Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Water Marks - Pushing your Sketching Boundaries in Segovia

Contact: e-mail Isabel: for information and a registration form.

Segovia is a World Heritage Site is located on the plains of Old Castile, near the Spanish capital, Madrid. It is well known as the only city in the entire world where one of the longest aqueducts stands, “located in Plaza del Azoguejo, El Acueducto is the defining historical feature of the city, dating from the late 1st or early 2nd century AD. Acknowledged as the most important Roman civil engineering work in Spain, it consists of about 25,000 granite blocks held together without any mortar, and spans 818 meters with more than 170 arches, the highest being 29 metres high.” The architecture of the old city ranges from medieval to gothic, churches and palaces standing side by side, and we will delight on its beautiful irregular squares and courtyards, cathedral, medieval castle, its streets and main square where the Segovians come out for a walk up and a chat every evening till the small hours in the warm summer nights. We have organised six different locations for the 3 day workshop and you would be experiencing them all. As the weather will be hot, we have adapted our timetable to the climate and will have a longer break at lunchtime and time in the afternoon to be in the shade, we have organised some 'cool' making activities (sketchbook binding,...) The workshop will be hosted in el patio del Colegio de Arquitectos (the courtyard of the Segovian Architect’s institute) halfway between the cathedral and the castle. It will be fun but hard work, as you will be enjoying learning and experimenting all the time, trying out different ways of drawing and mark making, sketching in watercolour and using colour in all forms without fear, sharing the work we do and discussing our findings intensely. Each of the instructors will explore different themes of Watercolour and Mark making in urban sketching.

Contrast in Watercolour (Isabel) 
 Segovia is a city in the sun, with strong light and shadow contrasts. Using watercolour as the main medium, we'll explore the idea of colour and contrast as the starting point of a sketch. We will start by deciding where the lightest points of the sketch are, the paper, and where the deepest shadows will be, the strongest colours. We will learn to abstract what we see, using colour boldly and with strong contrast. Drawing can take place later either with more colour more linear marks or with pen if preferred. This workshop will help people to simplify the complex architecture but not be shy about painting views that in the first instance might appear too difficult.

Light and shadow with white paper indicating strongest light

Starting with only with watercolour drawing with light and colour we will look for those elements of the view that interest us.

Abstracting building shapes and forms quickly with colour

And slowly building up the watercolour layers to add complexity and depth to our work.

Conscious Marking (Mercedes)

The aim of my workshop is to encourage the sketchers to consciously perceive their environment, to look and think of what they want to draw.

We will synthesize what we see and differentiate elements on the space in front of us, marking the trajectory of lines, using planes of colour and finding those areas where the drawing wants to pause and be calm. In doing this, I will encourage participants to find their own calligraphy and ways of personal expression.

The main tools of the workshop will be marker pens and we will experiment with water soluble and waterproof markers.

La Vera Cruz_modified.jpg

We will also experiment mixing papers looking for new textures to help developing our imagination about colour and perspective.

Brushing people, marking people (Swasky)

People moving, people going around, back and forth,... We do not have time, we need to capture them we want to depict them in our sketchbook. Using a loose and unpredictable technique like watercolour instead of a fountain pen or a ballpoint pen lowers our likeness standards, details become less important and our goal is to capture gestures, expressions, moods and feelings. Brush and watercolour markers (or watercolour pencils) will be our drawing tools.

Some themes we will explore:

Capturing people's feelings. We are going to pay attention to people’s faces and we will try to communicate what they are expressing with their face features. Just using brush as our drawing tool we are going to draw people faces, paying attention to eyebrows, expression wrinkles, mouth, eyes,...

Depicting movement. Action and movement is people´s nature. Nevertheless, we are scared of this, what’s more we tend to avoid them as much as we can. In a city, architecture is important but people are  equally important . Thanks to them we know the city better, human beings give the scale to cities.

