Watermarks Vienna 2020 – Cancelled

Vienna is the capital of Austria and its city centre is a designated Unesco Heritage site. Known as the City of Music for its key role at the centre of music in Europe through to the early 20th century.   Its many museums collect the riches of its past and many artistic styles from the old masters to art deco and other 20 century art and architecture. We will explore the city from our central base near the town hall and sketch some of these grandiose and also more intimate urban spaces.

Join urban sketchers Swasky, Marion Rivolier 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 watercolour 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 Vienna cityscapes and play with strong light and shadow contrasts. We will enjoy the highly urban scapes of this capital city and enjoy painting 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.

Santiago de Compostela – Light and shadow with white paper indicating strongest light

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

This workshop will help people to simplify the complex architecture 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.

In creating the various views of he the city we will experiment with colour and abstraction and include elements that move in the urban scenes, like people or bicycles.

All in all any fear of working in watercolours will disappear and we’ll enjoy the fun of working in full colour, with various marks adding complexity to our drawings. 

Wash over wash, strokes over washes (Swasky)

The other day I was thinking about why I really enjoy watercolour and the answer I found, my answer is: because watercolour is fair technique, you can not cheat, because you can not hide mistakes, so they are part of the creative process. 

Nevertheless, I also have got a second reason which is: with a pretty small amount of colours, in a small and tiny box, you can create art at any place. 

Keeping these two reasons as my main motto, watercolour led me to a second goal: to create a sense of depth in my drawings. I’m a really practical person and I always think about drawing using most time-saving techniques or processes. 

So create space through the least, becoming a minimal sketcher is what we are going to work, painting wash over wash and strokes over washes.

All along the two sessions we will work mainly with a short range of colours and  simple tools as a ballpoint pen, a pencil and just a few colours. We will start with the foundations with greys in order to focus on light and how we can convey a feeling, a moment, a space through our watercolours.

After my own experience working working with watercolour I have realized how important is to show light and the best way to understand it is working with just a limited palette. On the other hand, it doesn’t mean that we are going to reduce the richness of our colours, because we will create our own greys, with no short-cuts.

We are going to work space through colour and how bright and restrained colours can work together in order to create depth in our drawings. We will talk about perspective and how colours will assist to add depth to our sketches. Otherwise line with colour will work together, and we will scrutinize the amount of lines and colour, how much information, we need to relay a proper sense of what we wanted to communicate.

Watercolor is always a question of choices! (Marion)

One day, I made the greatest choice of my life as a painter: Sixteen years ago, I was in Venice in Italy, I drew in lines which I filled afterwards with watercolors. Of course, my drawings were empty, without sense and interest. I understood that I will never be able to capture the power and poetry of Venice if I continue to color the shapes drawn by contours… so I abandoned the initial drawing and started new works directly with the brush.

It took me months and years of work to express the world through forms, values and colors. But when I came back to Venice ten years later, I think I succeeded to catch a little bit of the incredible atmosphere of this city!


Some views of Venice from 2001 to 2011, watercolor. How to forgot the preliminary drawing.

Working with watercolor is always a question of choice.

You have to choose to see the world in shapes rather in lines. The world is not made with little objects side by side but by large shapes. By seeing the world in this way, you will be able to analyze the urban place in successive planes. By expressing these different planes, you accentuate the depth of the space.


The Bean, Chicago, watercolor – 2017: People and the Bean of the foreground are more detailed and stronger than buildings of the background.

Another way to express the depth and the relief of a place with watercolor is made by contrasts, different types of contrasts ( values contrasts, colored values contrasts, colored (temperature and complementary) contrasts) which we will experiment together.

We will work together step by step to try these different choices and to understand what can happen in your painting. In this workshop, we will make together several quick exercises to experiment with a lot of things. We won’t care about the result of each drawing, we won’t care about the beauty of a drawing. The only interesting thing for us is to discover, experiment and learn!

We will work with watercolor, directly with the brush, without preliminary sketching. After a warm-up in colored values, we will work through several exercises, on values and try to understand how colored values can create depth and volume.

To take full advantage of this workshop, you must want to express yourself directly with the brush, to get out of your comfort zone and have fun mixing the colors! 

Art by Chiharu Shiota at Le Bon Marché, watercolor – 2017: I chose to express the huge sculpture in the foreground mostly with cool values

After, we will experiment with different types of colour contrasts to express the depth of the place.


Trouville’s beach, watercolor – 2017: very quickly, I played only with cool and warm colored contrasts to express the beauty of the beauty of the repetition of tents.

By the end of the workshop, in a last bigger painting, we will be able to make good choices to express our own story!

The sky of Paris, watercolor – 2017: as I wanted to focus on the cloudy sky, I started with warm and cool dark brushstrokes.

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 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 – 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.

Time schedule

The workshop runs from Thu 27 to Sat 29 August with a welcome meeting on the Wed 26 evening and a sketch meet on the Sun 30 with the local urban sketchers.

Workshop schedule

Wed 26 August
5pmWelcome at our Venue: Wiener Planungswerkstatt,
Friedrich-Schmidt-Platz 9, 1010 Wien.
Introductions and drinnks afters (location tbc)
Thu 27, Fri28 & Sat 29 August
9 to 10 am Meet at our venue
10 am to 1 pm Marion, Swasky and Isa morning workshops
1 to 2:30 pmLunch
2:30 to 5:30 pmMarion, Swasky and Isa afternoon workshops
5:30 to 7 pmEvenings all groups meet and share
Sun 30 August
11 amOpen Sketch Meet with Vienna USK – route around Hundertwasserhaus and the river

Workshop MAP

A map with descriptions and commentary of some of the proposed sketching locations here.

Participant numbers

30 attendees maximum, 18 minimum. Any level of experience is welcome

Accommodation and travel

Attendees need to make their own travel and accommodation arrangements for the duration of the event.


A list detailing what to bring to the workshop will be provided for participants. We will be working with watercolours and other water soluble media.


£300 – (£240 concessions – 20% discount for students or unwaged with proof of concession status).

To Book

Follow the button link below to buy your ticket. Fill in the participant details at check out. An automatic confirmation will be sent to you once the purchase is made.
If you wish to claim the concession rate:
Please e-mail: isabel@pushingyoursketchingboundaries.com with proof of status. Once agreed we’ll issue you a personal code to make your discounted purchase.

Cancellation policy: All fees are refundable if cancelled more than 6 weeks prior to commencement of course (up to 15 July 2020). Bank charges will be deducted for the refund in the case of an attendee cancellation. If cancelled after the 15 July up to two weeks before the start of the course, a cancellation fee of £50 will be retained. No refund will be possible two weeks before the course. In the event of too few registrants, all monies will be refunded.


This workshop combines the skills of