San Andrés


Before returning to Seattle from Medellin, we were fortunate to have the opportunity to spend a couple of days on San Andrés, an island in the Caribbean Sea with an English past but tied politically to Colombia. Situated 470 miles north of Colombia but only 140 miles east of Nicaragua, it is, along with Providencia and Santa Catalina, part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. I was able to spend a day drawing some of the historic structures on the island with a small group of staff and students from the Jardin Botanico de San Andrés.

El Peñol de Guatapé

Two hours northeast of Medellin is El Peñol, a massive monolithic rock formation that rises more than 650 feet above the town of Guatapé. Once worshipped by the Tahamies Indians, it is now a popular tourist attraction. Along a vertical break in the face is built a staircase of 649 steps leading to a three-story observatory at the top. While I did not physically make the ascent, I did climb the stairs with my eyes as I drew this view from the base.

More Scenes from Medellin

The choice of what to sketch is almost always a matter of personal preference. For me, I am drawn to subjects that are unique to a place. Here are two examples from Medellin, the city of eternal spring.

Just across from the hotel where we stayed in Medellin is the Museo de Arte Moderno, founded in 1978 but relocated in 2009 to the space of the Talleres Robledo, a steel mill from the 1930s. Onto to this historic structure was grafted a new addition through the collaborative efforts of 51+1, an architectural firm from Peru, and CtrlG, a firm from Medellin.

In the Medellin Botanical Gardens is the Orquideorama, which consists of 14 structures that rise like giant wooden flowers more than 50 feet into the air. Designed by Plan B Architects in 2006, the large canopies provide filtered sunlight and shelter for permanent and temporary exhibitions amidst the natural landscape of the gardens.

Public Spaces in Medellin

The day after the workshop with students at Botero Square, I met Fernando Saldaña Cordova from Sonora, Mexico, so that we could draw our own personal views of the public space in the old quarter of Medellin.

An hour and a short walk later, we came upon the Plaza Alpujarra, the administrative center of the city featuring a large, sweeping sculpture Monumento a La Raza (Monument to Race) by Rodrigo Arenas Betancur. Upon entering the public space, we decided we had to stop and do another drawing before lunch.

In my next post, I will show more scenes from Medellin, the City of Eternal Spring.

Medellin Workshop


As part of the conference this week at the Medellin campus of the National University of Colombia, I was able to offer a couple of workshops for the students, something I always enjoy doing. Last Wednesday morning, we met at Botero Square in downtown Medellin, a hub of activity and urban life named after Fernando Botero, whose large, voluminous works are scattered throughout the park.

Here are examples of the sketches that I use to demonstrate capturing the essential structure of a scene.

From Medellin, the City of Eternal Spring

After two days of paper presentations and seminars at the Medellin campus of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, a small group of faculty and students took a van ride to the Big Rock (El Peñol de Guatapé), about two hours northeast of Medellin. Along the way, we stopped in Guatapé, where Roberto Guerrero Pérez of Concepción, Chile, did this sketch of me drawing the view from a boat which was taking us on a tour of Represa Guatapé.

Later, I took a half hour to draw this view of the town square

Portland Line-to-Color Workshop

I spent an enjoyable weekend in Portland co-teaching a Line-to-Color workshop with Gail Wong. We had the benefit of pleasant weather, Portland offers great sketching sites, and we had the opportunity to work with an ardent group of sketchers. As in any workshop, there is little time to sketch on one’s own but I managed to do one before the group met on Sunday morning and a couple more later on in the afternoon when members of the Portland Urban Sketchers joined our group at the Portland Saturday Market site on the riverfront.

KSU Campus II

Here are a few more sketches from my recent visit to Manhattan, Kansas. The second is of the International Student Center, which I studied because of its unusual inward orientation to a courtyard, unlike most of the other structures on the KSU campus.

I did this very quick sketch during a walk through the 8000-acre Konza Prarie, a former cattle ranch and now a tallgrass prarie preserve in the Flint Hills of northeastern Kansas, jointly owned by the Nature Conservancy and Kansas State University, which conducts ecological research and manages conservation in the preserve. I drew only the path ahead of me and a treeline in an arroyo between two ridges. All of that white space you see are prarie grasses, a mix of big bluestem, little bluestem, Indiangrass, and switchgrass.

The Varied Faces of Singapore

One final post on Singapore. Walking around the city during the Urban Sketching Symposium, I drew a few scenes that illustrate diverse aspects of this metropolis, with evidence of its Colonial past, ethnic neighborhoods, and modern skyscrapers co-existing in a modern Asian city-state. In the last sketch, the circle with SG above the number 50 refers to this year being the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s separation from Malaysia and formation as an independent republic on August 9, 1965.

Masjid Sultan

The first day in Singapore, I wandered over to the Kampong Glam neighborhood of Singapore to sketch the Masjid Sultan (Sultan Mosque). Constructed in 1824 as a one-story structure for Sultan Hussein Shah, the first sultan of Singapore, the mosque was remodeled and enlarged in 1932 to its present form. Relative to the surrounding street grid, the mosque was skewed, perhaps to orient the mihrab to Mecca. It was important for me to capture this subtle shift as I drew this view looking down the pedestrian way of Bussorah Street.

A few days later, I again visited the area hoping to draw one of the side streets. Instead, I chose to enjoy a refreshing iced coffee at an outdoor cafe with a view both of the Masjid Sultan as well as some the shops along Baghdad Street.