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Urban Sketching Summer Retreat on Madeline Island

Genre: Plein Air Painting

Urban Sketching Summer Retreat on Madeline Island

James Richards is an internationally recognized travel artist, urban designer, author, and educator based in Siesta Key, Florida. He is the author of the national award-winning book Freehand Drawing and Discovery: Urban Sketching and Concept Drawing for Designers. His popular Craftsy/Bluline online sketching tutorial, “Sketching the Energy of Places,” has enrolled over 6,000 students, and is now part of The Great Courses series. He is a former professor of design and drawing at The University of Texas at Arlington. He founded Urban Sketchers Texas, and serves USk as a blog correspondent, instructor and Advisory Board member.

James has visited and drawn great urban places in 45 countries around the world. His work has been widely published, shown in group and solo exhibitions and seen on NBC Nightly News. His watercolor sketches of Cuban sites related to the writer Ernest Hemingway’s life and work was the subject of his solo exhibition at the Nobel Prize-winning author’s home (now a national museum) near Havana during the 2015 Havana Arts Biennial. He is a frequent keynote speaker for conferences and symposia, and travels globally to teach travel sketching and design drawing workshops, most recently in Tuscany, Vietnam, Costa Rica, the UK, Kenya, and for art and design programs across the United States.



Topic: The Goods: Keys to Lively Travel and Urban Sketches

Join award-winning travel artist, designer and educator James Richards as he shares his key lessons and techniques from decades of travel and urban sketching across the globe. You’ll learn the ideas and methods behind Jim’s less rigid, more accessible approach to on-location sketching that goes beyond technical accuracy to capturing the essential character, life and energy of a special place. This is a rare opportunity for immersion in in-depth but light-hearted instruction that will expose you to new ideas, attitudes and skills to take your urban sketching to the next level.

Participants will learn:

  • Jim’s techniques for capturing trees, landforms, buildings and entourage.
  • A 5-step approach to creating lively eye-level perspectives.
  • Six techniques for enhancing the illusion of realism and depth.
  • Techniques for heightening the drama, energy and exuberance of your sketches.
  • Developing confidence and speed.

Paul Heaston received a BFA in painting from the University of Texas San Antonio in 2002 and an MFA in painting from Montana State University in 2008. He has maintained a daily sketching practice since 2007, filling over 150 sketchbooks in that time. Heaston has taught painting and drawing in Montana, Texas and Colorado, and has been a visiting artist at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma, Mesa State University in Grand Junction, Colorado and the University of Wyoming in Laramie. Additionally Heaston has taught sketching workshops and demos in Brazil, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Chicago through, a nonprofit with an educational mission that emphasizes sketching, drawing and painting on location. His work has been featured in several books about urban sketching and figure drawing. Heaston lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Linda and two daughters.


Instagram: @paulheaston

Topic: Point of View Sketching

You might have noticed a trend in urban sketching over the past few years: curved and leaning buildings, wide angle “fish eye” sketches, scenes that include the artist’s hands and sketchbook–sketches where the viewer seems to be placed right behind the eyes of the artist. How is this accomplished? In my workshop we will work on capturing one’s point of view in a sketch by learning a little bit about perspective, a little about composition, and a little about how to confidently record the information around you without being overwhelmed.

When we begin a sketch most of the time we select certain areas of our field of view and crop out the rest. This workshop will help you learn to capture your entire field of view in one sketch, to open up the “window” of the picture plane a little wider. We will cover how to economize detail so can tackle all that visual information without feeling intimidated. We’ll go over the basics of perspective in an intuitive way- no rulers or technical jargon involved, as well as how to “curve” perspective to make your sketch more immersive and expansive. And we’ll focus on sketching what you see, not what you “think” you see. At the end you will be able to produce a dynamic sketch full of visual interest, one that you feel you could walk right into, and one that could only come directly from your point of view.

Participants will learn:

  • Intuitive perspective concepts, as well as using curves to create wide angle perspectives
  • *Seeing* relationships between objects versus *naming/defining* objects
  • Understanding scale relationships and proportions
  • Foreshortening and angle-finding through “sighting”
  • Economizing visual information and selecting detail

Shari Blaukopf is a Montreal-based teacher, painter and sketch blogger who loves to travel and share her love of sketching. She’s the author of The Urban Sketching Handbook: Working with Color, and you can find her popular online courses Sketching Landscapes in Pen, Ink and Watercolor and Sketching the City in Pen, Ink and Watercolor on She’s been a part of the Urban Sketchers community since 2012 and has given many watercolor workshops both on her own and internationally through the Urban Sketchers Workshop Program. Her watercolors are in corporate, government and private collections in North America and abroad, and she’s a signature member of the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour.



Instagram: @sharisketcher

Topic: Exploring Color: Limited Palettes in Watercolor

You never know where accidents will take you. Recently some Cobalt Teal pigment leaked all over my palette, and the next time I went out to sketch I was determined to use it up. It made its way into all my sketches for quite a long time, and in the process it led me down a new path with colour. Most of us tend to always dip into the same wells: green for trees, blues for sky. But what if the sky is yellow? Or the trees purple? The idea for this workshop is to open participants’ minds: to give them fresh ideas and options for using vibrant and luminous combinations of colors, as we explore two and three-color combinations of pigments.

Participants will learn

  • To move out of their comfort zones and explore limited color palettes using bright, neutral and opaque mixes.
  • To see how painting the same scene in different ways changes our perception of the place.
  • To create luminous and harmonious sketches by limiting color
  • To defining value relationships and create lively darks through a wet-in-wet approach and modifying viscosity of paint

Uma Kelkar

Uma is an artist – engineer from San Jose, California. She is an award winning plein air artist with talents in other media including watercolor, ink, charcoal and Procreate. Her use of color harmony and composition gives her work its unique energy. Uma is a believer in cross pollination – she designs hi-tech chips and uses art to make her a better engineer. Uma teaches and exhibits nationally and internationally. She is a sole and contributing author to half dozen books on art.


Instagram: @umapaints

Topic: Elegance in Watercolors

Participants will learn how to employ just enough shapes, colors and strokes to achieve maximum impact. This is Uma’s definition of elegance. Exercises during the day will build up towards a final painting. We will focus on the technical skills at the beginning followed by discussion of elements of design and Uma’s philosophy of painting. We will also do a few verbal exercises that will help us to develop the artist’s eye. If you’ve always wanted to overcome the fear of wet on wet painting, rest assured that at the end of the workshop, you will feel more confident about approaching it independently. The workshop promises to be full of rigorous exercises and mental challenges which will strengthen your sketching skills.

Group time is a great opportunity to experience different perspectives within wet-on-wet style of painting. There will be 1-1 discussions at least twice a day and a critique at the end of the day.

Participants will learn:

  • How to overcome the fear of wet on wet painting
  • Watercolor design elements
  • Watercolor technical skills

Scheduled Workshops

No Upcoming Workshops