Headache inducing music!

These guys have been joyfully rattling away all day, the least I can do is grab a quick sketch.


5 and 7 Nicholas St, Auckland

What a surprise to find these 2 original cottages hidden away down Nicholas Street!

Until tipped off about them recently I had no idea they existed in amongst a wall of apartment blocks. As one of Auckland's earliest suburbs it's interesting to imagine what it would have been like amongst 100's of other Victorian houses. I can almost hear the night soil man clattering his way down the narrow alley on it's daily run - some things have changed for the better!


St Mary's College Senior Proms Concert

Wandered along to St Mary's Senior Proms last night to catch our eldest performing with her band. I wasn't quite prepared for how impressive the performances would be, particularly the first numbers performed by the combined St Mary's and St Peter's college band.

Turned out to be a great chance to trying out my new 'Worther Shorty' mechanical pencil that came in the Singapore Symposium goody bag. I can say it's really nice to draw with, the chunky faceted sides seem to fit the hand well and with it's very short length it fits easily in your pocket - just like the A6 Moleskine I was carrying last night. Check out the Shorty review on Parka Blogs.


Rescuing migrants at sea on board HMS Bulwark

Excerpt from a guest post by Dan Peterson on Urban Sketchers

"I joined HMS Bulwark in Malta on the 15th June. The ship’s crew were getting ready to return to sea after a few days respite following their largest rescue of 1200 migrants in the Mediterranean just the week before. I was on board to observe and record, using illustration. Bulwark’s current mission, known as Op WEALD, is the UK's contribution to SOLAS (Saving Of Life At Sea) Operations."

Read more here...

Dan Peterson is a freelance illustrator based in Cardiff, Wales. As one of the editors of the main USk site, we are involved with attempting to bring timely news articles to our readers attention. I was delighted when Dan agreed to supply the first of his posts based on his experiences on board HMS Bulwark - both timely and newsworthy! Read the full post here.


Symposium Final Day

Originally published on Urban Sketchers

As I write this post, it's 2am and I'm sitting in my hotel room trying typing and uploading photos from the day. Reception will wake me at 5:30 am in time to make my flight back to New Zealand, so soon I will be back at home, parked at my desk on a chilly Monday morning trying to come to terms with 4 days of Singapore sketch madness!

It has been a pleasure working with Maria and Parka over the last few days to help bring these correspondent reports. It has been inspirational to meet so many talented sketchers, from so many countries (36 as I understand!), many of which I would never have known about or met if I hadn't attended this symposium

I did attend a couple of workshops today, first I called in to Liz Steels 'Pointless Perspective' workshop. I tried out some her techniques which once again totally challenged my usual way of approaching sketching. Liz is a bit of a character, so I tried to capture her irrepressible personality in my sketch.

Liz Steel demonstrating technique
Next I called in on Matthew Brehm's workshop 'The Structure of light in watercolour' Matt has lots tips and insights into the application of watercolour that I found inspiring. My watercolour box is a muddy shambles so I will be using some of his tips to help clean up my colour application in future.

Mathew Brehm in action

A Raffles Concierge
James Lim tucks in!
Lapin's workshop  'All you can see - 180 degree sketching' really turned my brain inside out. He teaches curvilinear perspective, a technique he has developed to help fit a full scene into one page, a clever approach the disregards normal perspective, it's also a lot of fun.

After lunch I tagged along with Asnee Tasna on his activity - 'Singapore now and then' where we went back in Singapore's architectural history from the ultramodern, energy efficient Singapore Library building back to the Raffles Hotel, built in 1887, a short distance away. Asnee worked on the restoration and redevelopment of Raffles back in the late 1980's so he knows a lot of the buildings history and some hidden corners where we could get a look without being a paid up guest of the hotel. He encouraged us to just relax with some sketches, try a different fun style. A bonus was the ice cream the vendor we passed by selling ice cream sandwiches – it was so hot my Taro ice cream was melting quicker than I could eat it.

Open Sketchwalk and group photo
The day ended with a mass sketch walk and closing ceremony, a last chance to catch up with sketchers over some food and a drink before we headed off for some 'drink and draw' and sketch talk into the small hours.

Open Sketchwalk featuring Vicente and Marina

A late night sketch-off with Lapin

Thank you Singapore, I hope to come and sketch with you again sometime!

