I had the great honor of being one of the workshop instructors at the Urban sketchers symposium in Amsterdam in 2019. As usual, four days of fun, meeting old friends and making new ones, and drawing together, alongside discovering a new (to me) city.
The 33-37°C made the workshops a bit sweaty, but everyone stayed positive and worked hard anyway. Luckily, my workshop spot at the Montelbaanstoren offered a bit of shade here and there, which kept us from getting grilled in the sun.
It is always such a boost to teach at these symposiums, I consider myself a real lucky duck for getting the opportunity. The learning environment is a dream for a teacher – everyone is there to learn, determined to pick up something to get better at what they are doing, and everyone is supportive and generous with sharing and discussing their work. And best of all – I think I´m the one who learns the most! I always come home from teaching urban sketchers workshops filled with energy and inspiration and with lots of ideas that I´m eager to start working on.
Meeting my fabulous workshop groups, seeing Amsterdam, going out night sketching old Citroëns, eating good food and hanging out with good friends made this symposium another unforgettable sketching event. Forever grateful to everyone who participated and everyone who volunteered to work during these fantastic four days!
I spend some time at the summer house every year, and of course try to find time to draw while I´m there. Sometimes I feel like I must have drawn everything interesting on the island already, but nope. As soon as I pick up the pen, I see new interesting things to draw. Or, I draw the same things as before, and find that they are just as interesting to draw this time around.
The house itself is a must, almost every year. It is a tough perspective challenge, but fun. Managed to squeeze in the neighbour´s house too, this time.
I brought my old Kremer pigmente watercolour box this year, almost forgot I had it, but had lots of fun rediscovering the colours. I find Kremer pigments quite lovely to work with, but a little different from many other brands of watercolours I´ve tried. Some of them are a little bit… looking for a suitable word here… chalky? with an almost dusty feel to them when they´re dry, almost like pastel crayons. But in a good way. (I´m not a fan of dry pastels…)
A boat or two usually slips into the sketchbook every year too. It sort of goes with the territory on an island.
Also, almost every summer, I renovate one or two windows. The house is old, and the window frames need a lot of TLC. This year I took a little time off the sanding and painting to draw a bit of the process. Those seemingly boring and untidy things that we usually don´t even waste a cellphone photo on are often the most interesting drawing subjects. I quite like this one. 🙂
Sometimes it´s fun to take your sketches a bit further, to see what you can do with them in another medium or as an idea for other works. The watercolours I did last year of people sleeping in puddles of watercolours are one of those little projects.
They all started with this sketchbook page (below) that I drew during several occasions when my train to work was late. Central station in Stockholm (and, I guess, train stations everywhere) is always full of people waiting, and sometimes the wait gets long, and some of them fall asleep.
I find sleeping people an interesting subject to draw. A body in rest is so different from a body standing up or moving about. The proportions change because the body sinks into itself, and it gets tricky with folds on clothes and bags and stuff that these persons keep close to them. Intricate and fun to draw!
And I thought, what if these folks had something softer and more cushy to sleep on than the wooden benches of Stockholm Central station? Hence the watercolour clouds.
Choosing a rough grained watercolour paper gave the opportunity to experiment a little with granulating pigments, which I think lends the clouds more body and life – plus the bonus of being incredibly fun to play with.
I have been revisiting the veteran garage near where I live every now and then during the last year or so. This is a place where (mostly) retired firemen repair vintage fire engines, and it´s been so much fun to have the opportunity to pop in and draw there whenever I can.
Apart from sketching while these guys expertly fix these old beauties, I get to overhear their funny banter, watch some pretty nifty problem solving and have real nice conversations over coffee.
Also, I get to enjoy these incredible cars. There is just something so great about the curves of older cars, and drawing them is like taking your pens and colours out for an adventure. I don´t know how many times I´ve had to measure properly to be able to believe my eyes about the proportions of these cars – drawing them is like laying a big jigzaw puzzle and hoping it will fit in the end, or solving tricky math problems.
