a particularly large collection of drawings from my trip to London, class visits to memorials and meat districts, and some homages to my everyday life in Copenhagen
Between travel, finals, and at least a bit of fun, I’ve fallen a bit behind on posting sketchbook tours. So this post is going to be a quick run-through of my latest sketches. The descriptions will be shorter than usual, but I’m excited to share the images!
I was pretty exhausted after our week-long study tour in October, so I stayed in most of the day and I decided that my sketch should be of the watercolor palette that I had made frequent use of the week before.
On my way into class, I ran into the Queen’s guard marching between Christiansborg and Amalienborg, so I grabbed a quick photo that I used as a reference later. I was still pretty tired, hence the rather messy style.
This is a street in the old meat packing district in the Vesterbro neighborhood. As its name suggests, it was once home to huge meat industries but it is now populated with clubs, safe injection sites, and offices. I went there with my Architecture studio so that we could visit the kitchen collaborative that hosts educational cooking classes and allows food entrepreneurs to have shared ownership in a commercial kitchen.
This is a quick glimpse into the kitchen of my home for the semester. I live with a Danish host family and between conversations with them and some lectures I have had in class, I’ve learned that Danes take a tremendous amount of pride in their homes. Nearly every time a Danish family buys a home, they renovate at least the kitchen, if not the entire house, to customize their living space.
This is a quick sketch of one of the many cozy, cobblestoned streets that make up the historic city center of Copenhagen.
I grew up in a family that always had at least 2-3 pets -I think our maximum was 14 back when we had rabbits- so having animals around me is always a source of comfort. While my host family doesn’t have any pets, one of the neighbor-cats Sally makes frequent appearances to the yard. It was especially great to see her at the end of this stressful Friday and spend some time giving her some well-deserved scratches.
DIS students come from all over the US (and the world!) but when the weather is warm and sunny it was easy to forget that not everyone has experienced harsh northern winters. As a born and raised Minnesotan, I have dealt with cold temperatures and little to no sunlight every winter of my life, but it came as a shock for some of my friends from California. Whether you’re from the North or the South, Denmark’s dark skies can lower your energy and happiness, but that is why Danes embrace Hygge in the winter. Pro-Tip: DIS has some sun lamps available for students to check out, and they can be a way to combat seasonal depression/seasonal affective disorder.
Halloween isn’t really a part of the traditional Danish zeitgeist, but many people are adopting the holiday in Copenhagen, especially families with children. My host family has been carving Jack-o-lanterns for the past couple of years as a fun family event.
There are a lot of good study spaces at DIS facilities, but they can sometimes be crowded and I always like switching things up, especially late in the semester. This is a quick vignette of the library on the southern Copenhagen University Campus. There are some really great study spaces in the buildings on this campus and it was really fun to be studying among Danish university students.
I have done a fair amount of streetscape drawings while in Denmark, so I thought I would switch it up and draw the view from the fourth floor of Vestergade 23. It is a little harder to understand the organization of the buildings up this high, but I enjoyed the new perspective.
Today DIS unveiled a miniature form of “I am Queen Mary” that it purchased from the artists Jeannette Ehlers and La Vaughn Belle. “I am Queen Mary” is a public art piece commenting on Denmark’s colonial past that was displayed temporarily in 2018 before it was taken down due to damages caused by a storm. The artists are currently raising funds to create a permanent statue made from more sturdy materials. One of the ways they are doing this is by selling smaller versions of the statue like the one purchased by DIS. The history and process behind this piece are incredibly powerful as well as interesting and I encourage you to read more about it here: https://www.iamqueenmary.com/
Work on my studio project is starting to ramp up and there are many nights of tea and sketching in my future. So here is a quick look at the state of my desk after a late night of sketches.
I visited Israels Plads on a field study for my Urban Design Theories class today. The park is a great example of inclusive design that provides spaces for a variety of demographics and uses. It also borders one of the many beautiful green spaces that were previously a part of Copenhagen’s old ramparts.
Tivoli is an amusement park and a popular attraction in Copenhagen. It has several rides, attractions, and shops, and it’s decorated according to different seasons. I bought an annual pass at the beginning of the semester to attend September concerts and I had some free time on Saturday, so I decided to walk through and treat myself to a warm beverage while seeing the Halloween festivities displayed.
