Last Sunday we had a meet-up with my drawing classmates and Joan Ramon Farré, where he taught us some of his techniques for getting the best out of light/shade situations. I couldn't apply most of the suggestions (too early!) but I'm sure I will in the future. Something worth remembering is to use actual brushes instead of aqua brushes, and also seeing how he created a vivid sea and sky with a flat brush. I have to get one and try.

A view of World Trade Center Barcelona. Pentel Superb, Pentel Pocket Brush and watercolour as usual. Annotation with a Pilot Parallel 1.5
I used a curved projection to draw more of my viewing area, but since the WTC is actually curved and there are very few horizontal lines aside from the horizon it is really hard to tell. I borrowed Joan (one of my classmates) white marker to add reflections to depict the waves. In the bottom (dock area) you can see Laia and Majo, also drawing.

I had left the dock stones white, just hinting its presence with some Payne grey and Joan Ramon suggested (and implemented after asking if I was really and completely sure he could scribble over my drawing) adding some marks to highlight the shapes of the stones, with pencil. It improved the lower area greatly. He also suggested layering horizontal lines of blue in the greenish sea to not only make it bluer but also to better show the waves.

Edit: Forgot to add I used a not-very-common notebook for this. Instead of the thick 300gr Fabriano I'm using lately or the "standard" Moleskine Watercolour I've used so much, I used a flat notebook by Canson, the Canson Inspiration. It is only 96 gr paper but it holds watercolour really well without giving in or showing in the back. It has a perfect thickness to not bother, and it's smaller version fits in a small pocket. I'm loving this notebook so far.

And here you can see Joan Ramon working on his drawing, it turned out excellent.

You can see the final piece here
I also learnt from Laia where I could get some Platinum Carbon Ink for my Safari here in Barcelona. As of this writing I'm the happy owner of a bottle, and my pen is already filled with it. I have only tried it for a few doodles (I drew my waterbrush and coloured it afterwards) to make sure it is waterproof. It is, and it yields a deep, thick black much like a Pentel Pocket Brush (but less shiny.)
At the end of January I started an urban sketching course, taught by Swasky and organised jointly with a local bookshop and a publishing house in Barcelona.

A very interesting course, with a classroom-type lesson on Friday afternoons and an on location part on Saturday mornings. A relatively gentle way to get us to draw in-place, with onlookers. And to keep the work up, every day we had homework to draw (usually a picture to keep us from having to go somewhere if it doesn’t fit our schedule.) It’s awesome how much you can improve only by drawing daily. I know, this is not only common sense but also the most usual drawing tip given ever. Just do it. This is what my fellow students and myself will do from now on, meeting each Saturday we can to draw together.

The course is split in 4 modules of 2 weeks each, and you can tackle them together or isolated.
  • Line and perspective: the name says most. This deals with learning all about vanishing points, using different thicknesses to convey depth and the use of colour to show planes. The first practice was inside and around the Disseny Hub Barcelona, the second had us join a sketchcrawl in the National Art Museum of Catalonia

Design hub. Sakura Micron and some watercolour

National Museum of Art. Sakura Micron and watercolour

National Museum of Art. Pentel Pocket Brush and watercolour

Mercat de Santa Caterina. Sakura Micron (several sizes) and watercolour
Mercat de Santa Caterina. Sakura Micron (2 sizes) and watercolour

Just after colour we (Laia and me, not the whole course) traveled to Florence, so I had a little practice of what I learnt about colour and lines.
  • Figure: drawing gestures, movement, portraits all at very high speed. After all, people don’t slow down just because you are drawing them. For a first taste we visited the recently opened Museu de les Cultures del Món (Museum of World Cultures,) then we went to have a drink. The second had us speed-sketch theatre practice.

People at the cafe we went. Lamy Safari with Pelikan ink, smeared with waterbrush
Pentel Superb

  • Travel notebook: How to plan for a drawing trip. From drawing a map to composition and themes. We started by attending a drawing exhibit by Lapin and Mr Mourao for the Poble Nou Open Day,  for the final practice session we again visited the whereabouts of the Museu de les Cultures (which is just in front of the Picasso Museum) and we drew the area. And of course, afterwards we had a great lunch together, visited a local art supply shop and planned for more meetings.
Many, many tools at the same time (worth noting Koh-i-Noor Gioconda lead on the left)

I recommend doing the course either whole or at least split in order. After all drawing people without any idea of perspective or colour is really hard!
It was my first year at University. I had a one hour commute every day to reach the faculty (and one hour back home,) and instead of making proper use of the time and study on these lost hours I used to read.

