Pushing How to Look Online – Panamerican Edition

3 Days Journey to 3 Towns with Isabel Carmona, Marina Grechanik and Victor Swasky

The course is three days long and runs on Saturday 10 April 2021, Sunday 11 April 2021 and Saturday 17 April2021. Timings for this workshop have been set to suit the American Continent Time zones.

For full info read below. You can book your place here.

In this three day workshop we are going to invite to a virtual multi city trip with Marina, Swasky and Isabel to their hometowns (Tel Aviv, Barcelona and Newbury). We will get you to draw our environs virtually but also we will encourage you to share with us the cities and towns where you live.

We will continue the Pushing Your Sketching Boundaries tradition of pushing you out of your comfort zone and get you to draw with us online and follow the course on the dates shown. Each day you will engage with one of the tutors in small groups (up to six people) via the online platform (Zoom) and as well as doing the exercises of the workshop you will receive live feedback and engage in the sharing of the work together.

There will be a maximum of 18 people divided in three groups of 6 taking the class.The minimum number of attendees needed for the course to take place is 6.

We want to make our online sessions as normal as possible, albeit being online, similar to our in person workshops.  Each day there will be a morning and an afternoon session with a lunch break in between and a feedback session at the end.  On the final day, there will be a relaxed virtual “drink and draw” session where the whole group will be invited.

The groups will be led by the day’s tutor and each tutor has organised their day to suit the exercises of their workshop session (see below for details).

Workshop Sessions:


On this journey, we will “travel” to Newbury, in the UK, where I live.  We will use videos and Google Street views to understand the locations and familiarise ourselves with them as if we had had the chance of walking around them. 

Feeling Space

The journey starts with what I call “yoga” for sketchers – an exploration of space representation via line and scribble to capture on the page that sense of space being present here and now, between the sky and the ground.

We will look up to the sky to see the contours and outlines of the buildings, we’ll feel their weight and proportions and rhythms to make them present on the ground. We will learn to feel the space, what is free space and what is built up or occupied and transfer this to our drawings.

Storytelling in full colour. 

This session builds up from sketching spaces to drawing the activities that happen in that space and the characters of those activities. Urban sketching is about telling stories. 

We will work in colour to draw both setting and story, drawing out what interests us.  

Using watercolour and other media you will show the story as it happens, in full colour. 

There will be some guidance for beginners on how to get started with watercolours and there will be some videos of Newbury spaces for you to use as a basis for your sketches.

Simple scenes first – starting with quick watercolour washes, we will play at highlighting the setting or the action within the overall picture. We will start by using colour to set the street scenes where we can overlay people’s activities as they happen.

Then we will reverse our approach, capturing in colour people’s action on the street, and later outlining the setting/the scene of what they do.

Progress to complex scenes of activity or busy architecture – the colour will serve as the background to the drawing scene. Line work and detail can then be selective to help us focus where we want the sketch attention to go. Colour blocks will help us break the scene into manageable areas and to avoid worrying later on about spoiling a neatly drawn picture. 

You will do two versions of the same scene, one working fast, to capture the essence of the scene as fast as possible, without too much thinking. And then you’ll paint the scene again, with more layers to add complexity to the same view. 

In these session you’ll learn about:

  • looking at the scene that you want to draw 
  • feeling the space you are in and drawing it, no matter your position within the space
  • understanding space as something between heaven (sky) and earth (ground)
  • working in watercolour directly and adding line over it
  • working at different speeds
  • populating space with activity

What and How. Real stories from virtual location. (Marina Grechanik)

 Art is not what you see. It’s what you make others see. (Edgar Degas)


This workshop is an adaptation of an on-location one, where we’ll use the advantages of sketching at home, basing on multi-photo references, as an excellent opportunity to train our process.

We’ll sketch one of the iconic squares of Tel Aviv, we will all be based on the same  location from Google Map Street View, which can give us the feeling of travelling and provide a great reference for our “travel” sketches. Obviously, simply tracing the photos and executing them in “artistic” technique, will not turn the work into artwork, and will provide us boring and unemotional results. Urban Sketching (or art, in general) is not about perfectly copying nice views.

We’ll try to do a similar to on-location process of choosing and filtering. We’ll break the process into short exercises; stop and focus on some decisions as we do on location unconsciously and train those skills.

By doing a series of fun and quick exercises we can go over the basic terms of sketching and ask ourselves: what do I want to say and how can I do it best? We’ll be training different art skills, creating a kind of sketching gym, so when we’ll “run outside” again – we’ll be well prepared!

