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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Activities aplenty

This year's Usk Symposium in Paraty was particularly rich in activities other than the workshops. This is mainly due to the fact that it was possible to register for different tiers: a workshops pass (for all the whole symposium), an activities pass (for the activities and sketchcrawls outside the workshops) and a sketchcrawl pass (for the different sketchcrawls organised during the symposium).

The result for me was that I had tons of activities, besides the workshops, to choose from and it was pretty difficult for me to keep track and actually attend them. Not really a problem, though. I ended up going with the flow, as they say, and either follow others or just stop at an activity I encountered by accident. I did miss some very interesting ones, but at least I was not stressed out the whole time.

The first activity I attended was Delphine Priollaud-Stoclet's called Less is more. I had the good fortune to share a room with Delphine during the symposium, so I already had an idea of what she would be doing, but I wanted to go anyway.

I'm very glad I did for Delphine prepared a very detailed presentation on the tools she uses and made a demo showing how she works and commented each step of the process.

She stressed the importance of not worrying too much about every single detail or about perspective. She showed us how to work with negative spaces in order to build a sketch and how it naturally creates a good perspective in our drawings.

I feel she gave the attendants very useful insights on how to improve their sketches. For my part, I definitely have been applying her teachings since then.

Activity Less is more
Working with the negative spaces really helps to figure out perspective
I also attended Kumi Matsukawa's demonstration on how to sketch straight to watercolour. This demo was very different, all about observing how she works, applying layer after layer to build her sketch.

There were so many people around her that at some point I sat down and sketched her and her audience instead. This turned out to be one of my favourite drawings from the symposium. I'm happy to say that Kumi liked it as well and it was even featured in the Usk Paraty blog.

Kumi Matsukawa's demo
With her kimono and focused gaze Kumi reminded me of a samourai
I only attended one more activity called The Big Crit. The concept of this activity organised by Frend Lynch was that you could sit with four instructors for 5 minutes each and have them critique some of your drawings. A bit like speed dating but with sketching.

I hesitated at first because I was not sure my ego could take critique well, and I know that's what stopped many people from going. Attending Frend Lynch's workshop made me change my mind, though, for I got a glimpse of the type of constructive critique I might get and how beneficial it might be.

I'm very happy I went. I got a lot of interesting tips and insights from very good sketchers. Some tips I have applied since. I actually liked it so much that I did a second round with instructors I didn't get to talk to. I hope they will have this activity again at future symposiums.

There were so many more activities I didn't attend! I particularty regret not going on one of the tours around Paraty organised by some of the local sketchers. But hey, that's life!