Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Sketching with the USK Netherlands

The Urban Sketchers Netherlands organised a sketchcrawl in Maastricht last December. Since the city is about 2 hours away by car, some of us sketchers from Luxembourg decided to go and join them for the day.

I arrived just in the nick of time for a workshop help by René Fijten. The idea of the workshop was to document a place going from the general feeling to a detail. René is a great teacher and he was kind enough to translate everything for the non Dutch speakers so we could all benefit from the exercise as much as possible.

For the first exercise, René asked us to sketch the general view of our meeting place, describe it as we saw it. Was it a busy place? a small location? etc.

Then we stopped at a passage. Again: what were our impressions?

We then had to choose one of the facades that were more interesting to us and document it.

And finally, finish with a small detail.

I found this approach very interesting and a good exercise to keep in mind when sketching outside. I think it would make for a very interesting composition on a big double page, for example.

After the workshop, and after lunch, I joined other sketchers at the bookstore Dominicanen, an old church re-purposed as a library and a gorgeous place.

There were tons of great spots to sketch in there, but I decided to challenge myself with a birds-eye view over the hundreds of clients on the lower floor.

It was such an interesting viewpoint that I did a second sketch, this time focusing only on the people. So much can be said about a place merely through the body language of the people there!

Only too soon it was time to share all the sketches and for the group photo. The USK Netherlands made a great little clip documenting the sketchcrawl.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Just wondering...

I like to sketch random people from photos found online. It's a great exercise and, since they are total strangers, less pressure to make a good drawing.

Old mugshots are particularly interesting. For one, I love how different people looked in the past. Their hairdos and clothes particularly. Some of the men even look positively dapper.

Sketching these faces always makes me wonder what their lives looked like and why they were arrested.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Belated accounts

I have been remiss with publishing my sketches form the last Urban Sketchers' sketchcrawls, so here they are now.

In December we went to the Christmas market, which is slowly becoming a tradition of ours.

The Christmas market in the capital has grown a lot over the years an can now boast three main locations. This time I focused on the small ice skating rink on Place Guillaume II. The day was wonderfully sunny and the rink was full of people.

A mulled wine at a nearby café surrounded by friends were the perfect end to a lovely aftenoon.

In January we went to the Mudam. I was very pleasantly surprised at the big turnout: 17 people came to sketch with us this time!

It was the last day of the Wim Delvoye exhibit, an artist that has already been shown at the Mudam several years ago. Here are a few of his works. Tattooed pigs (I have mixed feelings about them, but they looked so friendly I couldn't resist sketching them).

One of his Cloaca machines.

I'm not sure these metal trees were part of his exhibit but I really liked this view, specially with two of my fellow sketchers in the background.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

A leisurly stroll around Walfer

I live in a municipality, or commune, called Walferdange. It is adjacent to the capital and boasts its own small shopping centre, spa and cultural centre with sports fields and even part of the university of Luxembourg.

Before the freezing temperatures started, I decided to go on a solitary sketchcrawl to explore Walferdange, or Walfer as the locals call it, armed with a fountain pen filled with ink and a small sketchbook.

My stroll first took me to the local train station, or rather to the Walfer Kulturschapp with the train station in the background.This place looks almost like an abandoned shack and not so much like a place for culture, which is partly why I like it. I love when buildings are re-purposed, specially if it is for culture.

The function of this building was a mystery to me for far longer than I care to admit
Next stop, the Prince Henri cultural centre with its football (or should I say soccer?) field. As chance would have it, a football game was taking place that afternoon. I wasn't curious enough to find out which teams were playing, but it gave me the opportunity to see the place in a more lively way.The teams were young, the players all teenagers, and the spectators probably mainly family and friends of the players.

Unsuspecting spectators being spectated on :D
Walfer has several beautiful mansions and other interesting older houses, a real treat to sketch. I chose to try my hand at this one, mainly because it was on my way home, but there are several other interesting ones, which I will definitely sketch some other time.

