Just when you thought the Brazil posts were finishing… I am finally about to getting around to sharing a few highlights and reflections. I had nearly three weeks in Brazil and it was a totally unforgettable experience. Not only did I love being in such a vibrant place but I was always in the company of fellow urban sketchers - either visiting like me or locals. I was in Sao Paulo at the start and the beginning of the trip and it is interesting to compare the sketches from the two periods - so that is what I want to do with this post.
There is no better way to start a trip than by two serious sketching days with Marc Taro Holmes. Every symposium we try to have at least one day together (the tradition started in 2011 with our Belem Day) so to have 2 was a special treat. Sketching with Marc is always fun - we have all kinds of fascinating and insightful art chats and he always manages to produce masterpiece after masterpiece - even when he is using a non tested palette of new colours! You can read all about Marc's sketching and the impressive collection of sketches he produced with this limited palette here.
I had not been doing much urban sketching in the lead up to the trip - seriously sketching too many teacups - so it was a total shock to the system to be out on the streets in a mega busy city on my first day after my long haul flight. The first sketch of the Cathedral (above) was done in the most intense situation ever - surrounded by 'interesting' people, a man shouting behind us, a woman shouting at me (and blocking my line of sight), people coming up to look and chat… and I was worrying at all times about security. But if you sketch regularly somehow your reflex sketching kicks in and I was thankful that Marc was doing most of the chatting to onlookers. You can read the full report of the day on my blog.
I find that it takes me 24 hours to get the feel for a new place - the vibe, the local colours and light - and how to translate it onto my page. In addition, after a long haul flight I need time, to get back into 'the groove' - the state where I am feeling comfortable and my work flows out of me. But even when I am in the goove there is always a number of tensions that are bouncing around in my head. A big scene or a control composition? - how should I use line and colour? are two recurring themes while I sketch. Till I found my feet, I sketched in my traditional way of line first then colour. But on the second day I made a switch after this sketch of Casa das Rosa. It is a beautiful 'coffee mansion' on Ave Paulista… one of the last standing.
These days I find the line first approach can be a little dull - whilst I like the outcome I have more fun when I mix up line and colour. For the rest of my time in Sao Paulo that is what I did.
Sketching the magnificent Estacau de Luz in a looser and quicker style - mixing line and colour and using the variable thickness line of my Sailor pen. It is faster if you add colour first and you are less likely to overdo the linework.
An afternoon spent in the Consolacao cemetery - using a similar approach and with a very limited palette. Read the full report of the day here.
On my return to Sao Paulo after the symposium (and after a week in Rio) there is quite a change in my work. For one thing my colour is stronger and I was really striving to base my sketches on good strong shapes. Doing Behzad Bagheri's workshop was a real catalyst for me to focus even more on shapes and rich watercolour mixtures on the page. There is a difference in the subject matter too - still architecture but a radical shift in style! Pre:Paraty I was with Marc sketching all the elaborately decorated buildings from early 20th century. Post:Paraty I was with architects (Emma Fitzgerald and local USker Ronaldo) and we were tracking down modern buildings.
I really fell in love with the work of Lina Bo Bardi and her MASP building on Ave Paulista. I was so in awe of its strong architectural form and worrying about doing it justice with my lazy perspective that I decided to throw caution to the wind and paint the red first. I was happy with my decision!
Another strong form was the Auditorio Ibrapuera by Oscar Niemeyer. In a similar approach I drew the sky first. I do find that if you focus on shapes the perspective will try out right (or right-enough!) Full report of the day here
My final day in Brazil was a Lina day - we went to SECA Pompeia in the morning. I know of this building through Eduardo's sketches but the real thing blew me away.
The afternoon was spent doing a tour of Lina's private house - the Glass House. There wasn't any time or opportunity to set aside for a 'decent' sketch but I decided to test out the ideas I had picked up from Richard Alomar's Unfolding Story activity at Paraty. Here is one page of my quick note taking approach (you can see how my recent Gehry construction site sketches have flowed on from this)
If you want to read all my detailed posts from my trip (lots of photos as well) I have a summary post on my blog.