Segovia, August 2015. PYSB – Water Marks / Trazos de Agua 

For the first time we organised a workshop in Spain in the great city of Segovia. The weather was really nice, a bit hot as we were in August in Spain, but something that we were expecting, anyway. Participants and instructors alike enjoyed the city in summer . Because of the hot weather in the afternoons, for this workshop , we arranged to run some “sesiones a la fresca” (cool sessions) which were all related to materials and techniques we use when we are drawing on location (making our own watercolour box, creating quick and cheap watercolour sketchbooks and experimenting with watercolour). These sessions were a great success because we gave plenty of tips and resolved any doubts that arose in them. We should also remark that we had the opportunity to work one on one and benefit from every minute we spent together. The venue, the “Colegio de Arquitectos”, an old castilian palace, was gorgeous and they welcomed our workshop and the “in progress” exhibition we put up which visitors and tourists enjoyed and commented upon. From the Colegio, we walked everywhere as distances between the drawing locations and our venue were short and reachable on foot.So from the beginning of the workshop, it was like we were at home, Segovia is a really cosy city.

From the very beginning of the workshop, as mentioned, we enjoyed the city and its people. While we were drawing on the street, both local people, and tourists were interested in what we were doing. Some came to us and asked lots of questions, who we were, what we were doing, it was for a newspaper… What was slightly surprising was that some people when we said that we were “Urban Sketchers” they nodded, and started telling that they knew the group from the web and they had a friend which practiced urban sketching. Amazing, isn’t it? One of the things that apparently was the most surprising for most of them was that we were painting but not in the traditional way, with an easel, canvas and oil painting, no, we were just using watercolor and an sketchbook, they were also curious with our drawings and all our sketching gear, and when they saw the outcomes of our work they got surprised. They felt attracted by the apparent simplicity and the straightforward result.

Each tutor explored elements of their own expertise:  

Isabel worked in watercolour : Segovia has strong light and shadow contrasts. Using watercolour as the main medium, we explored the idea of colour and contrast as the starting point of a sketch. We started by deciding where the lightest points of the sketch are, the paper, and where the deepest shadows will be, the strongest colours. The concept of leaving “light as white” was a difficult one to grasp in many colours but when we focused on a single colour (not a realistic coloured picture) the contrast was clearer and the concept easier to follow. 

The participants started to abstract what they saw, using watercolour boldly and with strong contrast. Afterwards, they were able to draw either with more colour more linear marks or with pen if preferred. This workshop helped them to simplify the complex architecture and allowed them not to be shy about painting views that in the first instance might appear too difficult – and they tackled amazing views of the aqueduct in this manner with its multitude of arches!

Mercedes looked at silence : The aim of her workshop was to encourage the sketchers to consciously perceive their environment, to look and think of what they wanted to draw.  They synthesized what they saw and differentiated elements on the space in front of them, marking the trajectory of lines, using planes of colour and finding those areas where the drawing wants to pause and be calm. In doing this, she encouraged participants to find their own calligraphy and ways of personal expression.  The main tools of her workshop were marker pens and they experimented with water soluble and waterproof markers. 

Swasky focused on drawing people: He provided tips to lose the fear of putting pen to paper, and asked each participant to discover their own calligraphy, forgetting the set up or composition of the whole and just adding little details one beneath each other as letters composing words and words composing the drawn tale of the scene. As the images show the participants pushed themselves but enjoyed the experience. The impressive exhibition was witness of it and the occupants of the patio and passersby gave it a very positive reception. 

From their own comments, participants enjoyed: 

Learning new things and doing them immediately 

[that it] took me out of my comfort zone, explained and practised techniques new to me, everything explained clearly and enthusiastically 

Learning to try new things and being inspired to do so.

Taking knowledge away that I shall definitely use again.

Being definitely pushed!

and we also made an impression on the local press, El Adelantado and television

We introduced Urban Sketchers movement around the world with an exhibition, which was afterwards followed by all the drawings done by participants along the workshop’s sessions. 

Cool sessions were a really good way to avoid the heat on the street and then, once we finished, we went outside to draw again.

The Exhibition took shape little by little and attendees were meeting each other drawing altogether and having fun.

Experimentation, crossing our boundaries, being reckless, was our goal everyday. Step by step, helping each other, sharing our work and our experience, was our second goal.

One of the things we are worried the most is which is the paper to work with and in Mercedes’ session we found the answer: there is no perfect paper for everything The best thing is to experiment and that way we will be aware of which is the most suitable paper for us, in each occasion. Do not worry, just draw!

Exhausted but happy everybody had filled their bags with lots of drawing experience, sketches and new stuff to work with, now is time to keep working and experimenting.

Thank you to all of you from Mercedes, Swasky and Isabel !!!