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Thursday, September 5, 2013

12 reflections on my 2 weeks in Barcelona




Just uploaded a low res version of my BCN sketchbook which hopefully work for you if the hi res version is a little slow. Here are links.
Low res
http://issuu.com/borrominibear/docs/bcn_sketchbook_low_res
High res(if you want to read all my crazy notes!)
http://issuu.com/borrominibear/docs/bcn_sketchbook

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Now that my Barcelona sketchbook is scanned I want to record a few overall thoughts about this part of my trip and the sketchbook (just to let you know that I am only at the half way point of my 4 week trip- though I sketched less in the second half)

I would like to do a separate post about the symposium, but these are a few random comments about this sketchbook and my time in BCN as a whole (it is in fact 2.5 A4 sie watercolour moleskine books!)

Of course this book is VERY special to me ... don't know quite if I can put it into words but I hope that the joy I had filling these pages  comes through! Some trips there is a far amount of internal frustration or challenges that do not appear on the page... this time,  once I got myself warmed up I felt a lot of my work just flowed - that is a wonderful feeling and I had enormous satisfaction from many many of these sketches. I am not specifically thinking about the end result, but the internal dialogue I was having at the time.  But at the same time I am very happy with MANY of these sketches. Most trips there are 1 or 2 …or many 3 sketches that stand out for me. I am not sure I could isolate only 3 that are special to me in this collection.



Ok… 12 random thoughts...

1. Choice of sketchbook

This is my 4th trip that I have used this size book and I have to say that I LOVE them. They are big and heavy but the extra size to spread out or doing composite pages and include collage is great (and as an aside I never see to do as much collage as I would like and run out of page easily). I do like working on the moleskine watercolour paper as well…. just seems to suit the range of styles that I use and the wetness of my watercolouring.

2. Heaviness of sketchbook

I carry the book in my hand nearly all the time as i find it too heavy in a bag...this means I am ready to sketch at any time...

3. Size of sketchbook (practical issues)

it is large and opens like a table! I use the other side of the book to rest my paint tin and that works well. It is a little awkward in cafes and planes. I think the size made me a little less likely to open it and use it for a quick sketch than I am with a smaller book…however next point….

4. Trying to slow down and not sketch non stop all the time.
I did actually do this!!!! although you might not believe it. I didnt bother to sketch every evening (too tired!) and often when with people I just chilled and didnt try to sketch and talk. I really did not want to put any pressure on myself in regard to my sketchbook - sketch what I feel like, when I felt ike it...no pressure "I should sketch this or that"

5. People are more important than sketching
Related to 4. is the fact that for me this 2 week period was very much about people. SO many people in BCN that I wanted to spend time with , catch up, meet, sketch with. So this year talking with people was a focus - as a result less food sketches!!! There is no way I can sketch everything in Barcelona, and I can sketch non stop compulsively when I am on my own…but when I have a chance to hang out with inspiring USKers… I know what I want to do!

6. Sketch posture and physical limitations
Having to be careful with sketch posture and time spent in the one positon. This is a huge deal for me at the moment - I physically cant work on a sketch for more than 30 minutes in the one positon so I have to work fast or simpler and have been looking at ways to do this. I am very happy with how much I achieved and apart from a few occasions when I ignored my 'rules'(and suffered!) was able to sketch without major consequences to neck and shouder and lower back. 

7. The need for time out

Related to 5. above I did find it a little overwhelming to be around people all the time for the two weeks and you can read all my comments scattered through the book about needing to steal some solo time to sketch and process it all.

8. Crazy stuff
A few quirks that dominate these pages just happened - the diagonal placement of images on the page started with Sagrada Familia on the 2nd sketching day and then I just went with it. Also I got hooked on splashing. Neither of these are necessarily something that I will always do but I did continue doing both throughout the whole trip.

9. Homework - a LOT of it

Many many blank areas to add text and maps when I got home. I try to prioritise what I can do when I get home and what I need to get done at the time. Normally when I travel I have a little time in the evenings to add a few notes… didn't have that this time at all.

10. Spreading out

I can never leave enough white space… even a full spread where all I put was a half sketch on one plate of food got easily filled with notes, collage and maps etc.

11. Mixing it up
Was a lot of fun to mix up my tools and approaches from sketch to sketch. Sometimes I didn't know whether to ink or not...so sometimes I did both... I really like the variety! But did find it interesting that my love of using my lamy pen is still very very strong!

