Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Amsterdam Sketchbook

Just back from five days in Amsterdam. Loved it! It was a sociable few days rather than a working holiday, but I managed a few sketches, mostly in pencil.

I found the townscape a bit complex to start with. Layers and layers of interest. It took a while for me to get my eye in and that's one of the things I wanted to share in this blog. My sketches did get better the more I drew.

We went for coffee on the first morning and I was determined to 'do a sketch'. I thought the cafe had a good view - there was a nice tree in front and the bridge had a good curve -  so I had a go.  But then I realised there was a clutter of bikes and that the lines of the buildings interfered with the foliage of the tree. And should I put the crane in or not? So this first effort was a bit scribbly.
Amsterdam Sketch 1


But we had to move on. I was finding it difficult to settle on a view - one I thought I could sketch - wanted to try something simpler. We then chanced upon a small narrow canal, so my next attempt was a done standing up, leaning on the railing of a bridge. I find that if I sketch while standing up the result is  never as polished or complete as one done while sitting down. So although this sketch is less cluttered, it's again a bit too scribbly for my liking.
Amsterdam Sketch 2
We were also busy doing other things. So continuing my sketching had to wait until Monday, our last day. We found a good spot in another cafe, right on the edge of the canal (Herengracht, I think). It was difficult to decide what to focus on, but I settled for a corner building group across the canal.
Amsterdam Sketch 3
I was sitting down and able to take more time over this one - better pleased with the result. I had to concentrate on the different window sizes and the relationship between the storey heights.  The cafe wasn't busy and they let me stay as long as I liked. So I sketched this barge too, again taking time to try and capture a bit of detail.  It was a bit of a relief from drawing the buildings and I was sorry not to have colour.
Amsterdam Sketch 4
I was cold by now, needing a bit of a walk. Still not sure how to best capture the buildings in a sketch. I came to a junction with several canals where I got a good view over to a building group which included one very old building.  I would have liked to include the bridge in the sketch, but I had a square sketchbook, so it wasn't really possible. Grrr.
Amsterdam Sketch 5
Then in the afternoon, I found a step to sit on at the side of another canal.  I liked the curve of the bridge, the rooflines and the trees. Used ink lines for the lampposts and the bicycles and a few other fine marks.
Amsterdam Sketch 6
Finally sat in another cafe. I didn't think the view was that good, but decided it was probably my last chance for a sketch. Thought the 3 black buildings provided a good focal point, and I couldn't entirely ignore the bicycles
Amsterdam Sketch 7
And I was right - this was my last sketch. Oh...apart from this doodle of cyclists in the rush hour at Leidseplein. It's so hard to draw people on bikes!
Amsterdam Sketch 9


Bit of a mixed bag, but a few ideas to think further about. The subject matter was complex and I had to concentrate quite hard - no harm in that! I am surprised how much more confident I became by the end of the day.

Must go back to Amsterdam for more sketching. And take just a little colour with me next time. And a bigger sketchbook....

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