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Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Workshop in Newbury - round 1

Last month, I spent one week in Newbury, UK, to participate in a USk workshop called "Pushing your sketching boundaries", held by Isabel Carmona, Inma Serrano and Swasky.

I decided to attend this workshop because I won't be able to go to the Symposium in Manchester this year and, more importantly, because I really admire the work of these artists.

The workshop was built up in two rounds consisting of three workshops each, one with each teacher focusing on one specific aspect of sketching.

My group started with Inma Serrano, who focused on composition. Inma started by teaching us a few basic principles of composition (line weight, colour, layout, etc.), which we later had to put into practice at the local cemetery, in black and white.
It is one of the most beautiful and peaceful cemeteries I have visited so far
The second workshop of round 1 was held by Isabel Carmona, who focused more on watercolour techniques and colour in general.

We started with short exercises where we had to sketch a subject in watercolour only, adding layers until we were happy with our sketch.

We then went to the Newbury Corn Exchange where we had to sketch the same subject using 2 different approaches: one where we used only watercolour for the background and another technique for the foreground, and vice-versa for the second sketch.

Watercolour background and pencil foreground
When working with watercolour, I have difficulties using bright colours and always stick too closely to reality. I asked Isabel for some advice on how to detach myself more from my subject and she just said: just pick a random colour. So I did. And I had a lot of fun doing it!

Watercolour foreground and ballpoint background
I have to say I'm still more comfortable using line than watercolour only, but this exercise was a good compromise between both and I will probably do it again on occasion.

The last workshop of the first round was held by Swasky, an illustrator from Barcelona. He focused on storytelling and on how to add text to your sketches to tell a story.

I rarely think about text in my sketches and when I do add some it's usually in hindsight. Plus I usually never know what to write anyway.

It was an interesting exercise to plan ahead, determining in advance where the text will be later. However, I feel I still have to practice it a lot before it becomes something like second nature.

Swasky reassured us saying that it is normal to end up with a result that has little to do with the initial plan. The important thing is to go through the planning process so in time we can leave the result less to chance.

View over Newbury from the top of the church
Newbury is a lovely town, the perfect place to have my first glimpse of the British lifestyle. Exploring it in the framework of a sketching workshop adds another interesting dimension to it. We were even relatively lucky with the weather!