Returning to Rio: Tinting your old sketchbooks
While preparing for my Craftsy.com class on Travel Sketching, I went back to an old sketchbook from the 2014 Urban Sketchers conference in Brazil. These were my doodles from the afterparty in Rio. Here’s a link to the original story. One of the best sketching walks I’ve every been on :)
Craftsy ended up using this one for the ‘title page’ of the video (though they photoshopped it into a studio shot of a sketchbook). A student recently asked to see the before and after – so here’s the original drawing, made on location, compared with the painting done almost a year later.
I think you can see my strategy here – The values are clearly established in the drawing – so when I go to color, I’m following the light’s and darks I’ve indicated for myself. And I’m thinking in terms of solid shapes of color. Not floating dabs, or brustrokes – I want strong silhouette shapes.
I usually try to paint on location, but at the time I was a bit tired of carrying my gear after almost a week of teaching and traveling. I had just been sketching with Paul Heaston – and watching him produce some excellent pen and ink – I decided to borrow his method, working with just a pen and a lot of cross hatching. It’s quite a relief sometimes to be able to pack light.
I always liked this sketch – it was Lynne Chapman’s idea to draw this police checkpoint. I’m not sure I’d have had the guts to draw them on my own, but in a sketching group you are always braver.
The police are everywhere in Rio. I had never seen so many armed cops – it seemed like the police force has to be one of the largest in any city. There were six of them on every street corner where we stayed near Copacabana. I suppose I’m being a typical nervous american tourist – even in Montreal I’m used to seeing cops in groups of four at the metro stations. But still – when walking around, I was wondering – why are they everywhere? Is the crime really that bad?
Our friend Rafa said this was a good neighborhood, so we didn’t need to worry – as long as we were out of there by sundown.
So – again, normally my advice is to paint as soon as possible after the drawings – the same day if possible, so your memory is fresh. It’s even better to paint right on the spot, so the color will be more true to life.
I don’t think I’d have gone back to these if I hadn’t scanned them. It’s a bit easier knowing you have them archived. The drawings are important memories for me and I’d have been nervous about ruining them. Of course I needn’t have worried – they always turn out in the end. If the drawing is solid the color is always a nice improvement. You really can’t go wrong :)
I’m looking forward to the next urban sketchers symposium in Manchester. We should know in a few months if I’ve been accepted as a instructor. I hope to get a chance to draw with some of these folks again :)