10x10 USK Workshops: Teaching Shapes and Learning Reflections

April 27, 2017 | 5 Comments

Last Saturday we had another 10×10 day here in Sydney. This is part of the celebrations of Urban Sketchers’ 10 year anniversary and happening all around the world. I taught a workshop all about how to paint complex scenes in shapes – how starting with shapes helps simplify the scene, strengthens your sketch and is much faster than traditional ink then wash.

We were at one of my favourite areas of Sydney – Miller’s Point – and sketching a highly complex building – the Palisade Hotel. It was amazing how all the crazy details of the building could be simplified into one shape.

This is a quick demo of the second exercise showing the main shapes.

I also talked about the importance of looking at the sky shape and paying attention to the shapes in the foreground and the way they overlap.

At the end of the workshop I did a partial demo showing how I alternate between line and colour and how many things I am thinking about while doing my initial shape – the overall shape, relationships of edges, leaving gaps for windows, and making decisions about hue and value.  But once I have done that, the rest of the sketch is simple!

We had a varied group – experienced artists to people just starting sketching – but everyone’s work was outstanding.

There were some exquisite watercolour work produced during the morning! Thanks everyone for being such an inspiring group to teach.


In the afternoon I joined Judy Salleh‘s wonderful workshop on painting boats and reflections. I learnt so much! ‘Boats and reflections’ is a topic that’s on my ”to develop further” list so this step by step workshop was just what I needed.

Her technique (on the left) has four steps, but at the very end of the workshop, she also showed us a super simple one step process.

I spent most of the afternoon taking photos and observing, but right towards the end decided to have a go – trying to merge Judy’s techniques with my own way of working. This is the result.

I was so inspired that I went home, looked up a few other artist’s work and did some more experiments. To get the best results you have to wait between washes. That is not what I like to do so I am exploring ways to find a good compromise. I’m also looking for more expressive/textured ways to paint water.

Thanks Judy for an outstanding workshop and really inspiring me to explore a new subject matter.

Oh! It was so good to get my creative juices pumping and my mind buzzing with new ideas.


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