Telling people stories. Now we will observe also context as part of the human being as I have mentioned before here will notice the link between someone and his or her context. We will visit some professionals (e.g. waiters or fishmongers) and we will tell their story.

This session will help attendees to successfully deal the fear of drawing people. Because drawing people is less scary than drawing skyscrapers.

Learning goals

  • Pushing participants out of their comfort zone, at their own level. From beginners starting to sketch to more confident participants, we aim to teach you something new and push you outside your boundaries, helping you experiment.

  • Experiment with different water mark techniques and ways of approaching a live sketch situation, helping you find your own self expression.
  • Using and trying different watercolour approaches - line drawing with brushes,  marker pens and watercolour pencils, painting with watercolours, using textures, light and shade, understanding colour.
  • Using more colour and texture and making you think about how do you represent what you see and to develop your own way of representing what you see in colour with confidence
  • Improving brushstrokes and brushmark making abilities
  • Losing the fear to draw people
  • Sketching the city, its buildings, the people and their stories.

    Workshop Schedule

    Tuesday 4 August   
    Welcome in the Colegio de Arquitectos (Institute of Architects of Segovia), in our meeting space, in the evening at 6pm.
    Wednesday 5 August
    9.30am -10.30am     Welcome in the Institute of Architects of Segovia
    10.30am-1.30pm      Isa, Mercedes and Swasky morning workshops
    1.30pm- 3.00pm       Lunch
    3.00 -5.00pm            Afternoon”cool” making activities
    5.00pm - 8.00pm      Isa, Mercedes and Swasky evening workshops
    Thursday 6 August  
    9.30am -10.30am     Meeting at the Institute of Architects of Segovia
    Review and Exhibition pin up of previous day work
    10.30am-1.30pm      Isa, Mercedes and Swasky workshops
    1.30pm- 3.00pm       Lunch
    3.00 -5.00pm            Afternoon”cool” making activities
    5.00pm - 8.00pm      Isa, Mercedes and Swasky evening workshops
    Friday 7 August       
    9.30am -10.30am     Meeting at the Institute of Architects of Segovia
    Review and Exhibition pin up of previous day work
    10.30am-1.30pm      Isa, Mercedes and Swasky workshops
    1.30pm- 3.00pm       Lunch
    3.00 -5.00pm            Afternoon”cool” making activities
    5.00pm - 8.00pm      Isa, Mercedes and Swasky evening workshops
            Works' exhibition Opening.
    Saturday 8 August
    9.30am -10.30am     Meeting at the Institute of Architects of Segovia
    Final Exhibition pin up
    10.30am -11.30am   Bus trip to La Granja to Fabrica del Vidrio
    11.30pm -5.00pm     Sketchcrawl in La Granja (Fábrica del Vidrio - USk Madrid will join us)

    Workshop map:
    Segovia workshop map here
    30 attendees maximum, 18 minimum. Any level of drawing experience is welcome


    A list will be provided for participants - we will be working with water soluble media, watercolours and marker pens

    Registration fee

    £ 225 - (£180 concessions - 20% discount for students or unwaged -with proof of concession status)
    To book - e-mail Isabel: for a registration form.

    Cancellation policy: All fees are fully refundable if cancelled prior to 20 July 2015. If cancelled after 20 July a £25 cancellation fee will be retained. In the event of too few registrants, all monies will be refunded.

    (Payment can be via cheque, internet bank transfer or paypal)


    About the instructors

    Isabel is Spanish but studied in UK where she practices as an architect and artist. Her passion is watercolour, easy to carry around and sketch on the go and likes experimenting and mixing media to get interesting effects. Isabel started sketching in 1993 as part of her architecture training and continues to this day. She joined Urban Sketchers Spain in 2011.  As an artist she is part of West Berkshire and North Hampshire Open Studios scheme and joined the Oxford Printmakers Cooperative in 2013.

