Trees and the City: a workshop in Ottawa, Canada

Sponsored by Winsor & Newton

Instructor: Shari Blaukopf

Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Date: September 30, 2017,

Morning session: 10 am -1:30 pm (full, wait list only)

Afternoon session: 2 pm – 5:30 pm (full, wait list only)

Workshop description

A landscape sketch is always more interesting when a built
element punctuates the flow of nature. The same is true of a city sketch. Trees
and plants soften and break up architecture and urban elements. Take a step
back from the asphalt and concrete to a grassy patch and you’ll see what I
mean. Place yourself in a green space and look at the city again. See how the
view shifts and becomes more human, accessible and dramatic. In this workshop
we’ll look at the city of Ottawa through the trees!

Learning goals

This workshop will be divided into two parts. The first part
will cover methods and techniques for drawing and painting individual trees and
other natural elements within the cityscape. The second part will cover
compositional decisions and framing techniques to create dynamic sketches.

In this workshop participants will:

  • Explore different ways of using trees to frame a composition
  • Simplify the shapes and lines of trees, while remaining
    faithful to each tree’s individual character
  • Learn techniques for confidently drawing and painting fresh
    and vibrant trees, branches and foliage using a combination of ink and
    watercolour wash
  • Discover methods for painting overlapping views of foliage
    and architecture

Workshop Schedule

Part 1: Techniques for drawing and simplifying trees

We will start with introductions and by looking at sample sketches
and discussing the workshop exercises and demos. We’ll move on to quick line
drawings of trees to loosen up, and look at techniques for conveying the uniqueness
of each tree, their shapes and contours, volumes and direction.

Next we’ll look at mixing green swatches from our palettes and
I’ll demonstrate quick techniques for painting trees by massing foliage, using
brush spatters and weaving branches in and out of foliage. We’ll look at lights
and darks in foliage, as well as texture on trunks and tree shadows.
Participants will have a chance to watch and paint.

Part 2: Composition with trees

In the second part of the workshop we’ll use trees to frame
our composition. Are there trees in the foreground, foliage that hangs
overhead, buildings that can be seen through the trunks? Quick thumbnail ideas
will help us compose our final sketches. There will be a demonstration and then
participants will work on their own thumbnails. We’ll review these and then
move on to the final sketch.

In this final sketch, students will choose and enlarge one
of their thumbnails that incorporates both trees and urban elements in a
dynamic composition. This can be either a close-up view or a panoramic scene.
This will be a more detailed sketch that incorporates both line and colour. I
will walk around for one-on-one instruction.  

In our last half hour the group will gather again to discuss and review the final

Supply list

  • Portable watercolour palette with a good variety of colours and fresh paint
  • Good quality watercolour sketchbook (Moleskine or other) or
    loose sheets of watercolour paper on a backing board
  • Small plastic water bottle
  • Brushes: medium size round or flat, small round or rigger
    brush for details and branches
  • Pencil, pen for drawing (I use a mechanical pencil and a
    Platinum Carbon EF desk pen for drawing)
  • Bulldog clips, kneaded rubber eraser, paper towels
  • Small folding stool

Workshop Registration and Cost:

Registration Fee: $55 CDN*

Contact Shari Blaukopf at for registration information,
space availability, and paypal link.

Maximum Number of Partipants 15 (minimum 10) All levels

*Please note: cancellations up to September 10, 2017 will be
refunded the full amount minus a cancellation fee of $20.00, and
no refunds will be granted after that date. Thank you for your

About Shari Blaukopf

Shari Blaukopf is a Montreal-based graphic design teacher,
illustrator, sketch blogger and correspondent for Urban Sketchers. She has a
BFA from Concordia University with a specialization in graphic design, but her
true love has always been watercolour painting.

She is co-founder of Urban Sketchers Montreal and has given
many watercolour workshops both on her own and through the Urban Sketchers
Workshop Program in Chicago, Manchester, Barcelona, Singapore, Galway, Montreal
and Portland. Her watercolours are in corporate, government and private
collections in Canada, the United States and abroad, and she is a signature
member of the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour. You can find her
online courses Sketching Landscapes in Pen, Ink and Watercolor and Sketching
the City in Pen, Ink and Watercolor on

These days she spends her winters inside the classroom
teaching graphic design to college students and her summers outdoors, giving
watercolour workshops and painting the urban landscape.


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