And leaving the biggest point to last:

 12.  Subject matter.
One of the challenges for my next trip is that I want work out a strategy for including a broad range of subject matter…. I do wish I these pages captured more of what it was like to walk through the streets of BCN for 2 weeks. A lot of that day to day experience is not included in these pages.

There are two factors that have made this a new focus to my travel sketchbooks
1. when I stay for a good period of time in a city I have moved away from a simple 'capture everything I do approach' to a wish to 'describe the city'.
2. I was hanging out with my great friend from Sydney Chris Haldane  who creates the most wonderful travel sketchbooks with a variety of subject matter. Comparing the things that she wanted to sketch with my list of architectural masterpieces was a real eye opener!

I feel like this book is a little too much focused on  architecture... but hey what about point 4. No pressure? Barcelona  is one of the top cities that I wanted to go to from the aspect of architectural subjects -  so why excuse sketching what I really want to sketch. However there are lots of little details - doors, street lamps, signage, shop displays that I do wish I had included….oh! and of course (!!!??!!) sketching more people!!! I am not beating myself up… but it is always good to have a goal for next time!

Ok... I think 12 points is enough for today. There are a lot of other things that I could write... and interested in hearing from you if you have any questions.  

15 comments:

  1. Liz, your sketches of BCN are amazing! What a delightful sketchbook you have created! I do have one question: You said you filled 2.5 large sketchbooks in BCN... Did you continue to fill the third book as your travels continued? Or start a new book with the new location? It used to bother me when I couldn't fill a whole book in one location, because I didn't want to waste the remaining pages, but I also didn't want to fill them with my "everyday life" sketches. So this time I took unbound signatures of paper and bound them together after I got home. I'm always curious about how others solve this dilemma -- or maybe other people aren't so compulsive about it as I am! :-)

    -Tina

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  2. Liz, your sketches of BCN are amazing! What a delightful sketchbook you have created! I do have one question: You said you filled 2.5 large sketchbooks in BCN... Did you continue to fill the third book as your travels continued? Or start a new book with the new location? It used to bother me when I couldn't fill a whole book in one location, because I didn't want to waste the remaining pages, but I also didn't want to fill them with my "everyday life" sketches. So this time I took unbound signatures of paper and bound them together after I got home. I'm always curious about how others solve this dilemma -- or maybe other people aren't so compulsive about it as I am! :-)

    -Tina

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    Replies
    1. Hi Tina... well I used to be exactly like that... but with the larger sketchbook no way could I start a new one. I am posting them as if they are separate books but in fact they are tied together. So my week in Cardiff is split over 2 books.
      I might continue a book with a 'back home theme' for a week or so or use it to stick in my bits and pieces. I am far less compulsive about it than I used to be.
      I DO like your idea though- it is brilliant!

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  3. Great post! And I have to say after reading it that I had the same experience in a few aspects, like wanting to really be with people as opposed to drawing all the time, for example. And the no pressure attitude. I have to work on n. 6 as well, for my back has started to play tricks on me.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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    Replies
    1. HI Beliza - it is a hard balance isn't it between people and sketching (and sightseeing) Sorry to hear about your back. My back is a lot better since I started using my walk stool (though it is something extra to carry and that hurts my neck and shoulder!)

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  4. Hi Liz,

    I liked a lot your color pencil drawings in your sketches.(Was it Barcelona or another album, I am not sure now, but...)I wanted to ask you if they are 'just ordinary' color pencils or some special ones.
    (I am real beginner but I am in love with sketching :)

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    1. thanks atreewalker! Glad that you are in love with sketching... keep going and enjoy every moment (even the'mistakes' which are the best way to learn and move forward)
      I am using watercolour pencils. Faber Castell Albrecht Durer.

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  5. Liz,
    the book is great and i have enjoyed watching you finish them up. thanks for that.

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  6. As Beliza said, great post with lots to think about.

    Sort of linked to 4, I felt great pressure eg at sketch & draw, and couldn't draw due to the fantastic work going on around me even by the last night I hadn't relaxed in these situations. On the otherhand, I like to chat to everyone and loved those opportunities... but should have sketched more.

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    Replies
    1. ah! it is hard. Next year - want to try to sneak in more quick sketches of people!

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  7. Great great great sketchbook !!
    I discover your blog and your sketches via Urban Sketchers, Barcelona is so inspiring and we can see it in your sketchbook :-)

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  8. I know this was a post from last year....and I may have missed it...but what kind of sketchbook? The brand etc? Love all your sketches

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  9. A4 moleskine- see the sketchbooks page of my blog

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