Archive for the ‘Barcelona’ Category

Barcelona workshop with PYSB

Monday, July 16th, 2018


In April of this year, I had the opportunity to join PYSB, Pushing Your Sketching Boundaries, in Barcelona to teach a workshop called Watermarks, all about watercolours in urban sketching. Behind PYSB are Isabel Carmona and Swasky, expert workshop organisers and teachers, and this time me, Isabel and Marion Rivolier were the lucky instructors of a fabulous group of sketchers.


PYSB keeps a very nice format in their workshops, 30 participants divided into three groups, with one morning and one afternoon workshop session each day, for three days. As a teacher, that means I meet each group twice, ten people at a time, so plenty of time to get to know everybody, and nice amount of time to spend with each and every participant, for feedback and discussion. And Barcelona is always fab, no matter what you are doing there, so this whole event was a real treat!





We were moving around the Barceloneta for all the workshop sessions, and got to work in different kinds of environments – squares, streets, beaches and parks. La Barceloneta is a fairly small area, so no need to travel far for each session, we had everything we needed within walking distance.


Our main hub was the Centre Civic Barceloneta, and each morning, Swasky and Isabel added images to the photo wall that they always keep during their workshops. The photo wall is a great way to a) let the participants see what the others have been doing the day before, and b) spread the word about Urban sketchers to the surrounding community. The wall grew every day, and it became a daily habit to swing by to see what had happened since yesterday.



The beauty of urban sketchers workshops is that everyone is so generous in sharing their work. Everyone learns from everyone else, newbies and professionals side by side. As a teacher, I seldom have a more perfect pedagogical setting, everyone is interested, eager to work hard and then show their work and discuss their experiences. So much fun.





The whole Watermarks workshop experience was an amazing treat for me, I came home tired but full of inspiration and ideas. So grateful to have had the opportunity to join in with this lot in drawing a lively and beautiful part of Barcelona.


Drawing around Sagrada Família

Saturday, February 25th, 2017

Drawing around Sagrada Família

In 2012, I spent a week sketching around the Sagrada Família. Had an amazing time drawing the inside and out of this fantastic building, along with the intense street life around it. The two and a half sketchbooks that I filled was then published in this Sketchguide from Zahorí in 2013.

Right now, the book is available from at a very reasonable price, so if you´re into Gaudí, the Sagrada Família, Barcelona or just enjoy plain sketching and drawing, this is the moment to get your copy!

Want to see more? This link will take you to Zahorís intro of the book, with a video and all. Also, more pages from the original sketchbooks below.

Sagrada Família sketchbooks

Sagrada Família sketchbooks.

Draw Gaudí – workshop in Barcelona, June 26-29, 2014

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014


Come to Barcelona to discover the amazing architecture of Antoni Gaudí with us! I and my fellow Urban sketcher Swasky will lead the workshop DRAW GAUDI from the 26-29th June 2014.
Together with the participants, we will visit and sketch our way through all the great works of Gaudí.

You will find workshop program, travel and contact details for download here:

Swasky is the author of “Enjoy Gaudí”, a book in the same series as my “Drawing around Sagrada Família”. Drawing on Location workshops are organized by Zahori de Ideas, the creative publisher behind these books.

Flying home

Friday, August 30th, 2013


I have had pencils with mixed colour leads in them before, but not this kind, where the colours are neatly placed next to each other. I found it in a bookshop in Barcelona, and used it for parts of this spread from El Prat and Frankfurt airports on my way home from the Urban sketchers symposium in July.


Exciting with a mixed colour pencil where you can almost control the change of colour by rotating the pencil while drawing.

27 x 21,5 cm, Black Pal mixed coloured pencil, various ink pens and watercolours on Stillman & Birn Alpha series sketchbook spread.

Last day in Barcelona

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013


So, I finally scanned the last few spreads from Barcelona, drawn the day after the Urban sketchers symposium in July. This was on a calm Sunday, I took a stroll through the Barri Gotic, and made a sketch here and there during the day. Had a few interesting conversations with passers-by, and got a calm day of relief after the hectic (in a good way!) symposium days.


Met with some other sketchers in a bar in the evening, and had an early dinner with them before heading back to the hotel to pack my bags.


All spreads: 27 x 21,5 cm, fountain pens with Platinum Carbon ink and Platinum Pigmented Sepia ink in Stillman & Birn Alpha series sketchbook.

