Meet the Correspondent: Omar Jaramillo > Berlin$show=/search/label/Omar%20Jaramillo

"I was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where I studied architecture. I moved to Kassel (Germany) in 1999 to accomplish a master degree. Although I have always drawn and paint, it was not until I started studying in the Uni-Kassel, that I started keeping a travel sketchbook. I had a teacher there who used to do a lot of sketches when he travelled on university excursions. When he retired, I helped to organize an exhibition of his sketches. He brought a huge box full of sketchbooks he had filled since he was an architecture student. I spent a whole day selecting the most interesting drawings. It was a wonderful experience that opened my eyes to a new world. In the last 10 years I have the feeling of being in a long journey. I like to discover the cities where I live, to understand why a place is the way it is and what makes it different and unique from others. Drawing is for me a way to learn to love a place, to become part of it. I like to draw architecture but I am more attracted to urban scenery, portraying how people live in the city. Since I’m a foreigner, everything that locals find normal and taken-for-granted, for me is exotic. I always carry a small watercolor travel set from Windsor and Newton and my sketchbook in my bag. I always thought that drawing was a solitary experience until I found Urban Sketchers. It was amazing to find so many people doing the same thing. It is a great place to share!" • Omar's blog. • Omar's art on flickr. • Omar's website.

Meet the Correspondent: Luis Ruiz > Malaga, Spain$show=/search/label/Luis%20Ruiz

Capturing Chaos

Someone asked how I capture the bustling activity of the scenes I am often drawn in India, and it got me thinking about how I approach it. Funnily, I've never had to think of it before, it's just something I am drawn to and love capturing. So here is an attempt to put my process into words:

At first, any scene with a lot of unrelated shape, color and activity is overwhelming. Where do I look first? What do I focus on? And if I were to draw it, where do I start? But if I look at the scene for a while, a pattern starts to emerge. What looks like a random moving mass of people has a flow, a direction and a structure. Once I can "see" the bigger picture, I start to draw, always remembering that even though I’m drawing in the details: the people, the cats, dogs, cars, there is an underlying pattern. 

My challenge? To work within the structure I see, yet not make the scene look too structured and organized. After all, my main aim is to convey the feeling of being on the scene. And that involves capturing my first impression of overwhelming chaos, and of a sensory overload of shape,color, sight, smell and sound. And what do I do to capture the chaos? In the scene below it meant knowing how the crowd generally moved: it seemed to emerge from the mosque at the end of street, straight down the road and towards me before it dispersed to the left and right. But, while I kept this in mind, I drew in everything that disrupted this flow as well: The handcart that blocked traffic, the large yellow umbrella that forced the crowd to move around it. 
Little observed details add authenticity, even if they are unrecognizable in the final sketch: the wheel-like structure to the left is a man holding a wicker basket over his head (to keep the crowds from bumping into it), The funny chromosome-like shape in the crowd, far in the distance, is the large pole carried by a cotton candy seller, and decorated with bags of cotton candy.
When I am working with color, I try not to simply load a brush with one shade (say of yellow) and apply it to everything that looks yellow to me. Almost every little yellow in a scene is different, either because the light hits every surface differently, or because it just IS a slightly different shade. And almost every surface in India is patterned and textured: from the brightly colored saris to old peeling posters on walls, to typography on billboards... each little surface is an opportunity to capture the little stuff that  lends authenticity to a scene. 

Mosque near Crawford Market

I hope that helps explain a little of the method behind the madness! More hustle-bustle and hectic urban life from my travels in India, here on my blog.



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