Day 2: Learning from the Masters

[By Rita Sabler, Symposium Correspondent, in Porto]  Spilling my coffee and rushing out the door this morning I make my way to Alfandega where students are starting to gather around volunteers holding up the signs with the names of the workshops. I sketch the commotion as I frantically search for the first workshop I am covering.

Archisketcher’s Guide to Sketching the Big Picture Using Rule of Thirds by Simone Ridyard

I have always been a fan of Simone Ridyard’s loose web-like linework, her minimalist approach to color, the organic dialogue between her linework and her washes,  and her keen sense of composition and perspective.

Simone explained that whether or not we are conscious of it we often use the rule of thirds to achieve eye pleasing harmonious composition. The grid is present on many cameras and allows photographers to place elements of visual interest on the intersections of the lines instead of dead-locking them in the middle.

As soon as Simone sat down to do a demo a street cleaner turned a powerful hose to clean the street behind us–we almost got washed down the sidewalk with the remains of the previous night’s party on Ribeira. Simultaneously a big truck stopped to make a delivery right in front of us blocking our view of the street. Streets of Porto are always full of surprises and comical situations, but the locals are so lovely that things rarely get stressful. It helped that Simone handled everything with poise and sense of humor.

Simone demonstrated how she divides the page in six more or less even rectangles. Since the main subject of our sketch is Ponte Luis I bridge we aligned the main horizontal line of the bridge with one of our helping lines. Simone showed how the tops of the buildings lining the street could be found using the vanishing point using the rules of one point perspective.

One of the tips from Simone: The tops of the doors will always slope down unless you can find a door that is smaller than you.

I attempted to follow Simone’s explanation trying to imitate her style, but I found it difficult to maintain such a loose line while simultaneously draw aligning everything to perspective grid. My 45 minutes with Simone were up and I had to scoot over to the nearby workshop where another outstanding British artist Ian Fennelly was painting a completely different picture.

Ian Fennelly’s “Watercolor and Pen in a Busy Space”

When I arrived to Ian Fennelly’s workshop students were busy drawing colorful facades towering over us in Largo do Torreiro. Ian was cheering them on with hilarious comments like “This class is full of talented artists, much better artists than me.”Ian’s approach is to start with big shapes going straight to watercolor. This took a lot of students out of their comfort zone forcing them to focus on large blocks of color in front of them instead of worrying about complicated details, perspective and angles.

Once the main shapes were on the page Ian allowed students to proceed to brush pens, adding depth and making sense out of the washes on the page. In the next stage he showed how to work on details with a finer pen, adding lines, cross hatching over the watercolor and brush pen foundation.

Largo do Torreiro painted in the style of Ian Fennley. I captured him on the right

I was not familiar with Ian’s work before attending a small section of his workshop. I found myself blown away by the color, energy, whimsy, and amazing textures that Ian comes up with right on the spot.

Demo by Pedro Loureiro: “Sketching Architecture: The Devil is in the Details” 

After lunch instructors did a 30 minute demo of their master technique. I caught up with Pedro Loureiro, one of my favorite sketchers from Lisbon, Portugal. Pedro has a very calm confident voice and excellent command of English.

Pedro Loureiro and my imitation of his 5 minute sketch of the São Francisco Church

He showed us how he often makes quick architectural studies in pen and color for his clients back in Lisbon. He talked about which details should be accentuated and which could be skipped. He has a very quick and effective way of applying color washes that communicate light and shadow and accentuate perspective in his work. After his demo he generously offered his time to students to talk about his favorite tools and show us his amazing sketchbooks.


Recent Posts

Lectures and Skit Sketch Presentation Schedule

March 22, 2023

Mark these amazing sessions! There are 2 Lecture Series and a Skit...

Read More

Partner Tickets for Closing Reception are Now on Sale

March 19, 2023

We are so looking forward to meeting you all in a month’s...

Read More

Cancellations and Refunds End on 19 March

March 14, 2023

      If you’re still deciding on your demo/workshop selections or...

Read More

Arriving in Auckland – What to Expect

March 7, 2023

Curious about changing currency,  travel visas, electric plugs used in NZ,  Auckland...

Read More