Pushing How to Look – A weekend in Bonn

In this workshop, we find out how to discover a city through Urban Sketching, exploring Bonn in particular, with its cultural heritage and geography and use sketching to collect stories and memories about the place.

Bonn, on the banks of the river Rhine, is one of Germany’s oldest cities and from 1949 to 1990 was the capital of West Germany, it has been retained as the second, unofficial, capital of Germany after unification. A University City and the hometown of Ludwig van Beethoven, it has numerous cultural and administrative buildings and a clear urban presence by the Rhine.

We will use Bonn Lab on the East side of the river as a base and meeting point and explore the links between the modern and older city across the river.


Swasky: We will work in storytelling, and find ways of approaching coming to a new city and discovering our story our experience to a new place and see it with a different eyes, a different sight.

“It is not the destination where you end up but the mishaps (anecdotes) and memories (drawings) you create along the way.”

Storytelling when we draw and when travel is an opportunity to keep track of our experience.

What captures your attention

Always, when we arrive to a place we first filter all the information through ourselves. Visual information is right in front of us: colours and shapes. Nevertheless a place is not only this it is also felt through sounds, smells and sensations that we perceive a place.

All along the first session we are going to experiment the place taking our feelings as a starting point and also being conscious of the whole experience from us.

What we know

Second session is devoted to the ideas, to the information, that part which gives an extra point of view to he places, then we qualify and make a combination with feelings and information, always through our “eyes”.

In my sessions, the focus will be on:

  • Working on the idea of storytelling following the classic rules as a starting point.
  • Training on developing threadlines, paying attention to details and those insignificant matters.
  • Bringing together our look and others.
  • Gaining knowledge from the experience on site and with later information.
  • Sorting out the whole information changes our approach and viewer’s/reader’s.
  • Storytelling and development of ideas.

Isabel: We will work in watercolour primarily, and find ways of approaching coming to a new city and discovering its history. We will choose locations for each session to paint in watercolours, first fast to get some impressions down quickly and then more calmly to focus in what interests each of you.

Two successive sketches above in the same place first breaking the ice and second, focused more on the atmosphere of the place and the main building.

We will practice watercolour mark making and layering to develop our sketches into more finished paintings. If needed further drawing marks can be added with pen or pencil afterwards.

Watercolour was the starting point of all the sketches above, focusing on light, movement, and atmosphere. Pencil and other marks were added afterwards, only if needed to sharpen the sketch and give additional information.


  • Pushing participants out of their comfort zone, at their own level. From beginners starting to sketch to more confident participants, we aim to teach you something new and push you outside your boundaries, helping you experiment.
  • Looking and finding stories in a new city
  • Losing the fear to draw people, drawing people on the go
  • Gain confidence drawing buildings, feeling the space in the city
  • Understanding what is essential for you when starting to draw a new place
  • Improving watercolour and drawing technique from basic principles.
  • Using and trying different approaches – line drawing with pens and pencils,watercolours and colour in different media.
  • Experiment with different techniques and ways of approaching a live sketch situation, helping you find your own self expression.


The course runs from Fri 12 evening to the Sunday 14 April 2019 afternoon. After a short welcome introduction, we start working straight away in two groups as follows:

Friday 12/4/19

4:30 – 5 Welcome at Bonn Lab

5 – 8 First evening session with Swasky and Isa

Saturday 13/4/19

9 to 9:30 Meet up at Bonn Lab

9:30 to 12:30 Morning session with Swasky and Isa

12:30 to 2:30 Lunch

2:30 to 5:30 Afternoon session with Swasky and Isa

6 pm Groups meet for sharing sketchbooks

Sunday 14/4/19

9 to 9:30 Meet up at Bonn Lab

9:30 to 12:30 Morning session with Swasky and Isa

12:30 to 2:30 Lunch and sharing of sketchbooks

2:30 Group photo


20 attendees maximum, 15 minimum, any level of experience is welcome


You will need to arrange your own accommodation and travel. To help you decide the area see the map of the workshop below. Suggested sites to look for a good range of accommodation: booking.com or airbandb.com

Travel: Cologne Bonn airport is the nearest airport, a 25 min bus ride from Bonn main station


£180 (fees are in GBP)

To book: e-mail Isabel: isabel@pushingyoursketchingboundaries.com for a registration form. (Payment can be via internet bank transfer or paypal – link here).

Cancellation policy: All fees are refundable if cancelled more than 6 weeks prior to commencement of course (up to 1 March 2019). Bank charges will be deducted for the refund in the case of an attendee cancellation. If cancelled after the 1 March up to to one week before the start of the course, a cancellation fee of £50 (60 Euros) will be retained. No refund will be possible one week before the course.In the event of too few registrants, all monies will be refunded.


You can find the workshop map here


This workshop combines the abilities of:

Isabel Carmona and

Victor Swasky


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