Urban(E)Scapes – PYSB Rotterdam 2017

To book contact: isabel@pushingyoursketchingboundaries.comA4-poster_PYSB_RTD_2017 InmaRotterdam, in the South of Holland, is a city full of history and Europe’s largest port – it is known for its culture and university, its riverside setting and maritime heritage. The city was almost completely destroyed during WWII and its architectural regeneration and progress shines in Europe; it was named 2015 European City of the Year by the Academy of Urbanism.
In this workshop, we want to explore the city’s vibrancy and cultural richness and diversity, we will look into its past to understand its present. To do so we consider the moving environment, as much of people in the city daily life as of buildings in the changing fabric of the architectural and urban environment. We aim to introduce time into our sketches and stories.
We will be based at Cretopia an art cultural centre near Rotterdam Centraal and each day will explore the city’s urbanscapes and tell the story of the people who move through it.
From our base we will explore the centre of Rotterdam in detail with six different locations for the 3 day workshop and you would be experiencing them all, from Wijkpark, Laurenskerk, Markthal, Centrale Bibliotheek to the many riverside terraces and views.
Workshop map here.

Time travel in architecture (Isabel)
Change is real and difficult to record.
We will choose views and scenes to draw and paint with history in mind and explore various ways of recording what has changed, the present is easy – we draw what we see, we will take a line for a walk to start with.  However, we will try to find out traces of stories, remains, remnants that give us clues of the past and how the spaces have changed. This part of the workshop will be based around Laurenskerk one of the few surviving buildings from the Rotterdam Blitz.
The idea is to overlay the past over the present (drawn on location) and see what has changed, discover the history layers of the urban environment.

Roma_TimeTravel _smallAs the destruction of the city was almost complete, new forms of architecture have been able to develop. We will sketch forms that defy our traditional orthogonal views of the city like the Cubes Houses or the Markthal.  We will sketch these new forms of architecture and discover how they fit in the wider city context, looking for views where the contrast is evident and the various stages of city reconstruction can be seen – views from the Centrale Bibliotheek.
For this exercise, will work boldly with colour first to establish the setting out of the view and then work over them in penwork to highlight differently timed interventions.

EPSON MFP imageMadrid_PlazaColonEPSON MFP image“Watch what happens” (Miguel)
The main topic of this workshop is to tell the stories that take place before our eyes, real, imagined or invented. First, we will work on the idea of “pregnant moment” trying to recognize it as the lapse of time when  the scene takes some special significance; it could be funny, serious, surprising, typical, emotional….  Next, we will experiment how to record it on our sketchbook, using some of  the drawing techniques at hand (perspective, anatomy, color, hatching, etc) in order to catch the moment as a scene and the environment as a stage in order to transform that moment into a short play.

Then we will work on live composition as the opposite of still composition. This means not only paying attention to color weights and line balance, but also to what the actors (either people and environment as we saw on the first part) do or see or pretend to. We will learn how this interpretation can be underlined with the way we display them in our drawing. We also experiment on how framing or cutting parts of the drawing can be a very strong tool to add interest and drama, to our story. Our tool for this part will be vignettes as in a comic strip, so composition is important to tell our story.

Finally, we will work with sequence, and how to tell a little story/reportage of what happens around us, trying to capture some of the everyday stories that happen before our eyes on a tale using some of the cinema and comic techniques for this aim.  We will look at the activities taking place in front of us and see how we can break them into small actions and sequences that can tell the story effectively. Our sequences will focus a part of the story or another and can change the meaning of what we tell significantly. Loads to think about

Making the city dance (Inma)
In this workshop we will try to approach the motion that life gives to the city, capturing the sensation of frenetic rhythm in our sketches.

Cruz VerdeF

The city has lot of elements that are constantly moving and changing: cars, lights, people…

Capturing this rhythm will give our drawings a much more dynamic and urban character.

