Quick sketches in Chicago

January 7th, 2018

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I spent one of my last days in Chicago with fellow urban sketchers Liz Steel and Suhita Shirodkar. I am usually rather slow when I draw, and quite enjoy the process of spending time on a drawing, so no worries there. But hanging out with these Queens of Quick Sketching, their speedy habits made me want to let go of some detail, and keep up with my company. So, lo and behold, a sketch done in about half an hour (while sitting in blazing sunlight, at that!). It actually works! As much as I like details, you don´t really need that much of it to capture the essence of a place. Fun, and something I need to practice a lot more.

Otherwise, when I want to speed things up a bit, due to time constraints or so, I usually simplify my colours, as I did in the demo sketch below during the symposium. Sloppier drawing, loosing a few windows here and there, and working with only two complementary colours is my go-to repice for speeding up the sketching process.

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Top sketch: approx 20 x 24 cm, bottom: approx 19 x 17 cm, both drawn with fountain pen with DeAtramentis document ink and watercolours, in Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook.

The L

January 3rd, 2018

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The L train, or El for “elevated train”, was a fascinating feature of Chicago. I have only seen this in movies and tv-series, some when I was quite young, so actually standing there in the noise of these rattling trains made me feel nostalgic, strangely enough. Wabash avenue quickly became one of my fav streets in downtown Chicago.

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Top drawing: 42 x 29 cm, fountain pens with DeAtramentis document ink, grey Copic Multiliner and PITT Artist brush pens, bottom drawing: A4 size, fountain pens with DeAtramentis document ink, grey Copic Multiliner and watercolours. Both in Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook.

Workshopping in Chicago

January 1st, 2018

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My workshop in Chicago was called Make room for a view, and the top of the Kemper Building was the perfect place for it. We had the whole top floor at our disposal, with panoramic views in every direction. I could not believe my eyes the first time I went up there – THE VIEWS!!

We worked our way through some basic perspective rules (and at this height you actually have good use of three-point perspective too), simplification of details (a tough part, with aaaall those windows out there…), and aerial perspective, for those who wanted to work in colour.

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Being a workshop instructor in an urban sketchers setting is a real treat. The best part, in my opinion, is the sharing of work that is so generous and free-flowing in these workshops. When we gather, either in the middle of the session or at the end of it, everyone opens up their sketchbooks to let everyone else in to their process. It doesn´t matter if you work professionally with sketching as an everyday tool or just got started on your drawing journey, if you finished a fantastic sketch or just barely got your first lines down on paper – everyone shows what they are working at. And this is where the magic happens. Seeing someone else´s process with a subject you are working on yourself is golden. This moment is so much fun! Questions are asked, discussions arise, tools are tried out, techniques and colours are looked at, and everyone sees something great in other people´s work – and gets possibilities suggested for their own!

And I promise you, I learn just as much as my workshop participants, from a teacher´s point of view. Everytime I teach one of these workshops, I get at least ten more ideas for the next time!

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My three workshop groups during the urban sketchers symposium in Chicago. See those happy smiles? That´s what drawing together does to you!

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Another treat you get as an urban sketchers workshop instructor is the possibility to take someone else´s workshop. I usually go for the ones that do things that I normally don´t.  This year I signed up for Marion Rivolier´s How to reach the sky, to try out her fantastic ways with watercolour. Wish I had had a couple of sheets of proper watercolour paper with rough grain for this, since this is more about wet paint than my normal sketching technique, but still – so much fun! And I have oh so much to learn!

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New Year´s interlude

December 31st, 2017

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This is perhaps not the most successful sketch of the year, but it´s definitely the last – had to bring out the watercolours in the cold at least once on this side of the new year! Aspudden in Stockholm was gray today, but people were cheerful, full of expectations for new year´s eve. A family with kids stopped by to chat, which is always good fun.

Happy New Year, everybody! I am sure 2018 will bring us the normal harvest of good and bad, but I hope it will also be full of creative endeavors and lots of love and friendships! See you next year!

Urban sketchers table manners

December 30th, 2017

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It is lovely to eat with other urban sketchers. You know you have found you own “tribe” of people when everyone else too have their sketching gear on the table, among plates and drinks and whatnot. :)

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21 x 29 cm, fountain pens with DeAtramentis document ink and watercolours, in Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook.