And of course it´s a joy to see the cars go from near ruin to mint condition over time. I so love the fact that there are enthusiasts who keep old vintage cars alive and kicking. (Also very happy that I´m not doing the job…)
The last few years I have participated in Inktober, a drawing challenge where you make an ink drawing every day for the month of October. It was started by illustrator Jake Parker, and is now a world wide drawing happening.
Every year, there is a list of prompts you can use to help you get started with your drawings, which is both fun and challenging, but in 2018 I decided to drop the list and go for portraits from movies instead. I figured I needed some portrait practice.
I used a full sheet of Arches satin 300 gsm watercolour paper, a fountain pen (Namiki Falcon) filled with black De Atramentis document ink, and three waterbrushes filled with different dilutions of the same ink.
And so I paused a movie each evening to draw a face, each one placed randomly on the same paper. Fun!
On the last day of the month, I realised there was quite a lot of space left between the portraits, so I decided to fill it with portrait painting quotes (there are quite a few funny ones, if you look for them).
In the end, this might be the weirdest composition on a sheet of paper that I´ve ever made, but I had a lot of fun doing it, and got a lot of portrait practice in the process.
Skröna (Tall tale) is a long sketchbook with pencil drawings concerning a summerhouse I share with my extended family. I worked on it for most of the spring in 2018, and it was exhibitied at Vårsalong (Spring salon) at Norrbyskär´s museum in June the same year.
I used all kinds of pencils and graphite for this book, and had a lot of fun with the Portuguese graphite product Artgraph by Viarco (you can see it in the video clip below). Like painting watercolours with graphite, and leaves a matte graphite surface when it dries. Fantastic material.
It felt like a great bonus to be mentioned in the local newspaper´s (Västerbottenskuriren) article about the exhibition, with one of my drawings included.
On a whim, a while back, I bought myself three Bic Cristal pens, you know, those classic cheap no-good ballpoints that´s been around forever. I bought one black, one blue and one red. And I started drawing with them.And wow! These things are pretty fantastic drawing tools!
They´ll give you super soft hardly visible values, and strong, bold colour, depending on how much pressure you put on the ball point. The ink flows surprisingly well, and it´s easy to make nice transitions between light and dark.
I have been plaing around with using the three colours together, or one or two together with my usual fountain pens with black ink, putting one colour in the foreground and another in the background, to make a clear distiction between the two. I was a bit surprised how well it works to use bright red as a background colour in the top drawing!
These drawings are from the last meetup of 2017 with Stockholm Urban Sketchers. We had lunch and listened to super cool music with South Station Stompers at a bar called Lilla Wien at Södermalm in Stockholm. Such a great environment to draw in, we stayed for hours! 🙂
Top drawing: 19 x 25 cm, Pilot Falcon with black DeAtramentis document ink and Bic Cristal ball point, bottom drawing: 19,5 x 16 cm, same drawing tools, only different Bic colour. Both on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook pages.
I am part of the Urban sketching community, and Stockholm has it´s own local group that meets up on the last Sunday of every month to draw together. Good fun, of course, and new friendships as an extra bonus.
Due to work, I have had the opportunity to join the USk group in Eskilstuna too. The Eskilstuna crowd has a higher tempo than we do in Stockholm. They meet every Tuesday lunch, do a sketch, have a fika and chat, and then head back to work. For me, this limited time is a challenge, but a lot of fun. I am constantly trying out ways to speed up my sketches a bit, not always succeeding, but the process is fun.
20 x 20 cm, Lamy Safari with De Atramentis document ink, and watercolours, on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook page.
Doing laundry is a great chance to draw one of those things that we do without even thinking about it. It is a slow process and leaves heaps of time for sitting down, observing the everyday grind. Which always turns out to be more interesing than you´d think.
18 x 26 cm, Pilot Falcon with DeAtramentis document ink and watercolours on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook page.