Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Pushing How to Look - Pushing Your Sketching Boundaries in Newbury

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

Newbury Workshop. A fresh look to the day to day.

Newbury is a market town with loads of history, formed after the Norman conquest as a new borough, with its economic foundation on the 16th century cloth trade, which declined after English Civil war (late 16 century) and the two battles of Newbury.  The town partially recovered in the 18th century as stop on the route to Bath but declined again when the railway made journeys quicker.   The 20th century brought some interesting protest stories, such as the Women’s peace camp story against nuclear weapons been sited at  the nearby Greenham Common american air base or the Newbury bypass opposition where protesters occupied trees on the route of the bypass.  And technology has also brought modern industry to Newbury, which is the home of the global headquarters of Vodafone.

Isabel has lived in Newbury for over 10 years now and settled here in the local artists and creative community where she takes part of the annual Open Studios scheme. In the last two years she has been part of the City Arts Newbury project that aims to convert an old methodist chapel into a community art hub.  This is where we will be based.

The excitement of this workshop for her is to share the everyday beauty of the place where she lives, there are opportunities for sketching everywhere, if you look for them, in the market place, in the renovated museum area, in the shopping streets, by the canal, in the old “city” of Newbury, there are stories happening now and we will search them and draw them, finding a fresh look out of ordinary.  



Urban sketching is about telling stories. We will work in colour to draw both setting and story, drawing out what interests us.  We will work in watercolour and other colour media to show the story in full colour.

ICA_LetsGo.jpg  BigIssue1.jpg

We will start with quick watercolour washes setting the overall picture and then we will add more paused drawing on top, to firm up what is it what we want to say.
The difficulty of sketching is to know where to start and deciding how much to fit in.  
We will start with some quick colour sketches of people on the street, setting the scene of what they do. We can then progress to more complex scenes of activity or busy architecture.
Colour blocks will help us break the scene into manageable areas and to avoid worrying later on about spoiling a neatly drawn picture.
The colour will serve as the background to the drawing scene. Line work and detail can then be selective to help us focus where we want the sketch attention to go.



Look around. There is a big square full of buildings, cars, people moving…
I'm looking forward to start sketching everything to tell where I am, wishing to explain in my sketchbook the life that is around me.

I sit and analyse the place.
I want to start just now but it´s difficult… There are too many elements…Which one do I choose to start? What to draw? What not to ? How can I compose the page? How to structure space?
How to perform this synthesis to capture the essence of what I want to say?

If I fill the page with many elements I can loose all the information and interest. If I process all in the same way, it can get boring and monotonous.

When I think of my own sketchbook, the sketches I do like the most, I always find three essential things in them to be able to say: “This is a bold piece of work”:
- The sketch describes the place where it was made
- I managed to convey my own personal look of this place
- The people who see it can understand my way of looking and give their own opinion.
I prefer to "half-finish" my sketches. This is: to elaborate in detail some parts and to “spoil” others with lines and scribbles . I like it when chance changes  the drawing process and chaos is present.

However, as the basis of any improvisation, the sketch must have a solid compositional structure which helps to work in this way, allowing us to express what we mean, then to synthesize and draw madly.
This base is acquired through experience but can be thought of in advance.
This workshop is an invitation to work from that structure located at the base of any design and to make your sketchbook pages really be simple but bold.  

INMA SERRANO Londres 03.jpg

In my sessions, the focus will be on
  • Understanding force and dominant lines in the composition
  • Studying open and closed structures (circle, triangle, in L, in Z, horizontal…)  and how can each one contribute to our sketch.
  • Practicing with colour and lines as elements that can set the view
  • Analyzing some compositional laws (symmetry, mass compensation) and apply them to our drawing.
  • Experiencing the use of colour from a dark background (color balance).
  • Use all these tools to develop our own style of drawing and expression


Thinking about drawing and telling stories always come to mind those old storytellers who went from one village to another with big sign full with little illustrations. I consider ourselves as storytellers in someway, we tell stories which are around us, from our daily life and from the places we visit.

My approach to a place that I want to draw and I want to capture is always the same but also with little subtleties which make the difference. First of all I try to feel which the common thread that links to my own experience to my daily life.

From the common to the difference (in the shopping centre)
Our main focus will be to use the universal plot: visitor who arrives to a new place, a place which has changed or is quite different to a familiar place. Nowadays this character in society is known as tourists, but there are plenty of examples in literature or cinema which depict them, stranger who arrive to place unknown, for instance: Ulysses, Rambo,...
We will face reality of a new place with eyes wide open, paying attention to those details, buildings, people,... which capture our attention and we will give to them over our sketchbooks, using lettering, text, layout, composition,... the right importance.

