• Emma Bijloos

Sketching Amsterdam (Rooftops) with Donald Saluling & Hugo Costa


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 2: workshop with Donald Saluling from Indonesia and demo by Hugo Costa from Spain.



On Friday 26th July me and about 500 other urban sketchers gathered again at the Zuiderkerk for our second workshop. I'd signed up for a workshop by an artist whose work I was less familiair with: graphic designer and illustrator Donald Saluling from Indonesia. Titled 'Thumbnailing Your Slice of Life', Donald's workshop focused on learning how to draw in small frames (thumbnails) as a way to record/journal everyday life.


"In contrast to the current trend where sketchers seem to be drawing bigger and bigger with much focus to the aesthetics rather than the content, this workshop will actually focus on the storytelling part of Urban Sketching by encouraging its participants to draw more concise, observational and meaningful. It will show the participants how to organize their time as they draw small in sizes and short in time, useful for both daily activity sketching or travel journaling." - Donald Saluling

The workshop started with Donald showing us a few examples from his sketchbook and giving a short demo, after which he handed each of us a single sheet of paper which we folded into a small booklet. We were then given three minutes (!) to fill this booklet with as many smaller drawings as possible. The goal here was to create a body of work that was not pretentious in any way, yet powerful in its storytelling capability. One of my drawings was of an ornamented gate which I later found out is called the 'Leprozenpoort' and used to be the entrance to an asylum.



We then had a bit more time to work on one particular scene, using ink for the foreground and watercolor for the background to create depth. I settled down on my folding stool to draw the view of the Oude Schans: first in ink (left), then in ink and watercolor (right).



I then turned a little to the left where my eyes fell on the ivy-covered houses across the water, on the Snoekjesgracht. I'm particularly happy with how this painting turned out: simple, yet effective in telling a story of that particular place and time.



After lunch it was time for my demo with Hugo Costa from Spain/Portugal, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Porto last year. An architect and author of the mind-blowing book 'NYC – graphic chronicles', Hugo is a master of perspective, as can be seen in the image below. In his demo at the rooftop terrace of the OBA public library, he made a live drawing of the entire view - a real 'tour de force'!




"We're used to drawing at eye level or looking up at buildings. This demo will explore the beauty of the elevated scene." - Hugo Costa

While Hugo was working on his masterpiece, I attempted a litlle sketch in watercolor of the view of the Zuiderkerk, the main venue of the symposium. As I worked, an airplane ascended above the horizon, just between the church and a tower crane in the distance. Can you see it?




A great second day! Thanks Donald and Hugo!


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

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