With a little help from my friends

Sketch Spain group

Sketch Spain group

This post is about others –  the other sketchers whom I was lucky to spend time with on my recent trip to Spain. Why was I lucky? Because I learned rather a lot from them. The group may be surprised by this statement, as many are new-comers to sketching and are rather modest about their outcomes. But they have an approach to their sketching, that I, as a long-standing ‘sketcher’ lack.


Amèlia’s rooftop scene Valencia

Someone once told me that ‘one can know too much’, and I believe I quietly scoffed at that notion. But, in some ways it is true. I have developed a style, which is fine, and like to use pencil and charcoal over other mediums. I have become proficient in this area. Okay, I hear you saying, what’s wrong with that? Nothing in itself, except it has made me reluctant to step out of my comfort zone and try new things (as much as I protest that I would like to). This is where my learning comes from observing others; not just from the tutor Tony who led the group, but the students who showed they were not inhibited by ‘knowing too much’. They welded those pens and paints as if they were born to it.

Peter’s boats at Lake Albufera, and interior at Sagrada Familia (below) show good perspective and use of colour.

petes boats

pets sagara famiia

The groups’ shyness turned to pleasure as the days wore on, just from sketching. The tutor, as I have mentioned before, was always positive, and that positivity fed their output. They weren’t coy about putting paint to paper, and letting colours meld together, as I have been, tending to overwork a piece until it’s ‘muddy’, and so backing off from using watercolour at all.

I stood beside many of them as we looked upon the same buildings, or balconies. Did they move off and find something else to sketch like I often did? NO. They took out their pens and sketched, and made a damned good job of whatever confronted them.

The freedom in Shirley’s line is great in the balcony sketch below. Nice movement and colour Shirley.

debs cordova

Deb, clearly kept sketching as she moved on to Cordoba and sent me ‘Staying in touch’.

Inie's tower

Inie did this terrific pen and watercolour sketch above, sitting in front of Torres de Serranos, the Valencian gates I turned away from, preferring  to sketch a street corner to one side.  A lesson learned here for me, that’s for sure.

Chris's pic

Chris, who was unsure about popping several small images on a page, rather than filling a page with one image, showed us that there are many ways to create a good sketch by paring down the detail into sections. She shows a flair for design.

Sagrada Familia Amelia HF (2)


Amèlia did this lovely spontaneous sketch of Sagrada Familia (right), showing the construction that continues 93 years following Antoni Gaudi’s death.

With a building consent finally issued may Gaudi finally be able to rest in peace. And, I dare say New Zealand architect Mark Burry, who spent decades as senior architect and researcher on the Sagrada Familia building project, will feel relief and satisfaction when the last towers are set in place. After all, it is 137 years since the construction of the cathedral was begun.










The quality of work improved for all of the group over the twelve days we sketched, and I loved watching this happen. All the sketchers now have a quality they can proudly call their own, whether it be a strength in contour-line using pen, or with water colour. It is my pleasure to have shown some of the work that they achieved on our recent Sketch Spain Trip. May we all be able to join together in this way again.

Thanks a bunch you guys.


5 thoughts on “With a little help from my friends

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