Mercedes was born and studied in Madrid where in 1996 she finished her PhD Fine Arts (Painting) at Madrid’s Universidad Complutense.  After 10 years in the Sudan, she returned to Spain in 2009 and now lives and teaches in Madrid but spends weekends in Segovia sketching and painting on location.

Swasky born and raised in Barcelona, Swasky has been drawing most of his lifetime, but when he finished his BFA he left drawing because he tried to start working. Then he decided to start again a degree in Audiovisual Communication. Once he fulfill his second degree he worked in an advertising production company, RCR, disappointed with a job so stressful and invidious he left his job and run a shop. With a new life he started drawing again.  

Addendum - Sketchcrawl location

Old "Fábrica de Cristales" (glass making factory) in La Granja, where the chandeliers in the palaces and many other glass objects were manufactured. It houses a great collection of glass making machinery that explains the process of glass making,  as well as a collection of glass objects and a traditional glassblowing workshop.

Some objects from the exhibition at the Fábrica del Vidrio and a traditional glassblower making glass objects in the traditional method.

The old glass factory now showcasing the museum collection of artifacts from the glass making process.

The venue. Colegio de arquitectos.
Ancient building from before the XVII century which was part of the marquessate of Lozoya. The building follows the “patio” structure after refurbishment but still retains some old parts. In this house Santa Teresa de Jesús, in 1574, founded her first convent of Carmelites.

Patio will be a great meeting and exhibition space.

Evening activities will be also run here.

Segovia the historic city.

The ancient, now refurbished Alcazar was one of the inspirations for Walt Disney's Cinderella Castle (Source Wikipedia). 

The aqueduct transports water from Fuente Fría river, situated in the nearby mountains, some 17 km (11 mi) from the city in a region known as La Acebeda. It runs another 15 km (9.3 mi) before arriving in the city (Source Wikipedia).

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Sketch it on....Amsterdam-Liverpool

Taking place Aug 13-23

Sketch it on its a caravan of drawing to be held in two European cities. In each city we will draw for three days with a group of experienced instructors.
Learn from world-class sketchers who will enjoy coaching you to new heights with your drawing and obesrvations of the city. 
We all know Singapore is a world-class city as undoubtedly are Liverpool and Amsterdam which have been chosen as locations for this series of European summer workshops being led by a group of highly experienced urban sketching tutors including architect Norberto Dorantes, veteran architectural illustrator Frank Ching, architect and artist  Simone Ridyard and urban designer and architect Climaco Cardenas.

If you can’t make the USK Symposium in Singapore why don’t you join us in Europe…? We’re sketching in two fabulous cities over two long weekends in August and you can join us on one or more of the workshops (discounts available if you book two cities). A detailed programme of events in each city including experienced tuition by enthusiastic and friendly professionals, exciting talks and walks, evening events and Sketchcrawls, all organised with local knowledge and tailored to all abilities.

Whether you're experienced or new to urban sketching, we invite you to join us anyway on our European adventure! Learn from world-class urban sketchers who will enjoy coaching you to new heights with your drawing and observations of the city.

Frank ChingNorberto Dorantes, Simone Ridyard
Sketching tour, interpreter and translator

In Amsterdam we're basing ourselves in the picturesque area around The American Bookshop on Spui. This is a central location close to the University of Amsterdam and home to many antiquarian bookshops and there's an open-air market selling artwork and books in the central square most days. It's also home to Cafe Luxembourg 'one of the world's most famous cafe's' according to the New York Times where we'll meet each morning at the start of our sessions. We do realise that for some participants in our workshop that it might be their first visit to the beautiful city of Amsterdam so our intensive programme of events includes talks, walks, boat trip and some sightseeing - whilst we're drawing of course!
In Liverpool we are basing ourselves on the famous Liverpool Waterfront, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site with its magnificent mix of historical and contemporary architecture as well as breathtaking panoramic views out across the River Mersey. We will divide our studio-based time between the Open Eye Gallery; one of the UK's leading photographic galleries and Tate Liverpool which should need no introduction!And as in Amsterdam we'll be creative tourists in this most stunning of cities!

