On Friday of the Urban Sketchers Symposium I took Richard Briggs' workshop Play and Rhythm: How to Capture Character with Limited Content because I'm very interested in the way he captures information with a very minimal line. We walked over to Amsterdam's "Love Bridge" and had just the most perfect, quiet, shady spot.
Richard started us out by having us wander around to find things that most interested us about the area and to make a list of words describing what we found. He was interested in having us focus on the relationships between these things that made Amsterdam Amsterdam. I found this part very helpful as it pushed my looking - I kept seeing more and more that interested me and that I wouldn't have seen otherwise. He also said, "If it was up to me I'd have us looking for 90% of the time and drawing for 10%," which says a lot about his methods.
The sketch above is one of my favorite spreads from the whole trip. It's in a Stillman & Birn Alpha 8x10, with a Lamy Safari & Noodlers 54th Massachusetts ink.
Our instructions from Richard were to draw things from the list we made. I'll admit, I was not 100% paying attention when he was giving instructions, so I didn't know if we were supposed to do this in his style, which is very distinct, or just draw like we normally draw. I opted to draw like I normally draw, and when we looked at everyone's sketches, I saw that everyone else's sketches were made with a very minimal line, like Richard's. Oh well - I gotta be me!
I made sure I had the correct instructions for the final drawing, which shows my interest in Amsterdams' "public spaces" - the tiny walkway and not-well-kept tree on the left - versus Amsterdams' "private space" - the lush trees and plants around doorways and stoops. And also the relationship of houses to street to water. It was an interesting exercise, but not my favorite sketch.
Oh and I intentionally left out the bike because I figured we didn't need another Amsterdam bike sketch - ha!
After the workshop I had an absolutely lovely lunch at Droog with Shawne, Liz, Maria and Peggy. Sharing a meal with old friends and new is one of my favorite parts of the Symposium.
I attended Rita Sabler's demo Unfolding Stories: Recipes and Ingredients for Visual Storytelling in the afternoon. Rita is an amazing sketcher/storyteller so I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about her process. We had a great spot near a market in a shady and breezy area, so as I listened to her I started sketching this interesting structure in the background. Later I realized that this interesting structure is the Zuiderkerk, the impressive building hosting the Symposium, and one of the most-sketched buildings at the Symposium. It made me realize that what I had been saying and teaching since the 2018 Symposium in Porto was true: sketching your everyday world prepares you for bigger sketching opportunities. Because I've been purposeful for the past year in finding and taking advantage of opportunities to sketch and filling up many a two-page spread, I approached this big moment with confidence and ease, not even thinking about it as a big moment.
At the Drink & Draw I drew without an agenda, just layering people and buildings to give a sense of the setting.
Later that night, after cooling off in my hotel room for a bit, I ate dinner at a little Spanish place down the street from my hotel and ended up sketching the ubiquitous Amsterdam bike.
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