Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ultimately, It’s About People

Sagrada Familia
Barcelona! When I first heard confirmation that the rumors of an urban sketching symposium in Barcelona were true, I was thrilled. Although I didn’t know much about this city except what I’d seen on Rick Steves’ show, I had an image of an exciting, vibrant city filled with old and new. My image was correct, except a hundredfold. I expected a large, bustling city, but its intensity nearly overwhelmed me. From the sheer extreme immensity and bodaciousness of the Sagrada Familia (probably the single most impressive manmade thing I’ve ever experienced) to the sea of humanity cruising down La Rambla at any given moment, everything about Barcelona felt intense, over-caffeinated and fully saturated. I loved it, and at the same time, it exhausted me.

Combine all of that with being with 200 people from around the world who are equally passionate about sketching as I am, and the collective energy we produced was probably enough to light up the Sagrada Familia! I am grateful to the hard-working symposium team that brought us together.

I picked out a couple of my most memorable Barcelona sketches to post here. The type of place you could sketch every day of your life for a year and still find new things to capture, the Sagrada Familia took my breath away every time I turned. My husband and I spent all day there, yet I felt we had barely brushed the surface. By mid-afternoon, I realized I still hadn’t sketched it, so I braved the blazing sun, found an empty bench (empty only because it wasn’t shady) and took half an hour to sketch it (all the time I could stand that heat). It was the manmade equivalent of the Grand Canyon, and I sketched the equivalent of one rock.

Arc de Triomf
A second memorable sketch is one of the Arc de Triomf, for a couple of reasons. The Arc was the designated location of the group photo for all symposium participants preceded by a general sketchcrawl. When I got there, the Arc itself was stunning to behold, but what caught my eye was all the sketchers. I think it was the only sketch opportunity that all symposium participants as well as ad hoc sketchers were available for, so literally hundreds of sketchers were scattered all over the grass, benches, everywhere I looked. As excited as I was to be part of the symposium, I hadn’t expected to feel so moved to see so many sketchers in one place – and to know that I was fortunate enough to be among them.

The second reason my sketch of the Arc is special to me is that it was my first after taking Inma Serrano’s workshop, “Rhythm in the City.” Before her workshop, I would have stood at the foot of the Arc in such awe and dismay that I probably would have chosen a small detail to sketch – not the Arc itself. But her approach toward sketching and her way of seeing architecture as living creatures liberated me to take on the whole Arc – and it was the most fun I’ve ever had sketching an architectural structure!

As much as I learned from the workshops that formed the meat of the symposium, I think what was most important was being part of an amazing collective energy. My most memorable moments in Barcelona are about meeting sketchers I’ve long admired online; chatting with fellow participants about our local sketching communities; and sharing a common passion even when we barely shared a common spoken language. After the paint has dried and the last sketchbook page has been scanned, ultimately the Urban Sketching Symposium is about people.

To see more sketches and photos from Barcelona (as well as my following week in Germany), please see my Flickr set.

Tina sketching Sagrada Familia in the scorching sun.


larry said...

Something about this post gives me the feeling that I sketched in Barcelona with you. Love your Arc sketch as the watercolor application makes it so dynamic. Wish I could do some of that. Thanks for the great trip.

Cheers --- Larry

Reinoldo Klein said...

Very sensitive and inspiring post. Thanks for share this great experience.Greetings from Brazil

Unknown said...

I think you found the exact way of putting what the Symposium was for most of us.

Thank you and glad to know you enjoyed it so much!

Vicky said...

Tina, this is a lovely and eloquent post. I agree with Silvia's comment above. The sketching was fantastic but the warm, generous people (of Barcelona and of USK) are what made it such truly wonderful experience--and all in glorious Barcelona!
I enjoyed sketching with you and hope to do so again.

Unknown said...

Tina, I agree with Larry's comment above. You portrayed the essence of people and place so vibrantly! I can't wait to see you on a sketch crawl in Seattle. And I am forever grateful that you introduced me to Gabi and Urban Sketcher only a year ago at Kruckeberg Botanical Gardens in Shoreline!

isaac duenyas said...

Thanks for your nice post, you make us feel proud. Best!

Swasky said...

Thank you so much!!! You got it!!!

MiataGrrl said...

Thank you, everyone! You and Barcelona will continue to inspire me, long after I've returned home.

Memphis Urban Sketchers said...

I've found the experience of the group picture moving as well, for each of the symposiums I've attended. It is a moment that crystallizes the shared experience of the symposium, and it's a feeling I've carried with me from each event.

Liz Steel said...

hi tina- was so nice to meet you!!! and I agree with your comments... its all about people - People are always more important than art. It is the creative energy of the people that is the biggest impact. Love your approach to the arc as well. happy sketching!