Come next Monday, I shall be making my way to Barcelona, and embarking on a daily sketching sojourn in several cities. This prospect has made me slightly nervous, as well as excited, as I endeavour to keep my sketching practice up. My aim is to be as fluid as I can with my line, and use of colour. Last week, I attended two workshops; both with live models, but each very different from the other. I knew that we were going to be covering animals in the first class, but expected that we would be working from photographs. I was rather taken aback when a rather large, although handsome tan and white boxer dog (Walter), was led into the room.
Now, I know that any dog sketched while in Spain, will be a fleeting thing, if at all, as the group will be taking in the sights of historic buildings, food markets, museums, statues, gardens and parks. Although, there just may be a dog sensibly seated long enough to sketch a decent pose. We head from Barcelona to Valencia, and onto Seville, where those quick enough shall be sketching horses pulling carriages, and dancers and so much more. For we arrive in the middle of the Seville April fair, where flamenco dancers, singers and musicians dance and play the week away.
Flamenco is a special love of mine, having studied the dance form when I was younger. There is nothing like the clap of hands, and the heels hitting the floor, as callers sing emotionally from the outer circle, bringing first one, then another dancer in to perform their special segment of dance, with passion and expression, twirling, stamping, flicking fingers, moving skirts this way and that, colours mingling and blurring with the pace. So, this brings me back to the dog sketches at the start. Why dogs, when we are to be viewing and sketching all the above?
Don’t think for a minute that Walter the boxer was totally docile and sat unmoving, as a group of artists took time to sketch his outline, then apply paint to their canine portraits. These sketches were done in seconds rather than minutes, as Walter’s owner (a fellow artist), cajoled her darling to “sit Walter, sit.” This exercise was exactly what we all needed, to get the hang of open air sketching in Spain. Bless you Walter, for now we’ll be better armed to sketch those gorgeous flamenco dancers in Seville.