Symposium Day 3

Originally published on Urban Sketchers
Day 3 of the symposium was a really fun day.

Stick Man
Today I attended the beginning of Ch'ng Kiak Kiean's workshop 'Extending & Expanding Sketches'. He began with a PowerPoint presentation to give us some background to his work and materials. As he announced early on 'I use the twig!' That's right - he's the guy from Penang, Malaysia who does the most incredible large widescreen drawings.

He showed us a photo of his very own art shop — essentially the tree in front of his house – from that tree he fashions his pointed sticks to suit his unique style, he believes that art materials needen't be expensive — which sounds good to me. 'Extending and expanding' refers to his habit of adding multiple extra pages on to the sides of his sketches - the 'A' series of commercial papers and pads just doesn't suit his view of the world.

Frame Up
Sadly I couldn't stay for the rest of his workshop so I moved off and caught up with Virginia Hein's workshop 'Light and dark with a punch of colour' in front of the Singapore Art Museum. Virginia's workshop was all about about scene selection, then building the scene through lights and darks. She started by handing out cardboard framing cards - kind of like what a movie director might use to select a scene. 'Don't worry about fails!' she said, 'I go for epic fails'. I captured the sketchers using her framing cards to help them select a scene.

The Coach
I dropped in to Frank Ching's architectural drawing workshop. I had no idea he was such a ball of energy. Constantly moving around the sketchers with a towel draped around his neck, he reminded me of some kind of ringside boxing trainer. He says 'The trick is stripping the scene of detail so you can see the underlying geometry'. A great sense of humour too, important I would say when you're helping struggling students understand the difficult subject of perspective. I sketched him in just a few of the postures he assumed whilst coaching the sketchers.

First Impressions
Shari Blaukoph's nearby workshop 'Big brush capturing the first Impression' encouraged sketchers to put down minimal outlines then block in bold shapes first, then add the detail later. '...most sketchers start with line so I'm trying to get them to work the other way'. I'm definitely a put too much detail, and then add some colour sketcher so I found this quite intriguing. Here Kapil from Australia is getting his head around a different way of working...

World Tour
That was the end of the day for workshops so I snuck into the auditorium back at home base to check out Luís Simões talk on his project "World Sketching Tour - Five continents, Five years, One dream". His story is of giving up all worldly possessions, his day job and traveling non-stop. A great story teller, he filled us in on some of the adventures he has had on this journey and what it means to him.

Danger Man
It was Gabi Campanario's turn in the auditorium next for his lecture 'Drawing for Publication — the triumphs and tribulations of a newspaper Sketch Columnist.' Gabi works as a full time journalist and artist for the Seattle Times. We learned that there's more too it than pretty pictures - 'It's not enough that it is a beautiful sketch – you need a little more to make a great story', then he took us through a sometimes funny history of his career as a sketch journalist. A word of warning though, 'It's a fun job but it's very dangerous, I have been attacked by goats!'

Funny Guy
'Capturing mood in Watercolour Sketches' was the title of Zhu Hong's demonstration, and he soon had everyone laughing with his quirky approach to adding a bit of fun to your compositions.

The sketching hand was getting pretty tired by the time a bunch of us hit Little India, but there was just enough time to get Birgit and Petra on paper before the Goat curry arrived.

Symposium Day 2

Originally published on Urban Sketchers

The day started for me with a mad rush to get to the Singapore Design Centre in time for the start of day 2 of the symposium. Talking into the night in a bar in Kampong Glam before returning to the hotel to write up my blog post made for a very late night!

Collecting materials for Richard Alomar's activity
I arrived just in time to find Richard Alomar's excited activity participants getting set for their challenge of documenting and mapping their symposium experience.

9:15 – look for your workshop codes!

Workshop time next so look out for the man holding up your reworkshop code. Before long we're all on our way to the workshop destinations.

I tagged along with Melanie Reims workshop 'Found in Translation' – the influence of Calligraphy in the Figure and Environment.

Everyone came armed with brush pens, Melanie helps them through various techniques to master the brush and suggesting form and posture with thin and thick lines. Easier said than done for those of us used to fine liners and pencils!

"If somebody moves, don't get upset, someone will come to replace"

I had to keep moving, so quickly wandered along to Marc Holmes workshop actors on a stage, sketching characters on the street. The fact that this street is Waterloo Street, a busy street of markets and temples means there's no shortage of characters to practice on!

