Episode 6: USk from Other Eras

May 10, 2020 “Urban Sketchers from Other Eras”

“Why Read the Classics”– the famous title of the acclaimed Italian writer Italo Calvino says it all. We need to understand the past to make next steps. It is impossible to cover all of the historic references to drawing on location, so Mário Linhares talked about the dangerous (and beautiful) trip done by Eugène Delacroix to Morocco in the 19th century.

Hugo Costa shared his personal journey following in the footsteps of Louis Kahn quite literally, as he traveled to sketch from exact locations as the 20th century American architect.

Mário Linhares, former USk Education Director, joined us from Lisbon, Portugal, to talk about the sketches of French painter Eugène Delacroix. In particular, Mário told us about Delacroix’s trip to Morocco in 1832 as a last-minute addition to a diplomatic trip. Because he wasn’t following his own schedule, Delacroix had to sketch quickly, making notes about color and about the things he was sketching. He would later use his notes about color to paint his sketch with watercolor. When he returned to Paris he made oil paintings from his sketches, but the sketches themselves are rushed and raw, showing us the spirit of the moment. Through his sketches we are able to see how he spent his time, what caught his eye, and what he wanted to learn more about.

Mário recommends the book Delacroix in Morocco by Delphine Le Cesne to learn more about Delacroix and his sketches. Mário said that when he looks at Delacroix’s sketches, or sketches of other “masters” (he mentioned Joseph Mallord William Turner and Pablo Picasso), he can link them to sketches and sketchers he knows; without knowing it we’re all doing the same thing.

Follow Mário on Instagram @linhares.mr


Challenge from Mário

Mário’s challenge is influenced by Delacroix’s notes on color. When you are sketching from direct observation this week, make detailed notes on color descriptions that are connected to your own memories to help you remember specific hues. Wait a while and go back to paint your sketches using only your color notes.

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Hugo Costa, originally from Porto, Portugal, but joining us from his home in Valencia, Spain, told us about his connection to the American architect Louis Kahn. In the 1920s, Kahn took a year-long trip to study European architecture and in Italy started, as Hugo put it, “drawing like crazy.” Kahn started using a carpenter pencil, which he called his “magical pencil,” and his sketches became more energetic, looser, and more about forms and shadows. He later said that in a little village in Italy, he found the essence of his architecture.

Hugo spent four months in Salerno, retracing Kahn’s steps and drawing the same locations and buildings. He was inspired by Kahn’s use of simple forms showing light and shadow and how he expressed information minimally, and worked hard to learn from him. Hugo said as sketchers we need to look at the masters, too, not just Instagram.

Follow Hugo on Instagram @yolahugo


Challenge from Hugo

Sketch forms without outlines, using only shadows to define the form. Hugo suggests squinting to see object’s light and general form, and use shadows to define its form in your sketch, letting the imagination fill in the rest. Use Louis Kahn as your inspiration to use light as your guide!

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