I will have to organize a sketchcrawl around the commune sometime once the weather gets better.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

A journey through time at the Tramsmusée

When you look at old photos of Luxembourg-City you may be surprised at finding out that there used to be trams all over the city. Unfortunately they were completely removed in the 1960s in favour of buses, which were more fashionable and more economical at that time. I love trams, so I can't help feeling that the city lost part of its character in favour of being more mainstream and modern.

So it was with some curiosity that I participated to latest urban sketching session organised by LUCA at the museum of public transportation, commonly known as "Tramsmusée".

In a small room, you can go through the evolution of public transport in Luxembourg, with one example of electric tram, horse tram, tram coach, bus, etc. on display. There was even a bus just like the old school buses that used to take me to highschool. The common colour to all is a dark, almost indigo, blue with creamy yellow borders.

Nowadays there is not just one colour of bus. Depending on the model, the operating company and even possible advertising they can range from white to red to rainbow-coloured and the occasional old-fashioned dark blue reminiscent of the ancient trams. 

At the moment there are construction sites all over the city, the biggest project being... to reintroduce trams to replace a big part of the buses. They say that only idiots don't change their minds, but I find it a pity that we lost the historic trams and their charm, which cannot really be replaced by modern models. 


It would be quaint to see a few old rickety trams run through the city, like Lisbon and its yellow trams. Maybe they will use the old carriages on special occasions. I would definitely be in line to take a ride in one of them.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

InkTober 2016

So I tried the InkTober challenge again this year. I wanted to do the same "one drawing from imagination" thing I did last year and it started out pretty well...

... until it didn't anymore.

A combination of having to travel abroad for work, getting a cold and feeling generally uninspired (for a few months already) made me accept the fact that this year's InkTober month would only have 11 days for me.

This made me realize that I had probably put too much pressure on myself and that sometimes, in order to not lose joy in something you need to let it go for a while. Which is also why I haven't been posting much lately. I'm hoping that phase is slowly coming to an end now.

Here are my InkTober drawings for this year. I hope I'll do better next time.

You can see all my past InkTober drawings here

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Wandering through Lisbon - family and beach time

I usually spend at least a week in Portugal visiting some of my family and going to the beach in the central region of the country. This year, however, I only spent a long weekend in Lisbon, so I was not expecting to do any of these two things: see any of my family and go to the beach. So it was a very pleasant surprise when I ended up doing both.

On Saturday, I met with one of my aunts and a cousin who live in the extended region of Lisbon. I was treated to a homemade lunch (my aunt is one of the best cooks I know), then a short expedition to a beach in Ericeira followed by a visit to Mafra and ending with a delicious dinner (frango no churrasco, barbecued chicken like I only find in Portugal).

We stopped at a place called Aldeia do Sobreiro on the way. It is a place dedicated to ceramics where you can find a small miniature reproductions of a mill and different rooms showing how people used to live in the past. I couldn't resist making a very quick sketch there, the only one of the day, as I didn't want to bore my family.

On Sunday I met with one of my co-workers who was in Lisbon with a friend for the weekend as well and we went to the beach in Carcavelos. The tide was high, so the beach was very narrow and people were almost lying on top of each other. Not my favourite type of beach, but I was so happy to be able to actually go into the ocean that I did not care at all.

Carcavelos is located on the Atlantic coast, not far from where the Tagus river ends, so the water was cold, but fairly quiet, quite different from the beaches I am used to around Figueira da Foz, where the waves can be very strong and the water's temperature a bit colder.

It was amazing to be able to bathe and I had fun seeing my friends getting in the chilly water. The temperature can be challenging when you are not used to the Atlantic at all, but once you are inside it is perfect.

I had time to make a quick sketch while my bikini was drying. The lady on my left offered me the perfect framing. When I first came out of the zone, I noticed that I had gathered a few admirers, her included. Sketching is always a great icebreaker.

We ended the day at a tiny restaurant around Chiado with a lovely bottle of vinho verde.

I'm already looking forward to my next visit.