Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Urban Sketchers

©Brigitta Huegel

Dear You
A few weeks ago I bought an interesting book about Urban Sketchers.
Since then you find in my bag not only lipstick, handkerchief and comb, but also a little sketchbook and at least one pencil. I enjoy sitting on a bench and drawing what I see: it forces me to look more precise, and is a bit like meditation.
I draw the line with sketching people: I don't. Can't. Won't. (They tell you to do it when you sit in the underground - hahaha: I think you won't sit there unmolested very long. I wouldn't want to be sketched by other people either).
Same as with photographs: I often visit photo exhibitions, and of course I look interested at photos of people - often in black-and-white. But I wouldn't do it.
I see a lot of situations that would make good snap-shots. BUT I think it is impolite.
One has to respect everybody's private sphere, I think. And I mean everybody's.
I observed a tourist who went to the big fountain on the Wittenbergplatz where a young man sat hunched in an unnatural pose. Sunken, in a way. The tourist took out his smartphone, took a photo - and went away! I was shocked. Neared tentatively - I'm not a fool, I am urban-wise - but this young man might be sick - and was quite relieved that a heavily built Turk neared too. He touched the young man kindly, spoke two or three words with him - and then we looked at each other, relieved: the youngster only had drunk a bit too much.
I think that it is important to look at 'things' not only through a photolense - that reminds me of Andersen's fairy-tale about the snow queen who had that icy splinter in her heart/eye - but with compassion.
That puts everything into the right perspective, I think.
For drawing I just practise that: perspective.



16 comments:

  1. That is one of many examples how the world is changing, we look through so many lences to see a single case.We miss the real thing sometimes.

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    1. To look from different angles can be quite enlightening, but I really sometimes miss compassion. And - as you write, Yael: being "in" something instead of watching it "from somewhere" is being there.

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  2. Treat everyone in the way you would wish to be treated yourself is my motto - on the odd occasions that I have takeh a photograph of someone, I have always ask their permission first.
    I like the idea of making sketches, but my sketching is hopeless - my son does outdoor sketches as preliminaries and ideas for his linocut prints

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    1. That's what I do: ask them (but I rarely do take personal pictures)
      I would like to see the linocuts - it is a very satisfying way to work, forces us/me to let go of those very fine lines I always am prone to use. Does he then print them in different colours?

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    2. I showed one of his linocuts here:-
      http://wherefivevalleysmeet.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/british-bluebells.html
      He prints them himself in limited numbers, but some have been made into cards by a company specialising in British Artists.

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    3. Wow - I looked it up instantly and am very, very impressed! And I always "see" something in connection: does he illustrate fairy tales too? The colours are so clear, the lines so defined, the composition dynamical - really, really great! Thank you for that.

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    4. I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing it - as it happens he has illustrated interactive fairy tales as a learning device for special needs children. Apart from his artwork he is also a special needs teacher so knows what they require.

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    5. I am glad to hear that - his pupils will be delighted to have his help - and I "see" that a fairy tale book for all children (and grown-ups) might be next? For example "The Seven Raven" by the brothers Grimm? Or Hans Christian Andersen?

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  3. Hello Britta,
    Perspective and Respect - I love looking around me and I adore people-watching (and done discretely). I never take pictures of people I do not know.
    Thank you Britta for the kind words about me at Yael's blog :)
    Greetings Maria xx

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    1. I adore people-watching too, sitting in a café, watching, and think it very amusing sometimes. The variety in behaviour!
      I am glad that you are well. Greetings to sunny Italy Britta xxx

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  4. Until smart phones came along, I never travelled with a camera, preferring to look and see. Now I occasionally snap something that pleases or interests me, but I would never photograph a person, and I object to having my picture taken without my permission.

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    1. Yes, the smartphone is tempting some people easily. As long as they do their selfies, it is alright (or not - but not my concern). Smartphones are light, but often I have my camera still with me.

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  5. "A heavily built Turk" . How politically correct of you to mention his nationality Britta.

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    1. Yes, I did it consciously, Rachel, but not for being "political correct", but because I very often here in Berlin see that they are very caring and kind - more human than a lot of the "me, me"-people. And I was glad that he had muscles, because some junkies or drunks can become nasty when feeling disturbed.

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  6. Dear Brigitta, You are quite right, sketching one's surroundings is quite like meditation. I have enjoyed doing so since I was a child. By and by, one gets to drawing faces from memory, too, and need not disturb the privacy of others.

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    1. Dear Geo., this is impressive and for me a far-away goal: to draw faces from memory. I just have to do an exercise this way - and I shy away from it. Though of course I know that one might getting nearer to the gist of a person's character this way. At least I do when I draw 'things' from memory. I will inform you when I succeed with faces.

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