Denmark’s moist climate means mold is destined to attack carved pumpkins, regardless of how much protection you paint on them. But I think the dark color added some fun horror to my pumpkin after a week of exposure to the elements.
During an early Halloween run in Amager Fӕlled, seasonally appropriate fog covered the terrain. And while I am not the biggest fan of the Bella Sky Hotel, the way it disappeared into the morning mist made a wonderful start to a spooky day.
I was lucky enough to be in Copenhagen during an election! I’m really only familiar with the American Political system, so Danish politics were both confusing and envy-inducing with its multitude of parties and complicated election system. This is a view of Christianborg, home of the Danish Parliament when it was brightly lit up on election night.
As a student, I had the opportunity to attend the Green Building conference in Copenhagen. I took the opportunity to explore the different sustainable materials displayed and presented. This was a full-scale model made by Architecture students to explore using recycled mussel shells as a roofing material.
Another detail of old Copenhagen architecture I have grown to love is the frequent use of spiral staircases, like this one in the three-story Arnold Busck bookstore.
Stunning sunsets like this happen relatively often in Denmark, but they are still breathtaking and sketch-worthy.
I was blessed to have my partner visit me during my weeklong study break at the beginning of November. The people and friends I have met in Denmark are wonderful and have made this experience as amazing as it is. But it is still comforting to see loved ones from home.
The Round Tower is a major landmark of Copenhagen. The giant structure has one spiral ramp, large enough for a horse carriage, that leads all the way to the top and a beautiful view of the city. One thing my sketch doesn’t do justice is the incredible bricklaying that was used to create the ramp itself.
There are a few things I learned today about traveling to London. 1) Try to avoid flying onto Stansted Airport, 2) Double check the time of your flight at every stage of the booking process – I promise you it said 11 am on the website – and 3) Even if your flight arrives at Midnight, there will still be a giant line for passport control.
For this sketch of a street in London’s West End, I had fun playing with a limited color palette and large blocks of dark ink. It was a pretty cold and rainy evening, but we still had an incredible time starting to explore the city.
According to my admittedly inaccurate phone, we walked over 38,000 steps on this day trying to see the city of London on foot. We saw so much that it was hard to choose what to sketch. But I ended up settling on the gardens in the brutalist Barbican center. Brutalism is a controversial architectural style, but the way its solid masses played off of the water features and vegetation of this performing arts complex was awe-inspiring.
The hotel where we were staying was only a couple of blocks away from Hyde park, so -after a very satisfying English breakfast- we spent most of our final day in London exploring the pastoral landscapes and the precisely cultivated gardens.
Back in Copenhagen again! Traveling to new countries and cities is always invigorating, but one of my favorite parts is how rewarding it feels to return to Copenhagen and feel like I am home. Having favorite spots like this walkway around Christianshavn to come back to makes it even more comforting.
Another thing that makes me feel at home in a city is feeling comfortable and confident using its public transit system. So here is an homage to Copenhagen’s M1 line. I have even learned to appreciate how the above-ground tracks in Amager make me feel like the protagonist in a YA dystopian Sci-Fi novel.
A peaceful Sunday is a perfect day for art. At least for my host dad and me. We took a short drive east of Copenhagen to the ARKEN Museum of Modern Art. A building full of wild surrealist paintings, a giant inflatable cue ball, and butterflies. The building was designed by a young architect who entered a competition and it is supposed to mimic a deconstructed shipwreck.
I visited Mindilunden with my class. We placed roses at the monument to the danish resistance fighters who were executed during WWII. While there, I noticed that some of the red berries from surrounding trees had fallen on individual graves. From a distance, they almost looked like drops of blood, but to me, it felt like the trees themselves were paying respect to those honored there. This is an important place in Denmark and Danish history and visiting with my class was very impactful. I wrote more about this particular experience in my blog post: An Unexpected Turkey Day
The space underneath highways can easily be overlooked and abandoned by almost everyone other than people seeking shelter and automobiles. But Urban 13 in Copenhagen has taken one of these spots and transformed it into an area dedicated to inclusive sports and recreation for children in the area.
I love plants. There are many plants I was forced to leave back in Minnesota under the careful eye of some of my trusted friends. So I was very thankful to see all of the house plants my host mom diligently cares for and the row of cacti in my bedroom, One of which is shown here.