Swiss Urban Sketchers Symposium 2023

I’ve just returned from the most amazing few days in Zurich, Switzerland.

Back in late 2022 I was invited to be part of the Swiss Urban Sketchers Symposium as an instructor. I was deeply flattered to get the invite and the three days in Zurich were simply sensational. The city is a real spectacle with sweeping spires, colour, people and beautiful architecture around every corner.

With my teaching experience of the online Latvian Sketching festival during 2020,  the London Urban Sketchers 10th anniversary in 2022, with Derwent Art, and a wide range of separate workshops on sketching and painting across south west England, I felt well prepared to deliver workshops on the core topics of fast and fluid urban sketching. This time however I was spoilt by the sketching options of Zurich.

 My first three hour workshop kicked off 9:30am on day one of the symposium and we set off into the older quarter of Zurich. Around 15 of us navigated the extreme heat and found inspiration almost immediately in front of the spectacular Grossmünster Church.

We spent around 90 minutes here exploring a range of techniques that can help develop quicker and looser sketching. Most had enrolled to my course to try and free up their style to add a more dynamic feel. Once the line work exercises were complete, we explored the watercolour wash techniques so typical of my style. 

Following the line and wash exercises, we focused on the more theoretical use of perspective, scene measurement, composition and simplification of a scene. It’s all to easy to be overwhelmed by a scene unless you set some parameters to what you’ll sketch. When sketching on location, the challenge is to take a large scene and make it work smaller without cramping the space or losing the rhythm of the view. My workshops are all about creating artful and personal interpretations rather than a photographic replica. 

The second workshop covered the same initial topics at the Grossmünster Church however for the perspective lesson we tackled a 1 point perspective with an emphasis on accurately sketching windows and foreground elements to convey depth.

After the second workshop I setup for an hours sketching and painting demo with a captive audience. This was a real treat and I was super keen to capture the heat and majesty of such a beautiful city. I concentrated on capturing the church that had dominated my first two days.

My free day of sketching allowed me to explore Zurich with no lessons, for this I took to the lake and the old town and captured a mixture of architecture and people on a busy Saturday morning.  My two final works were part of the symposium auction and they sold very well! All proceeds going to next years event in Neauchatel. 

A wonderful three days!

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