 We will:       

  • “Travel” with the google map, look around and try to figure out what interests us here and why.
  • Instead of copying the view, we will  look deeper, finding what we like and telling the viewer about it  
  • We will sharpen our senses, play, experiment, and try to create works with impact and meaning      
  • We wouldn’t simply trace the image we see, but will work in a similar way to on-location process by choosing and filtering
  • At the end we’ll shared our stories – each one will be personal and they will all be different from the same location
Exercise 1What – Learning how to look

Each work of art begins as an idea – something that an artist wants to share with the viewer. This “something” should first of all touch and excite you as a creator – otherwise, there is no chance that it will interest your audience.

We’ll try to feel the location, understand what touches or interest us there, which will lead us to our artistic idea – what do we want to tell our viewers about?

Each one will get the same list of subjects for their sketches and we will try to make as many quick sketches as we can, using subjects provided to us.

Exercise 2How – Composition

There are a lot of composition rules helping us to transmit our idea. Of course, we’ll not check them all here, and even if we could, art isn’t math – there is no replacement for practical work, investigation and improvisation.

But still, it helps to know those rules, let’s check some of them:

  • Format (square, rectangle – portrait, landscape)

We can choose the relationship between the page’s height and width, and its orientation- square, rectangle – portrait, landscape. This all depends on the subject of our work.

We’ll see how format influences impact. 

  • StaticDynamic (from the same point – giving the feeling of stability or movement)

The dynamism of a composition is the presence or absence of internal movement.

It is connected to the concepts of symmetry and asymmetry: symmetrical composition will by default be more static than asymmetrical.

  •  Scale (choosing one significant object and locating it far away or close by)

After choosing the object with which we want to interest our audience, we have to decide whether we show it from close up or faraway.

  • Rhythm (find repeating elements and put the emphasis on them)

Rhythm – is the repetition of elements or their attributes with a certain periodicity.

We can mention different object qualities, for example: size, frequency, direction, tone, color. The rhythm can be either regular or variable.

Exercise 3How – Limited use of a tool/technique

Ok, we got our idea. We chose the format and thought about some aspects of composition that will help us transfer our idea. It’s time to put on paper our tools – lines and shapes.

This exercise is supposed to help us to choose the tool that fits us the best and to avoid the automatic choice.

We’ll sketch the same view. Each time we’ll isolate a different approach with a different simple tool, so we can touch the power of lines or shapes:

  • lines only (use different strengths and thicknesses, graphite pencil, pen, marker…) 

We’ll try to feel the strength of the line. Try to characterize the surroundings by sketching slowly and putting a different pressure on the pencil – thick and thin lines. We can also try quick and expressive sketching trying to focus on the most important and authentic things.

  • shapes only, without lines (black & white or monochrome – washes of one color)

We’ll work on generalization, accentuation of the essential, choosing main, secondary, and strengthening contrasts.

Final exercise – Tell Your Story

After we have played around a little with “what” and “how”, and did a lot of exercises in our sketching gym, we will try in the final exercise to connect between them and to implement what we have practiced in the previous exercises.

We will review the sketches we did, choose the message, strengthen it by choosing the right composition and technique, this time in a bigger format (A4- A3), keep the big relationships, but add details in the  places they are needed.

Each participant will present his/her sketches and will explain the process led to it, what caused him/her to make certain decisions and artistic choices.                        
We’ll share our stories – each one personal and all different – all from the same location!


“Since time began, human being has struggled to represent space, how to depict it on a two dimensional surface.”

Due to the Pandemic situation we are living in we are going to use Google Street View to work but all the exercises we are going to do are suitable and desirable for you to do at home or any other venue close to your home.

SESSION 1Representing space from the guts or from the brain 

All along the first session we are going to experiment with the space from within. We will try various methods from the most natural way to represent space to the classic way to depict it, using perspective with one vanishing point. I’ll explain to you how the first artists  tried to understand what they saw and how they translated onto the surface of caves or walls.

With an introduction about art history we are going to review different approaches in different moments of human being along more than 2000 years.

Then we will practice some different ways to represent space to finally practice perspective with one or two vanishing points.

SESSION 2Life and lines are not always straight

The second session is devoted to bending and understanding space from a different point of view. We are going stretch lines, we are going to represent space breaking the rules.

Why should we represent space always following the same rules?

We see space, then we build it inside our head, but that it is just an agreement between us. But if you think that for a while, then you’ll realize that it is just, as always, a way to make things simpler and also to make us happier. Along the sessions your mind will blow away and you will change the way you see space.

