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

Direct to Watercolor Part 4 of 4 : Back to the City

[If you're linking in from somewhere, this is part 4 of 1 / 2 / 3 / 4]

14June22_Sq_Saint_Louis_Diptych
[Square Saint Louis, Montreal]

I figured it was time to try direct watercolor painting on some complex urban subjects. My previous paintings had been somewhat easier to manage, being in more simplified settings. (Huge tree shapes, isolated, simple structures).

So I headed down to Montreal’s ‘painted ladies’ – the Victorians at Square Saint Louis. This first try was a bit of a shock – harder than I expected to capture these intricate rooftops. All the gingerbread and fish-scale tiles. You can be the judge if this one is a success. I’ll call it a learning experience.

14June22_St_George_Anglican_Diptych
[Saint George Anglican, Montreal]

Moving on to this view of Saint George Anglican church, in downtown Montreal, across the street from the monolithic sandstone block of our central train station, I find a more suitable view.

Still quite a challenge. In real life it’s a busy intersection, lots of traffic, and much of the important information in the church is covered by foliage.

Here’s a series of steps showing how I broke the view into ‘The Three Big Shapes’. I have a section in my upcoming book, in which I suggest a theory. An iconic, or 'symbolic' landscape painting could be made of only three shapes - Sky, Ground and Subject. So I say three big shapes, even though in reality it might be five, or seven or how ever many shapes you need.

14June22_St_George_Anglican_Step01

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Any scene, no matter how complex, can be simplified into these ‘puzzle pieces’. What I've been calling logical chunks’. The goal of the exercise is to see how FEW of these shapes you need to use. This is the essence of simplification. What can be merged into a shared silhouette? What internal details can be abstracted away?

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I try to make each of the shapes I've identified with one continuous bead. Carrying a wash down the bell tower, stopping at a logical spot along the ground line. Or working across the roof line of the train station, infusing the whole shape with the grey-green tone of copper cladding. This gives the puzzle pieces an internal unity of color, and sharp edges between plane changes. Where you stop an edge is just as important as where you start.

14June22_St_George_Anglican_Diptych

The last step is the small dark details that turn the puzzle pieces into architecture. All the window ledges, lamp posts and traffic lights. What architects sometimes call ‘street furniture’.

So, thanks for reading all of this! That's the end of my project on direct-to-watercolor urban sketching. I hope that was interesting, and as always, feel free to send any questions you might have.

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