Archive for the ‘Workshop’ 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.


Workshopping in Chicago

Monday, January 1st, 2018


My workshop in Chicago was called Make room for a view, and the top of the Kemper Building was the perfect place for it. We had the whole top floor at our disposal, with panoramic views in every direction. I could not believe my eyes the first time I went up there – THE VIEWS!!

We worked our way through some basic perspective rules (and at this height you actually have good use of three-point perspective too), simplification of details (a tough part, with aaaall those windows out there…), and aerial perspective, for those who wanted to work in colour.


Being a workshop instructor in an urban sketchers setting is a real treat. The best part, in my opinion, is the sharing of work that is so generous and free-flowing in these workshops. When we gather, either in the middle of the session or at the end of it, everyone opens up their sketchbooks to let everyone else in to their process. It doesn´t matter if you work professionally with sketching as an everyday tool or just got started on your drawing journey, if you finished a fantastic sketch or just barely got your first lines down on paper – everyone shows what they are working at. And this is where the magic happens. Seeing someone else´s process with a subject you are working on yourself is golden. This moment is so much fun! Questions are asked, discussions arise, tools are tried out, techniques and colours are looked at, and everyone sees something great in other people´s work – and gets possibilities suggested for their own!

And I promise you, I learn just as much as my workshop participants, from a teacher´s point of view. Everytime I teach one of these workshops, I get at least ten more ideas for the next time!


My three workshop groups during the urban sketchers symposium in Chicago. See those happy smiles? That´s what drawing together does to you!



Another treat you get as an urban sketchers workshop instructor is the possibility to take someone else´s workshop. I usually go for the ones that do things that I normally don´t.  This year I signed up for Marion Rivolier´s How to reach the sky, to try out her fantastic ways with watercolour. Wish I had had a couple of sheets of proper watercolour paper with rough grain for this, since this is more about wet paint than my normal sketching technique, but still – so much fun! And I have oh so much to learn!



Manchester workshop – From Macro to Micro

Sunday, September 4th, 2016


Teaching a workshop during an Urban sketchers symposium is a real privilege. The will and enthusiasm of the participants in the symposiums gives such a great learning environment, and everyone´s style, techniques and skill levels are all ingredients that enrich the experience.


I had the opportunity to spend three days, with three different workshop groups, at the John Rylands Library in Manchester this year. This building is a real challenge to draw, with it´s peculiar shapes and rich details. Also, since the weather was overcast (to say the least), the façade didn´t offer much differences in light and shade, which made it even more difficult to capture is volumes on paper.


Want to have a look at the handout? It´s available at the bottom of this post.

In my workshop, called from Macro to Micro, we made a collection of sorts of this library, presenting it from it´s entirety to it´s tiniest details, on the same page or spread. We discussed how to fit everything on the page, planning a page layout, and also how to simplify the shapes of the building, to manage to draw it all in the limited time of the workshop (3,5 hours). We also looked into how to include the context around the building (people, city streets, street furniture), and taking colour notes, for those times when you don´t have the opportunity to finish your sketch completely on the spot. We also walked up close to collect some of the more intricate details of this place.


As always with urban sketchers, the participants blew me away with their generosity toward each other, where everyone shares their work in progress in the group gatherings. For me, it´s these gatherings that generate the most food for learning. Seeing how everyone meet the challenges, what problems they encounter and how they solve them, is something that everyone can pick up advice from. Even when the work isn´t finished, or maybe BECAUSE the work isn´t finished, you get a unique look into the process of sketching, and you realise everyone is doing it a bit differently – and everyone is therefore contributing to the collective learning experience.


Of course, the workshop time is usually too short for getting a lot of practice, but you get to try things out, see how others tackle the challenges, and hopefully, you take some new thoughts and tricks with you that you can try out and practice more when you´re out on your usual drawing adventures at home.

The workshop participants in this year´s symposium were of the braver kind. Manchester is a rainy city, and we had some really bad rainfalls during the workshops.


Two of my workshop sessions worked out anyway, because we found shelter under awnings, scaffolding, umbrellas and such. In one session, we had to head indoors half the time, which brought on new challenges – we weren´t allowed to use colours in there! But since we started outdoors, most people had already got colour sketches done before going monochrome indoors.


The weather is the reason why I didn´t get group photos of all the groups, or photos of everyone´s work – sorry about that! It was just too wet!

A great big hug and a loud THANK YOU to all my participants, thanks for your hard work, your contributing to the workshop, and for being so patient with the Manchester weather! :)

If you want to take a look at the handout for the workshop, you can download it in the link below. Mind you, the handout doesn´t contain everything in the workshop. It is meant as a help for participants to remember the most important points from the workshop. I know from my own experience as a workshop participant, that during the sessions, you are so hard at work, that you don´t have time to take notes or remember everything that is said and done by the instructor. I hope this little leaflet helps a bit with that.

