Following on from my three quiet days in Porto the week before the annual Urban Sketchers Symposium, today I will share what I got up to during the final days prior to the start of the big event.
I knew that a lot of people were turning up in Porto over the weekend, so I was expecting Saturday to be busy. However I somehow managed to have a solo morning which included a coffee and pastel da nata.
Just for the record, I am actually an introvert. I have a big ‘ON-switch’ but I really need to have solo time to recharge. The USK Symposiums always require my biggest ‘ON’ mood, so I’m always trying to sneak in any quiet sketching time I can.
Before my coffee, I attempted to sketch this view of the Cathedral from the park near the hotel. I was drawing with a new Lamy Safari filled with Lilly SketchInk and it didn’t seem to be flowing smoothly. So I didn’t really enjoy doing this sketch even though the view was inspiring. I’m still sharing it with you – just so you know that I’m not always happy with my work (how could you possibly think that anyway?)
Note 1: I achieved a little shading by applying water while the permanent ink was still wet.
Note 2: A few people are asking about what the SketchInk is like. I need to do some more testing now that I am back home to determine whether the lack of ink flowing at times was a result of the ink or the new pens. So stay tuned.
My next sketch was this one of San Francisco – lots of great volumes here. I would like to do another version (or two) of this as this was a bit of a ‘kitchen sink’ attempt – trying to do everything at once.
This year all the workshop instructors also did a short demo. I was not going to take my demo group up the hill to Clerigos, and so was thankful to find a nearby church which would be suitable for the 30 minute session. I had fun doing this sketch – can you tell?
On Saturday afternoon, the local USK group organised a sketchwalk from the Dom Luis I bridge to Alfandega. It was great to meet some of the local sketchers and see who else was already in town.
I knew I didn’t have the focus to do this scene in watercolour (talking to too many people) so I limited myself to a quick loose ink drawing with tone added by a warm grey Ecoline Watercolour marker.
Oh! it was so much fun to hang out with obsessive sketchers once again.
After the sketchwalk I wanted to keep sketching so I found Anne Rose (and Birgit from Germany) and we searched for some balconies to sketch. On this occasion I was looking at the shadow shapes first, but I didn’t see it clearly on the first attempt.
And then one more quick sketch before meeting up with Mike Botton for dinner. Yes, Palladian Odyssey Mike had just arrived. It was lovely to see him again and I found it hard to believe that the Palladian Odyssey Tours were part of the same trip.
After dinner we went for a walk and was surprised that there was a concert happening inside Igreja da Misericordia – one of the Baroque churches I had sketched earlier (but forgot to share in yesterday’s post!). So here is my external sketch, a view inside and the very loose record I did at the time.
The thing which is so unique about the bridges in Porto is that they are very high – connecting the upper levels on either side of the river. This is the famous Dom Luis I bridge.
My great friend Suhita Shirodkar was now in town (we hang out together a lot during a Symposium) so after breakfast we headed to her workshop location (Praca da Ribeira) so she could do some prep.
And then we crossed the river for this view. While sketching this, Eduardo Bajzek from Brazil walked up. We had a great catch up – it’s years since we have had a chance to talk. It comes in handy that I can sketch and talk at the same time.
Soon it was lunch time so we met up with Jane Blundell (and family) for lunch at a shop that sells jam in tubes (they look like paint tubes) and I actually sketched the food! It’s rare that I do this unless I’m by myself.
And finally at 9pm we went for dinner. It was an old-style dinner where we were all sketching each other. I call it ‘old-style’ as it was standard practice a few years ago but we don’t seem to do it as much these days. So much fun – even though I haven’t done any people sketching for months!
We had instructor registration at 11am, so Suhita and I headed off for a quiet morning sketch and ran into Ian Fennelly. So we joined him (sitting on a doorstep) and sketched this small church. An Urban Sketcher (who I know) walked out of the building we were sitting in front of, and Ian spent more time on the phone (coordinating meeting his group) than he did sketching. So much for a quiet morning sketch!
A number of sketchers walked past while doing this sketch as well. No hiding anymore – USKers absolutely everywhere!
The afternoon was taken up with an instructors outing to Pocas Port Wine Cellar. I didn’t really sketch much due to a video interview which I was asked to do. So this is all I got done that afternoon.
In the evening we had a second instructors outing to the incredible Livraria Lello (bookstore). I will create a separate article for this.
My final chance to do a sketch before the Symposium started – another go at the buildings in Praca da Ribeira. Using a Sailor Fude pen with the new De Atramentis Urban Grey Document Ink. (More about this ink on another occasion, I promise!)
And just before the first Symposium sketchwalk, Mike and I had lunch with 7 out of the 12 participants from the first Palladian Odyssey Tour in 2017. A special bond has been created with this group (and anyone who has done a PO Tour) – so it was incredible to have seven of the from the one group together again at the Symposium.
And in between all these sketching times I was doing a lot of catching up with old friends, and meeting new ones. The hotel breakfasts were a lot of fun, chatting with different people each day. Here is Rob Sketcherman, Ian Fennelly (so great to meet him this year) and Alvin Wong from HK.
I made a conscious effort to had a few conversation with USKers who I had only really said hello to in previous years. One of these was James Hobbs from London whose thick lines are so inspiring (especially as I’m on a mission to get people to go thicker than EF – another topic for another day).
Hmm… it’s a bit tiring putting these articles together. Did I really do all this stuff in a few days?
Yes! I did… that is the nature of the Urban Sketchers Symposium and especially a big one like this with 807 people registered.