I have just finished my first-ever live online course specifically aimed towards introducing absolute beginners to the world of urban sketching in watercolour. I live in Ireland, on the coast near Galway City, and I teach from my studio deep in the beautiful, wild countryside on the banks of the Dunkellin River. All the subjects I teach are sketched from my locality here in the west of Ireland.
The course was completely oversubscribed, and I had to reluctantly turn away a few people just before it started. The course took place every day for five days at the same time (7.00pm-8.30pm GMT+1) and went down better than I could ever have hoped, with comments literally flooding in from people in a happy daze of contented creativity. I will include some of their comments here, as they mostly went into our closed Facebook group (which will be open for you to join if you want to, once the course has started) or into my DMs or comments on Instagram, or as emails. This is only a tiny fraction of the number of lovely comments I have read over the last few days.
Jane, USA: “Thanks very much for a fabulous course, Roisin, I learned so much and I’m now fired up to have a go on my own.”
Cathy, USA: “What an enjoyable week of classes! Thanks, Róisín!”
Caroline, UK: “Thank you for a fantastic series of lessons Róisín! It’s been full to the brim with information, tips and techniques.”
Manuela, Italy: “Half the second lesson done but I’ll catch up with (the rest of) this amazing course by the magician Roisin Cure”
Julie, UK: “And just like that…whoosh, an incredible week over. Not only fantastic but the words… (of wisdom)…are ringing in my ears. Beyond grateful.”
Nick, UK: “Have really enjoyed this week (an understatement). Thanks again Róisín and great to be part of your sketching community from now on!”
Sandy, Canada: “I thoroughly enjoyed your lessons Roisín and look forward to doing some of your prerecorded ones this summer. Thank you!”
Louise, Italy: “The magic of the course is working, here I am sketching “in the wild”!”
Colleen, USA: “Thank you Roisin for a great week! I’m looking forward to more classes yet to come!”
Susan, USA: “The week went way too fast and it was filled with important information on sketching and watercolour techniques. Thank you Roisin and have a beautiful summer.”
Christine, France: “What a fabulous week with Róisín Curé. Hope you will have more like this workshop, it was incredible. Thank you so much and have a wonderful summer.”
Siobhain, Ireland: “So enjoyed this course – so much information – tonight’s was a challenge for me – but feel with practice can improve – thanks roisin”
Maura, Ireland: “Thank you so much Róisín. Never thought I’d love watercolor painting so much, so thank you. Everything I see now is a target to be painted.”
Glenn, Ireland: “Thank you for an aamazingly good week (great content and your incredible good nature)”
Morag, UK: “Hello Róisín, I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the class and how much I learned. I loved your enthusiasm and feel quite inspired to go out there and keep sketching. So many many thanks.”
21st-25th August 2023, 7.00pm-8.30pm GMT+1
It’s a five day course on urban sketching, with watercolour as our medium of choice, for total beginners. For those who have never opened a box of watercolours before, who were previously unaware that you can use fountain pens and waterproof ink for sketching, and who have never heard the word “fude” or posessed a sketchbook. I can supply a beautiful box of Roman Szmal watercolour paints to everyone who books, and offer a discount on them when booked at the same time as the course (they will be coupled so that’s the only way to avail of the discount). The discount on the paints will be active and available from Monday 19th June. I will also send you a full list of supplies when you book your place.
The course is recorded, and is sent to everyone afterwards. It is yours to do for three months, after which it will be removed.
If you would like to join, just go to my home page, click on the link and check the date – and book. Even if you can’t be present at the live classes, buy it in advance and you can trust that the recordings will be in your inbox every day.
So what will we be doing in the course?
Day 1 Monday 21st August
As a beginner, it can be hard to go out sketching on your own. While it’s great to go out with your friends or family to sketch, it’s not always feasible. I often need a rememdy for loneliness or general restlessness, and I have found the perfect remedy in urban sketching. I have long since gotten used to the feeling of self-consciousness, but it wasn’t always like that. Whether I am feeling awkward or not, there’s always a subject I can sketch with discretion: my cup of coffee. Tea will do just as nicely!
- Drinking your tea or coffee while it’s still hot
- Stainless steel – making it shiny
- Leaving white areas
- Doing nice paint spatters
Day 2 Tuesday 22nd August
Making a beautiful sketch from life has its fundamentals in good observation. Capturing the light. Depicting reflections that seem to shimmer. Painting the shadows to bring depth to a scene. Sketching trees that have weight and mass, with foliage that looks natural. There are many artistic phrases that might sound esoteric and possibly difficult to put into practice. But they are all down to good observation. On Tuesday, the second day of the course, we are going to look at some common elements as urban sketchers: reflections and trees are often a big reason why we’re drawn to sketch something, and happily they come with the same characteristics over and over again…depending on the season, the wind and the sun, but we will talk about that too! The colours green and blue will be studied, as applied to trees an reflections in water.
- Making trees look leafy
- Making reflections look real
- Making greens look natural
- Making a horizontal horizon
Day 3 Wednesday 23rd August
This is a course concentrating on using watercolour as an urban sketcher, but it’s nice to have a strong armature on top of which to put colour. I have a straightforward technique to help you draw (hint: it helps to “see” well!) and it will be something you will use forever, or as long as you want to build solid, believable shapes, or lifelike portraits. On Wednesday I will share my favourite pen with you and put it through its paces. It may be something you decide to buy, and it may not be. And no class on drawing would be complete without the dread word – perspective – but it can be approached in the same way as the basic drawing technique (luckily – who wants to fiddle around with vanishing points?). We will draw a simple building as our entry point into this drawing method, and you can practice it as much as you like when you are out in the wild sketching.
- A good trick for estimating the slope of a line
- Avoiding overwhelm in a complex scene
- Getting your scale right
- Measuring distances and proportions quickly and accurately by eye
Day 4 Thursday 24th August
Techniques With Watercolour
Watercolour is a funny one. It’s known to be difficult, because it’s hard to change a stroke of paint once it has dried. But the excellent news is that there aren’t too many things to learn to produce stunning results. In Thursday’s class we will learn some lovely and easy techniques in handling watercolour that you will soon be using like a pro.
- Washing away a mistake – the timing involved
- Glazing – avoiding a muddy look
- Wet-in-wet – letting the beauty shine through
- Dilution and concentration – light and dark versions of your colours
- Avoiding visible brushstrokes
- Leaving white
- Bending colours, on and off the page
Day 5 Friday 25th August
Putting It All Together
On the last day of the course, we will put the elements we have touched upon together in a scene such as the sort of thing you encounter as an urban sketcher. There’ll be a tree, some reflections and a building…sketched and painted using the watercolour techniques.
Tricks or Techniques:
- As well as anything else you have asked me to address during the week!
At the end, I will send you on your way with your bag of tricks and techniques, wishing you well on your beautiful, creative journey, and with an invitation to join us in our wonderful Facebook group, which is filled with the most lively and enthusiastic sketchers you could ever hope to meet, from around the world. You will be spoiled for ideas! And we are all friends there…with a shared passion for sketching. Happy days!