Barcelona symposium workshops, Part 2

Monday, August 26th, 2013


So, a long post to finish up the workshop pages from the Urban sketchers symposium in Barcelona this summer. The left page is notes from a demo of digital sketching on iPads, by Josú Maroto and Monica Cid – interesting and fun to watch. I use an iPad at work, but never really caught on to sketching on it. It was interesting to see how these guys go about it, made me want to try it too.

The right-hand page above, and the spread below is from Sagar Fornies workshop Lighting the City: Lights and Shadows amid Excitement and Serenity, in which we worked a lot with light and shade, more than local colour. Sagar also works a lot with coloured lines to strengthen the feeling of light and shade, warm and cool, foreground and background, and we were all sponsored with a 4-colour Bic rollerball pen to try this.


The concept of coloured lines isn´t new to me, but I always used the same colour for all lines in my drawings. Sagar uses different colours depending on if he wants a warm or cold impression, or if things are close or far away in the image. This is something I have to try to work on more, it does give a stronger effect than I would have expected. I can´t decide whether to keep these pages like this, or to finish them a bit more, to really try the concept… Unfinished pages are good for the memory. We´ll see.

The next workshop I took was James Richard´s Life between Buildings: Capturing the Energy. James managed to put into words things that I have been doing without really thinking about it. For example, during our first exercise, we drew a crowd on Placa Catalunya. James explained how your eyeheight hits all the people in the crowd at the same height of their bodies. So, if I´m sitting down, for example, I´m at the height of everyone´s waist (see sketch below), which means I know that I have to put all the waistlines on the same height to make a convincing crowd.


I have been drawing crowds before, I know this is the way it works, because I can see it when I´m out sketching. But MAN, is it good to get things into words sometimes, to become aware of what you are doing! For some reason, I drew this crowd quicker than I ever have, because suddenly I had a more conscious way of thinking about what I was doing!


We tried doing quick thumbnails too, and a full spread sketch of the whole place. This workshop was such a treat (well, they all were, but for different reasons…) for putting into order what was laying around in a mess in my head before. : )

Inbetween workshops I also caught Ch’ng Kiah Kiean´s demo on how to draw with a twig and ink. It was fascinating to watch him work, and I shot a little video of the demo here.

I will only post one page each from the last two workshops I took, because I did most of the work there in a sketchbook that is too big for the scanner, and those pages are even less finished than the others, so I´ll save them for myself.

Veronica Lawlor´s Designing Barcelona was a treat to the eye and the mind, both because of her fantastic teaching, and because the workshop took place in front of four of the most famous modernist buildings in Barcelona. Drawing these masterpieces is of course a challenge, but Veronica made it feel like a possible task after guiding us on how to simplify and pull out the most important features of each building.


One thing that I will always bear in mind from this workshop is Veronica´s demo on how she works with thumbnail sketches. She examines a subject by feeling her way around it with the pen (or whatever tool she chooses), almost trying on the language of shapes in the subject, to find a way to capture it and really express what it is all about. Impressive.

The last workshop I took in Barcelona was Capturing Space through Form and Color, with Marion Rivolier. I admire Marion´s way of capturing vast scenes directly in watercolour, and trying out her way of working was a real eye-opener, so interesting and inspiring – though very difficult. I use watercolour in a very different way than she does, and it was hard to look away from my own habits while trying on hers.


One of the things I really appreciated in this workshop, was that we were working with the exact same scene in each exercise. I think I may have heard a few participants whispering that they would have loved to change scenes between the sketches, but actually, I think it was brilliant to do the same scene over and over. That way I could see more clearly the difference between the exercises, what the change in colours and shades really did. I had some serious problems with my watercolours not drying fast enough, so I didn´t manage to finish any of the sketches. Should have brought one or  two more sketchbooks to this one…

All spreads 27 x 21 cm, various pens and watercolours in Stillman & Birn Alpha series sketchbook.

Barcelona symposium workshops, Part 1

Saturday, August 17th, 2013


I attended five amazing workshops during the Urban sketchers symposium in Barcelona this July, and thought I´d show some (not so polished) sketchbook pages from them. I have to say I am amazed at the high quality of all the workshops I took, I have learned so much! A lot of the things I learned are still spinning around in my head, making me want to go out and try all these new strategies and ways to work, to really see what I can make of them.

