Category Archives: Luis Ruiz

USK Barcelona DAY 1 Luis Ruiz Workshop

The Urban Sketching Symposium is a three-day workshop at which artists from around the world meet to draw and learn together in the host city. It includes field sketching sessions, lectures, panels, exhibits and artists demos. Symposium participants get one-on-one interaction with local and international workshop instructors coming to the host city from every corner of the world.

Barcelona was the host city of this year’s event in July. Past Symposiums were held in Santo Domingo (2012), Lisbon (2011), and Portland, USA (2010)

Urban Sketchers, is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising the artistic, educational and storytelling value of on-location drawing, promoting its practice and helping sketchers around the world connect with each other.
In Sydney on March 25 in Sydney Liz, Chris & I synchronized our watches and stayed up til midnight to be one of the 150 participants to register and enroll in the workshops. Lots of emails between us all and Esther in Edinburgh ! But what a buzz

Symposium attendees chose up to five urban sketching workshops out of a rich menu that covers a wide range of subject matter, including perspective and architecture, picture design, storytelling and reportage, color techniques and more.

 What workshops I chose and why

Each workshop was well described on the website before and had stated goals In the end I successfully enrolled in workshops that I thought would help me build and grow my urban sketching knowledge. There were instructors whose art and blogs I had enjoyed and admired so much. However, some of them were teaching workshop themes that I did not want to learn in those three precious days. I managed to say hello to them at some time during the Symposium.

I took something valuable away from each workshop I enrolled in . It may not have always been the main aim of the workshop (sorry instructors) , but I took something away. I heard it described a “CLICK” moment and I think this sums it up – Either confirming. establishing in words something I was aware of, and tightening it up, new concept -opening my eyes.

There were also pre-workshop Panel sessions, Demos and Lectures from 2-4pm . I made a decision for my health not to go to these but instead to go back to lovely hotel, relax and rest my feet and head–.I also was going back to the hotel at 9pm when others were heading out to dinner. It was the best choice for me.

Here are some short (3-4 min) YouTube videos  I found online that show  the Urban Sketchers Symposium. They give you an idea of what it was like ! Brilliant

Now  that I am home it is up to me to put all the my Workshop experiences into practice. Some of the CLICK moments I can see on my pages or I know that I when I am applying it in my drawing.

My extraordinary experience


Day One began by going to the central CCCB centre and collecting the Symposium sponsor (ie goodies) bag and necktag with name in BIG LETTERS. You could spot a USK-er in the street and chat to them


We went back to our hotel to drop off out bag and I really didn’t get a chance to look though it properly til I got to London four days later) I had decided to use my usual Moleskine watercolor sketchbook everyday and do my workshops sessions a in a sponsors book, a specially embossed Stillman & Birn Heavy Weight Paper 150 gsm Ivory sketchbook that would take my watercolour pencils (the known) while learning the unknown. I did not want to challenge myself too much at once !

Then back to the Auditorium for the Opening Ceremony – a wonderful a warm welcome from the panel and Swasky. 

The we all headed  out to the  CCCB central forum that we would get to now so well. You then looked for your Workshop letter held in the air by the Instructor .

The workshops took place in emblematic Barcelona squares, streets and other public spaces such as Plaça Reial, Mercat de la Boqueria and Rambla del Raval, to name a few. Each workshop took 3 hours and was limited to a maximum of 17 participants) Each day had wonderful weather (except for that day it rained) It was 26 degrees – hat and sunburn cream each day.


It was a thrill to be in the wonderful Luis Riuz’s workshop
I wish I had taken more notes on paper on the day, but I was too busy living the moment and soaking it all up.

Workshop I 10 – 1pm 
Actors and Stage
Instructor: Luis Ruiz
Location: Pla dels Àngels, MACBA



Drawing in an urban context means being exposed multiple stimuli; the city is a complex environment from the visual point of view. You cannot capture on your sketchbook everything that is going on. It is perhaps preferable to select some story that has caught your attention and is worth to be told. The street and its architecture are the stage, and there each actor plays a role. And… actors are not always people! A building, a van, a dome or tower can play a role too.


Learning goals

  • Selecting what is important and what can be left out of the drawing.
  • Using the empty space of the paper as an active element.
  • Capturing the depth of the urban space: Actors play their role in the scenery.
  • Avoiding getting lost with the details. Do not draw everything!!
  • Leading the watcher’s eye to the desired place of the sketch

My Workshop Sketches

selecting what is important

Avoiding getting lost with the details. Do not draw everything!!

My Takeaway

Repetition – when sketching buildings down a street- don’t get lost in the details. Getting lost in the detail of architecture is something I struggle with and I now have a methods to put into place. For this sketch I did not even count the number of balconies and windows. Of course Sydney streets do not have those long buildings of Europe, but it is the concept that I can put in place.


The sketch above was THE BEST one hour –very self indulgent. At first, I thought that the washing and balcony was the feature of the little street, but it I realised it was the people in the street leading the eye. After getting the tight perspective right I added the people, then the repetition of he windows and balconies . Everything help directs the eye


Then we looked at each other sketchbooks – Amazing art by everyone!!
Then tapas lunch for all. I sketched mine of course (it was Esther’s as well, so she was patient to wait)

 all of my Barcelona sketches are on flickr