From Macro to Micro – workshop handout
(The pdf was originally printed on both sides of an A4 sheet of paper, then folded twice in the middle. This version is web optimized, so images may not look great in print.)

180° Purvis street

Monday, August 24th, 2015



Scroll above to see some details of Purvis Street, Singapore!

During the Urban Sketchers symposium in Singapore, I had the chance to participate in one workshop from another instructor, and I chose Lapin´s “180° – all you can see”, where you work with a wide angle way of looking at the world.

I have tried wide angle drawing before, but in a more scientific way, almost in the area of technical drawing, which is not my preferred way of working. I just don´t have the patience to measure and make everything perfect! So I was curious to see Lapin´s take on this, since I know he works quite fast, and I don´t think I ever saw him holding up a pen to measure anything, which gave me hope that this could suit me fine if I could just wrap my brain around it.


We started off doing some quick sketches to understand the concept of the 180° drawing. One thing I discovered already at this stage, was that modern cars are easier to draw if you are allowed to twist them a little through a wide-angle filter. ;)

After this, we drew some small details from the street, and then we went on to do the whole view of Purvis street in one spread of a sketchbook.

I was great to see everyone else´s take on Purvis street! It´s so funny in these workshops, that even if everyone is trying to follow a concept or an idea of how to work, you are still going to see as many styles and temperaments in the sketches as there are participants in the group!


A great thing in this workshop was that we had quite a lot of time to do the final sketch. Usually, in a workshop, you are a bit short on time, and you have to see it as a learning opportunity and then keep trying out what you learned on your own, afterwards. But here, almost everyone got a complete view of the opposite side of the street at the end of the workshop. Not everyone got around to add colours (me included), but I headed back some days later to do that.


Purvis street sketch: 42 x 15 cm, ink fineliners and watercolours in Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook.

My workshop at the USk symposium, Singapore

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015


My workshop at the 6th Urban Sketchers symposium in Singapore was called Light in the space inbetween. The workshop location was in Princep Street, at the charming Selegie Arts Centre building. I had three sessions, with 15 fabulous participants in each.


Basically, we were dealing with two things in this workshop:


1. how light changes on it´s way down to street level in a city. Light gets reflected by facing buildings, weakened by tall buildings, “eaten” by trees – in short, there is a lot less light at street level than at the top of the buildings, and knowing/seeing this adds a lot more atmosphere to a location sketch. (The quick example sketch above is from Renstiernas gata in Stockholm.)


We also looked at how different kinds of shades usually take on different values. For example the shade side of a wall is darker than a sunlit wall, but the shadow that it casts onto another wall will usually be even darker, as in the example above (from Santa Maria del Mar in Barcelona).


2. how to mix watercolours without making mud of everything, and then treating this changing light with colour in your sketches. Here I demonstrated how I work when I mix watercolours. In theory, I use this colour wheel as a guide, to add a bit of complementary colour to darken or dull down a colour. But of course in reality, pigments do not always behave the way you think they will. To get good at colour mixing you need to know your colour palette well! I also did a demo on how to do a relatively trouble-free gradient in watercolour, without too much blooming and brush strokes showing up. I use a lot of gradients in my sketches, when working with light and shade.

So, in the workshop, we started out with pencil sketches, to concentrate on seeing light and shade, without worrying about colour at this first stage. As usual, all the participants very generously shared their results with each other, and we had some good discussions about what happens with the light between the buildings. In one of the workshop sessions, the weather went from bright sunshine to overcast three times, which added some interest to these discussions. :)



Then we went on to sketching the absolutely charming Selegie Arts Centre in colour, to practice some watercolour mixing. I am sure some of my workshop participants now have a love-hate relationship with this building, since it offers a lot of tricky light/shade challenges, as well as difficult colour mixing, especially when the weather changes. Everyone did a great job, and found pigments in their palettes to work on the shadows in the façade.


In the last workshop sketch, the participants put all this stuff together, and drew a subject of their own choice, and worked with both light and colour mixing at the same time. I am always in awe of this stage of a workshop, when everything comes together and sketches of all shapes and styles are created! It is so much fun when everyone returns at the end, laying out their sketchbooks on the street for the end discussion. Everyone is looking, pointing, asking each other questions, and sharing their own experiences with the group. This is such a great learning opportunity, and everyone is welcome with their input/questions/tips and tricks.


It is an absolute luxury to teach in these symposiums, because you have students that are super dedicated and interested, from all skill levels and from all walks of life. Everyone is willing to try anything you suggest – and share their results with everybody else in the group. And the cool thing is that I often see very experienced sketchers learning something from the beginners, as well as the other way around, which of course will encourage the beginners to keep up the good work.


