Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

Urban Sketching Symposium, Part 4: Views from Sugarloaf Mountain

One of the highlights of my trip to Brazil was the chance to sketch together with other artists, each with their own unique take on the world. A group of eight sketchers + one photographer visited Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf Mountain) in Rio de Janeiro, and we were there for a good chunk of the day, capturing the view as best as we can. Being among talented peers inspired me to take on new approaches - using Moleskine watercolor book (which I usually don't like), working across the spread (which I normally don't do), and painting directly with watercolors (which I should do more of!) For a group post on what we did, take a look at the post on Urban Sketchers blog.

Even before the climb, you can see the mountain from all around the city. This is a sketch from Santa Teresa neighborhood, with Sugarloaf rising on the left side beyond hillside favelas. We will be taking the cable car seen in the sketch up to the top!

Shiho Nakaza Brazil watercolor sketch sketching "Rio de Janeiro" "Pao de Acucar" "Sugarloaf mountain" sugarloaf

The cable car takes us to the lower part of the mountain. The view of the city from here is spectacular - Corcovado with Christ the Redeemer statue can be seen in the distance, overlooking the highrises by the bay with sailboats dotted throughout the sea. Turkey vultures were soaring in the wind, and occasional helicopter and planes passed through. I tried to capture them all.

Shiho Nakaza Brazil watercolor sketch sketching "Rio de Janeiro" "Pao de Acucar" "Sugarloaf mountain" sugarloaf

The morning mist started to lift, so I can now see the long bridge across the water, beyond the tip of the city shown to the right side on the sketch above.

Shiho Nakaza Brazil watercolor sketch sketching "Rio de Janeiro" "Pao de Acucar" "Sugarloaf mountain" sugarloaf

We'll take one more cable car to go to the very very top....

Shiho Nakaza Brazil watercolor sketch sketching "Rio de Janeiro" "Pao de Acucar" "Sugarloaf mountain" sugarloaf

This is a view from the higher part of the mountain. It was neat to see wispy clouds gliding below my view - we're literally above the clouds! I don't like how the paint pooled in the folds of the accordion-fold sketchbook, but I did get to capture the shape of the bay more clearly from this vantage point.

Shiho Nakaza Brazil watercolor sketch sketching "Rio de Janeiro" "Pao de Acucar" "Sugarloaf mountain" sugarloaf


Another bonus view of the mountains: I did a quick sketch from the plane at Santos Dumont airport as I began my journey back home. Goodbye, Rio. Hope to come visit again soon.
Shiho Nakaza Brazil watercolor sketch sketching "Rio de Janeiro" airport "Santos Dumont"


So many great memories, so much inspiration! I'll keep on sketching to prepare for the next Symposium.
Shiho Nakaza Brazil watercolor sketch sketching airplane window sky clouds


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Urban Sketching Symposium, Part 3: Rio de Janeiro

After the Urban Sketching Symposium in Paraty, I went to Rio de Janeiro for 3 1/2 days, and I'm glad I did. I heard that this city is very beautiful, and I saw it with my own eyes that this city indeed deserves the nickname "Cidade Maravilhosa" (Marvelous City).

First, there are the famous beaches. I live by the beach back home and watching the ocean waves makes me feel peaceful, so this was a must-visit on my list. Our group of sketchers went to Copacabana for sketching and snacking. I left this sketch unfinished to give myself time to dip my feet in the Atlantic.

Shiho Nakaza "Rio de Janeiro" Rio watercolor sketch sketching "travel sketching" beach Copacabana

The crowd started to thin because winter sun was about to set - but the long curving coastline was a sight to behold.

Shiho Nakaza "Rio de Janeiro" Rio watercolor sketch sketching "travel sketching" beach Copacabana


Forte de Copacabana is seen in the background of this sketch done while the sun was sinking and waves were lapping around my feet.

Shiho Nakaza "Rio de Janeiro" Rio watercolor sketch sketching "travel sketching" beach Copacabana

I even had a chance to do a nighttime sketch when I first arrived - the colors on this sketch are whacked because I was working in the dark under a dim streetlamp, but the beach is lit up and cast gorgeous reflections in the water.

Shiho Nakaza "Rio de Janeiro" Rio watercolor sketch sketching "travel sketching" beach Copacabana


Rio is also filled with colonial-era buildings, some in various stages of decay, especially around Santa Teresa neighborhood. We head out to Teatro Municipal in Centro, which is modeled after Opera House in Paris. I tried to aim for a sense of space.