Li Yun Yong and KC Lee in action on Waterloo Street
Mark Leibowitz and Asuka Kagawa sketch in Marc Holmes worskhop
'Heads, Hands, Stuff' – all part of Marc's process. Kenneth Chia from Singapore in sketch action.
One of the features for this years symposium has been Sketch Passes — no problem if you don't want to do the full workshop thing, just come along and sketch! This group below were on Waterloo street too, and appeared to be in their happy place.

Then lunch time there's no shortage of options and people to hang out with. We had a hilarious waitress who insisted on being drawn, it even earned me a free drink.

Then it was time for Sumo Capecchi's workshop, A Collective Reportage — Religions and popular devotion in multicultural Singapore. An opportunity to gain sketch access to an important buddhist temple – the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho temple, of the goddess of 1000 hands, Kuan Yin. Simo encourages sketchers to observe and use their sketchbook to help process new unfamiliar situations and make a comprehensive reportage.

Simo introduces her workshop
Details inside Kwan Im Thong Cho temple
Jayakrishnan from Kerala, India
 I moved on to Suhita's workshop - Capturing Chaos. Suhita encourages sketches to apply loose sttrokes, then push the background back with shadow values then finally bring the foreground out with bold colour.

I did a quick section of the cxxxx temple before heading back to the centre for the board open talk.

Finally for the day the board gather in an open discussion. They explain what's been happening behind the scenes of Urban Sketchers, such as education initiatives, the work the symposium organisers do and the editorial team and plans for the future to growth of Urban Sketchers.

 I couldn't resist a quick capture of the nearby Sri Krishnan Temple before we headed back to base.

The board took the stage at the end of the day to discuss some of the USk initiatives and projects and to field questions. It's clear there's a huge amount of work going on in the background with education, symposium organisation and editorial work. Pretty amazing considering they're all volunteers.
The USk board — Mario, Gabi, Suma, Elizabeth and Brenda
See you tomorrow!


Symposium Day One

Originally published on Urban Sketchers

Welcome to the Urban Sketchers Symposium 2015 headquarters. This is the Singapore Design Centre – the worldwide epicenter of all things sketchy for the next 4 days! I decided to start the day by sketching the venue and it's neighbour before the 10.30 instructors meeting.

The National Design Centre - center of the world for the next few days
The design centre is a renovated art deco building which once housed the St Anthonys Convent and is situated right next door to the St Joseph's church. I got a quick sketch of it in before the morning briefing.

The Singapore organisers seem to be an incredibly well organised unit and it's clear they've done a lot of work. I enjoyed the early morning instructors briefing - a briefing to some of my all time favourite sketchers - some of which I hadn't even met yet. The day has been a steady stream of sketching and meeting familiar and new faces, then sketching again and meeting more! Lunch turned into a sketch off...

Later on it was registration time. Something like 300+ sketchers from all around the world filtered through to collect their symposium guides and goody bags before heading off for casual sketchcrawl - the perfect way to warm up for the next few days activities.

Kiah Kiean, Marc Taro Holmes and James Richards get amongst it in Purvis Street
I took the Purvis Street sketchcrawl group. Sketchers everywhere I've never sketched with so many people before!

More sketchers on Purvis Street
Then back to the design centre for the introduction. I tried to capture the organisers as they worked to explain proceedings to a captive audience...

Design Centre Reception

See you tomorrow, I'll be back with more.


Hello from Singapore!

I arrived yesterday from a wet and cold Auckland winter to a wall of heat and humidity in Singapore, the temperature here is something like 30 C with energy sapping humidity.

Singapore is spectacular. My first impression is of a super lush park from which incredible buildings seem to sprout.
I've started to meet a steady stream of sketchers that I've only known online. It was awesome to finally meet Liz, Marc and Kumi, some of my earliest online sketcher friends.

My hotel in Little India - designed in Peranakan Style
Little India shop houses!
I'm staying in a funky little hotel in Little India apparently styled in the Peranakan style and it's close to some pretty interesting sketch subjects!

Sri Srinivasa Perumal temple, Little India
I'll be posting again over the next couple of days as I attempt to support Parka and Maria Regina over the symposium.

Meeting Liz and Marc at the Marina Gardens
Sri Srinivasa Perumal temple closeup