Monday, February 3, 2014

Expressive Urban Sketching - Cockatoo Island Workshop

SOLD OUT! - We are happy to announce the Expressive Urban Sketching workshop is now full. Sorry to those who have missed out. 

If you are interested in signing up for a waiting list please mail uskaustralia(at) and we will contact you in the event any current students have to cancel.
Hopefully we will be able to run this workshop again!

Workshop description

Cockatoo Island is a spectacular heritage listed island right in the middle of Sydney harbour with a fascinating history including convict imprisonment and decades of shipbuilding.  There are many layers of the past, all kinds of interesting industrial and historical structures, amazing spaces, an abundance of textures and materials – all with a story to tell. It is an exciting place to visit and an inspiring location to sketch.

Join Urban Sketchers Paul Wang and Liz Steel for a 2 day workshop which will explore ways of capturing the amazing fabric and texture of Cockatoo Island on the page. 

(Photo by Tim Mooney –

We believe that sketching should be personal, spontaneous and a lot of fun. This experimental workshop is aimed to give you the tools and the confidence to take risks and express yourself when urban sketching.

It will involve
•    experimenting with alternative drawing tools in order to create an arsenal of expressive marks and expressive mixes.
•     exploring ways of creating a sketch with a strong focal point and allowing for expressive design.
•    creating a bold & fluid exchange between sketching, mark-making and painting – one that suits your own personal approach to urban sketching.

The workshop will include both directed exercises that expand the creative mind as well as spontaneous experimental sketching from the heart.

Each session will begin with a discussion/ demonstration of various techniques by the instructors followed by an exploratory exercise for the participants.  These techniques will then be applied in a more finished sketch during the second half of the session - each session occurring in a different part of the island.

Expressive Marks
Explore: the range of lines and marks with one simple tool and then expand this to a creative matrix for all tools and mediums
Apply: Line Drawing using a combination of these marks

Expressive Mixing

Explore: Different properties of media and water - watercolour pigments and water soluble tools. Using resists. Mixing colours, Combining different media to create texture and colour
Apply: Mixing Lines and Colours and working back and forth between drawing and painting

Expressive Design
Explore: How to simplify a complex scene into shapes and choose a strong focus. How to develop the sketch working out from the focus using a spiral or crossword design.
Apply: Choose one method and sketch the scene

Express Yourself

Explore: Ways of implementing some of these experiments into your own work.
Apply: Free sketching in afternoon


Learning Goals

•    To explore a range of marks and lines that can be created using alternative drawing tools, medis and techniques -  eg twigs, bamboo pens, different inks, water soluble pencils, crayons
•    To understand the different properties of mixing various media with each other and with water - splashing, mixing colours on paper, scratching/scraping, using resists
•    To learn ways of combining techniques and media
•    To be able to simplify a complex scene and identify a single strong focal point with a story
•    To develop the story moving out from the focal point with a spontaneous approach to composition
•    To implement these experimental techniques to your own sketching


Workshop Schedule

Thursday 20 March
Pre-Workshop Meet and Greet – An informal gathering at a restaurant/cafĂ© to provide a chance to meet other participants. Location TBA

Friday 21 March  9:30am - 4.30pm

9.30am -10.00am     Workshop introduction
10.00am-12.30pm    Expressive Marks 
1.00pm- 2.00pm       Lunch
2.00pm - 4.00pm      Expressive Mixing
4.00pm -4.300pm      Review

Saturday 22 March 9:30am - 4.30pm

9.30am-1.00pm       Expressive Design
1.00pm- 2.00pm      Lunch
2.00pm- 4.00pm      Express Yourself
4.00pm -4.300pm    Review

Saturday 22 March 4.30 - 8.00pm

Open Sketchcrawl on the Island - more details will be posted separately.


Workshop location

Cockatoo Island, Sydney Australia

Getting There: Regular ferries to the island from Circular Quay(in the downtown of Sydney) along the F3 line to Parramatta. Use  the trip planner to check ferry times.
There will be additional ferries because of the Biennale of Sydney which starts on the same weekend as the workshop. The last ferry from the island leaves at around 9pm.

Suggestions for Accommodation: Staying in the city (or areas easily accessible from Circular Quay) or anywhere on the F3 ferry line. Or maybe you would like to camp or 'glamp' (glamorous camping)  on the island. We do expect that there will be some participants that will be camping on the island but recommend book your tent as soon as possible as spots are limited (the houses/ apartments are already booked months in advance) 

Cost and Registration:

$230.00 AUD

including a sketchbook from Stillman and Birn, a Daniel Smith 'Paul Wang Palette'  dotcard,  and a small kit containing 3 special Daniel Smith watercolour paints and some salt, wax and Chinese ink.
Email Liz uskaustralia {at} gmail {dot} com
Payment can be via cheque, internet transfer or paypal

Cancellation Policy: All fees are fully refundable if cancelled prior to 7 March 2014. If cancelled after 7 March, a $25.00AUD cancellation fee will be retained. In the event of too few registrants, all monies will be refunded.

Maximum Number of Participants

25 participants maximum. Any level welcome but some drawing experience is recommended.



Stillman and Birn will be giving a sketchbook to all participants

About the Instructors:

Paul Wang has loved art since he was a child and is now actively sharing this passion as an art and design educator both in Singapore and abroad. He spent his younger years studying both Interior Architecture and Technical Theatre Design. With his multi-disciplinary and multi-sensory training, his sketches and paintings are always bursting with dramatic colours, just like a scene on stage. Urban Sketching is his unique way of encapsulating the urban landscape on paper and retelling stories. He is both an active Urbansketchers’ blog correspondent and a board member.


Liz Steel  graduated in Architecture at University of NSW and has spent 18 years working as an architect in Sydney, specializing in media projects. She is currently teaching regular on-location sketching classes and workshops throughout Australia as well as doing architectural illustrations for clients all around the world. She is the founder and coordinator of the Urban Sketchers Australia .