Meet the Correspondent: Luis Ruiz > Malaga, Spain$show=/search/label/Luis%20Ruiz

"Since I was a child, I have always loved drawing. As an architect, I was trained to sketch on site in my first year of my studies. I have always considered sketching a wonderful tool in my job to understand things, more in the field of spatial relations than in their material aspect. On the other hand, I have always brought a sketchbook with me in my travels as a much more effective way of keeping a memory than a photograph. But lately my travel sketches tended to be too few and too quick. I have recently found Urban Sketchers, and then discovered the immense joy of sketching outside with no particular task. Reading Usk’s manifesto, I feel especially sensitive with the point of keeping a record of time and place, and I’m changing from sketching just architecture to understand the city as a big scenario for human activity. I live in Málaga, a city in the south of Spain with more than half a million residents and 2,500 years of age; but also the center of a busy and lively metropolitan area, home of an active harbour and a big tourist destination. Now that I have two small children and I do not travel as much as before, I’m trying to show this mixture of old and new in my drawings. It is so rewarding to share my work with so many excellent artists and receive continuous feedback from other members! And, last but not least, to learn from other parts of the world. I'm delighted to join Urban Sketchers." • Luis' art on flickr.

Workshop E: Architecture, Personal Viewpoints

Cathedral of Santa María la Menor

Frank Ching
Liz Steel

Cathedral of Santa María la Menor is one of the most significant buildings in Santo Domingo and has the distinction of being the oldest Cathedral in the Americas. It is a large imposing structure with numerous styles and a complex form. How do you go about recording this building in your sketchbook?

In this workshop we will explore ways of sketching architecture without the need to achieve ‘perfect perspective’ or draw ‘every brick’. Regardless of your architectural knowledge, or perspective skills, our goal is to build confidence in your own personal response to architecture and to have fun sketching it!

To start with, we will experience the building spatially — walk around it, go inside, look at it from afar in its context and then up close in detail – even touch it. A number of different approaches and techniques will be suggested which can be used to describe our response. In addition, a framework will be provided to aid in the understanding of the cathedral’s architectural form, components and composition which can be also used on other similarly complicated buildings.

The emphasis of the workshop will be one to one instruction with the aim of assisting participants to develop their individual style.

Different approaches might include the following:
  • Explore the composition and elements of the building. Undertake an elevational study or a collage of details and views.
  • Draw the building in its context: How does it relate to the surroundings? How do people interact with it? Maybe the building will only be a backdrop and recorded with a minimal of linework
  • Distort your view. Sit up close and look up. Have fun with a single point perspective or distort straight lines into curves

Different techniques might include the following:
  • How loose can you go? With linework or with colour – or both!
  • No lines – perhaps paint the shadows only.
  • Pushing the colours – how much can you push the building and shadow colours?

Learning goals
  • Experience a building spatially before beginning to sketch and use these differing view points to understand and respond to the building on its own and/or in its context.
  • Gain confidence in your own personal response.
  • Use different approaches to sketching architecture – such as telling a complete story with partial details or exploring how far you can distort your view of the building.
  • Gain an understanding of basic architectural components and composition as an aid to drawing more accurately.
  • Experiment with different media and drawing/ painting techniques.
  • Provide experienced architectural sketchers with different approaches with which to experiment.

Workshop format
  1. Introduction and handout including suggestions of different approaches and techniques.
  2. Exploration of the cathedral before sketching – either individually or as a group with some features being highlighted and potential views suggested.
  3. Participants free to choose own subjects – one to one instruction for the majority of session.
  4. Sketchbook sharing period for the last 30 minutes.

Supply list

No particular requirements. Participants are free to use whatever medium they are comfortable with.

Reference images

By Frank Ching

By Frank Ching
"I am passionate about teaching and drawing and to be able to do both while traveling and meeting interesting people is a real treat."
—Frank Ching

By Liz Steel

By Liz Steel
"I want to encourage more people to have fun sketching architecture without worrying about achieving perfect perspective or drawing every detail."
—Liz Steel



Urban Sketchers is supported by

Urban Sketchers is supported by

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Test USk Blog: Workshop E: Architecture, Personal Viewpoints
Workshop E: Architecture, Personal Viewpoints
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