Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Brazil, Part 5: Symposium Workshops and Activities

8/29/14 twig, Chinese ink, Moleskine watercolor sketchbook (Sketched after
being inspired by KK's magical demo. I found the twig on the ground.)
My posts about Brazil are winding down, but I have yet to write about the meat of the symposium: the workshops and other activities I attended. Different from previous years, the Paraty symposium offered attendees the option to choose from different levels of participation. I chose the full workshop, activities, social and sketchwalks pass, which enabled me to choose up to four workshops and as many other activities and sketchwalks as I wanted. (I got Greg the lowest-tier sketchwalk pass, which allowed him to come to the opening and closing receptions and sketchwalks. He also received his own swag bag and certificate!)

This flexible attendance plan really appealed to me because I had the opportunity to experience a wider variety of activities and meet more people whom I probably would not have been able to meet if all I had done was attend workshops.

8/28/14 Super5 ink, Pitt Artist Pen, Moleskine watercolor sketchbook
("The Sketched Reportage" at Engenho D'Ouro Alambique Cachaca distillery, Paraty)
My first workshop was Simo Cappechi’s “The Sketched Reportage,” which was one of the most interesting experiences I had in Paraty. Participants got to take a bus ride to the Engenho D’Ouro cachaça distillery and sketch the distillery process as we learned it. Rather than teaching sketching techniques, Simo focused on the process of telling a story through sketches. (As it turned out, this was the only day of the symposium with torrential rain, so I was happy to spend it mostly under cover! Other workshops weren’t so lucky.)

8-29-14 watercolor, Museum pencils,
Moleskine watercolor sketchbook ("In the Mood":
Two sketches of the same scene -- calm above, and stressful below)
The next morning I attended Nina Johansson’s “In the Mood,” during which we explored using color, texture and other techniques to convey different moods and feelings with our sketches. A particularly interesting class exercise involved working in small groups, which allowed us to discover that different cultures can apply very different associations to colors.

My third workshop was “Feeling the Edges” with Liz Steel. Although she is a professional architect, Liz’s approach to sketching has always struck me as
8-29-14 Diamine Grey ink, Cretacolor Studio Artistik
marker, Moleskine watercolor sketchbook
uniquely expressive, and her workshop reflected that expressiveness – all without uttering the P (perspective) word! While the first half of the workshop was about learning to be as careful and accurate as possible in understanding an architectural form, the second half was all about expressing that form. She also showed us an easy way to make all the windows line up!

In the afternoons I attended a variety of activities that gave me a wide range of fun and enlightening sketching experiences. At the Portrait Exchange (also referred to as the Portrait Party), led by Juliana Russo, pairs of participants spent short periods sketching each other, producing a series of portraits. The group I attended was so large that we didn’t form the traditional matrix of drawings that usually results from this exercise, but it was still just as fun to meet our partners, sketch each other and see the amazing results. (A few of the portraits I made are shown in the previous post.)
8/30/14 Museum pencils, Moleskine watercolor sketchbook
(In Liz Steel's workshop, this was my careful, accurate rendering
 of Santa Teresa church. See Brazil, Part 2 for the expressive

Hearing Ch’ng Kiah Kiean’s presentation and then seeing a demo of his unique style of dry twig sketching was nothing less than magical. KK’s demo was so popular that he ran out of sharpened twigs that he had prepared in advance, but being the DIY girl that I am, I picked up a twig from the ground to give it a try. I’m going to be doing more twig sketching soon!

8/29/14 Platinum Carbon ink, Moleskine watercolor sketchbook
("Color Swap": my drawing, color by Flavio Ricardo, Bandeira Square, Paraty)
Color Swap, led by USk President Jason Das, was a fascinating exercise in collaboration. Participants paired up, and both made a waterproof ink drawing of the same or different scenes. Then the pair switched sketchbooks and applied color to the sketch drawn by the partner. (For one of the sketches, my partner turned out to be Flavio Ricardo, a sketcher whose work I have seen and admire on Flickr.) It was inspiring to see the way another sketcher would interpret my line drawing – and the way I painted someone else’s sketch.

8/30/14 Super5 ink, Moleskine watercolor sketchbook
(Part of my sketch map from Richard Alomar's
activity to make a guide of Rua do Comercio. Note the sleeping
black dog, who appears in my sketch of the Rosario church
in Brazil, Part 2.)
Probably the single-most practical sketching idea that I learned at the symposium was in Richard Alomar’s “Unfolding a Sketching Story. Specifically related to travel sketching, the activity involved walking along a Paraty street and making what I would call a sketch map: an idiosyncratic visual and verbal guide for oneself to get oriented to a new place. Richard showed us several examples of his own sketch maps made in accordion-folded Japanese sketchbooks during his travels. I wish I had learned this idea my first day in Paraty! I would have figured out the lay of the land much more quickly, because a map of one’s own making is always more memorable and functional than one handed out by the tourist’s info office. Going forward, I’m going to start every travel adventure by making a sketch map of a new location.

Finally, here’s the activity that left me beaming: At the symposium’s closing party, instructors and other participants donated original sketches for a silent auction, and I took home a breathtaking sketch of Paraty by João Catarino. I can’t think of a better souvenir.

The sketch by Joao Catarino that I won in the silent auction!


  1. And you're not sharing Liz's window secret with us? lol Looks like you had the perfect combination of activities with the workshops, demos, etc....a bit of familiar sketching and some challenges. Love your twig sketch. How many sketchbooks did you fill up?

    I made a concertina sketchbook last I have to decide if I should make another one just in case. The sketchbook has 12 sections on one side so that gives me 24 sections in all. I'm also bringing 5 x 7 and 8 x 10 watercolor paper to do actual paintings in Lake Como. I hate trying to decide what to bring. lol

    1. Liz's window trick: Instead of drawing each box individually, she draws all the horizontal lines first, then all the vertical. Works great! Re: sketchbooks: Always bring more than you think you'll use! I brought 10 signatures and filled 7.5, so bringing home only two unused ones wasn't so bad. Better than running out and trying to decide what to use for the last part of the trip! Have a wonderful time, Joan! And show us your concertina sketchbook!

  2. I was going to ask the same question. Thanks for sharing Liz's trick. It was what I guessed it might be. I'm glad you had such a good time. In retrospect, it seems wise to have chosen a variety of activities for your pass.


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