The first workshop I took was Inma Serrano´s The Rhythm of the City, where Inma talked about and showed some of her tricks and techniques to capture people, architecture and whole scenes quickly and effectively. I shot a video of her drawing another participant (iPhone quality, but still), and have her permission to post on online, so you´ll find it as you scroll down in this post.

I knew this workshop was going to be a tough one, because Inma´s way of working is so different from mine – but then that´s what it´s all about, right? To try on someone else´s shoes for a while and work from their point of view. And I have so much to learn from this fast, expressive and imaginative sketcher.


I am not going to give away the whole workshop here, but I can say I was WAY out of my comfort zone here – which I love, but it does make for messy sketchbook pages. The symposium workshops are three hours long, which means you don´t have a lot of time to finish anything. So I tend to write, doodle and sketch all over the pages, try to get as much as I can down on the page, so I can go out and try everything on my own later on. I don´t care what the pages look like, or if the drawings cover the text or vice versa – will still remember what it means.


What I immediately took with me from this workshop was Inma´s way of working so quickly by simply not drawing it all. She captures some of what she sees with a pen, some with a paintbrush, some with a crayon, constantly swithching between her tools (you´ll see it in the video below). In combination, it says so much more about a place than a line drawing. She quickly gets athmosphere, rhythm, sound and colour onto her sketchbook pages without overworking anything.

(If you are on an iDevice, follow this link to the Youtube clip.)

This workshop is something that will follow me for a long time, there is so much in Inma´s methods and ways of seeing things that appeals to me and that I need to work on. Thanks Inma for a fantastic and inspiring three hours!

Pre-symposium sketchcrawl, Barcelona

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013


The day before the Urban sketchers symposium started in Barcelona, the local team had arranged an all day sketchcrawl, starting at Hospital de Sant Pau. It was great to meet a bunch of other sketchers there, and I smiled as I recognized the “sketcher nod” of their heads from afar (you know, by always switching between watching your subject and looking down into your sketchbook).

Buildings like Hospital de Sant Pau always drive me a bit nuts with all the details, and I was happy that there were some typical Barcelona street scene obstacles in the way…


From here, we went on to the Sagrada Família. I have spent quite some time sketching there before for my book, but it was fun to give it another try (posted that image in an earlier post). Then the sketching crowd split up a bit for lunch, and then headed up for the Casa de les Punxes along the Avinguda Diagonal, a beautiful building, with fantastic towers and roof patterns.

Thanks a lot to the Barcelona team for the initiative to arrange this sketchcrawl for everyone – both symposium participants and others turned up, and spent a great time together.

Both images: 27 x 21,5 cm, various ink pens and watercolours in Stillman & Birn Alpha Series sketchbook.

Pre-symposium days

Monday, July 22nd, 2013


Two more spreads from the days before the Urban sketchers symposium in Barcelona. I wanted to draw this church, Santa Maria del Mar, last time I was in Barcelona, but didn´t have time then. This time, I went here in the morning, parked my little folding chair where the sun would not reach me in an hour or so, and had a really good time trying to capture all the nooks and crannies of this place. I love this church, it is impressive and beautiful, but not as excessively fancy as many other big churches and cathedrals.

In the evening, I met up with some other sketchers for the evening “Drink and Draw” that ended every day before and during the symposium. I felt brave enough to try some portraits, but I need practice…

The day before the symposium, the Barcelona USk team had arranged a big sketchcrawl for all the sketchers that had arrived early. We met and started sketching at the Hospital de Sant Pau (will post that spread tomorrow), then headed down to Sagrada Família. I drew this place for ten or eleven days last summer, for my book (Drawing around the Sagrada Família – see link in the sidebar), so I felt I could take the liberty of trying something new with it this time.


Both images: 27 x 21,5 cm, various ink pens and watercolours in Stillman & Birn Alpha Series sketchbook.

USk symposium in Barcelona

Sunday, July 21st, 2013


I am finally getting somewhere in scanning my sketchbook spreads from the Urban Sketchers symposium in Barcelona. I was there between the 8th and the 15th of July, so I had a few days to enjoy the city before the actual symposium started. Of course, like probably every other person traveling to Bcn for this event, I started out by doing the compulsory in-flight drawings. : )


I met some other early participants in the evening, and sketched the odd street scene too, during these three days.

Both images: 27 x 21,5 cm, various ink pens and watercolours in Stillman & Birn Alpha Series sketchbook.

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