It’s been a while now, but in late July, I spent a week in Porto. This first post is of my sketches and impressions of the city from before the Urban Sketchers Symposium. (A post about the symposium and my workshops coming soon)
This was one of the first pieces I sketched in Porto, by the Douro River, where my workshop was to be held. It’s a pretty challenging space to sketch: the sloping street, the tourists walking up and down it all the time, that strange sculpture with a cube and a lovely row of buildings in the background, each one so different from the one next to it, but all topped with terracotta tiles roofs. And just as I settled down to draw, I spotted Paul Wang and sat next to him to sketch. If you’ve seen Paul’s gorgeous sketches of shops in Singapore, you will see how these houses and windows are right up his alley.
I’m usually a solitary sketcher. So Symposium week is a bit of an unusual experience for me: I’m a social sketcher for the week and I also like to go sketch whatever the person or group with me is sketching. It’s interesting to me to see what catches someone else’s eye and what subjects interest them. It stretches me a bit outside my comfort zone, but it takes away a whole bit of having to decide what and where to sketch.
This is one of the very few sketches I did on my own one afternoon: Narrow alleys, colorful homes, satellite dishes and colorful clothes drying in the wind; A classic scene in Porto.
A view of Porto from across the river. Lovely view, for sure. But what really makes these sketches special to me is the memory of working on them, while chatting with friends. This quick piece done one morning with Liz Steel, who I draw a lot with during the Symposium and after. Eduardo Bajzek joined us for a short bit that morning and it was so nice to get to chat with him and go through his pretty amazing sketchbook. Eduardo was one of the main organizers of a pretty unforgettable symposium in Paraty, Brazil, an experience I remember often.
Here’s another classic: red tiled roofs sketched from a secret miradour that I sketched at with Hugo .
This spot is one I would have walked past. Except that Liz and I were wandering down when we spotted Ian Fennelly sketching there, so we joined him for a bit. Ian’s work is gorgeous and his stories are hilarious.
More sketches from wandering the steep, narrow cobbled alleys of Porto with Liz: sketching, chatting, catching up on what we’re working on, thinking of doing the next year, struggling with and learning from in our sketching practice… I really value and learn from these conversations.
I can’t remember when I did this sketch, but that red wall is Shari’s wall, a scene that got painted quite a bit, by Shari Blaukopf and those that took her workshop at Porto.
One of the perks of being an instructor at the Symposium is that the host team sometimes arranges visits to places that would otherwise be hard to access. ( Thank you, Team Porto!) Like the Pocas wine cellars, where fine port wine is made. Here’s my sketchnoting while tasting some port wines. The tawny was my favorite.
And this one is a sketch in the cellars.
One last sketch from what was a pretty incredible place. The sketch does no justice to the magical Livraria Lello , a beautiful library turned bookstore that is now super-popular because of it’s connection to the Harry Potter books.
The sketch is a bit slapdash, and not one I really want to post. Except that I spent the time when I was in that bookstore chatting with lots of sketching friends and generally having a lovely time. And it’s the people that make this piece memorable.