Days were long, going to work early in the morning, returning home from classes late at night. I needed some light reading to avoid falling asleep and miss my stop.

I went to a bookshop and took a paperback with a funny drawing on the cover. Knowing myself, it surely wasn't a quick decision, and I also read the summaries of lots of books that day... but that's not the point today. As you may have assumed, the book was The color of Magic, by Terry Pratchett.
By this time I hadn't already discovered Douglas Adams, Jasper Fforde or Neil Gaiman, and Pratchett's book was my first contact with amazing weird worlds, written for adults with a special sense of humour, an unstoppable flow of loony characters and situations, and well written... I felt understood: finally some food for my tired but demanding brain!

As soon as I finished the book I went to the same bookshop again, thirsty of more stories, and bought all the other books in the series they had there. I remember the bookshop guy taking the books off my hands to charge them and recognise a fellow in me. Having been a lonely weird child, for the first time this day I felt a quick glimpse that I was part of something.

Some years ago I read that Terry Pratchett was ill with Alzheimer and I cried. I always thought that this is one of the worse illnesses one may suffer: first you were ripped off all your memories, your achievements, your own self, your emotions... and when you are completely empty and alone and not you, then you die. It's cruel.

Three days ago I knew about Terry Pratchett's death by Rubén, who has never read a book of him (though I usually suggested to do it). I was sad and went to my bookshelf to take all his books to re-read them. Not only Discworld ones. I also have The unadulterated cat, one of the first books I read when we adopted a cat and we don't know anything about this not "purr-fect" animal.

And while I was surrounded by (once) funny (now full of sad tears) books, Ruben did this drawing.

Drawn with Pentel Superb

Rest in Peace, Terry Pratchett, and thanks.
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For my birthday we made a short trip to Florence. The excuse for visiting such an artistically relevant city was actually visiting Ferragamo’s museum: The Fancy Puffin never has holidays!

All drawn on Moleskine pocket watercolour
Our journey started by taking the train to Plaça Catalunya, where we took the "AirBus" to Barcelona Airport. Going by train directly to the airport is an option, but in the past we've seen delays that resulted in needing to take a taxi to the airport... which is quite a bit more expensive. So, airbus it was!

Airbus ride. Pentel Calligraphy brush, Winsor & Newton watercolours with Pentel aquabrush.
Since I always go to the airport with plenty of time, we took our time to eat something before our flight. A couple sandwiches and a bottle of water for the flight. Ready to go!

Airport breakfast. Sakura Micron 0.1,Winsor & Newton watercolours with Pentel aquabrush (I won’t repeat this one again, if I use watercolours, I use it).
After eating we went to our gate, and I just had 5 minutes to draw this before boarding started.

Terminal quick sketch. Sakura Micron 0.1
Once in Florence we went directly from the airport to our hotel, and on our way we found the place we wanted to go for supper: Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco. Boar is not only a typical dish in Florence, but also the "city animal." For this first supper we had cheese appetizers (awesome,) tagliarini al pesto (pretty good), tagliatelle with boar ragu (superb.) For dessert we had tiramisu (very, very good but I want it slightly sweeter) and crema mascarpone e lingue di gatto (mascarpone cream with cat tongue biscuits. This last one is absolutely the best dessert we have ever eaten. Seriously, if you go to Florence eat one for us here.

Awesome dinner. Sakura Micron 0.1, Winsor & Newton watercolours
After dinner we went for a stroll, and as usualy I drew weird things I found around. Doorknobs in Florence are forged, agey and beautiful, like this demon. In several places there were also horse-tying knobs in the shape of a donkey, or something that looks like one.

Doorknob and horse tying knob. Sakura Micron 0.1, Winsor & Newton watercolours
Next day, we went to the Ferragamo museum and then for more walking. I wanted a "typical Florentine street drawing" but perspective still eludes me, so I didn't even colour it.

Street. Sakura Micron 0.1
After lots of walking, we went towards the Ponte Vecchio (which was like 50 metres away from our hotel, by the way,) and I drew the bridge. A couple italians passed by while I was drawing and said it was beautiful. I felt flattered.