Sketchcrawl Chicago

December 30th, 2017

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The Urban sketchers symposiums usually start with a grand sketchcrawl during the first day, and a public, even bigger one, on the last day. The Chicago symposium was no different, and a few hundred people headed out in blazing heat to sketch on that first symposium day. So much fun! Thank heavens for the trees in the parks, though. Extreme heat really isn´t my cup of tea…

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Both drawings: approx. 20 x 14 cm, fountain pens with DeAtramentis document ink and grey Copic Multiliner on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook page.

The staggering height of buildings

December 28th, 2017

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Finally an update here! I know. Sometimes the blog gets unvoluntary pauses, due to work, lazyness with scanning and the very ease of using Instagram (do follow me on Instagram if you want more frequent updates!).

Anyway! Chicago, as I promised in the previous post! The Urban sketchers symposiums are always awesome experiences, meeting up with old friends and making some new too – plus teaching workshops and drawing, of course! Such a treat. But Chicago was a great trip in other ways too. Me and my dear M made a five day vacation out of it before the symposium began, and it´s a fantastic city to visit. So much to see, and the city itself has so many different faces, depending on where you go.

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The first thing that struck us both is the scale of the architecture downtown. Stockholm is a beautiful city, but VERY LOW in comparison to the really big cities in the world. We got aching necks from the first hour of walking through Chicago, just from constantly looking up. And then, when we relaxed a bit and lowered our eyes, we immediately started bumping into urban sketchers everywhere. :) We met at least three sketching heroes of mine during the first hour or so, Chicago´s own Don Colley, and then Rob Sketcherman and Lynne Chapman nearby.

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I found drawing really tall buildings quite difficult, when you´re not used to it. I made a few hit-and-miss sketches before I kind of got the hang of the scale in the downtown part of Chicago. One of the coolest spots to draw from was at the top of the Kemper Building, where I was lucky enough to have my workshop location during the symposium. I´m glad I don´t suffer from vertigo, you´re really on top of the world in one of these skyscrapers. And oh the light among the buildings and the view towards the horizon – SO spectacular!

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Chicago isn´t just about tall buildings, though. People, workshops, symposium events – more posts from the trip coming up in the next few days!

Most sketches: A4 format, fountain pens with DeAtramentis document inks and watercolours on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook pages.

Chicago!

August 5th, 2017

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Summer holidays, folks, that´s what it is, this lack of posts. Traveling, visiting, having guests, reading, hanging out, drawing, doing things. :)

And, as many years before around the end of July, I have been having a blast drawing and teaching during the Urban sketchers annual symposium. This time around, the 8th symposium was in Chicago, and I have had so much fun trying to wrap my brain around the scale and the perspectives of this city! I will be back with more soon, just have some scanning to do… :)

21 x 23 cm, Pilot Falcon with De Atramentis ink and watercolours on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook page.

Gärdesloppet 2017 – a study in red

June 8th, 2017

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Remember the old fire engine and ambulance that I drew a while back? Turns out if you get the opportunity to draw these fantastic engines and hang out for a bit with the fire fighting enthusiasts that take care of them, you might also get offered to ride with them to Gärdesloppet, the yearly veteran car exhibition and race at Djurgården in Stockholm. And who am I to say no to such an offer?

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It is a bit shaky to draw while riding in an open Scania firetruck from 1931 – suspention technique in cars have taken quite a leap forward in the last 86 years – but the experience is fantastic. Makes you feel like a kid, for real, to be allowed into a fire truck with brass bells on the sides and ladders up above. A bit windy on the highway, but very cozy along the sunny streets of the inner city.

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Driving comfort has developed a bit too, since 1931, but charm and style? Not so much. I love how everything is just practical in these old cars. There is no shiny curved dashboard with digital displays everywhere. Simple and straightforward. (And I just love the turn signals, those red drop shapes on the wind shields. Super cute when in use, with arms waving up and down.)

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Gärdesloppet was a real feast for the eye, as usual, and a great crowd magnet. Urban sketchers Stockholm took advantage of the nice weather and all the cool cars, and gathered for a picnic and drawing session. And as a bonus, a few of us got a lift back to the garage with the Scania. Happy children in the back seat.

Old friends

May 13th, 2017

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We were in Sunne in Värmland last weekend, where I stumbled upon two cable excavators, seemingly rooted in the grass. They looked like old friends, watching the view over the field together, perhaps talking childhood memories…

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42 x 29,7 cm, Lamy Safari and Kizuna Deco pen (fude nib) with red and black De Atramentis Document ink, and watercolours, on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook spread.


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