Shiho Nakaza "Rio de Janeiro" Rio watercolor sketch sketching "travel sketching" Centro


I also sketched Igreja Nossa Senhora de Candelária nearby - and included the coconut vendor cart in front of me.
Shiho Nakaza "Rio de Janeiro" Rio watercolor sketch sketching "travel sketching" Centro

As you may be able to tell, I like to include small slices of everyday life in my sketch. I found it interesting that the military personnel was using VW vans.

Shiho Nakaza "Rio de Janeiro" Rio watercolor sketch sketching "travel sketching" people

We also had a chance to sketch our cakes and eat it, too - at Confeitaria Colombo, which has a gorgeous Art Nouveau interior with guilt ornaments reflected in mirrors. My yellow paints are dirty, so I couldn't quite get the golden tone I wanted, but it was still fun to sketch the opulent scenery. (The caipirinha tart I ate is in the sketch above.)

Shiho Nakaza "Rio de Janeiro" Rio watercolor sketch sketching "travel sketching"

On the final day I was in Rio, I opted to visit the Botanical Garden to relax before the flight instead of trying to jam-pack another sketching marathon. There was a fountain with a good view of Christ the Redeemer statue on Corcovado mountain. I checked the compass to find that he has his arms pointing directly north and south, facing east to welcome those who come by sea.

Shiho Nakaza "Rio de Janeiro" Rio watercolor sketch sketching "travel sketching" "Jardim de Botanico" "Botanical Garden" nature

While I'm used to seeing palm trees in Los Angeles, there are a lot more varieties here (including some with coconuts), and many that are quite tall. This is when I discover that having a spread with sketchbook that opens flat comes in handy.

Shiho Nakaza "Rio de Janeiro" Rio watercolor sketch sketching "travel sketching" "Jardim de Botanico" "Botanical Garden" nature

...and my sketching session turned into spontaneous gesture drawings of monkeys! There were a colony of wild monkeys literally "monkeying around" the grounds in addition to marmosets. It was such a treat to see wild animals within the city.

Shiho Nakaza "Rio de Janeiro" Rio pen sketch sketching "travel sketching" "Jardim de Botanico" "Botanical Garden" nature animal monkey "gesture drawing"

I also had a good chunk of time to sketch together with other artists at Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf Mountain), which is coming up in the next post....


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Urban Sketching Symposium, Part 2: Workshops and Activities

I came back very inspired by Urban Sketching Symposium, which was hosted in Paraty, Brazil this year. The main thing I learned from workshops and activities this year is to capture a sense of space by freely switching between lines, shapes and colors.

The first day of the symposium happened to coincide with the high tide, when the streets are flooded with sea water that cleans the streets as it recedes. This sketch was done during the welcoming sketchcrawl near Praça da Bendeira - colorful doorways makes for pretty colors when they are reflected in the water.

Shiho Nakaza Paraty Brazil watercolor sketching "travel sketches" "high tide" "location drawing"

One of the Symposium sponsor gift was a fountain pen from Super5 - this is the first time I drew with a fountain pen, and I like it a lot. I'd like to find a replacement sepia ink and draw with it again soon. This is a view from Rua da Praia, when the water was receding back to the sea.

Shiho Nakaza Paraty Brazil watercolor sketching "fountain pen" "travel sketches" "high tide" "location drawing"

I took an architectural sketching workshop with Frank Ching to learn how to construct the scene on location. It rained pouring down during the workshop (us Urban Sketchers brave the elements!), so we ducked into the nearby café near Rua da Matriz.

Shiho Nakaza Paraty Brazil watercolor sketching architecture building scenery "travel sketches" "location drawing"

The afternoon continued with lessons in more architectural drawing with Stephanie Bower. I got so frustrated with drawing criss-crossing construction lines that I decided to give up on the last drawing and just draw the way I usually do. This is a view of the street with Matriz de Nossa Senhora dos Remedios to the right - and surprisingly I liked the result, even with all the mind-twisting. Apparently building all the criss-crossing construction lines helped me loosen up.

Shiho Nakaza Paraty Brazil watercolor sketching architecture building scenery "travel sketches" "location drawing"

I had another workshop on drawing buildings with Liz Steel, this time sketching Igreja Santa Rita. I did some preliminary drawings before going wild with watercolors. I am learning to appreciate the beauty in buildings, thanks to her love of architecture.