A big thank you to all the participants in my workshop this year! You worked so hard and were so dedicated, in spite of 31°C and blazing sun! I am still full of energy and inspiration from seeing your efforts and fabulous sketches! And a big thank you to my assigned assistant, Siew Huan Kok, who took a lot of the photos in this post.

Brazil, part 5 – In the Mood

Saturday, September 27th, 2014


My own workshop during the Urban sketchers symposium in Paraty was called In the Mood. We worked with different ways to add more mood/atmosphere to our on-location sketches, by playing with different line qualities, colour schemes and contrasts.

Gabi Campanario had made these fantastic workshop tickets for everyone in the symposium, where several tickets from the same workshop put together made up example images from the instructors. Very clever and fun – it´s all in the details!


We started the workshop with group discussions about our associations to colours, lines and contrasts, and what mood they convey. This is of course not a subject with any right or wrong answers, rather it´s full of openings to discuss and compare views and thoughts. (Funny thing: the colour purple caused the most discussions, it seems we have different associations to it on the two sides of the Atlantic ocean. Interesting!)

As a starting point for the discussions, each group filled in a worksheet together, trying to figure out what tools to use to best convey different moods. (On the first workshop day, the rain was pouring down for a few hours. Fortunately, we found a kind café owner who let us use a few tables to work at.)



Then we did three sketches of Paraty “dressed” in different moods. Between each sketching session, the group met and compared sketches to see how the others met the challenge, and to seep up some ideas and inspiration from each other.

As always in Urban sketchers events, I am in awe over how open every participant is to sharing and discussing their work with others. I love it when everyone can let go of the final result and start to see the process as the important thing at hand. There is so much to learn from seeing how others work – while they are working, because workshop sketches are often not quite finished when the show-and-tell takes place – and the discussions around these sketchbook spreads are always a grand learning experience.


As usual when I´m leading a workshop, I am not focused on photographing, so unfortunately I didn´t manage to get a photo of all my workshop groups – wish I had. But at least I managed to get a snapshot of the last – and smallest – group. A big thank you to ALL participants of my workshops in Paraty, you all make preparing a workshop SO worthwhile! :)


Last days of Naples workshop, part 4

Sunday, July 13th, 2014



I am back from a bit of a posting hiatus – or vacation in a slow internet environment, honestly. Trying to catch up with scanning and posting now. These are the last sketches from the Urban Sketchers Naples Inventory workshop days. After the fantastically strange Cimitero delle Fontanelle (see previous post) we took on the challenge of the busy market street Via Pignasecca, where I held my workshop session. The challenge was to sketch in the street among lots of people, and to try three different ways of collecting what you see around you in such a complex place – we tried the chaotic way, the grid style and the focused collection. I only made two line drawings myself, and added colours later, because I was mostly walking around to see how everyone was doing. But I would have loved to sketch more in this busy environment, there was such an abundance of visual information here, messy, colourful and always moving, and although it was difficult to capture it, it was totally worth the effort.


In the second part of the workshop, we were all drawing from the platform of the Montesanto funicular and train station, which meant we had a slight bird´s view over the street. I didn´t manage much, but the participants made some fantastic work here!



After a feedback session on the very hot station roof, where the kind station manager brought us several bottles of ice cold water, we headed on to see the workshop exhibition in the Ramaglia art supply shop, where both instructors and participants exhibited sketch work during these four days. (Photo below by participant Massimo Messina – thanks a lot for helping me out with the camera!)


Then, on the last day of the workshop, we headed into Quartieri Spagnoli, where street artists Cyop & Kaf have left a trail of fantastic paintings on doors and walls, and Simo Capecchi had us all trying to unfold the lost story of their imagery. Drawing in these blocks of Napoli was a really special experience, where some passers-by were at first a little apprehensive of us capturing the work of their fav artists, and then, after understanding what we were up to, showing us where we could find more! :)


I was so thrilled by how these guys have developed their very own world of imagery and stories, and managed to make it something that the local inhabitants seem proud of having on their walls. Very inspiring indeed!




After lunch, we found ourselves at the very last point on the workshop schedule – the collective sketchcrawl afternoon around Palazzo Reale. I tried my hand at the smashing view of the harbor and Mount Vesuvius from the terrace behind the palace. I was so tired here – happy tired! – for four days of constant seeing and drawing takes it´s toll on both instructors and participants, even if it´s in a positive way. I kind of felt like I squeezed out the last few drops of paint and energy in this view, and I didn´t quite finish it, but I´m happy with it anyway. It was the end of an incredibly inspiring four day experience, where I had the luxury of being both instructor and participant in workshops all evolving around the fantastic place that is Naples.




