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.

Travels in the Yucatan Peninsula: Mayan Ruins

Over winter break, I visited a part of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. If you ever plan to go, I encourage you to get beyond Cancun, because there is just so much to see. My favorite part was visiting  the Mayan ruins, and I barely scratched the surface, only getting to a few of the more famous ones.

The setting of the ruins at Tulum is spectacular. The site is at the very edge of a cliff, the wind is strong and the ocean is an ever-changing array of jewel tones. I love painting like this, with the wind whipping my sketchbook. When I can feel the wind I can paint it… There goes my chance of ever being a studio painter!

But my favorite setting was Coba where you walk through the jungle to get to different structures. Like the ballcourt, where a little-understood but much maligned game was played. Whatever the rules were, it must have been so hard to play with a large court and small stone 'hoops' set high on the sides.

The pyramid structure at Coba is the tallest in the Yucatan and the view of the jungles from the top is breathtaking.

And then, of course, there's Chichen Itza. The trouble with drawing such a well known site is that my sketch looks exactly like I expect it to... Still, I sketch it because this really well preserved pyramid really helps me see how it was built and wonder and be amazed by those who built it so long ago.


But I had so much more fun sketching the mask sellers.

At Ek Balam , there were several tall structures so I sketched this from the top of one of them, looking over the treetops. It’s always hard to capture the scale of really big structures, and even harder when you draw them in the distance. The other thing that’s hard? Drawing a mass of trees in a tropical forest. They all vary so slightly in color and yet no two are the same green.

And finally the littlest site I visited was El Rey, right off the hotel strip in Cancun. Oddly, it was the most deserted of all the ruins I went to, and I had most of the afternoon I spent there all to myself. Well, there was me and the iguanas that rules the place. 
You can see lots more of my sketches from my trip here on my blog.

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