I always find it useful to bring a sketch pad with me wherever I go, so that I can capture the scenes that occur in everyday life. I love to draw interesting architecture and also scenes of street life. When travelling, there will always be surprises and unexpected moments and it’s the best possible training for doing my visualisation work. We recently had the good luck of going on holiday to Lisbon, and I was very excited to record some of the charms of that beautiful city.
Lisbon is full of quirky buildings, often extravagantly decorated in stunning tiles. The pavements are made from black and white stone arranged in extraordinary patterns, so that they appear to undulate as you walk across them. Everywhere you go, picturesque yellow trams climb the steep hills and I never tired of stopping for a Pastel de Nata, a coffee and a sketching opportunity. I particularly enjoyed drawing the Estrela Basilica with its elegant dome and belltowers.
Our visit coincided with one of the major feast days of the Portuguese calendar, when the streets were full of partygoers, many of whom wore comic Sardine hats. Our apartment had a great view over a busy square: this was fabulous for people-watching in the evening, though not quite so amusing when the partying was still continuing at 5am!
Drawing cartoon maps is a great way of familiarising yourself with the layout of a city and making what might otherwise be chaotic or overwhelming into a manageable image.
My favourite pen of the moment is a Staedtler chisel-tip pigment liner. Depending on how you hold it, you can get extremely fine lines as well as fat black lines when you need emphasis or shadow. Many of the images on this new website are drawn with this pen. I prefer not to use preliminary pencil work when sketching as the benefits of quirky ink lines outweigh the occasional wobble.
I would thoroughly recommend anyone to take a sketchpad on holiday. Even if you don’t usually draw, do bear in mind that these images are just for you and the more you draw, the more confident you’ll become. And of course, your sketchpad will provide you with fantastic memories for years to come.