Ponte Vecchio. Sakura Micron 0.1, Winsor & Newton watercolours
Our afternoon walks drove us towards San Miniato al'Monte. On the way I couldn't resist drawing a red Vespa parked so neatly. I couldn't get all the reflections before the driver came to pick it up, but I think the result looks pretty nice. Very Italian. Getting a brilliant red out of just watercolours is damn hard, by the way.

Vespa in red. Sakura Micron 0.1, Winsor & Newton watercolours
Something like 5 metres away there was this mustard Vespa, and again I couldn't resist. This time I used brush markers to get a richer, faster colour. And again, the owner came before I was done! I got a compliment on the drawing, too. I like the red one better (the glass, specially) but I love the look of vespas in drawing.

Vespa in yellow. Sakura Micron 0.1, Pitt brush pens
San Miniato al'Monte overlooks all Florence, so I drew a kind-of-map of the cityscape. Florence is a very charming city, but if you make the walk up be prepared.

A view of Florence from San Miniato al'Monte Sakura Micron 0.1, Winsor & Newton watercolours
When we descended we stopped at a cafeteria and had a tramezzini (a kind of sandwich) and cappuccino. I experimented with some of the tools I had brought for drawing.

Afternoon treat. Tombow water soluble pen with Pentel aquabrush
The day after was my birthday, and again we went for a walk. I quickly drew a door forge. I love forged iron things.

Door forge. Pentel Calligraphy brush
Back at the hotel I drew one of my birthday gifts. I have already read it, and it's awesome. It is Randall Munroe's What If: Serious scientific answers to crazy questions. Munroe is a crazy genius.

Birthday present. Sakura Micron 0.1, Winsor & Newton watercolours
I felt bad for not having drawn Santa Maria della Novella, so we went there... I started drawing and then a light drizzle started. I could have kept drawing, since it was just a few drops here and there, but my pen didn't draw as soon as it hit water. Pity.

Santa Maria della Novella. Sakura Micron 0.1, Pitt brush pen
Likewise, we went towards the Duomo, I started drawing and rain started yet again. Well, at least I got some lines in place. I tried some distorted perspective, but I need way more practice. Time will give this.

Duomo sketch. Sakura Micron 0.1
I purchased a Lamy Safari, medium nib at a bookshop. A pity it's blue ink, but at least I could start drawing with it right away.

View from the hotel bedroom before leaving. Lamy Safari, bought in Florence
Our last breakfast in Florence. Huge cookie and cappuccino. The cookie was superb, and as usual, the coffee was most excellent.

Last breakfast in Florence. Lamy Safari
And the final drawing in Florence was another pen sketch in the airport cafeteria. Not great, but not that bad either!

Airport cafeteria. Lamy Safari
When we came back I drew the "cover" for the trip drawings with the Florence's fleur de lis.
Extremely proud of the results in my last drawing, playing for the first time with my Promarkers, I decided to draw another picture of a girl reading.

I have had a very bad time trying to draw the hands that hold the book. I tried different positions and angles, but they resembled more hooks than hands. I abandoned the task and tried again a few days later. The result is a stained drawing and scratched paper in the hands zone, but at least I drawn!

I love the lime green background in this drawing and the shades I obtained saturating the corners of the picture.

Drawn with a pencil, lined with Sakura Pigma Micron 03 pigment liner and painted with Letraset Promarker colors in a half A4 glue bound marker pad by Canson.
Last Christmas Santa brought me a Letraset ProMarker pack and a brand new Canson pad. And this is the prove that I'm playing with my present ;)

I like the way the markers blend and don't let hard lines on the paper, but it is a new tool to which I need to get used.

By the way... it has been a long break since my last post. I 'm still not satisfied with my drawings and I know that I need to practice more. But revisiting my old posts I noticed the improvement I've made in this time, that I have been drawing but not posting. Don't you think?

Drawn with a pencil, lined with Sakura Pigma Micron 03 pigment liner and painted with Letraset Promarker colors in a half A4 glue bound marker pad by Canson.

You already know Falco, our greyhound, from previous posts.

But before his arrival, the king of the home was Fatou, a playful and mischievous cat. When he was a baby we began a blog with his pictures... it was funny until he get scared from the camera. 
Now, as soon as we focus his whiskers, he has disappeared from the frame. So if you want to meet him, you must trust our skills drawing... while he sleeps ;-)

Fatou sleeping