USK Workshop: Pushing How to Look in Tel Aviv – Cancelled

We are sorry to announce that the Workshop and Retreat in Tel Aviv have been cancelled due to CoVid 19. We look forward to the future when we are able to draw together again .

Founded in 1909, on the outskirts of Jaffa, Tel Aviv [ Tel Aviv-Yafo ( Hebrew : תֵּל־אָבִיב–יָפוֹ – Tel Aviv-Yafo [tel aˈviv ˈjafo] ; Arabic : تَلّ أَبِیب – یَافَا – Tall ʾAbīb – Yāfā )] is located in the Israeli Mediterranean coastline and has a population of almost half a million inhabitants. It is the home of many of the foreign embassies and has over 2.5 million international visitorsannually. A university city, it has a lively nightlife and 24-hour culture. Food is an important part of the culture and Tel Aviv is known as the World’s Vegan Food capital. Tel Aviv’s White City was designated a Unesco World Heritage site in 2003; it comprises the world’s largest concentration of International Style buildings, including Bauhaus and other relatedmodernist architectural styles.

(Text adapted from Wikipedia)


In Tel Aviv, we are proposing a new format: a 3 day workshop with three instructors, with two sessions per day, for a maximum of thirty people (ten people per group), with the option of continuing with a 3 day retreat, for a maximum of fifteen people, where each participant will spend a whole day with each instructor, receiving more personal guidance and exploring ideas for the development of the participant’s personal style.

At enrolment, participants can choose to do either the 3 day workshop or the 3 day workshop followed by the 3 day retreat. Places for the retreat are limited to 15

Below the workshop and retreat sessions of each instructor are explained.

For prices and to book: go to the end of the post 

Workshop Sessions


This session will look at the space around us, the streets, the squares and the activities, the people and we will capture on the page that sense of space of being present here and now, between the sky and the ground, in TelAviv.

We will look up to the sky to see the contours and outlines of the buildings, we’ll feel their weight and proportions and rhythms to make them present on the ground. We will learn to feel the space, what is free space and what is built up or occupied and transfer this to our drawings.

But space is not empty but occupied with people and activities of interest to telling the story of a place. Urban sketching is about telling stories. We will work in colour to draw both setting and story, drawing out what interests us. We will work in watercolour and other media to show the story as it happens, in full colour.

Starting with quick watercolour washes, we will play at highlighting the setting or the action within the overall picture. We will start with colour exercises to set the street scenes where we can overlay people’s activities as they happen.

Then we will reverse our approach, capturing in colour people’s action on the street, and later outlining the setting/the scene of what they do.

From there we can progress to more complex scenes of activity or busy architecture.

The colour will serve as the background to the drawing scene. Line work and detail can then be selective to help us focus where we want the sketch attention to go.

We’ll work fast, to capture the essence of the scene quickly. And then we’ll paint the scene again, with more layers to add complexity to the same view.

Colour blocks will help us break the scene into manageable areas and to avoid worrying later on about spoiling a neatly drawn picture.

In these sessions you’ll learn about:

  • looking at the scene that you want to draw
  • feeling the space you are in and drawing it, no matter your position within the space
  • understanding space as something between heaven (sky) and earth (ground)
  • working in watercolour directly and adding line over it
  • working at different speeds
  • populating space with activity


It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child. (Pablo Picasso)

A good sketch is like magic. It can capture action, movement, emotion and time – it can capture life itself! But how do we make this magic happen?

Sketching people is perhaps one of the hardest tasks for a sketcher but also the most fascinating and enjoyable. Drawing people that are moving and interacting, is even more challenging. But the feeling of overcoming the challenge is so good – nothing seems difficult after you managed to capture a dancing couple or children playing soccer!

It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an experienced sketcher, we all have a common enemy – our own FEAR! It can be the fear of a white page, fear of making a mistake, fear of spoiling our beautiful drawing, fear of drawing people and so on… We’ll talk about our fears and try to understand what prevents us from being free and will try to break them up! We’ll remind ourselves the joy of drawing we felt when we were kids!

This workshop is about sketching people in action, but not in the traditional academic approach. It’s not about anatomical modelling and measuring proportions, which is good to know, but we are not going to do it here.

