Brazil Trip: Unfolding a Sketch Story with Richard Alomar

September 20, 2014 | Leave your thoughts


I will write up a report of my own workshop from the symposium next week… but I want first to describe the other significant activity that I was part of as a participant. These are not pretty pages but they are just as exciting as the explosion of pigment on my page from Behzad’s workshop!

Activity A6 Unfolding a Sketch Story with Richard Alomar
This activity  went from 5-7pm on the Friday evening
and involved documenting Comércio Street
From the initial description:
The goal of the activity is to document the experience of walking through a new space using sketches, words and hand drawn maps. Often, as a sketcher, my first instinct when visiting a new place is to sit down and sketch “something”. That initial response, while well intended, often interferes with the real experience of sketching place and the story of that place. I often visit fantastic places, and recount wonderful experiences, yet my sketches of “this and that” really have nothing to do with the real story.

How true is that in my experience! And particularly during this visit to Paraty.
I had been there all week and yet did not fell like I knew it well and certainly had not recorded in my sketchbook all that I wanted to describe the place. This idea of how to have a richer range of subject matter in my sketchbook – and a better record of place –  has been in my head since last years fortnight in Barcelona.  I also couldn’t help thinking back to my trip to Santo Domingo 2 years ago when I had draw a map of the historical area in the weeks beforehand and knew the place mentally before I arrived on the ground.

It had taken me 3 days before I even got a copy of a map of Paraty! (This lack of organisation and pre-planning is so out of character with what I like to do normally) I had gotten myself confused and lost by the almost regular grid and the sameness of the streets. It didn’t help that my first hotel was  on the edge of the area off grid – I had really not worked out clearly where anything was! To add further to my lack of oreinetation,  I realised that I spent most of my time in Paraty looking down and not looking around – making sure my feet were secure as we strolled the streets with those  crazy hazardous cobblestones!

So to hear Richard talking about looking at the map and then walking the map really hit the spot for me.

Earlier this  week I shared my initial reflections from the trip and one of them was “In my development as an artist and painter have I somehow lost the architectural visual note taking that is what started me on the whole journey in the first place?”

This activity was SO what I have been needing to do. It involved doing a quick thumbnail of what we could see, drawing a map and walking the street recording anything that caught our attention – recording with words or images  – objects, features, sounds, smells, activities, people… not producing a pretty page but recording stuff in the most efficient way possible.

As usual… I went off on a slight tangent… not bothering to try to do the whole street as I got distracted drawing far more items in the first block! But that is ok because I was very excited by the idea and already seeing ideas and ways of developing.

At one point I said to Richard jokingly “I have been hanging out with the wrong people – need to get back to hanging out with some architects” I really didn’t mean that at all – I LOVE my art and painting friends… but it was a real light bulb moment for me to realise that I have neglected this note taking type of sketching – the quick sketch and noted drawing/diagrams was a huge part of my work life as an architect… so it is time to start incorporating into my sketchbook as well as developing my painting.

Hmm…am I making sense?


Anyway – huge huge thanks to Richard for a wonderful event.

It was so special to see a large group of 30 or more sketchers walking the main shopping street in Paraty in the dark taking notes and doing quick sketches.

I was able to use some of the ideas from this activity this weekend as I prepared for a travel sketching workshop (more about that next week)

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