Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Brazil, Part 1: Flora and Fauna

9/1/14 Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor, Canson XL 140
lb. paper (banana tree, Paraty)
During the two-plus hours I took to scan 111 sketchbook images from my 16-day trip to Brazil, I thought long and hard about how I would select and arrange the ones to use in blog posts. I considered arranging them chronologically like a diary, which would be the easiest and fastest. If I had been blogging day by day from Brazil, that’s certainly the way I would have done it, but it’s not the most useful or attractive presentation for the reader. (I know this from viewing other blogs that present a huge stack of images the same way I empty my suitcase of dirty clothes: in a messy, disorganized heap on the floor.)

Now that I’ve been home more than 24 hours (11 of which were spent sleeping) and have the luxury of hindsight and objectivity, I’ve come up with some sense of order other than chronology. (You can see more sketches as well as photos in this Flickr album.)

If I had to describe what impressed me most about the parts of Brazil I saw (Rio de Janeiro and Paraty on the southeast coast), I could do it in three words: flora and fauna. Everywhere I looked were trees and other plants I had never seen before – and the trees and plants I’m used to were nowhere in sight. I also heard and saw many exotic birds, though never at the same time, so I’m not sure which birds made which calls. (If you’ve ever played Angry Birds on your smartphone, you’ve heard many of the birds I heard, though in a more comical form. I’m not kidding – I kept hearing Angry Birds! Edited 9/10/14: Greg did some research on birdcalls and figured out that the Angry Bird I kept hearing is a Great Kiskadee.) Here are sketches of the few flora and fauna I managed to capture. 

Edited later: I meant to say something about the monkeys. While I was researching Brazil, I kept reading about monkeys that seem to be everywhere, even in the cities, not just in the Amazonian jungles. I was determined to see some – and I did! The first monkeys I saw were tiny with huge manes of hair, darting around like squirrels at the midpoint tram stop on the way to the top of Pão de Açúcar (better known as Sugarloaf). In the sketch at the very bottom of this page is one that sat still for quite a long time – I was able to make two small sketches in my pocket notebook (see more about this notebook and its advantages). The second time I saw monkeys was at Jardim Botânico, an incredibly lush botanical garden in Rio. I had heard that one specific area of this 133-acre garden was full of monkeys. So intent was I on finding them that I hardly sketched any plants! Silly, I know, but I kept thinking that if I spent too much time sketching plants I’d run out of time when I got to the monkeys. Fortunately I did find them before time ran out, and I made two pages of gesture sketches of these equally squirrely but larger monkeys hopping from tree to tree and running around. A test in fast sketching, indeed!

8/31/14 Pilot Iroshizuku Take-Sumi and Tsuyu-kusa inks,
J. Herbin Vert Olive inks, Caran d'Ache Museum pencils,
Canson XL 140 lb. paper (Forte Defensor Perpetuo, Paraty)
8/27/14 Platinum Carbon, Diamine Chocolate Brown and
J. Herbin Vert Olive inks, Museum pencils, Zig marker,
Canson XL paper (Bandeira Square, Paraty)

9/3/14 Take-Sumi ink, Canson XL (birds and trees sketched from Sugar Loaf)

9/6/14 Museum pencils, Canson XL (monkeys at
Jardim Botanico, Rio)
9/1/14 Museum pencils, Take-Sumi ink,
Canson XL (bananaquit birds at Pousada do Ouro, Paraty)

9/1/14 Museum pencils, Take-Sumi ink,
Canson XL (birds at Pousada do Ouro, Paraty)

9/6/14 Museum pencils, Canson XL (pheasant? at Jardim Botanico, Rio)

9/3/14 Museum pencil, Diamine Chocolate Brown ink, Rhodia notebook
(monkey near Sugar Loaf, Rio)


  1. Welcome back! Great way of organizing your sketches. I love how you have something in most of the sketches that shows the scale of the huge leaves or trees. That poor little monkey at the end looks like he's having a bad hair day...or too much static electricity. Super sketches, Tina!

  2. 111 images!!!! Wow, that's really a lot. That's nearly a half year's work for me. Right now, 2/3 through the year, I have 225 sketches in my Usk folder. Great sketches! I'm just getting to all your post-USk symposium writing now as they all went up while I was on a trip.


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