• Emma Bijloos

Bending perspectives with Reham Ali

From 24 to 27 July the 10th International Urban Sketchers Symposium took place in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The Symposium is an annual educational event organized by Urban Sketchers (USk), a nonprofit dedicated to fostering the practice of on-location observational sketching. I was one of the lucky holders of a Symposium Pass, which gave full access to 3 workshops and a demo with a great lineup of international instructors. Day 3: workshop with Reham Ali from Egypt.

Again we gathered with about 500 urban sketchers at the main venue of the symposium, the Zuiderkerk, for our final day of workshops and sketchwalks. I'd signed up with a workshop by Dr. Reham Ali from Egypt, who creates incredible drawings of architecture, mostly in her hometown Alexandria. A professor in Interior Architecture at Saudi Arabia's IAU university, Reham's a real expert on perspective and composition, as you can clearly see in the examples below from her Facebook-page: www.facebook.com/rehamsketchbook/.

Reham's workshop was titled 'Change Your Point of View! Adding More Drama Into Your Scene'. According to Reham, this could be achieved by first gaining a solid understanding of the 'laws' of perspective, then bending and manipulating them to create a more vibrant and dynamic scene.

"In life, your point of view makes lots of difference. It also matters in drawing and sketching. Small changes can make big impact on your work and take you over your limits and make you think out of the box. Because urban sketching is all about telling a story of a place or a building..." - Dr. Reham Ali

Then followed a demo in which Reham showed us how she turns this knowledge into practice. Choosing the entrance of the Zuiderkerk as her subject, Reham began by drawing the outlines in ink, using different fountain pens to create variable flowing lines. She then employed a mop brush to paint the larger areas - splattering and splashing for extra effect. I particularly enjoyed watching her do this - I couldn't wait to start painting myself in this way! Finally, Reham used a finer brush to add the details.

Then it was time to paint ourselves. Following Reham's example I chose the church-entrance as my subject, only viewed from the other side. Below you can see the result, also next to Reham's painting. I had so much fun working in this way, which is quite different from how I usually work. Reham especially liked the lower part of the painting, with its expressive brush strokes and red splatters used to paint the carpet.

After lunch I joined the final sketchwalk of the symposium along the Oosterdokskade. Due to the heat of the previous days, I hadn't participated in any of the previous sketchwalks, and I was happy to finally catch up. With the lessons from the previous workshop by Shari Blaukopf on sketching watercraft in mind, I chose the replica of the East Indiaman moored at the Martime Museum as my subject. And added some Reham-inspired splashes, just for the fun of it!

Finally it was time for the traditional group photo. Urban sketchers - both Symposium pass holders and participants in the public sketchwalks - joined at the Kattenburgerplein. As you can see (click on the arrow in the picture below), it was a huge crowd!

Thanks to all the volunteers who organized this Symposium - it's been an amazing and inspiring experience! Next year: Hong Kong. Perhaps see you there!

All images (c) Emma Bijloos, unless stated otherwise.


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