Workshops Structure:
  1. Architectural Sketching: Composition and Perspective: Frank Ching
  2. Perspective & Drawing Style Simone Ridyard
  3. Urban entourage: Norberto Dorantes

Extra activities:
  • Demostration: Frank Ching
  • Artificial Light (Drawing at night): Norberto Dorantes
  • Sketching tour: Climaco Cardenas-SR
More in Sketch it on

  1. Architectural Sketching: Composition and Perspective 2: Frank Ching
  2. Perspective & Drawing Style  Simone Ridyard
  3. Dynamic Ink (non waterproof ink and watercolors): Norberto Dorantes

Extra activities:
  • Demostration: Frank Ching
  • Artificial Light (How to draw interiors): Norberto Dorantes
  • Sketching tour: Climaco Cardenas- ND

PLEASE GO TO our web Sketch it On web for all the complete schedule


A. Architectural Sketching: Composition and Perspective
(Frank Ching)

Workshop description
One of the challenges in urban sketching is overcoming the flatness of the pages we draw on and capturing the three-dimensional qualities of spatial environments. This workshop therefore focuses on the following three aspects of drawing architecture on location.
1. Framing the subject
        Selecting the subject
        Deciding on a viewpoint
        Establishing foreground, middle ground, background
2. Placing the composition on the page
        Realizing the directional qualities of a composition
        Visualizing the image on the page
        Drawing the first five lines
3. Developing the perspective structure
        Understanding geometry
        Determining the eye level
        Sighting for convergence, scale, and proportion
Learning Goals
The goal of the workshop is to develop an approach that will not only improve the spatial qualities of the work of advanced sketchers but also provide a sound foundation for beginners upon which they can grow their abilities.An advantage of this approach is that it enables one to work more quickly, the idea being that drawing multiple views can be more instructive than spending a lot of time on a single drawing.
Workshop Schedule
A 20-minute demonstration to illustrate the above principles and process would be followed by three sketching sessions. The first 30-minute session would focus on framing, composition, and the first five lines of a sketch. The following two 60-minute sessions would each focus on a different scene, build on the first experience, and provide more time to complete a sketch.
Each session would end with a sharing period and brief critique. During each sketching session, I would work one-on-one with each participant to discuss and demonstrate how each individual’s process, style, and technique of drawing might be improved.
Supply List
Nothing fancy, just a free-flowing pen or very soft pencil and paper.

B. Urban Entourage
(Norberto Dorantes)

Workshop description
When drawing the city it’s really important to record organic elements (trees and people), street furniture, cars, etc.In this workshop you will learn how to draw these elements to harmonize with the architecture.
Often first we draw buildings, then the rest. Have you ever thought that you can start a drawing based on such elements?
The workshop will develop these three topics:
1.     Drawing organic. The basic idea is to create strategies to quickly draw a person, a tree, etc.
2.     Drawing street furniture. A lamppost, a fire hydrant, a bench, etc. You will draw expressively and in the correct scale in your scene.
3. Boats,cars, bicycles.
We will work as follows:
     To choose an object from the foreground.
     We will explore relationships between that plane and different planes until the background.
     The expression is fundamental. We will include color, texture and shadows.
Learning goals
The Participants:
    Will acquire the ability to build their sketches of urban space through an object and other urban entourage.
    May easily find the proportions of buildings, objects, people and other environmental elements.
    Will also explore the possibility of drawing complex structures or details (eg a boat or an architectural style)
    Will learn to find a balance between the architecture and entourage
    Will use colors, textures and shadows as protagonists of their drawings.
Workshop Schedule
    Introduction, theory and demonstration  about 20 min
    Exercise 1    about 40 min
    Explanation about 10 min
    Exercise 2    about 40 min
    Explanation about 10 min
    Exercise 3    about 50 min
    Exhibition, group feedback and final closure about 15 min
Supply list
We do not need very sophisticated materials, just use what you feel comfortable with; for example fine-liner pens or ballpoints in different colors of ink and a set of watercolors and / or colored pencils.

