Rewind! Portland Symposium July 2010

August 28, 2014 | Leave your thoughts

As it is too hard to post to my blog while I am in Brazil, I thought it would be a good chance to revisit the previous Urban Sketchers (USK)Symposiums – I have been to all of them. These Rewind! posts are my own reflection on what I got out of the events at the time and/or the impact on my work now. It is not a full description so please excuse the lack of links to the names referred to. Please look up the Archive section on the side bar to read the full descriptions that I wrote at the time 

The first symposium had a very friendly relaxed feel to it while at the same time totally pumping with creative energy. Amazing to meet so many online friends and make many more friends. The closing event when all the sketchbooks were put on display showed a staggering quality AND quantity of work- many people filling an accordion fold moleskine sketchbook over the 3 days.

The night before we had a correspondent dinner – there were 15 of us in total I think. An expanded version of the night before in Seattle – need I say more!

The big thing that I got from this first symposium was CONFIDENCE! Confidence to go for it, confidence to sit on the street and sketch, and how to build confidence in my own work (because it is mine!)

It was also the first time I had really done any art workshops (ok, I had done 1 previously) and so I absorbed everything like a sponge! So much to pick up from everyone around – not just the instructors! I also learnt that at events like these sometimes everything is a little too much and not to put pressure on yourself to produce your best… but just absorb as much as possible.

First morning I managed to sketch the Mayor of Portland!
I had just finished doing Veronica’s drawing people workshop. I had been a little overwhelmed, using a different sketchbook…but during lunch when someone said that was the Mayor – I didn’t think, I just drew!

Back in 2010 I wasn’t a fan of perspective (ie. avoided it whenever I could) – so Frank Ching’s workshop was great. His voice was in my head for the rest of my 10 weeks of sketching this trip.

More dinner sketches….

Two sketches from Matt Brehm’s workshop. Working small and playing with composition of the page

And then a simple single sketch that I planned more carefully.

Feeling very frustrated that I wasn’t sketching any architecture – crazy quick sketches in between sessions.

I got my complicated building fix on my extra day in Portland on the Monday after the symposium.

This first symposium did so much for my sketching and I was able to implement what I had learnt – to absorb it and make it mine – in the 10 weeks following as I sketched my way through these destinations.

Kansas City

New York

Scotland – including the Isle of Lewis and Harris

England – tour of  great houses and teahouses


Rome – standing on the narrow, busy streets.

I would never have had the confidence to do all of this without the encouragement I got from sketching with others in Portland.

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