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.

The Ugly Neighbor

by Fred Lynch, near Boston

When I draw, I try to tell the truth. But, sometimes I fear that looking at my drawings of Viterbo as a whole, could make one think it's a more charming place than it really is. So, this year, I tried to address that. I set out to draw in an ugly part of town. Unfortunately, it was only a few steps from my door. 
Viterbo is not a tourist town for understandable reasons. It's a scrappy place. Graffiti, trash and dirt are easy to find. The city's most historically significant events happened seven hundred years ago, when a series of popes lived there. Since then, it's been a struggle.
But history doesn't stop, and decades ago, attention was brought to bear on the city in the worst way. On a cold January day in 1944, scattered neighborhoods of the walled medieval city were bombed by Allied forces during World War II. Viterbo holds an air force base nearby and it made the area a strategic target. The city was shattered, and after all these years, crumbled walls and partial buildings are still scattered around the town. Where I sat to create this drawing, was certainly a bombed area. What existed for centuries was destroyed. Before me was what came next: one of many severe, post-war, modern structures.
Day after day, I slipped by this hulking, sulking concrete monster. But, at long last, in an effort to better describe the complexity of the city, and being slightly charmed by a certain slant of light, I decided to sit and engage my ugly neighbor. I fixed my eyes, and held my nose, and drew. 
Adding insult to injury, after a long while working, I realized that my drawing ink was not responding well to the paper. It was not cooperating as usual. Looking closely, I found that I was working on a different side of the paper than I always do. I was working on the wrong side. Actually, I didn't even know at the time, that there was a wrong side! My thick Arches watercolor sheets have what I've learned is called a "felt" side, which is smoother, and a"wire" side which is a bit bumpier. That day, I was working on the smooth side and it made everything much more difficult. It all came down to ink absorption - or, a lack of it.

So, in the end, I found myself drawing on the wrong side of town, and on the wrong side of the paper. Believe me, it took a long time to make those two wrongs look right.

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