Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Urban Sketching in Galway, Ireland with Róisín Curé, Shari Blaukopf, and Marc Taro Holmes

Pen & Ink and Watercolour on Location: A workshop with Róisín Curé, Shari Blaukopf, and Marc Taro Holmes

July 14-16, 2016

Join Urban Sketchers correspondents Róisín Curé, Shari Blaukopf, and Marc Taro Holmes for three days of sketching and painting in Galway, Ireland. This harbor city on Ireland’s west coast, is often referred to as the 'most Irish' of Ireland's cities. The 18th-century core is surrounded by shops and traditional, brightly painted pubs offering live Irish folk music. Stone-clad cafes, boutiques and art galleries line the winding lanes of the Latin Quarter, which retains portions of the medieval city walls.

Our workshop will be an introduction to capturing this extraordinary environment in drawing and watercolour. 

We emphasize working quickly, and making well designed compositions. 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 composition, contrast and colour, while preserving the whites of the paper and mixing lively washes of rich colour. Learn about traveling with a sketchbook and finding compositions in the field. See how these three artist/educators quickly plan and execute a sketch on location. You’ll enjoy two demos per day – everything from basic drawing, tinting sketches with colour, and sketching directly with brush and paint. 

You’ll spend one full day with each of our experienced plein air watercolourists. We’ll visit a different sketching location for each morning and afternoon demo. Every demo will be followed by a chance to apply what you’ve seen to your own sketches, with plenty of feedback from the instructors. Join Róisín, Shari, and Marc for a meet-and-greet Wednesday evening before classes begin, then again each evening for a sketchbook party sharing everyone’s work from the day.

Sketching in Galway

The city of Galway is full of quirks and idiosyncrasies, making it one of the most popular and sought-after holiday destinations for visitors from within Ireland and all over the world. Everyone who visits Galway in the summer months is enchanted by its lively atmosphere and legendary charm.

Galway is a very small city cross-cut by a network of waterways, from quiet canals to the River Corrib, which varies from a tranquil river of crystal-clear water to a churning torrent, depending on rainfall in distant Connemara. It passes right through the heart of the city, meaning you’ll spend a lot of time on bridges! Galway’s main thoroughfare is one long narrow, twisting street wending its way from Eyre Square at the top to the mouth of the River Corrib at the Spanish Arch, passing buskers and street entertainers of every description along the way.

Luckily for everyone it’s pedestrianised and closed to traffic throughout the day, but the crowds disappear the minute you leave the main drag. The quieter streets which lead off the main street are full of hidden surprises and a sketcher’s paradise. The River Walk with canal on one side, river on the other, provides splendid views and sketching opportunities, and wildlife is never far away, from the large colony of swans that live on the River Corrib to the seabirds that fly over the city – and the salmon that leap the river!

Galway has a large choice of restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets. Some of the best cuisine Ireland can offer is found in Galway, and the area is famous for its oysters, fresh seafood and top-quality grass-fed beef and lamb, although being a student town those who don’t eat meat are well catered for too.

The nightlife is electric but does require a certain level of stamina! Traditional Irish music sessions can be found in some of the many hostelries across the centre of town, and anyone who can play an instrument is welcome to join in.

Learning goals

Composition:  Analyzing the view, selecting and framing a composition, responding to the site
Demonstration of a basic drawing technique: planning and executing the sketch. Each instructor has different methods for making the initial drawing – ranging from sketching thumbnails to sight measuring, to approximating perspective with gesture drawing.
Demonstration of rendering techniques: Each artist will advance the drawing in different ways. Some planning in pencil, leading up to a final ink drawing, which is then tinted in colour. Others working spontaneously in ink or watercolour, or even going directly to colour shapes without line.
Colour and Paint: Each artist has a different approach to colour and paint, and will demonstrate their own unique brush handling. We will demonstrate colour mixing, making flat and graded washes, and working both wet-in-wet and wet-on-dry technique.

Daily schedule

09:00 – 12:30 (3.5hrs): Demo, sketching, critique 
12:30 – 13:30: Lunch break
14:00 – 17:00: (3 hrs) Demo, sketching, critique
18:30 – 22:00: Supper and sketchbook party

About the instructors

Róisín Curé is a long-time resident of Galway. She came across the world of urban sketching by chance in 2012, co-founding Urban Sketchers Galway in 2014. She was invited to become an Urban Sketchers Correspondent in the same year. She blogs about life in the west of Ireland on her website, roisincure.com. She currently teaches art to adults and children. In 2016 she plans to teach sketching to long-stay patients in hospital, and finish her first solo book, a guide to sketching on location.

Róisín will concentrate on good observation: looking well in order to draw well, and move on to getting to grips with values. She'll also show you how adding animals and humans breathes life into your sketch.

Marc Taro Holmes has been an Urban Sketchers correspondent since 2009. He is the author of The Urban Sketcher:Techniques for Seeing and Drawing on Location, and the instructor of two online courses: Sketching People in Motion and Travel Sketching in Mixed Media. He blogs at www.citizensketcher.com, where you can find a ever growing journal of his reportage art and free drawing lessons. 

In the Galway workshop Marc will demonstrate the speed-sketching technique single line sketching, as well as how to paint more directly in watercolor. You can find information about Marc's sketching tools over here: drawing kit watercolor materials.

Shari Blaukopf is a Montreal-based teacher, illustrator, sketch blogger and has been a correspondent for Urban Sketchers since 2012. Her online courses Sketching Landscapes in Pen, Ink and Watercolor and Sketching the City in Pen, Ink and Watercolor are on Craftsy.com. You can find her watercolours at www.blaukopfwatercolours.com and her blog at www.shariblaukopf.com

In Galway, Shari's demos and workshops will focus on composition and design, as well as using expressive colour in sketching.

Registration Fee

$350 USD per student
Refundable up to 60 days in advance, non-refundable after that

Non-artist partners may attend at no extra cost

Not included: Transportation to and from Galway, accommodation, meals

We need 35 students minimum to go ahead. If the class fails to reach the minimum by March 15, 2016 the workshop will be cancelled and all fees will be refunded.

For more info or to register:

Email your name and address to Laurel Anne Holmes at LAHolmes(dot)photography(at)gmail(dot)com 
Workshops typically sell out quickly, so register early!


  1. Hi Shari and Laurel,

    I previously registered for this amazing workshop then had to cancel due to logistical considerations. These have been worked out and I would very much like to register for the workshop! Please contact me at dthornhill4@ gmail.com

  2. Hi Debbie,
    That's great news. I will get Laurel to contact you.
    See you in July.


  3. Posts like this are really very helpful so that we people will know about the workshop and all. Thanks for sharing this. Keep sharing in the future as well :)

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  5. Wow! so great idea! I think that such urban sketching should be in every city! I am a painter and last year asked the supreme dissertations to write my thesis about the sketching. I love sketching but I hate writing