PYSB online workshop

The Pushing Your Sketching Boundaries – Online workshop was three days run across two consecutive weekends at the end of January 2021.

I’d previously attended a similar workshop called Park Life that was run by Celia Burgos and Isabel Carmona over the weekend of 10th and 11th August 2019. At the time I was studying Responding to a brief; you can see the outputs here.

What was massively different with this workshop is the coronavirus pandemic. Everything had to be online.

The workshop was run by three tutors:

  • Isabel Carmona
  • Marina Grechanik
  • Victor Swasky

Participants were split into three groups of 5-people, and each group spent one full day working with each tutor.

Day 1 with Isabel

Day one was in two parts:

  1. The morning explored different drawing techniques to rapidly add shape and form to an image
  2. The afternoon was all about using colour with an emphasis on watercolour in the context of urban sketching

Visual reference came from a set of predefined locations using Google Earth and short looping video.

The method was interesting. All sketchers were asked to take photographs at different stages of the drawing. These were then uploaded into Google Classroom to provide a step by step view of how each drawing progressed.

Drawings are presented in chronological order.

Exercise 1 – Blind drawing the skyline and groundline. Colour pencil, A3 sized. Duration 3-minutes
Exercise 2 – The same exercise as Exercise 1 but this time with additional 3-minutes to fill in detail
Exercise 3 – Blocking in. Pencil, A3 sized. Duration 3-minutes
Exercise 4 – The same as Exercise 3 but with more time. Coloured pencil, A2 sized. Duration 20-minutes
Exercise 5 – A introduction to basic watercolour techniques. Watercolour and colour pencil. A3 sized. Duration 10-minutes
Exercise 6 – Using watercolour to paint people. Watercolour and colour pencil. A3 sized. Duration 20-minutes
Exercise 7 – Combining all of the techniques above to produce a composite image. Watercolour and colour pencil. A3 sized. Duration 30-minutes

Day 2 with Marina

Day two was about storytelling experimenting with a number of different techniques. It was divided into four parts:

  1. WHAT – techniques to help find a subject
  2. HOW – basic aspects of composition
  3. Choosing an appropriate technique
  4. Tell the story

Each section was introduced with examples from other practitioners.

The reference for all of the exercises used a single location in Tel Aviv that included people, traffic, building and monuments.

I wrote notes as I was going and these are reproduced in the order in which they were made.

Day 2 – sketchbook pages 01 – using keywords, sentences and thumbnails to help identify the subject/story
Day 2 – sketchbook pages 02
Day 2 – sketchbook pages 03 – Experimenting with how different page formats change the emphasis of the story
Day 2 – sketchbook pages 04
Day 2 – sketchbook pages 05 – experimenting with scale and the effect this has on the story
Day 2 – sketchbook page 06 introducing the concept of rhythm
Day 2 – sketchbook page 07 – experimenting with visual rhythm
Day 2 – sketchbook page 08 – Using line only to describe a scene
Day 2 – sketchbook page 09 – thumbnailing different points of view
Day 2 – sketchbook page 10 – using shape only to describe a scene

Day 2 – Combining techniques – Liquid watercolour, Sharpie and fountain pen. A2 sized. Duration 40-minutes.

Day 3 with Swasky – to follow…

The third and final day workshop focused on different approaches to depicting objects in space.

The first part of the morning was a presentation of some of theoretical aspects of composition and perspective. The discussion was framed historically starting with cave paintings, medieval paintings through to the Renaissance and the rules governing the use of perspective. This provided the groundwork for a series of exercises that ran through the day.

Day 3 – Exercise 1 – Using different lines of different weight and the rules of perspective to draw a street view
Day 3 – Exercise 2 – A development of the first exercise using colour
Day 3 – Exercise 3 – Completely breaking all the rules to represent a 360° view of a Spanish courtyard
Day 3 – Exercise 4 – More rule breaking. Experimenting with combing a number of different points of view into the same image to bend space

Day 3 – Exercise 5 – Bringing it all together into a street view


I found the workshop really valuable in introducing different/new approaches and techniques. The use of technology to support the process was excellent and worked really well.

Key lessons for me:

  • Drawing skyline and groundline as a rapid way to shape a drawing and then filling in
  • Much more explicitly combining line and shape recognising each has a job to do AND stands alone i.e. my tendency is to frame everything with line
  • I’m too timid using watercolour. I need to be brave and use strong pigment much earlier
  • Using keywords and phrases to help identify strong subjects and stories is an excellent technique to combine with thumbnailing for composition and point of view
  • Visual rhythm introduced me to a new compositional tool
  • Thinking about perspective and explicitly breaking the rules was really refreshing. Although I do this anyway, it was really helpful to understand some of the technical aspects of how this works
  • I really liked combining use of colour with line width/expression
%d bloggers like this: