of architecture in the town center, and 2) tell the story of the relationship of that piece of architecture with the people using it. This had to be accomplished using simple graphical techniques, such as asymmetrical planes, two-point perspective and foreground/background contrasts.
Na oficina que ensinei com o Pedro Alves no passado fim-de-semana em Portimão, os desenhos que fiz no domingo foram fortemente influenciados pelos desafios que lançámos aos alunos no sábado. Os Urban Sketchers Algarve e o Município de Portimão convidaram-nos para uma oficina de desenho de dia inteiro, e decidimos ensaiar um programa que já tinhamos preparado previamente. Chama-se “Narrativas da arquitectura e das pessoas que a vivem“, uma oficina de dois capítulos que desafiou os participantes a 1) contar a história desenhada de uma peça de arquitectura em particular no centro da cidade, e 2) contar a história da relação dessa peça de arquitectura com as pessoas que a usufruem. Estes desafios tinham de ser cumpridos usando técnicas visuais simples, como planos assimétricos, perspectiva de dois pontos de fuga e contrastes entre planos.
170325-portimao-demo-02
Framing your story for focus / Enquadramento da história para maior enfoque
170325-portimao-demo-01
Foreground and background enhancing the story focus in the middleground / Primeiro plano e plano de fundo a destacar a história no plano médio
170325-portimao-demo-04
Central character in the foreground, people and architecture in the background / A personagem central no primeiro plano, pessoas e arquitectura no plano de fundo
170325-portimao-demo-03
Keeping the horizon line on the eye level, or on the butt level / Mantendo a linha de horizonte ao nível dos olhos, ou do rabo 

A local teacher decided to enroll her class of 15-year old art students in the workshop, and that proved a mighty challenge for Pedro and I! But, hopefully, it was a rewarding challenge for both us and the participants. Pedro led the first chapter, focused on architecture, and I led the second chapter focused on people related to architecture.

Uma professora local decidiu inscrever a sua turma de alunos de arte de 15 anos, e provou ser um desafio e pêras para o Pedro e para mim! Queremos acreditar que foi uma experiência recompensadora tanto para nós como para os participantes. O Pedro conduziu o primeiro capítulo, focado na arquitectura, e eu conduzi o segundo, focado nas pessoas a relacionarem-se com a arquitectura.

170325-portimao-01

On Sunday, the Urban Sketchers Algarve gathered to sketch Portimão under the overcast sky. I joined some of the students, sheltered by the great glass box opposite the Town Hall. Having their company as a reminder of the exercises the day before, the sketches became fast and loose, with the intended focus and direction.

No domingo, os Urban Sketchers Algarve juntaram-se para desenhar Portimão debaixo de um céu nublado e chuvoso. Juntei-me a alguns dos alunos, abrigados pela grande caixa de vidro em frente à Câmara Municipal. Com a companhia deles como recordação dos exercícios do dia anterior, os meus desenhos tornaram-se mais rápidos e soltos, com o enfoque e direcção que se pretendia.

170325-portimao-03

A merry lunch at Porta Velha with everybody, closed the sketch meeting.

A patuscada com todos ao almoço na Porta Velha fechou o encontro de desenho.

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

SFI

SFI, or Svenska för invandrare is the swedish language course that all communal schools for adults provide to immigrants – free of charge. If you have a swedish ID, you get to get classes. It’s not easy to get out of work two times a week to cycle to the boundaries of the city for a two-and-a-half hours of classes, but the teachers there make it feel as smooth and easy-going as possible. Plus, you get to meet people from all over the world.

Gastelyckan

In the last class of the term, a few days ago, the school invited us for a little mingling between classes, some snacks and some singing along. Typical swedish songs for the end of the school year and the beginning of the summer (Den blomster tid nu kommer, Idas sommarvisa, Oh boy!, this last one by swedish blues and reggae musician Peps Persson).

Gastelyckan

And yesterday was the final level exam day. Around 4 hours of testing of reading, listening, writing and speaking, with a lot of breaks. A long day, hopefully, with a happy ending.