Overall 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.
  • Drawing as a tool to look further
  • Looking and finding stories of everyday life
  • Viewing space in different ways and experimenting various ways of depicting it
  • Losing the fear to draw people, drawing people on the go 
  • Gain confidence drawing buildings, feeling the space in the city
  • Understanding what is essential for you when starting to draw a new place
  • Improving watercolour and drawing technique from basic principles.
  • Using and trying different approaches – line drawing with pens and pencils,watercolours and colour in different media.
  • Experiment with different techniques and ways of approaching a live sketch situation, helping you find your own self expression.

What you will need for the course:

Good mood and no fear!

Art Materials you will need:

For Isabel session
  • A5 portrait sketchbook – or A4 sheets of paper and clipboard
  • Colour pencils (various colours, e.g. dark blue, dark red, orange, teal) – they need to be soft enough to move easily through the paper without worrying.
  • Some watercolour paper 300gsm (for the watercolour exercises) either an A5 landscape pad or sheets that you can cut to size and fold as a book.
  • If you have loose sheets then a board bigger than your paper and clips are needed.
  • Watercolours – what you have –  if you need to buy something look for a simple set like the St Petersburg – White Nights Plein Air Set – or similar.
  • Brushes – again what you have – if you need to buy something look for Medium size x Small (not tiny) for the size of paper you are using – e.g. Rosemary Brushes (for beginners the synthetic range is fine) 
  • Water container with water and tissue paper.
For Marina’s session
  • Small sketchbook with cheap paper or sheets of simple cheap paper and clipboard
  • Bigger sketchbook with a quality paper (or loose sheet of paper) for the last exercise. 
  • Some line-drawing tools you like – pencil, pen, etc…
  • Some shape-drawing tools you like – wide marker, paint brush, pastels, etc…
  •  Your favorite tools for the last exercise.
For Swasky’s session
  • More paper – A4 sketchbook portrait or A4 sheets is good
  • You can bring all the drawing tools asked by Marina and Isabel.

Software You will need:

The workshop will take place using a combination of Google Classrooms and Zoom ( we will send you the relevant links beforehand). 

You will need a good wifi connection for the duration of the course. Please charge your batteries and get your computer, laptop, iPads or notepads ready. In addition to a laptop/iPad, you will need a phone as well to take pictures and share them with us so we can provide feedback.

Some preliminary material will be available (for some of the sessions) in the Google Classroom for you to watch beforehand.

For the workshop sessions themselves we will use Zoom and you will be provided with links as necessary to join each session. 

Before the workshop you will need to familiarise yourself with Google Streetview and how to navigate to a place, the tutor will provide links to the particular views you can use for the exercises.  You should also attempt to repeat the exercises live to check the difference with the virtual situation and to gain practice in a real urban sketching on location scenario.

You will also need a WhatsApp account for the workshop days as we will ask you to share photos of the drawings you are creating to a group to be able to do the live feedback sessions.

Another useful platform to share our drawings all together will be Miro

course Schedule:

The workshop runs on Sat 10, Sun 11 and Sat 17 April 2021 

Sessions times are 15:00 to 17:00 BST (GMT+1) and 18:00 to 20:00 BST (GMT+1) with review feedback session 20:00 to 21:00 BST (GMT+1) each day.

On Sat 17 April 2021 there will be a virtual drink and draw session from 21:00 to 22:00 BST (GMT+1)

All times are UK time (BST = British Summer Time = GMT+1)

Workshop Schedule
Sat 10 Sun 11 Sat 17 April 2021
14:30 BST (GMT+1)
[Sat10 all groups together]
Welcome to session
15:00 to 17:00 BST (GMT+1)Workshops with Swasky, Marina and Isabel
17:00 to to 18:00 BST (GMT+1)Break (lunch or tea)
18:00 to 20:00 BST (GMT+1)Workshops with Swasky, Marina and Isabel
20:00 up to 21:00 BST (GMT+1)Day’s feedback session – each group with their tutor
Sat 17 April 2021
21:00 to 22:00 BST (GMT+1)Drink and draw – virtually – with all participants and tutors – Optional


18 attendees maximum, 6 minimum.
Any level of drawing experience is welcome

Registration fee

£ 225 

Cancellation policy: All fees [minus a ticketing fee of £10 which is included on above price] are refundable if cancelled more than 6 weeks prior to commencement of course.. If cancelled between 6 and 2 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 [minus the ticketing fee] will be refunded.

To Book your Place

About the instructors

This workshop and retreat joins the skills of