Watermarks – PYSB Brighton 2019

Brighton  has been a seaside resort fashionable since the early nineteenth century. It’s culture and festivals are renowned and has recognisable architecture with notable buildings such as the Royal Pavilion, the West and Palace piers, and now the i360. It has a great diverse community, a great music and arts culture scene, and great quirky shopping areas;  recently, it has been said to be the “happiest place to live in the UK”.

The seafront gives it its edge and outlook to the sea where there are now a huge array of wind turbines on the horizon. The workshop will be hosted  nearby at The Marwood Cafe  in The Lanes, near many of the venues where will be out sketching.

During both morning and afternoon workshop sessions we will be out sketching in various locations along the seafront,  the North Laines, the Pavilion Gardens, The Lanes, the beach, seeking out views and activities that makes us want to sit down and enjoy painting them. See the workshop map here.

Join urban sketchers Maru Godas, Marina Grechanik and Isabel Carmona for this 3 full days workshop. It will be fun but hard work, as you will be enjoying learning and experimenting all the  time, trying out different ways of water based painting and mark making,using colour in all forms without fear, sharing the work we do and discussing our findings intensely.  

Each of the instructors will explore different ways of using watercolours and Water Marks in the context of urban sketching.

Light and Shade in Watercolour (Isabel)  

We will explore Brighton seafront and enjoy this city in the summer when there is strong light and shadow contrasts. I love Brighton and don’t tire of sketching it, I’ve been doing it for over 20 years now, with its open views of the beach and its piers on the sea, its urban architecture and street scenes.

Using watercolour as the main medium, we’ll explore the idea of colour and contrast as the starting point of a sketch.  We will start by deciding where the lightest points of the sketch are, the paper, and where the deepest shadows will be, the strongest colours.

We will learn to abstract what we see, using colour boldly and with strong contrast. Drawing can take place later either with more colour more linear marks or with pen if preferred.

This workshop will help people to simplify the complex architecture and landscape and not be shy about painting views that in the first instance might appear too difficult.Starting with only with watercolour drawing with light and colour we will look for those elements of the view that interest us.

And slowly building up the watercolour layers to add complexity and depth to our work, adding a variety of marks to the sketch to increase its richness.  We will practice and experiment mark making in watercolours and finally decide whether any additional marks are needed.

Water Feeling, a mixed media experience (Maru)

In this workshop we will focus on mixed media experimentation to explore the environment through pictorial languages. Water, color and emotions will be the topics. Chinese ink, watercolor graphite and gouache will be the techniques.

session 1: the joy of grays

In the first session, we will explore new resources of black and white and shadows of grayscales. For this, we will work with black ink, black and white gouache, and water soluble graphite.

We will look for a sensitive view of the environment and try to convey different emotions in our sketches.

Participants will:

  • Explore the Chinese ink behavior
  • Learn how to get the most out of water-soluble graphite technique
  • Play with textures and spot accidents to express our feelings

session 2: wash & gouache

In the second session, we will work with gouache.
We will explore gouache densities and behaviors, like a watercolor and acrylics. Spot and strokes.

Participants will:

  • Take first contact with gouache painting. Basic palette and first steps
  • Play with colors and textures.
  • Learn how to plan a “plein air” scene. (synthesis and composition)
  • Layering technique using different densities of gouache

Portraits in Watercolor (Marina)

“With watercolour, you can’t cover up the marks. There’s the story of the construction of the picture, and then the picture might tell another story as well.”

“Faces are the most interesting things we see; other people fascinate me, and the most interesting aspect of other people – the point where we go inside them – is in the face. It tells all.”  

David Hockney

The subject of this workshop combines my two greatest loves: people and watercolor.

We’ll practice drawing people, focusing on the most fascinating part – their faces – and will learn to tell stories through the portraits. We’ll expand our margins by using watercolors in non-traditional and less academic ways.

Every child is familiar with a box of watercolors. It is compact, portable, and at first glance looks easy to use and doesn’t require any special knowledge or background. All you need is some water and a brush and vibrant, bright colors will fill the sheet of paper, creating anything to which you put your mind!

Watercolor fits perfectly with drawing on location and what it means to me. I love watercolor’s wild nature. Its ability to lose control fits the spontaneous nature of sketching. I have also learned to love the fact that it is impossible to undo. Every mark is visible, leaving a trace of everything that you have done which will always be there.

As for people – for me sketching people is not just a way to add scale to a sketch or to make it more “lively.” Usually my story starts from the people and the surroundings support the story, just as in music chords support the melody.

In the first session, we will do a series of short exercises. To warm-up we will start with sketching duels and drawing each other in different ways. We will think about how we see reality, what is the essence of “likeness” in portraiture – how to get the real, profound likeness, and not only the external one. We will try to not just mechanically copy reality, but to observe the essentials from the artistic point of view, and to sacrifice the secondary aspects. We will work fast, forgetting the rules (which will work for us subconsciously), and base our sketches on live observation, getting in touch with our gut feelings with emphasis on the emotional side of sketching. After warming up, we will try to apply the same approaches on location.