C. Perspective & Drawing Style
(Simon Ridyard)

  • An introduction (or reintroduction) to the principles of perspective
  • Understanding of one and two point perspective; how they work in real life rather than just as a technical exercise. How to set them up, where to find eye level and the elusive vanishing point
  • A nod to birds eye and worm’s eye perspective
  • Improved understanding of scale, massing and context
  • Understanding when to add the detail and when to leave alone
  • Working within an allotted timescale…no pressure!
  • Using colour and own personal technique to add drama
  • Increased confidence when drawing challenging architectural views…the more challenging the better!
  • Introductions, theory and discussion about perspective, a hand-out will be provided that gives information about each exercise (approx. 20 minutes)
  • One point perspective; quick demo, exercise and review (30 minutes)
  • Two point perspective; quick demo, exercise and review (30 minutes)
  • Quick context studies…capturing the view in thumbnails and review (20 minutes)
  • Skyline sketch, concentrating on the city context and review (30 minutes)
  • Final drawing which brings it all together (60 minutes)
  • Review, final feedback (approx. 20 minutes)
No specific requirement, but suggest fine liner pens (0.1-0.3mm) or pencil (B-2B) for Part One. Colour, mixed media; whatever you prefer for second part of the session welcomed...and encouraged! Also a sketchbook, in which you can draw in panoramic format (across 2 pages) so preferably not spiral bound. Folding stool would be helpful.

Learning Outcomes:
·         An introduction (or reintroduction) to the principles of perspective
·         Understanding of one and two point perspective; how they work in real life rather than just as a technical exercise.   How to set them up, where to find eye level and the elusive vanishing point
·         A nod to birds eye and worm’s eye perspective
·         Improved understanding of scale, massing and context
·         Understanding when to add the detail and when to leave alone
·         Working within an allotted timescale…no pressure!
·         Using colour and own personal technique to add drama
·         Increased confidence when drawing challenging architectural views…the more challenging the better!

D. Dynamic Ink

(Norberto Dorantes)

How to draw with non waterproof ink and watercolors


Workshop description:
Pens with non-waterproof ink can be an interesting and essential to dominate when we do sketching. Often it is believed that we should use permanent ink before the watercolor, however, non-waterproof ink enhance the richness of the work and can create very interesting artistic effects.
• The line softens and avoids hardness and rigidity.
• Produce fluency and freshness in the drawings.
• When using fine-tipped pens can we control the outflow of ink and avoid losing our
• The tone of the ink (slightly purple, depending on the type of ink) creates a special
• We can simply use water to produce depth or contrast in our work without other
• We work with graphics (stripes and patterns) in combination with stains (water
• Can be used variety of ink colors (brown, blue, black) to recreate special
• This technique is recommended for stroke atmosphere when it makes contact with watercolor. color. touches or watercolor) atmospheres.
o quick sketches and expressive (only need pen and brush with water)
o Mid drawings preparation (when working with limited watercolor palette, using
between one and even three colors) and
o complex drawings (using a watercolor palette beyond)
Workshop location
New World Symphony (Frank Gehry)
Learning goals:
The Participants:
• Will acquire the skill to control the dynamic ink line when applying water or watercolor.
• Will use the dynamic ink to enhance the contrast and recreate the atmosphere of the site.
• Apply this technique in a quick sketch and ink with water only, the second using two or three colors and a third drawing more complex.
More in Sketch it on

Live demonstrations by Frank Ching with the whole group

Extra Activities
Activities in which the instructor-coordinador provides general guidance about the chosen theme


Sketch it On