Before I lived in Connecticut I wasn't really a beach person. Now that I'm living inland, I crave a glimpse of water from time to time. It's a good thing we don't live too far from the ocean.
M. surprised me on my birthday with an impromptu trip to Santa Cruz, the original California surfer town. Our lovely B&B, West Cliff Inn, overlooked the boardwalk and the beach.
Just a few minutes' drive away is Natural Bridges State Beach.
Both of these sketches were done on a Fluid 100 hot press watercolor 8x8 block. I'm really enjoying the way paint behaves on this smooth surface.
San Jose sprawls from urban to practically rural; I've only just started to explore it. From the hill behind our house you can see a panoramic vista of towering palms and carved-out hills, drought-parched grass and tile-roofed homes.
You can't go to Singapore without eating ... or shopping. Although I didn't get to see Orchard Road (inexcusable, I know - will have to go back), I did make one purchase: a Hero pen with a bent nib, from Straits Art. It's similar to the Sailor bent nib pen I already own, but shorter and heavier. Its nib lets you make thin and thick strokes by varying the angle of the pen.
I filled its cartridge with the super5 ink that we got in our symposium goodie bag. This is my kind of travel souvenir -- something I'll be using for several years that will remind me of a great experience!
After registration and an opening sketchwalk, the symposium's packed schedule of activities and workshops got underway.
This year, I led an activity for the first time. It was called "Putting the 'Urban' in Urban Sketching." The task was to incorporate found materials -- both as drawing tools and as paper/substrate -- into our sketches, in order to tell the story of a place. I was concerned that Singapore's famously clean streets would yield no interesting scraps to use, but I needn't have worried.
I was blown away by the creativity of the activity participants. One found a scrap of cardboard at Albert Mall food center; another used a splayed joss stick to do a great ink drawing.
I used a palm twig dipped in watercolors to draw this -- not easy!
In this sketch, I used a stray price label, a dried leaf, and coin rubbings to evoke the atmosphere of the vendors.
Virginia Hein's excellent workshop, "Light and Dark with a Punch of Color" was a good challenge for me. I'm so used to working with line that it's hard for me to see just value shapes.
In Nina Johansson’s workshop, "Light in the Spaces Between," we learned to look at the areas between planes, to seek out the changes in value between surfaces.
Nina also showed us how to make subtle warm and cool shifts to our watercolor mixes without creating muddy colors.
Melanie Reim's workshop, "Found In Translation: The Influence of Calligraphy in the Figure and Environment," was inspirational. I loved "collecting" faces and figures with economical strokes of the brushpen in and around the Sri Krishnan Temple on Waterloo Street.
The final sketchwalk was at the Singapore Management University courtyard. It was a tranquil oasis of green, with ample space for sketchers to spread out and choose different views. Some sketched the Singapore Art Museum across the road:
I decided to complete my symposium experience with a sketch of the other sketchers.
And who could resist drawing our youngest participant, who patiently held this complex pose?
All the energy from Singapore will carry us through the rest of the year and onward to our next symposium: USK Manchester 2016 here we come!!