Urban sketching, as jazz music, starts with a fixed music score but then, it goes on changing gradually, introducing new notes, letting ourselves be led by improvisation, to discover new sketching ways. This is the most powerful tool in sketching: Everything can change in a second.We are going to play with different quick_draw techniques such as bamboo pen, ink or big crayons to achieve uncontrolled and surprising results.

This workshop aims to be a fun game in which we are going to feel like a child trying to forget the need to look for the resemblance and looking for our own drawing language and style.

dancing city 2F

We will alternate controlled and uncontrolled exercises in the same sketches (to draw with our brain or with our guts) with the intention of discovering new shapes, unreal colors and improvised lines, getting shocking results.

ARMA PLAZA 35 baja copia 2We will investigate new ways of expression of the movement:

  1. Unfinished drawings,
  2. Color bursts and blasts,
  3. Deformation, exaggeration, gesture …
  4. Dynamic lines.
  5. Empty areas.

Finally, we will try to combine both ways of drawing (controlled and uncontrolled) in a scene mixing static elements and others in motion.

CITY FLOWS (WEB) FLearning goals

  • Pushing participants out of their comfort zone, at their own level. From beginners starting to sketch to more confident participants, we aim to teach you something new and push you outside your boundaries, helping you experiment.
  • Losing the fear to draw people
  • Focus on people, context, movement and the story underneath.
  • Reportage and collecting in drawn form what you want to express
  • Finding ways to record time and movement in sketching
  • Experiment with different techniques and ways of approaching a live sketch situation, helping you find your own self expression.
  • Using and trying different approaches – line drawing with pens and pencils,watercolours and colour in different media.
  • Using more colour and texture and making you think about how do you represent what you see and to develop your own way of representing what you see in colour with confidence

Workshop Schedule

Wednesday 23rd August

Welcome at Cretopia  in our meeting space , from 5 to 7pm

Thursday 24 August

9:00 to 10:00 Welcome at Cretopia  at our base

10am – 1pm Isa, Miguel and Inma workshops

1pm – 3.00pm Lunch

3.00pm – 6.00pm Isa, Miguel and Inma workshops

6.00pm 6.30pm Review and meet up for a drink with the other groups

Friday 25 August

9:00 to 10:00 Meet at Cretopia  at our base – pin up photos of previous day

10am – 1pm Isa, Miguel and Inma workshops

1pm – 3.00pm Lunch

3.00pm – 6.00pm Isa, Miguel and Inma workshops

6.00pm 6.30pm Review and meet up for a drink with the other groups

Saturday 26 August

9:00 to 10:00 Meet at Cretopia  at our base – pin up photos of previous day

10am – 1pm Isa, Miguel and Inma workshops

1pm – 3.00pm Lunch

3.00pm – 6.00pm Isa, Miguel and Inma workshops

6.00pm 6.30pm Review and meet up for a drink with the other groups

Sunday 27 August

9:00 to 10:00 Meet at Cretopia at our base – pin up photos of previous day

10:00Go to sketch meet with Rotterdam USK group in Erasmusburg


30 attendees maximum, 18 minimum.

Any level of experience is welcome


You need to arrange your own accommodation.

Check the workshop map here to see the area we will be moving around.

Supply list

A list will be provided for participants – generally bring what you normally draw with.

Registration fee

£ 225 – (£180 concessions – 20% discount for students or unwaged (with proof of concession status)). or if paying in Euros 275 (220 Euros concessions)

To book, email Isabel – isabel@pushingyoursketchingboundaries.com for registration form

Cancellation policy: All fees are refundable if cancelled prior to 1st August 2017.  Bank charges will be deducted from the refund in the case of an attendee cancellation.   If cancelled after 1st August, a £25 cancellation fee (30 Euros) will be retained. In the event of too few registrants, all monies will be refunded.

Workshop map

Rotterdam PYSB Workshop map

About the instructors

This workshop combines the abilities of:

Isabel Carmona, Miguel Herranz and Inma Serrano

You can read their short biographies by following the links above

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