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Watercolor Sketching in Rio de Janeiro : The Three Big Shapes

September 27, 2014

14Sept17_Rio_01_Corcovado from Sugarloaf_Looking West

Rio de Janeiro.  This town seems impossibly picturesque. The combination of mountainous coast and teeming metropolis.  A landscape like nowhere I’ve been before.

A view like this has to be painted with a keen eye toward simplification. What are The Three Big Shapes? (This is one of my code phrases. Mantras I use to keep myself on track). Here, they are Land, Sea and Sky – with the white city being the shape left behind.

14Sept17_Rio_02_Looking East_toward Jurujuba

This one is my all over favorite sketch from the whole trip. This is winter in Brazil! As a Canadian, this is rather incredible. As the day warmed up and the sun moved, we got Land Sea and Sky in a different set of colors.

14Sept17_Rio_03_Sugarloaf next to Omar

The best thing about traveling and painting with the group. Well, there are many best things – the great company, the shared motivation to paint, paint, paint – but also, being able to look over at a friend’s paintings and see – wow, that’s what I need to do! Exactly there! My rapid sketch of Sugarloaf mountain (above) was cribbed right out of Omar Jaramillo’s sketchbook.

14Sept17_Rio_11_Linda Heaston Dared

This last one, a fun experiment. We were walking back from a long day sketching, and Linda Permann dared us to sketch one more – on the beach, in a puddle of streetlight, looking at the dark water. Isn’t that awesome? Sketching buddies that won’t quit, even when the sun goes down. I honestly had no idea if this was possible, so I’m quite happy with the way it turned out.

Every one of these sketches from Rio is something I’ve never seen before. That is what I love the most about urban sketching. Experiencing something new wherever you go.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. isabella permalink
    September 28, 2014 1:00 AM

    Wonderful– this is a really nice style you have! :)

  2. September 28, 2014 2:27 AM

    Big wow.

  3. September 28, 2014 3:14 AM

    That night sketch is particularly wonderful, especially the rose-colored sky and the ghosty mountains.

  4. myart011 permalink
    September 28, 2014 7:07 AM


  5. September 28, 2014 9:24 AM

    In some places your pic looks even better

  6. Mili_Fay permalink
    September 28, 2014 9:56 AM

    Beautiful. :-)

  7. September 29, 2014 1:09 PM

    Wonderful pictures.

  8. Anne permalink
    September 30, 2014 9:09 PM

    also love your whites – just think, a whole city, twice, certainly does not distract from the mountains and beach, I would have ruined my painting if I had tried to put the cities in. Neat and wow.

  9. October 29, 2014 10:03 AM

    Stunning!! Love the big. 3 tip!!

  10. Sandeep permalink
    May 28, 2016 2:12 PM

    Simplification is allowed and appear beautiful only in the stream of art. No one can question or confront as to why certain bits of the original aren’t represented or why something is present when it isn’t part of the original. Art is at peace, irrespective of anything. Great work :).


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