3.5.3 A limited palette study

For this limited palette study , I decided to go back to the roofgarden that I drew for the townscape sketch walk in color.

This is the study I did for that exercise:


This time I step back a little further and focus more on what is going on on the roof and beyond, as the wall was most interesting for a study in color because of the many different shades of yellow, and not so much for a limited palette.

I use conte sticks in black, white and ochre and keep the square format on an A3 sheet.


I feel this drawing captured the mood of the street and the building much better than the colored version. I also think there is a clear sense of depth. I enjoyed immensely working with the Conte sticks-  something I will experiment more with.


3.5.2 Study of a townscape using line

I should probably better NOT count how many grey hair this exercise has given me, and how many hours (days!!!) I have spent on it.

I started with this sketch in orange ink over two pages of my A5 sketchbook ( as the A4 sketchbooks are spiralbound and I preferred having this more uninterrupted image).


I chose this corner of buildings close to Praca de Principe Real in Lisbon, because their difference in height and character formed this quirky little corner that is a mini city in it’s own. The road to the left goes uphill and the one to the right downhill, a situation I was struggling with terribly to get the perspective right (ish). I was quite happy with this drawing despite all it’s imperfections, but thought I would try a more simple situation to develop into a bigger and more precise drawing.

Here I tried another part of Lisbon city, in Av de Liberdade, this time a long straight avenue, so easier to draw, but still an interesting view as the buildings are so different from different epochs. Also two pages of A5 with purple ink.



Finally I decided to go back to the first drawing (I know, I know….) and develop it into a more precise A3 line drawing in black Uniball pen. I decided to skip the row of parked cars along the pavement and focus on the buildings.



So I am glad no one was watching the process here, days and cups of tea later.. I am happy because before this course to draw anything like this would have been an impossibility . I am also frustrated to have spent so much time on a drawing that is not interesting to look at and at being so slow in getting perspective and drawing straight lines. I am also annoyed at having added that truck on the left at the last minute, so I will crop the drawing down to this:




3.5.1 Sketchbook of townscapes

For this sketchbook of townscape drawings, I chose to come back to the Barrio Alto neighborhood in Lisbon where I did the first sketchbook walk for this chapter. It is a charming neighborhood with winding cobblestone alleys and crooked houses. It has many hills and stairs so many houses are on several levels and you can find yourself drawing at an eye level of the second or third floor.

I though I had gotten over my fright of sketching in public after the Marrakech sketch walk, but unfortunately discovered that I still felt so very awkward that I interrupted it yesterday. Today I had another go with new courage and found more quiet spots.

These are pencil sketches in my A4 book with written notes. I don’t usually use written notes this much, but tried as it was part of the exercise, and found it very interesting what stood out when I had to write it down.


I first got attracted to this little house in the Travessa das Portugueses because it has a small extra fairytale house on the roof. It is a very cute, cobblestoned alley , small house, small windows and doors. It is very loved because there are pots with flowers and herbs everywhere, and Tibetan flags. But at the same time it tells a tale of struggle because the paint is peeling and it is very humid with mold in many places. The small windows must let in very little light. There is such a forest of TV antennaes on the roof that it also tells a tale of many different people housing here in a small space. If I would chose to develop this into a bigger drawing , I would show the extra little room with balcony and flowers on the roof.


The second spot that attracted my attention was this corner of Rua da Almada and Travessa da Laranjera because of the orangetree with shining orange fruits on it against a yellow facade, painted in so many different times with different yellows that you could make a colorchart by looking at it 🙂 This house too has it fair share of green mold. This would be fun to draw in colour with the vibrant orange, various greens and the whole scale of yellows. Today is a sunny day though and this spot is entirely in the shade.