From the microscopic to the macroscopic (the bell tower)
In the second session is devoted to details, because they can link to a huge and enormous reality, we will go from the top to the bottom and will fly away with our sight.

Overall Learning goals

  • Looking and finding stories of everyday life
  • Looking at various ways of composing the sketch
  • Improving watercolour and drawing technique from basic principles.
  • Trying out different watercolour based techniques : wet on wet, dry layers, big washes
  • Experiment with colour backgrounds and different drawing surfaces
  • Developing your own style of drawing and expression
  • Drawing people on the go

Workshop Schedule

Monday 21 March

Welcome at our base City Arts
Tuesday 22 March

9am -10am
Welcome and get together at our base City Arts
Morning worskhops with Swasky, Inma and Isabel
1pm - 2.30pm
2.30 - 5.30pm    
Afternoon workshops with Swasky, Inma and Isabel
Return to City Arts Newbury - review and choose work for exhibition

Wednesday 23 March

9am -10am
Morning get together at our base City Arts. Pin up exhibition from previous day’s work
Morning worskhops with Swasky, Inma and Isabel
1pm - 2.30pm
2.30 - 5.30pm    
Afternoon workshops with Swasky, Inma and Isabel
Return to City Arts Newbury - review and choose work for exhibition

Thursday 24 March

9am -10am
Morning get together at our base City Arts. Pin up exhibition from previous day’s work
Morning worskhops with Swasky, Inma and Isabel
1pm - 2.30pm
2.30 - 5.30pm    
Afternoon workshops with Swasky, Inma and Isabel
Return to City Arts Newbury - review and choose work for exhibition
Pin up exhibition work
Opening of exhibition to the public

Friday 25 March

11 to 3pm
Meet at City Arts from 9:30 for coffee and open exhibition
Good Friday sketchcrawl - open to all

Workshop map:

Newbury workshop map here.


30  attendees maximum, 18 minimum. Any level of drawing experience is welcome


We recommend the Tourist information as a first point of call.


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.

(Payment can be via cheque, internet bank transfer or paypal)
Cancellation policy: All fees are fully refundable if cancelled prior to 29 February 2016. If cancelled after 29 February a £25 cancellation fee will be retained. In the event of too few registrants, all monies will be refunded.

About the instructors

Isabel Carmona is Spanish but studied in UK where she practices as an architect and artist in Newbury, Berkshire.  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 and USK London in 2014 where she runs the Facebook group and organises some of their Let's Draw events.   
As an artist she is part of West Berkshire and North Hampshire Open Studios scheme and joined the Oxford Printmakers Cooperative in 2013.

Inma Serrano

Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Seville, specializing in Painting (1996) and Design and Engraving (2000). For the past fifteen years she has been involved in the area of art education and has taught courses in Applied Creative Photography, Painting and Drawing. She has made presentations and workshops related to “travel diary” and “drawing in location” for the University and for other organisations and groups in and out of Spain. As a teacher, she has led sketching workshops for Urban Sketchers Symposium in Santo Domingo (2011), Barcelona (2012) and Singapore (2015).  She currently works at a Secondary School in Sevilla in which she teaches Visual Arts and Drawing. She has also worked as an assiduous illustrator in some journals. Inma’s artistic interest  focuses  mainly  in  the  field  of  illustration  and  graphic diaries. She has been involved in some national  and international exhibitions too.  

Sketching in the streets is essential in her life because it allows she to zoom, in an ingenuous and almost childish way, the people and the things around.

Swasky is a Catalan-Spanish artist and art teacher from Barcelona. He holds degrees in Fine Arts and Audiovisual Communication from Barcelona universities and also attended Nottingham Trent University in England. A trained photographer and videographer, Swasky shifted his interest to drawing as a way to show the world after joining the Urban Sketchers online community. Swasky’s first book, “Voltant per Sants" ("Going around Sants"), was just published in January of 2012.

Facebook event - Pushing your Sketching Boundaries in Newbury

Pushing How to Look


  1. Please can you send me an application form for the course, by post if possible?

  2. nice sketches fully of colors and its art of creativity must be good to have a short course on it 4 SEO Mobile Marketing Strategies You Must Have
    let the people know about the art by giving them the educations about art.. nice post thanks