Expressing The West! Urban Sketching in Galway City, 17th-19th August 2018



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Galway, in the west of Ireland, is one of the country’s most vibrant and colourful towns, full of music and life. It’s a great place to hunt down what urban sketchers love the most – stories. In Galway there’s the story of a west coast town: the sea and waterways that mark the city’s maritime past, the buskers that make walking down the main street a sideshow in itself and the colourful buildings that hint at the quirky Irish character. They all combine to make Galway a treasure trove for what we love doing best – sketching.

Róisín Curé is a longtime resident of Galway. This summer, she is delighted to welcome the wonderful Pat Southern-Pearce to join her for a three day Urban Sketching Workshop to take place at various locations, indoors and out, across the city of Galway. They will take two very different approaches to give participants as broad a learning experience as possible.

Meet the Instructor – Pat Southern-Pearce

Photo of Pat
Pat, from the North of England, was a USk tutor at both Manchester and Chicago Symposiums. She travels the world and the UK teaching workshops and had sketches on Exhibition last year in Venice. A 2017 highlight was a gardens’ weekend workshop in Washington State. This year, it’s joining a team of tutors in Malaga for their Malagrafica Event, funded by the Spanish Tourist Board.

Meet the Instructor – Róisín Curé

Ro in the Algarve
Róisín is from the mountains of Wicklow on the east coast of Irlenad, south of Dublin. She has taught many local and international workshops, and is an instructor in the USk Symposium in Porto this coming July. A highlight of 2018 (so far) was a sketch tour of the Algarve region of Portugal in collaboration with the Tourism Board of Portugal and Urban Sketchers.

Everyone will spend a full day with both Róisín and Pat, each taking half the group and swapping around. Róisín’s workshop will be based outdoors, with a rainy day location in reserve. Pat’s will be an indoors workshop in the morning and outdoors in the afternoon.

Maximum group size on the days will be 12. Day 3 will be a day of demos with the full group: Róisín in the morning and Pat in the afternoon.

Pat’s Workshop

Using toned paper, Pat will ask you to work with watercolour pencils and crayons, all used dry without water.
Topics covered will be:

How to create a sensitive line
Expressive skies
The use of whites
“Catching the moment”

She will provide her favourite kraft paper for each person.

Here is a sheet with the materials Pat likes to use:

Pat's handout, photo by Pat Southern-Pearce
Pendle, sketch by Pat Southern-Pearce
Henley, sketch by Pat Southern-Pearce
Whitstable, sketch by Pat Southern-Pearce

Róisín’s Workshop

Róisín will ask you to work in watercolour sketchbooks (see brands below) and the media used will be pen and ink and watercolour.

We will look at Galway’s unique signage and street life, all the while considering:

Colourful and creative signage
Telling a story through signs and their settings
Making colours pop, repeating colours that occur in signage
Capturing people in motion – buskers, musicians etc.


You will be using a watercolour sketchbook of your choice. Róisín recommends A5 size. Some nice brands: Laloran (available from – they are handmade), Fabriano Venezia and Fabriano Watercolour. But you can bring whichever is your favourite.

Róisín will supply waterproof ink for everyone by De Atramentis in Document Brown so please bring an empty fountain pen with a charger. She will bring a syringe just in case.

Don’t forget your stool as you will be outside much of the time.

Here is Róisín’s sketch kit:

Róisín's travel kit, photo by Róisín Curé
Fishery Watchtower, Galway, Watercolour by Róisín Curé
Galway City Museum, Watercolour by Róisín Curé
McDonaghs, Galway, Watercolour by Róisín Curé

Thursday evening, 6pm, The House Hotel (change of plan!)

We will kick off the workshop with a meet-and-greet in the House Hotel in the heart of Galway. It’s on Spanish Parade a minute or two off the main street. Once you’re onto Quay Street take a left towards the Docks and it’s close to the main street.

Evenings of Thursday 16th-Saturday 18th August: Galway is heaving with music pubs. I love traditional Irish music above all and it’s wonderful to watch these skilled and passionate people doing what they love best – playing music that expresses the rural Irish character, present and past. I would love to take anyone who’s up for it into a few of these pubs where we can sample a pint of Guinness, and with a bit of luck you can put into practice the techniques for sketching people you will have covered with me, space permitting! There’s no need to book this in advance – we are very spontaneous in Galway and there is room for everyone, even if we have to find a less-crowded pub! This will be from about 8.30 – 9.00pm onwards and everyone is free to come and go as they please.

Friday 17th and Saturday 18th August – Pat:

09:00 – 12:30 (3.5 hrs):

Pat’s morning workshop will have demos, drawing through windows, lots of hands-on practical, structured and sequential teaching.
She will cover quality of line, expressive line, “catching the moment” with skies and sunlight, and capturing of shapes against the sky, treating sketches like paintings – not just drawing and colouring in; colour blending and “not drawing every brick”.

Focus media will be fountain pen for drawing and watercolour pencils and crayons, all used dry.
Lettering will feed in too, bringing with it a feeling of balance, breath and composition.

A hand-titled Seawhite of Brighton Kraft Paper Starter Sketchbook will be provided for everyone, to work in and take away.

12:30 – 2.00: Lunch break

14:00 – 17:30: (3.5 hrs)

After lunch Pat will begin with a demo, out on location, showing issues of: what to choose, how to fit in what drew the eye initially, working all over a sketch at once, unifying with colour – and leaving spaces.

Lettering will be added to the afternoon’s sketches on site.