Shiho Nakaza Paraty Brazil watercolor sketching architecture building "travel sketches" "location drawing"

I took a completely opposite approach in watercolor workshop taught by Behzad Bagheri, where I started with abstract shapes and figure out how it fits with what I observe. It was fun to experiment with colors and shapes.

Shiho Nakaza Paraty Brazil watercolor sketching architecture building scenery "travel sketches" "location drawing"

I also had an opportunity at Ch’ng Kiah Kiean's workshop to try out hand-made pen made of a twig and Chinese ink that becomes waterproof when dry. I love that I was able to try so many new approaches to sketching.

Shiho Nakaza Paraty Brazil "pen and ink" sketching architecture building scenery "travel sketches" "location drawing"

All too soon, the symposium came to an end with a big party. By this time, I am exhausted but happy! Off to Rio next....



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Urban Sketching Symposium, Part 1: Discovering Paraty, Brazil

I really enjoyed meeting other sketchers from around the world and sketching, eating and drinking together for ten magical days in Brazil. Urban Sketching Symposium was hosted in Paraty, Brazil this year. Even though I learned about this town for the very first time when the Symposium location was announced, I'm glad I went to Paraty to discover its charms.

I arrived in Paraty two days before the Symposium began, so I had time to settle in and wander with sketchbook in hand, meeting other sketchers along the way.

Shiho Nakaza Paraty Brazil "Urban Sketchers" "Urban Sketching Symposium" sketching
Large chunks of rocks that lined the streets forced me to walk carefully, which also made me observe the surroundings and marvel at small details. The town is so lush and full of greenery that flowers were growing out of rooftops, and I was awaken by chirping of unfamiliar birds. I also miss eating cheese bread and fresh tropical fruits every morning!

Shiho Nakaza Paraty Brazil "Urban Sketchers" "Urban Sketching Symposium" sketching watercolor
The historical center is closed off to cars and small enough to be walked across in an afternoon, which makes it an ideal location to sketch freely. Horse-drawn carts are used to ferry tourists and cargo around town.

Shiho Nakaza Paraty Brazil "Urban Sketchers" "Urban Sketching Symposium" sketching watercolor

Most of the buildings in historical centers are unchanged for centuries. Brightly-colored window sills and doorways contrast sharply from white and light-colored buildings. Blue and white banners are hung over the main street of Rua do Comércio. This watercolor was sketched on handmade Laloran accodion-fold sketchbook, which was one of the symposium gifts. I love their sketchbooks, so I ordered two more small sketchbooks ahead of time and picked them up at the symposium. Big thanks to Ketta for lovingly crafting the sketchbooks, and João for delivering them!

Shiho Nakaza Paraty Brazil "Urban Sketchers" "Urban Sketching Symposium" sketching watercolor

While I was sitting and sketching at Praça Matriz, a folklore festival happened to start up: this is the case of being at right place at the right time moment.

Shiho Nakaza Paraty Brazil "Urban Sketchers" "Urban Sketching Symposium" sketching watercolor festival
Paraty is known to host festivals throughout the year, and sure enough, there was another festival coming up. Food carts were lined along the plaza so I made this sketch to add to my food truck/food cart sketch collection. Churros looked pretty much the same as Mexican churros I see at home, but this cart had a deep fryer powered by propane tank that allowed the vendor to sell a freshly-fried snack.

Shiho Nakaza Paraty Brazil "Urban Sketchers" "Urban Sketching Symposium" sketching watercolor festival "food cart"

Sketching adventure continued when the symposium began....

Monday, September 08, 2014

A duck among tall ships

Shiho Nakaza "San Pedro" "rubber duck" "Los Angeles" "Tall Ships Festival" sketching watercolor ocean
Giant rubber duck created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman has graced the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro for a few days, floating along with other ocean-bound vessels as part of Tall Ships Festival. It was delightful to see something so large yet so whimsical up close. This was sketched at the scene with Uniball Signo pen, and colored later at home with watercolors.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sketch of the Week: Mission San Juan Capistrano

shiho nakaza "Los Angeles" California "San Juan Capistrano" watercolor sketching I enjoyed a mini-sketching trip to San Juan Capistrano with my fellow Urban Sketchers Los Angeles correspondent Virginia and our sketching friends John and Chris. We took the Metrolink train, which added to the vacation mood - and it was a lot more relaxing than driving 70 miles each way.

Mission San Juan Capistrano is right around the corner from the train station. This is the first time I came back to the Mission since I went on a field trip during grade school - and I'm glad I came back with a sketchbook to record the view of the vibrant gardens!