Saturday, March 16, 2013

Watercolor Sketching in Historic Montreal with Marc Taro Holmes and Shari Blaukopf

August 2–4, 2013, Montreal, Canada

SOLD OUT! - We are happy to announce the Montreal watercolor sketching workshop is now full. (Well, sorry for everyone who didn't get in :), but you know what I mean :) If you are interested in signing up for a waiting list please mail marc.taro(at) and we will contact you in the event any current students have to cancel. We'll make sure people on the waiting list get notified when we put on future workshops. (Plans are not set, but will be summer 2014, unless people in southern countries want to reach out to us for winter 2013).

Thanks! ~Marc and Shari


Join Urban Sketchers Montreal founding members Marc Taro Holmes and Shari Blaukopf for a weekend of drawing and painting in historic spots around Montreal.

We’ll begin in the Old Port of Montreal — a historic district of cobbled streets and 400-year old buildings that’s unique in North America for its vibrant French flavor and colorful history. Spend a few minutes in Jacques Cartier Square, the area’s historic and cultural heart, and you’ll understand why. The square teems with cafés and restaurants, with strolling Montréalais and visitors from every corner of the globe.

Venture a few streets over, and you’ll find a quiet, intimate ruelle seemingly untouched by time. Or walk a few blocks south to the quays on the St. Lawrence River, which was the city’s economic and cultural artery connecting Montreal to the Old World. Tall ships are often in port, while the north side of rue de la Commune is lined with Sixteenth and Seventeenth century warehouses that once stored the valuable furs that built the city’s economy.

It's easy to lose sight of where you are — just half a day's drive from Boston or NYC — and imagine you're in one of Europe's historic capitals.

En plein air

The workshop will be an introduction to capturing this extraordinary environment by drawing and painting in watercolor en plein air.

We emphasize working quickly, entirely on location, making well-designed compositions that might hang as finished works of art.

Our demonstrations will show you how to reduce a complex scene to its essence, and how to use unified shapes to create a center of interest with strong composition, contrast and color, while preserving the whites of the paper and mixing lively washes of rich color.

Students will alternate time in small groups with each of our experienced urban watercolorists. Over Friday and Saturday, you’ll have the opportunity to paint and observe four complete demonstrations in different locations. 
On Sunday you’ll apply what you’ve seen to free sketching outdoors, with Marc and Shari circulating to give tips and comments. We’ll gather at the end of each day to show off our sketches and spend time giving critiques and answering questions.

Learning Goals

  • Distilling a complex scene to its essence in a limited amount of time
  • How to focus the eye — creating a center of interest with contrast, color and selective detail
  • Plan the painting — thinking about values and large shapes
  • Observing negative space — designing the drawing
  • Drawing expressively while getting the proportions right
  • Painting lively watercolor washes while controlling edges
  • Preserving the whites of the paper
  • Getting the values right — no more pale washed out watercolors
  • Controlling colour with limited palettes

Pre-Workshop Meet-and-Greet, Thursday Aug 1: 


If you are available the night before the workshop, we will be announcing a restaurant/pub location for a casual meet and greet. This is informal and un-instructed, but feel free to bring your sketchbooks to show around. We will likely have some fresh work from the USK event in Barcelona to show-and-tell. (The meal will be at your own expense and we’ll pick a mid-range place with casual attire).

Workshop Schedule: 

Each day we will split into two groups, half the group with each instructor. This will enable you to sketch a variety of locations, while watching both artists at work. You may ‘paint-along’  — working on the same view as the instructor, or if you wish, explore the immediate area and sketch your own views, checking in with the instructor as their demo progresses. Throughout each session we will provide individual feedback on your sketches.

Friday Aug 2:

9:00 am- 12:00 pm:  Demo / Paint-Along at Place D’Armes Square
The square is surrounded by historic buildings including the Notre-Dame Basilica and Saint-Sulpice Seminary and features a sculptural monument to Paul de Chomedy, founder of Montreal.

12:00-12:30 pm: Review

12:30-1:30 pm:  Lunch Break and walk to next location

1:30-4:30 pm: Demo / Paint-Along on Rue De la Commune / Bonsecours Market
Views of the quay, many historic facades, and the silver dome of our 100 year old public market.

4:30-5:00 pm: Review

Saturday Aug 3:

9:00 am- 12:00 pm:  Demo / Paint-Along at Place Jacques-Cartier

The square offers views of the quay, Nelson’s Column, the historic Ramsay House and views of our nearby City Hall, as well as a bustle of public life.

12:00-12:30 pm: Review

12:30-1:30 pm:  Lunch Break and short Metro ride to next location (transit pass provided)

1:30-4:30 pm: Demo / Paint-Along at Dorchester Square
This is a green space next to our dramatic Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde,  also offering a variety of statuary and other nearby churches and neoclassical facades.

4:30-5:00 pm: Review

Sunday Aug 4:

9:00 am- 1:00 pm:  Free Sketching and Critique at Square St. Louis

We will circulate around as students choose their own views, offering individual critique, and if time allows, smaller sketching demos.

The square features a Victorian fountain, busts of Octave Crémazie and Émile Nelligan, and is surrounded by notable brightly painted Victorian residences. The immediate area includes the shops and restaurants of Rue St-Denis, and the tree lined residential streets typical of our Plateau Mont Royal.

Workshop Registration and Cost:

The workshop is $300 CDN payable via PayPal. After receiving your application form, we will contact you with a PayPal request in your email.

Final Registration is July 20, 2013.

Maximum number of participants: 30 (minimum 16), All levels welcome
Workshop fee includes a 3-day transit pass to travel between locations, to hotels, or airport (on the STM 747 shuttle bus).

Contact: sblaukopf(at) for further inquiries

Cancellation Policy: 

We are only able to provide refunds for cancellations up to July 20, 2013 with a cancellation fee of $25.00. In the event of too few registrants, all monies will be refunded less PayPal fees.

Download Registration Form here
Download Supply List here

About the Instructors: 

Marc Taro Holmes

Canadian artist Marc Taro Holmes (BFA ’96) has worked as an Art Director and Conceptual Artist in feature animation and video games since 1998. He has helped design projects for companies such as Electronic Arts and Disney. Since 2011 he has been working out of his own studio in Montreal, Quebec doing urban sketching, fine art and freelance concept art.

Shari Blaukopf

A graphic designer, illustrator, educator and daily sketch blogger, Montreal-based Shari Blaukopf has been painting and teaching watercolor for many years. In fact, she began taking workshops at the age of 12 and has subsequently painted and drawn her way across several European countries and parts of North America. These days she spends her winters inside the classroom teaching graphic design to college students and her summers outdoors giving watercolor workshops and painting the urban landscape.


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