We’ll draw as many people as we can, trying different approaches. We’ll start with a series of fun exercises that will help us to get going without fear, to free ourselves from working automatically and to get out from our comfort zone.

In our final exercise we’ll create multi-figure drawing, capturing movement and space, free of fear andfull of fun.

Part I – Free Yourself!

In the first part of the workshop we’ll do a series of fast sketches that will help us to free up and to lose control:

Capture Faces:

  • Blind contour – drawing without looking at the paper. Continuous drawing.
  • Capture emotions – understand facial expressions and gestures.
  • Exaggerate (Caricature) – use of the grotesque

A short demo of sketching portraits will be shown.

Capture Bodies:

  • From memory – drawing without looking at the model. (how to observe, looking at the whole figure, capture essentials)
  • Semi-blind contour
  • Cubistic drawing (capture passage of time and movement)

A short demo of sketching people in action will be shown.

Part II – Capture Movement, Time and Space.

We’ll create multi-figure drawing, capturing people in movement in their surroundings. We’ll talk aboutthe influence of composition:

  • Format
  • Static/Dynamic
  • Planes

We’ll draw people in action, using the approaches we tried out in our freeing up exercises.

Capturing a group of people in movement is very challenging, but we will break it up into small steps, create a possible flow, and will leave in the process a lot of room for improvising and experimenting.

We’ll make sure that each character we draw will appear as specific and authentic as possible, so that they are not a general representation of people, but personalities, of which we would be able to say: “hey, I know this guy!”

A short demo of possible sketching processes, using mixed technique, will be shown.

At the end of the session participants will introduce their stories and share experiences.

In my sessions, the focus will be on:

  • breaking free from automatic approaches and choices
  • connecting to the emotional side of drawing
  • improving hand-eye coordination
  • improving the ability of observation
  • capturing the movement and body language
  • switching off control and enjoy the process
  • researching, experimenting and drawing for the sake of drawing
  • enjoying the process without thinking about the result


“ The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. ”

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, the information, that part which gives an extra point of view to the 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 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.


  • 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.
  • Drawing as a tool to look further
  • Looking and finding stories of everyday life
  • 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. 

Retreat Sessions


For my long day session we’ll take a guided walk and explore some of the history and architecture of the city, using watercolours, and other media, to record the experience.

First thing in the day, we’ll explore various ways of working in watercolour (and other media) and how each may feel different in the mood they express.

Each will choose a way of working during the guided walk and we will then take the walk, with stops for sketching of various time lengths.

When working fast we will use a vignette approach to convey a series of details quickly and collect as much information as possible fast.

When working slower, we will think of the possibilities of adding more layers to the sketch.

After the walk, and lunch, each participant will choose a view (or views) to explore in a larger format, with more time and decide which technique, level of detail and elements are of greater interest. Text can also be added to the drawings to add information.

Along the way any question of technique, composition, style can be discussed at will. All in all it will be an intense day painting the city in detail.


Be a tourist – create your travel journal!

For my long day session I want you to join me sketching on one of Tel Aviv beaches – one of my favorite sketching locations!

Sketching is a lot of things. But most of all, sketching for me is a way to enjoy the pleasure of drawing for its own sake and a very fun way to go to a journey every day without travelling far. When I sketch, I really observe the surroundings, watch what’s happening, enter strangers’ lives, and discover their stories.

Sketching is not only about technical skills and techniques. It is not about whether the results are good or bad. It is about the process of looking, organising, thinking, wondering, questioning, imagining and communicating and enjoying yourself!

We will focus on process and not on results. We’ll allow ourselves to get lost, to deviate from the path, to “waste” time.

We’ll dedicate proper time for observation. Sketching isn’t just the physical action of adding lines and shapes on the paper. The most important factor is to pay attention, to see and to experience life and the nature of the place, and then we can put our expression in a more specific visual form on the paper – that way we remember the place and situation we experienced even better.

We’ll focus on storytelling, trying less to create “pretty pictures” and more to tell a story. Like a real tourist, we’ll get to a journey and will create real voyage journal! 

1. Connect, observe, experience

  • Watch carefully, take a turn, sit down and try to absorb what is happening around you
  • Try to think what characterizes the place, what represents it, what its energy, what mood it recalls in you, which associations…

2. Collect, write, record, draw

Write down what you have experienced with words, maps, thumbnail sketches, sequence sketches, collect objects around.

