Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Farm in the city

One fine Saturday in spring, I stumbled across horse-drawn carriages in the middle of the streets of the capital. Luxembourg is not like some cities where you can find this type of transportation mainly for the benefit of tourists, so my surprise was complete.

Until I remembered that part of the city had been taken over by farmers that weekend for an event they called Bauerenhaff an der Stad (farm in the city), the perfect occasion to whip out sketchbook and pen for a few quick sketches before heading to an appointment. 

The event was taking place under the watchful eye of the Gëlle Fra (golden lady), and gathered farmers and cooperatives from all over the country who were there to show their work and products to consumers and city folk in particular.
The children's response was enthusiastic to say the least and in some cases I wondered if it was their first time seeing real life animals. 

The cows were a big hit and many children were trying to feed them, but I guessed that they had already gotten enough hay from previous little hands.

I heard many amusing comments around me and a lot of questions to which parents didn't necessarily have answers (neither did I for that matter).

"Look! That goose is taking a bath!"

"What are these rabbits called?" - "Those are bunnies, not rabbits."

It must be a real treat for farmers to see such positive reactions. All in all, it looked like this first edition was a pretty successful event, which I hope will be repeated in the future. How else can a city dweller like me get to sketch a few animals?

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Between Metz and Paris

After last week's international sketchcrawl weekend, I was not sure many local sketchers would be interested in participating to the usual monthly outing.

However, we ended up being a group of five hardcore sketchers to explore the area between Place de Metz and Place de Paris through our drawings.

Explore might be a big word. After sketching at the Rousegärtchen on one of the very convenient benches, the grey weather and looming rain chased us to a bar nearby.


The Paname, the unofficial name Parisians give to the French capital, is very aptly named, as it is located on Place de Paris. A trendy and cozy place, many people were enjoying their Sunday afternoon there. Plus a handful of curious sketchers.

Friday, 5 May 2017

USk Luxembourg's 1st international sketchcrawl - Day 2

Sunday felt much more relaxed. Maybe it was because we had nothing to take care of, except being at one or two meeting points in time.

When I arrived at the morning gathering point at Abbaye Neumünster there were already a few people busy at work. No need for any kind of speech or explanations, people just started sketching away as they arrived and I just joined the fun. 

The place was made even more interesting by the fact that there were preparations for Labour Day and the Urban Trail was happening at the same time. I know some of the sketchers tried to draw the runners passing us by, but I was more focused on our own event. How could I miss a chance to sketch Lolo sitting on the ground, sketching the beautiful abbey?

 I also had time to have a proper lunch this time, with my friend Tessy, Julien, Isabelle and Angel, a sketcher who had come all the way from the UK to sketch with us! 

Oscar's has some of the best burgers in town and a very sketchable interior decoration. What else could we need?

My last sketch, and one of the highlights of the weekend, is a portrait of Rolf Schöter, one of my favourite sketchers. I really admire his style, so watching him sketch and get some tips from him was a really great experience.

The whole weekend I kept marveling at the fact that so many people came, some from quite far away. And seeing sketchers again that I had met before at other USk events in my own city felt amazing!

It was such a thrill to see that people were happy and loved the city. We were even asked to make it an annual event. I say: "Why not?" It's well worth the effort after all.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

USk Luxembourg's 1st international sketchcrawl - Day 1

Our regional group of Urban Sketchers has been very busy this past month, preparing for our first international sketchcrawl taking place on 29th and 30th April.

This last weekend we hosted around 100 sketchers, both locals and from neighbouring countries. We even had a guest who came all the way from Norway to participate in our event!

Saturday I had to find a balance between looking out for people, a short interview for the local news network, answering phone calls and sketching throughout the weekend. I have to admit that I did a lot of running around that day, including a quick stop at the Duck Race that was taking place in the Patrusse valley with a few sketchers.

Many families had gathered to see 16,000 plastic ducks being dumped in the water and "race" for charity. Unfortunately there was a shortage of water, so it was less spectacular than I expected, and there were so many people that I didn't get to see much racing. I was told the view from on top of the bridge was better though, so I might try that instead next year.

Coming back up for air, in a way, I settled with some of my fellow sketchers near the Musée Nationale d'Histoire et d'Art. Much more relaxing after the big crowds around the Duck Race.

In the evening we headed for Rives de Clausen, where we would take the traditional group photo and have dinner.

The whole day couldn't have been better. Between the wonderful weather and the amazing participants, I had a lot of fun and looked forward to spending a lovely Sunday in good company again.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Somewhere between up and downtown

Every now and then, when the weather is nice and I can enjoy a walk around the city's ledge I can't help thinking how beautiful this little city is.

Following the different trails around the city you can find hundreds of picturesque sights and spots to sketch, between the remains of the ancient fortress and the beautiful valley underneath, you would be hard-pressed not to stop and enjoy the view.

Take these two sketches, for example. These locations are literally about 50 meters apart.

Right under the Bock to the left, overlooking Abbaye Neumünster to the right

Arriving at the "Austrian gate", beside the Bock

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Where is the bridge?!

We have had a couple of really sunny weeks lately, enticing me to take sketchbook, pen and watercolours out and explore the city. The reopening of the Adolphe bridge was the perfect occasion. It is one of my favourite places in the city and boasts one of the prettiest views over the "ville haute".

The bridge, also called Nei Bréck (new bridge) by the locals, is one of the most iconic monuments in the city and had been closed off for renovations and improvements for the future tram to run through.

I was decidedly a bit naïve in my eagerness to sketch the bridge, for when I arrived it was still covered by the scaffolding... No sketching my favourite bridge today! So instead I sat down in the middle of the temporary bridge next to it, looking back at the building of the state bank, another iconic building. It is where the original headquarters of the European Coal and Steel Community were, the forebearer of the European Union.

This view, with traces of the working site soon to be removed gave me a sense of documenting another, far smaller, moment in history.

However, the day was decidedly windy and I was soon covered in gravel and sand, so I stubbornly finished my sketch as fast as I could and moved on to a more secluded location between the trees, from where I could make a quick sketch of the tower.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Between the city and the countryside

It was a very busy weekend for Urban Sketchers Luxembourg, with not one but two sketchcrawls.

On Saturday, we attended the guided tour organised with Musee Dräi Eechelen and LUCA around the Adolphe bridge, or "Nei Bréck" (new bridge), as the locals call it. The bridge had been closed for renovations and to adapt the infrastructure for the future tram. It is great to have it back!

The tour was guided by Prof. Robert Philippart, who is a real expert on Luxembourg's history. While I wasn't able to hear all the information he provided (there was a big group of people and I was focused on my sketching), I did hear a few interesting tidbits, like for example the fact that the bridge's decorations were designed by craft workers as a way to promote their know-how, and not by artists or architects as is usually the case.

I have to admit that I was more interested in sketching our tour guide and group than the surroundings, particularly given the fact that the bridge is still covered with scaffolding.

There was a lot of enthusiasm for our sketching group among the crowd. Our guide was happy with the experience as well. Hopefully we will be able to repeat it in the future.

On Sunday we had our monthly outing, this time far from the crowds of the capital, in Grevenmacher, at the border with Germany.

It couldn't have been a more different sketchcrawl with wonderful weather and sedate Sunday pace.

It was very pleasant to sketch in the sun, observing the families enjoying their Sunday afternoon. A group of children popped by to see what I was doing, asking me where they were on my sketch.

The afternoon ended - how else? - around drinks on a terrace. Five ladies sketching and enjoying each other's company.