We will address the basics of watercolor technique, but will use them in non-traditional ways, by getting our inspiration from non-realistic color approaches, as expressionists who used color to express their feelings about the subject rather than simply describing it in a naturalistic fashion.

In the second session we will apply what we learned in the first and make at least two well developed sketches – telling visual stories of the place by putting the focus on people.

We will discuss the subject of storytelling through portraits. The process of looking for a story, choosing it, and thinking about how to tell it. We will contemplate how the surroundings can help us to express ourselves, seeing inspiration in the works of the Fauvists, who valued intense color for its emotional impact more than for its ability to render form, and used colors at their highest pitch with a simplified drawing technique to express their feelings about their subjects.

At the end of the session participants will present their visual stories and share their experiences in creating them.

Learning 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.
  • Observation and sorting out what we see – don’t draw or express everything – make choices. Observe well and paint quickly because we have understood the space before us.
  • Feel the space, decipher its parts (foreground/background…) and reveal them
  • Working with large shapes of value and confidence of your own marks; don’t be afraid of making a mistake.
  • Feeling the joy of watermarks in greyscale and colour.
  • Experiment with different water mark and drawing techniques and ways of approaching a live sketch situation, helping you find your own self expression.
  • Using and trying different watercolour approaches – experimenting with various water based media – watercolours, water soluble inks and gouache.
  • In watercolour: painting with watercolours and line drawing with brushes, additional marks with watercolour pencils, using textures, light and shade, understanding colour.
  • 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
  • Improving brushstrokes and brushmark making abilities
    Sketching the city, its buildings, the people and their stories

Workshop Schedule

The course runs from Wednesday 10 July evening to the Saturday 13 July. On Sunday 14 July we organise a sketching meet with local sketchers for anyone to join us.

Wed  10 July 2019

Welcome at the Marwood cafe, in the evening at 5pm.

Thu  11 July

9 to 9:30 am    Meet at the Marwood Cafe

9:30 am – 12:30pm     Marina, Maru and Isa morning workshops

12:30pm – 2:30pm  Lunch

2:30- 5:30pm  Marina, Maru and Isa  afternoon workshop

6pm -7pm   Evening all groups meet up

Fri  12 July

9 to 9:30 am    Meet at the Marwood Cafe

9:30 am – 12:30pm     Marina, Maru and Isa morning workshops

12:30pm – 2:30pm  Lunch

2:30- 5:30pm  Marina, Maru and Isa  afternoon workshop

6pm -7pm   Evening all groups meet up

Sat 13 July

9 to 9:30 am    Meet at the Marwood Cafe

9:30 am – 12:30pm     Marina, Maru and Isa morning workshops

12:30pm – 2:30pm  Lunch

2:30- 5:30pm  Marina, Maru and Isa  afternoon workshop

6pm -7pm   Evening all groups meet up

Sun 14 July

10 am  Sketchbook sharing at Marwood coffee house and looking at workshop exhibition

11 am Open Sketch Meet with local sketchers (Brighton/London)- route to be confirmed.


30 attendees maximum, 18 attendees minimum, any level of experience is welcome

Supply list – what to bring?

A supply list will be provided to all participants prior to the workshop

Travel and accommodation

You will need to arrange your own accommodation and travel. To help you decide the area see the map of the workshop below. Suggested sites to look for a good range of accommodation: booking.com or airbandb.com

The best London airport for Brighton is London Gatwick (30 min by train to Brighton Station). There are frequent trains from Londn Victoria and London Bridge to Brighton Station.

Registration fee

£265 (£215 concessions – students or unwaged (with proof of concession status)) – fees are in GBP

To book: e-mail Isabel – isabel@pushingyoursketchingboundaries.com for a registration form. If you are claiming the concession rate send me the proof of status with your booking form request. (Payment can be via internet bank transfer or paypal – see links below).

Watermarks – Brighton Workshop – Full Price

Three day workshop in Brighton called Watermarks on the subject of urban sketching on water based media with Isabel Carmona, Maru Godas and Marina Grechanik. Full price ticket.

265.00 £

Watermarks – Brighton Workshop – Concession rate

Three day workshop in Brighton called Watermarks on the subject of urban sketching on water based media with Isabel Carmona, Maru Godas and Marina Grechanik. Concession ticket.

215.00 £

Cancellation policy: All fees are refundable if cancelled more than 6 weeks prior to commencement of course (up to 29 May 2019). Bank charges will be deducted for the refund in the case of an attendee cancellation. If cancelled after the 29 May  up to to one week before the start of the course, a cancellation fee of £50 (60 Euros) will be retained. No refund will be possible one week before the course.In the event of too few registrants, all monies will be refunded.

Workshop map

You can find the workshop map here

About the instructors

This workshop combines the abilities of:

Isabel Carmona, Maru Godas and Marina Grechanik


  1. This looks great, especially as it’s in my home town! Sadly I can’t do the full workshop but would it be possible to tag along to some of the other more ‘open’ elements of the day?


Comments are closed.