After this, a long sleep, and then the return flights to Stockholm. And of course some airport sketches to go with it. :)


Cimitero delle Fontanelle – Naples workshop, part 3

Friday, June 20th, 2014


Cimitero delle Fontanelle is one of the most peculiar places I´ve been to. One of Simo Capecchi´s workshop sessions during the Urban Sketchers Naples Inventory workshop took place here, in this old tuff quarry-turned-graveyard. Skulls and bones are piled neatly along the walls in the many rooms of this place, and even though there is lighting and candles in some places, the overall impression is darkness and stillness.



These caves have been used as a graveyard during the plague in the 17th century and the cholera epidemic in the 19th century. Over time, a cult emerged, where local people started “adopting” skulls, giving them names, building little houses for them, and laying down little gifts on or around them. Eventually, the church banned this cult, and the little houses look age-old, but some of the gifts look curiously new…


Surprisingly enough, I didn´t find it especially scary or eerie to walk around here, but it is a bit mind-boggling to think that all of these skulls were actually once real, living people. It would be interesting to hear their stories.


All drawings: drawn on 21 x 15 cm Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook pages.

Naples Inventory, part 2

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014


The beginning of day 2 of the Naples Inventory workshop was spent in Museo di Zoologia in Naples – a museum so hidden that I doubt I would have found it even if I was looking for it. We had a look at Franco Lancio´s exhibition of three  little zen animals, Tza, Tzi and Ki, that he found and put together. Then Federico Gemma asked all the participants to capture eight different species of animals in just under two hours, in different techniques. I´m not a fast sketcher, but I managed, even if I had to hurry with that poor ermine. And I even squeezed in a ninth, the caracal, just before leaving. :)



The afternoon was spent at Museo Archeologico, where Caroline Peyron had us working in layers again. She brought us to the “scrap statue room” (feels a little blasphemous to call it that, but it seemed to be just that – the place where they put all the statues that are broken or misplaced, or just don´t fit in the exhibition). I found these two guys standing behind one another, and was intrigued by their difference in scale, and the drama of the blue guy sort of trying to stab the innocent looking fella. ;)


Then added another layer when we entered the actual exhibition – the incredibly calm faces of two marble women.


Another try:



And then another one, just because I couldn´t get enough of the marble ladies. They looked so serene and still so empty with their blank eyes…


In the evening, we went to see a tableaux vivants and live sketching performance by Teatri 35 at Riot Studio, where three actors made the paintings of Caravaggio come alive. The performance was very beautiful and dramatic, and constantly moving – and of course, the point of us being there was to sketch the whole thing. All I can say is that it is INCREDIBLY difficult to draw fast moving versions of Caravaggio´s paintings.




All drawings drawn on 22 x 15 cm pages of a Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook, using various ink pens, pencil, fountain pens, coloured pencil and watercolours.

Workshop in Naples, part 1

Monday, June 16th, 2014


I have just returned home from Naples, where I had the honor of being invited as an instructor to Simo Capecchi´s and Caroline Peyron´s workshop Naples Inventory. I had such a great time, meeting so many incredibly nice participants and other instructors. I also experienced Naples, which is a city unlike any other I have visited – an intense, faded beauty, vibrant with life and full of surprises around every corner! Of course Simo and Caroline brought us all to the most varied, unaccessible and fantastic places in town for the workshops, most of which I would never have found as a ‘normal’ tourist.


The first workshop day started off with me and Federico Gemma doing a demo each on the terraces of Museo Nitsch. The view I had in front of me would have deserved a whole day of drawing, but having only one hour I went for a small part of it.

Next up was a stop at Bosco Capodimonte, where we all had a go at the fantastic Fontana del Bramante (or was it called Fontana Belvedere? Noone was really sure…) while enjoying a tasty veggie picnic that Slowlina brought to us. (I don´t usually put links to non-art related companies on my blog, but these guys really deserve all the attention they can get – I have never had such great picnic food and in such fabulous packaging. Kudos to you, guys!)


I haven´t seen a fountain like this before, it had kind of it´s own little eco system – much like the gaffophone of Gaston that I used to read about as a kid. ;)

In the afternoon Caroline Peyron had us drawing in layers of transparent paper, inside the restauration laboratory and the ballroom of Museo di Capodimonte. The themes for the drawings were Order and Disorder. VERY inspiring technique, I have to try some more of this layer work on my own, I almost couldn´t stop once we got started on this. There is something about the layers of different drawings that I really like.




All images: 21 x 14,5 cm, slightly more for those who stretch across the gutter of the book. Mostly ink pens and watercolours on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook pages.

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