18:30 – Break for dinner

Friday 17th and Saturday 18th August – Róisín:

09:00 – 12:30 (3.5 hrs):

Signs in their Settings:

We aim to draw a very “Galway” sign, full of colour and creativity.
We discuss and learn how to put into practice making sketching a sign really easy.

I demo by sketching the sign. With a scratchy nib using grey ink, I draw the overall sign, then rough out a shape for each letter, drawing shapes within shapes. The correct lines will be picked out in a darker pen, a Sailor in black ink, then the sign will be painted.

The participants will be asked to sketch and paint a sign following my technique.

Drawing the Setting:

I explain how the students will build on these techniques for this next stage. I explain how we’re going to reduce any intimidating detail into swift scribbles.

I will reinforce what we’ve just done with a quick sketch, using the same technique of rectangles and subdividing. Then I will demo how to reduce detail into simple brush strokes and scribbles.

The participants will now put this into practice, choosing and sketching a colourful building, or a colourful detail of the sign’s setting. They will emphasise the colour palette they’ve seen in the sign, and try to leave out colours that don’t harmonise with the whole.

Creative Journalling:

I explain how a well-chosen piece of journalling is not just great fun but a super memory aid, and also how it can enhance the overall look and feel of the page.

I will then demo my approach to journalling, referencing the colours I’ve already used for the lettering / building.

The participants will now add their own journalling to the page, using their choice of lettering: either based on the sign they have written, or on one of the fonts in the handout, or in speech bubbles.

12:30 – 2.00: Lunch break

14:00 – 17:30: (3.5 hrs)

Light and Shade: The beauty of light in a sketch. How to look for a scene that has dramatic light.

How to break light and shade down into simple terms in a visual sense. Keeping the whites of a page. Building layers to increase the sense of light and shadow. Using one shade of blue or blue-grey to get to grips with light and shade.

18:30 – Break for dinner

Sunday 19th August:

Both groups come together for the third day, which will be gentler and more geared towards people’s individual needs.

Morning – Pat will give a demo, incorporating all the topics which you will have covered, which the entire group will watch, followed by a sketchcrawl during which you will have hands-on help from Pat for any issues related to the techniques she has taught.


Afternoon – Róisín will give a demo (as above), incorporating the topics she has taught, followed by a sketchcrawl during which you will have hands-on help from Róisín for any issues relating to issues of composition, light and shade and people.


You never know what the weather is going to do in Galway. It could be scorching and it could be freezing. It could rain and we could have a drought. So the only answer is to bring layers and make sure to bring a warm jacket that allows you to sketch. If it rains we’ll be indoors but I have taken to bringing a small fold-up umbrella with me so that I don’t have to down tools during a brief shower. But rain means cold, no matter how brief a shower, so a jacket is imperative. I also make sure to bring a peaked cap as the light can be very intense at these northern latitudes!

Registration Fee

€260 per student
To book, please use the booking form provided. A deposit of €60 will secure your place (this is non-refundable), with the balance due before May 31st 2018.
Non-artist partners may attend at no extra cost
Not included: Transportation to and from Galway, accommodation, meals

We will have a minimum of 16 and a maximum of 28 students.

For more info or to register:

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    Interest has been greater than expected so please don’t delay if you are interested in attending this workshop.


    Here are some places where you might think of staying:
    (based on location only – Róisín has not stayed in them!)
    Victoria Hotel
    Galmont Hotel
    Skeffington Arms Hotel
    Spanish Arch Hotel
    House Hotel
    Harbour Hotel
    Jurys Inn
    Barnacles Hostel
    Hotel Meyrick
    Park House Hotel

    Lots more hotels and hostels are available, anything close to those is perfect. Alternatively you might wish to get an Air B&B as there is a lot of choice in Galway City.

    Terms and Conditions

    (1) Places in the workshop are strictly limited to 24. This does not include companions, whom we will do our best to accommodate.
    (2) This workshop is based on a minimum of 16 people attending.
    (3) The workshop will be conducted in English.
    (4) The workshop will take place between 9.00am and 5.30pm from 17th to 19th August 2018.
    (5) It is the responsibility for the attendees and their companions to make their own way to the various starting points each morning in good time and to arrange their own departure from Galway after the workshop ends.
    (6) Please arrange your own insurance. You should arrange to insure against problems in all aspects of your travel, including flight cancellation, health problems, baggage loss or damage, or cancellation of the group tour booking.
    (7) The itinerary may be adjusted to accommodate unexpected closing of the attractions that are listed in the workshop. Alternative venues will then be arranged.
    (8) The weather may dictate that we have to work indoors. If this is the case, then suitable adjustments to the programme will be made, so that the workshop can continue.
    (9) We do not provide any art materials to the participants as standard, other than those specifically stated by the instructor. Please bring these with you. We have listed the items we think you should bring. If you wish us to source some art materials for you, then we can do this, at your own expense. Please contact us if you want us to get anything for you.
    (10) We cannot be held responsible for events beyond our control, such as floods, power cuts, storm damage, water shortages, drinking water contamination, leaks etc. We will try to help if we can to resolve any issues that arise.
    (11) The workshop fee does not include passport or visa fees, taxes, airfares, travel to and from Kent from your home, additional tips for good service. The workshop fee does not include optional or trip cancellation insurance (this is recommended). To be clear, the workshop fee does not include anything extra to that which has been specifically listed as being included in the workshop.
    (12) We cannot be held responsible for force majeure including (but are not limited to) strikes, breakdowns, illness, accidents, volcanic dust clouds, storms, war, terrorist acts, riots, floods, etc.

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