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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Last days in Brazil - Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is by far the most chaotic and huge city I have been to so far. Traffic is crazy bordering on dangerous, there are tons of people everywhere at all times, it is full of noise, voices, music, laughter. In one word: life.

To say that I was a bit overwhelmed when I first got there is a huge understatement. Coming from tiny Luxembourg this place couldn't be much more out of my comfort zone.

However, once you get used to its rhythm, Rio de Janeiro is a beautiful place, a place where thousands of things happen at once, with a lot of things to do, see, attend.

I arrived in Rio on Tuesday early afternoon with other sketchers and we immediately made plans to meet at Sugar Loaf to see and sketch the sunset. However, as things go, between heavy traffic and other unexpected events, I ended up alone. Which was fine in the end, for the weather was not particularly good and I only made one drawing of the wonderful view.

This was my first attempt at sketching a sunset and I find it to be quite a challenge. The light changes constantly, within seconds. I definitely need to practice this.

So confusing to sketch!!
The next day I met with some sketchers for a day long sketchcrawl in the Santa Teresa neighbourhood.

Rafael, one of the Brazilian sketchers, had organized a workshop with Marc Holmes and Liz Steel for some of his students and he served as our guide during the day. In the end we were about 12 people exploring the area sketchbooks in hand.

The view from Santa Teresa is beautiful. However, cityscapes are such a complicated subject, one that I don't master yet, so I tried a very minimalistic approach to suggest more than show the city.

Rio de Janeiro
Sugar Loaf, high buildings and a colourful favela in the middle
With all these sketchers in one place, there must be at least 6 drawings from this vantage point. 

Sketchers in Rio
Busy bees
Even during breaks my companions would be sketching, so, shamed into drawing more, I would pick up my fountain pen and watercolours and draw as well. These sketchers were so inspiring!

Santa Teresa
I was fascinated by the electricity lines
Rafael invited us to a place called Bar do Mineiro for lunch where we had some delicious local specialties including feijoada. Thank you so much for your kindness, Rafa!

Lunch at Bar do Mineiro
Food first, sketching after
As night started to fall surprisingly early for me (in spite of the wonderful weather it was winter there after all, I was just still in summer mode) we slowly went down the hill, occasionally stopping for a sketch here and there.

As we were sketching this building, a woman came to us with a huge poster of the house next to it, saying how her house had been featured in a calendar and won some prize. She even gave us posters to take with us. I suspect she hoped we would come back to sketch her house as well.

Gloomy house in Santa Teresa
Gloomy house and our guide Rafael
Rafael also took us to a great bar called Rio Scenarium, full of antiques and live samba music you could dance to. By then I was too tired to be able to make a decent sketch, so I stopped and just enjoyed the place and company.

The rest of my stay was more relaxing and I sketched much less. Nathalia, one of the sketchers from Rio took me to the botanical garden, for example, where we sketched the beautiful vegetation.

I made this sketch using the Super5 fountain pen I received at the symposium, filled with their green ink (Dublin).

Jardim botanico in Rio
Beautigul garden well worth seeing
We then had lunch with Karina Kushnir, another sketcher, and her boyfriend at a place called Do Horto. It was a lovely day alltogether and I really enjoyed getting to know the girls a bit better. I'm happy to say that we have been in contact through email since then.

O Horto with Brazilian friends
Nathalia and I sketched each other. It was a fun moment.
My flight back to Europe was scheduled for Saturday evening, so I spent my last few hours in Rio with some of the sketchers from Rio (Karina, Nathalia, Rafael, Roberta) and some of the remaining international sketchers (Liz, Emma) in a café called Cafecito in Santa Teresa again.

Those moments were really bittersweet for me. It felt so great, so natural to be there with like-minded people. I could imagine meeting them more often for other sketchcrawls or just sketching around a cup of tea or coffee, exchanging stories and drawing tips.

Cafecito in Santa Teresa
Cafecito has a wonderful terrasse, it's a very cute place
These few days in Rio de Janeiro were the perfect way to extend the symposium mood for a bit longer. I have to admit that it was not on the top of my list of places to visit, but I ended up loving the experience. 

Hanging out with other sketchers made it feel a bit like home and I wouldn't mind going back in the least. Thank you guys for making it a wonderful place to be!