Thursday, 23 March 2017

Rainy afternoon at the Rotondes

At the last sketchcrawl with the USK Luxembourg, we met at the Rotondes in Bonnevoie. This location was first used keeping steam locomotives and their maintenance. Later it worked as a repair shop for buses.

Toward the end of the 20th century, they were added to the list of classified monuments and renovated to be used as exhibition spaces. Today, they host concerts, exhibitions, a pub and a variety of cultural events.

We met in the afternoon as usual and were joined by Jonathan, a fellow urban sketcher from the UK who was visiting the city that weekend. Unfortunately it had to be one of the wettest days of the year so far. We jokingly commented to Jonathan that it was probably not a big change from the weather at home.

Our group split between those who wanted to stay in dry space and those crazy enough to try to sketch on the roofed overpass between the Rotondes and the Luxembourg train station. I joined the second group.

It would have been a perfect location despite the rain, had it not been for the strong wind pushing water through some of the openings in the overpass. In spite of those conditions, I was pretty proud to manage a decent sketch.

However, after a while we all had to concede to the weather and headed inside to the Rotonde's pub, the Buvette, for a cosy session of hot drinks and sketching.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Celebrating diversity at the Festival des Migrations

Luxembourg celebrates its diversity in many ways throughout the year, but the one event where it is the most obvious is the Festival des Migrations.

The festival is organized by a non-profit organization and has grown so much over the years that it now takes place at the Luxexpo, a huge hall that must have been a warehouse in the past.

It is the occasion for smaller non-profit organizations whose aim is to share their culture and promote diversity and citizenship to show their activities and glimpses of their traditions.

Over three days people are treated to free concerts and demonstrations and have the possibility to try a variety of food from all over the world.

I spent an afternoon there sketching with a friend. The most difficult task was to choose a subject and find a place where we wouldn't be shoved by people from all sides.

I was particularly attracted by the colourful and lively African stands. Many were selling handicrafts like decorations, handbags, clothes and jewellery. Impossible to resist! 

There was a surprise at almost every corner, like this Ethiopian stand serving Ethiopian coffee prepared in what I assume is the traditional way. It was the strongest coffee I had ever tasted, but also one of the best I had ever tasted.

The lady serving it was extremely graceful, pouring the beverage in small cups in exactly the same movement over and over again.

Sitting on small stools at yellow and red tables, it was impossible to resist sketching the beautiful coffee setup.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Art and antiques in a hall

In February, we went to the Luxexpo with Urban Sketchers Luxembourg. We had the choice between the Antiques Fair and a Wine Salon. I wasn't surprised that everyone in the group chose to explore the Antiques Fair.

The organizers kindly let us enter for free when they hears that we were enthusiastic amateur artists.

While waiting for a couple of latecomers, I sketched a stand exhibiting a few frames. There was not much movement there, most people went straight for the antiquities and artworks displayed inside the hall.

The Luxexpo is a huge hall whose size can be adapted to fit the needs of the different fairs, exhibitions and festivals taking place there. I found the contrast between the venue and what it was exhibiting quite interesting.

While I was making the sketch above, a group of Germans blocked the view, so instead of getting annoyed about that I decided to sketch them as fast as possible.

There were so many interesting objects and artworks on display! It was difficult to choose what to sketch first. This display of old toys was a no-brainer, though. It really felt like I was in a small antiques shop somewhere and not in a huge hall.

The day ended with a coffee at one of the temporary bars. All in all, it was a great venue to spend a cold winter afternoon in good company.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Sketching with the USK Netherlands

The Urban Sketchers Netherlands organised a sketchcrawl in Maastricht last December. Since the city is about 2 hours away by car, some of us sketchers from Luxembourg decided to go and join them for the day.

I arrived just in the nick of time for a workshop help by René Fijten. The idea of the workshop was to document a place going from the general feeling to a detail. René is a great teacher and he was kind enough to translate everything for the non Dutch speakers so we could all benefit from the exercise as much as possible.

For the first exercise, René asked us to sketch the general view of our meeting place, describe it as we saw it. Was it a busy place? a small location? etc.

Then we stopped at a passage. Again: what were our impressions?

We then had to choose one of the facades that were more interesting to us and document it.

And finally, finish with a small detail.

I found this approach very interesting and a good exercise to keep in mind when sketching outside. I think it would make for a very interesting composition on a big double page, for example.

After the workshop, and after lunch, I joined other sketchers at the bookstore Dominicanen, an old church re-purposed as a library and a gorgeous place.

There were tons of great spots to sketch in there, but I decided to challenge myself with a birds-eye view over the hundreds of clients on the lower floor.

It was such an interesting viewpoint that I did a second sketch, this time focusing only on the people. So much can be said about a place merely through the body language of the people there!

Only too soon it was time to share all the sketches and for the group photo. The USK Netherlands made a great little clip documenting the sketchcrawl.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Just wondering...

I like to sketch random people from photos found online. It's a great exercise and, since they are total strangers, less pressure to make a good drawing.

Old mugshots are particularly interesting. For one, I love how different people looked in the past. Their hairdos and clothes particularly. Some of the men even look positively dapper.

Sketching these faces always makes me wonder what their lives looked like and why they were arrested.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Belated accounts

I have been remiss with publishing my sketches form the last Urban Sketchers' sketchcrawls, so here they are now.

In December we went to the Christmas market, which is slowly becoming a tradition of ours.

The Christmas market in the capital has grown a lot over the years an can now boast three main locations. This time I focused on the small ice skating rink on Place Guillaume II. The day was wonderfully sunny and the rink was full of people.

A mulled wine at a nearby café surrounded by friends were the perfect end to a lovely aftenoon.

In January we went to the Mudam. I was very pleasantly surprised at the big turnout: 17 people came to sketch with us this time!

It was the last day of the Wim Delvoye exhibit, an artist that has already been shown at the Mudam several years ago. Here are a few of his works. Tattooed pigs (I have mixed feelings about them, but they looked so friendly I couldn't resist sketching them).

One of his Cloaca machines.

I'm not sure these metal trees were part of his exhibit but I really liked this view, specially with two of my fellow sketchers in the background.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

A leisurly stroll around Walfer

I live in a municipality, or commune, called Walferdange. It is adjacent to the capital and boasts its own small shopping centre, spa and cultural centre with sports fields and even part of the university of Luxembourg.

Before the freezing temperatures started, I decided to go on a solitary sketchcrawl to explore Walferdange, or Walfer as the locals call it, armed with a fountain pen filled with ink and a small sketchbook.

My stroll first took me to the local train station, or rather to the Walfer Kulturschapp with the train station in the background.This place looks almost like an abandoned shack and not so much like a place for culture, which is partly why I like it. I love when buildings are re-purposed, specially if it is for culture.

The function of this building was a mystery to me for far longer than I care to admit
Next stop, the Prince Henri cultural centre with its football (or should I say soccer?) field. As chance would have it, a football game was taking place that afternoon. I wasn't curious enough to find out which teams were playing, but it gave me the opportunity to see the place in a more lively way.The teams were young, the players all teenagers, and the spectators probably mainly family and friends of the players.

Unsuspecting spectators being spectated on :D
Walfer has several beautiful mansions and other interesting older houses, a real treat to sketch. I chose to try my hand at this one, mainly because it was on my way home, but there are several other interesting ones, which I will definitely sketch some other time.

I will have to organize a sketchcrawl around the commune sometime once the weather gets better.