3. Combine everything together and create your travel journal!

Combine and paste drawings you created, objects you collected, add the texts. Add more sketches to link between them, add more points. Try to recreate what you felt when you experienced the place. What colors stand out on the site? How can color convey the feeling, the weather?

At the end of the day each one will present his/her travel journal, personal visual story of the Tel Aviv beach.


All these years I have been struggling with the idea of working on site and use the minimum number of tools. It is not an easy job but now that I’m more skilled and I have reduced the number of drawing tools I carry in my backpack. Lately, I’m working with two of the most exciting drawing tools: coloured pencils and acrylic markers.

Both are a really fun tools because they force you to distil the essence of what you want to draw. Reducing our palette and mixing both tools we are going to capture great stories and pay attention to the intrinsic nature of spaces and moments.


  • Have time to develop observation and technical drawing skills in depth
  • Push further your composition and storytelling skills
  • Create a travel journal with various approaches to urban sketching
  • Work at varying speeds and adapt your technique to suit the time available
  • Have time to think about and develop your own style of drawing 

Time schedule

The workshop runs from Tues 7 to the Thu 9 July with a welcome meeting on Mon 6 evening and a sketch meet on Fri 10 with the local urban sketchers. We also meet each evening for drink and draw sessions.

The retreat that follows the workshop runs from Sat 11 to Mon 13 July


Mon 6 July

6pm  Welcome at our base at Abraham Hostel .Introductions and drinks after (only for the course group)

Tues 7, Wed 8 & Thu 9 July

9:30am -10:30am  Welcome and get together at our base. Wed &Thu – pin up exhibition from previous day’s work

10:30am-1:30pm   Morning workshops with Swasky, Marina and Isabel

1:30pm – 3:30pm   Lunch

3:30pm – 6:30pm   Afternoon workshops with Swasky, Marina and Isabel

7:00pm   Evening all groups meet up and share.  Drink and Draw with local group

Fri 10 July   Exhibition and sketch meet with local group

10:00 – 11:00 am   Meet at Abraham Hostel from 10 for coffee and open exhibition.

11:00am – 1:00pm  Sketch meeting – open to all. Join us for lunch if you want


Sat 11, Sun 12 & Mon 13 July

9:30 – 10:30 am    Welcome and get together at our base. Groups divide and each goes with one instructor.

10:30am – 6:30pm  Each group spends the day with either Swasky, Marina or Isabel. Each group stays together all day till the evening.  There will be a lunch break of approx. 1:30 to 2 hrs depending on where the group is and has lunch etc.

7:00pm  Evening all groups meet up and share.  Drink and Draw with local group.


Tel Aviv workshop map here .


  • Workshop: 30 attendees maximum, 18 minimum. Any level of experience is welcome.
  • Retreat: 15 attendees maximum, 9 minimum. Attendance to the workshop required. 


Attendees need to make their own travel and accommodation arrangements for the duration of the event.

With regards accommodation, as a suggestion the following local hostel: will have a special price available for the course participants. Other options are looking in and/or


A list detailing what to bring to the workshop will be provided for participants. We will be working with water soluble media, ink, watercolours and marker pens.


  • Workshop only: £300 – (£240 concessions – 20% discount for students or unwaged, with proof of concession status).
  • Workshop + Retreat: £600 – (£480 concessions – 20% discount for students or unwaged with proof of concession status).


Follow the button link below to buy your ticket. Choose either workshop (3 days) or retreat (6 days) ticket an and fill in participant details at check out. An automatic confirmation will be sent to you once the purchase is made.

If you wish to claim the concession rate:

Please e-mail: with proof of status. Once agreed we’ll issue you a personal code to make your discounted purchase.


Cancellation policy: All fees are refundable if cancelled more than 6 weeks prior to commencement of course (up to 25 May 2020). Bank charges will be deducted for the refund in the case of an attendee cancellation. If cancelled after the 25 May up to two weeks before the start of the course, a cancellation fee of £50 will be retained. No refund will be possible two weeks before the course. In the event of too few registrants, all monies will be refunded.


This workshop and retreat combines the skills of


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