My First Steps
I taught my first online class in May 2020. It was about capturing foliage from life in ink and watercolour. The people who attended the class knew who I was, having followed my sketching progress through the years, since my first tentative posts in 2012. Of course, the fact that everyone was imprisoned more or less in their homes for most of 2020 meant that I had a – literally – captive audience, but we soon found that there was a lot of fun to be had communicating via screens sketching together, while safely apart.
In those early days, the sketching sessions were long, and the students and I got to know each other. I am a country girl, and I grew up on the side of a mountain in Co.Wicklow, and even though I had a million brothers and sisters I learned to find my own fun. So I am used to being resourceful when it comes to being stuck in the middle of nowhere, and between the students and myself we discovered ways to find subjects for sketching, no matter what.
We know that all things come to an end, good and bad, and little by little my lovely students were able to spread their wings and visit family and friends all over the world. They sketched as they did so and in our private Facebook group we were privy to their sketches, made during their travels, and, closer to home, family life. We knew we were passionate about creativity, but perhaps not just how passionate, and sharing it emphasised it for everyone. I myself discovered that while many of my students, mostly women, had had very little in the way of formal tuition, they were nevertheless enormously creative and full of beautiful ideas, and all I had to do was give technical guidance: how to use watercolour to its best effect, how to troubleshoot mistakes, spills and timing issues, how to get the most out of a composition, and the time one has allotted for art.
My Students Come To Life
Two years went by, and in the spring and summer of 2022 I met many of my lovely students in person for formal urban sketching workshops: in Dublin in March, in unseasonably perfect sunshine, and in Galway in August, either slapping on sunscreen or running through downpours.
I will never be able to adequately express how it feels to call the name of a student across an airport forecourt after two years of talking through a mic; to pass in the street what seems to be a stranger, but, in sudden recognition, to call her by her name; to share a bottle of wine in the company of people whom I have come to love at a distance; to break bread with people who live a country or continent away, but who have become my friends through a laptop screen. To look down a table of happy, smiling faces over a delicious meal. These are moments I will treasure forever.
VIPs (Very Important Painters)
And so it seemed right to formalise my sketching family, for that is what it has become. With the help of my incredible webmaster Ronan, and his right-hand-man Charlie, our membership programme was born on 1st November 2022. On that day, I welcomed my first Very Important Painters into the Sketch With Roisin family, and by the end of the day I was delighted to see a healthy take-up, as names kept popping up on my screen. Delighted, but not surprised: it is full of benefits for the students. Here are a few.
- They have a seamless experience and never have to click to purchase a class again (or until they cancel)
- It represents excellent value for them (regular attendees can save up €28 per month)
- Costs €19.99/month for access to all Live classes, which are all recorded and sent automatically
- 20% discount on all recorded classes in the archive
- Lots of exciting extras – for example, VIPs will be included in live streams and even classes when I am abroad, or in fact anywhere that I think they’ll enjoy! The first of these will be in France, 18th-28th November, where I will treat members to live sketching on the streets of Clermont-Ferrand in the heart of the Auvergne
- Occasional out-of-schedule fun classes
And for those who want to get really serious about improving their technique, there’s the Deluxe option:
- Costs €29.99 / month
- Access to all Live and recorded classes (8 – 10 per month, as above)
- Access to all archived classes, over 80 available! – at no extra cost
- All of the other benefits of VIP membership described above
Sometimes I feel I have woken to a wonderful dream. Just three years ago I was sketching all over the world (and in my beautiful home county of Galway, on Ireland’s West Coast) and loving my activities as a teacher in workshops. But travelling, while great fun and exhilarating, takes a lot of energy, time and money: and there is so much beauty that we can sketch right under our noses. The teaching method I have developed with the help of clever people – the people at Zoom, the creative minds behind Facebook and above all, my webmasters Ronan and Charlie – has brought a world of wonderful sketchers together in creativity.
I am proud of what we have created together. I am so proud of all my sketchers who use their God-given creativity throughout their everyday lives. And now, together with my VIPs, we feel even more like a family than ever.
If you love sketching but aren’t sure if membership is right for you, might I suggest you download one of the free sample classes on my website, or follow along with one of my Instagram Live broadcasts, where you’ll get an idea of my style without spending a cent. Alternatively, you can join any of my live classes, which are run every Saturday at 2.00pm GMT (that’s 9.00am EST) and Tuesday at 7.00pm GMT (that’s 2.00pm EST). More times to follow that will suit evenings in East Coast USA! I look forward to welcoming you to a class sometimes soon. And once you join, you’re eligible to join us in our Facebook group, where you can share your work and ask for critique – and meet the gang!