Lisbon is famous for it’s tiled house facades and it was the beautiful intricate blue tiles that attracted me to this building. It was also in a more open sunny place, so I had more play of light to draw. This house seems like a robust mansion compared to the last two smaller houses, and is in much better shape, but it too has numerous places where the tiles are missing and traces of green mold as well. I am also fascinated by the electric cables here, snaking everywhere around the house fronts and sometimes just bundled boldly crossing from house to house. I am used to this quite nonchalant way of dealing with cables in Asia, but find it quite fascinating here in this otherwise very orderly European city. Here my viewpoint is at the handlebar of the motorbike , which is the groundfloor to the right, but becomes the second floor to the left , as there is a steep drop there.

Here I developed a part of this building in two 10cm squares.


For a detailed study I chose to focus on the tiles and the corner with electric cables and part of a balcony with flowers. I think this piece gives a feel for the whole of the building. For the tonal study I chose the same viewpoint and cut, but left out detail to focus on the light.

As always I would like to develop at least these three studies, but will choose only one, as I am again spending so much time on the exercises that there will be no time left to develop an assignment piece….

I enjoyed the little 10 cm square drawings and will try out keeping the square format for a larger drawing in color.

I decided to return to the first house with the roofgarden again for another detailed and tone study (just can’t get enough of these exercises ):



And then develop this part in color:


I like that the flowers give the scene some more life and I think that I captured the different yellows of the wall as well as the general feel and state of the building.


3.5.4 Statues


I am at the start of Part 3 and jumping way ahead here by going directly to exercise 4: statues. The reason is that I will be out travelling again, and my absolute favourite statue is the one of at the entrance gate to my house.

It is a statue of Ganesh and his mouse that I commissioned from a local stonecarver. Ganesh is the elephant headed God, the remover of all obstacles. He is placed at almost every entrance here in Bali , and is called upon for new beginnings to remove all obstacles for new projects. So maybe it is the perfect start for this new chapter of the course that I find quite terrifying  🙂

After a few disproportioned trials in charcoal, I decide to use pencils (3B and 6B) instead for the drawing in A4, so I can use the eraser freely.


I spent FAR too much time on this drawing, and in the end it got too “stiff” again. But to be honest I am quite amazed at how precise and detailed it is, I didn’t really believe I could draw this. My viewpoint is in height with the feet, I am sitting on a stool in front. It is not possible to draw it from the sides, as there are flowerpots obstructing the view. Also, the statue is clearly carved to be looked at from the front.

This was the first time I spent hours sitting and looking at this Ganesha, and I was amazed at the beauty and detail of the work! Even the mouse has garlands of pearls cascading around it’s body. The little baskets in front are offerings, that my Balinese friends offer every day.

I decided to try a more scribbly free version in purple Uniball pen so I wouldn’t be able to use the eraser. This is slightly smaller than A5.


This scribbly version took far too long and in the end I crowded it with so much detail, it’s not scribbly at all, but almost as stiff as the pencil drawing. I needed to set a time limit!

Today there were flowers at Ganeshas feet instead of baskets of offerings. I am still constantly in awe at the care and love and beauty of this culture.

Another small trial, time limit 15 min:


Hm, not an improvement, the whole statue just went sagging..

I will try drawing the Ganesh in watercolours instead, to avoid too much detail. A4.


This version shows some of the character of the statue too, more dreamy and softer, that feels closer to the real statue than the detailed drawings. It feels like I am doing everything backwards here though. I start with the finished drawing and then work towards some rough sketches 🙂

I will get back to the statue exercise in due time, but for now my bags are packed, I leave for the airport soon, and I am happy Ganesh is in my sketchbook!

A whole chapter of exercises later.. and I am very grateful that this was was done long ago- because I really really should start on the assignment instead 🙂

So just a few very quick sketches from a statue that I like in Lisbon:


This is a statue honoring Franca Borges in Praca de Principe Real. The figure , representing “the Republic” in bronze is leaning against roughly cut stones , where there is a medallion with the profile of Franca Borges on the top stone. I like the mix of detailed bronze and roughly cut stones.