The Urban Sketching Summer Retreat is among MISA’S most popular offerings. The week provides a full immersion workshop experience at one of America’s most scenic seashores, where Madeline Island’s stunning landscapes and shoreline meet the beautiful port town of Bayfield, with its historic architecture, marinas, ferry landings and traditional main street. Both locations are known for their extraordinary light, color and character, with unlimited sketching sites.
Each day students will learn sketching techniques with one of four internationally recognized urban sketching instructors. Shari Blaukopf, Paul Heaston, Uma Kelkar and James Richards will share their skills and experience from decades of urban sketching around the globe. You will work with them from breakfast into late afternoon. In the evenings there will be gourmet dinners and wine, followed by optional evening talks, discussion and social time. Join us!
“I truly loved everything about this workshop experience! The four amazing instructors, the Art After Dark talks, the incredible MISA campus, and the food–to name a few!”
– Clare Putnam / MISA Alumni
“I don’t even have the words to explain what’s happening in my heart right now, but I’m going to try. Today was an absolute dream. There’s nothing quite like being surrounded by people with the same passion, and the urban sketching community is full of the most welcoming and warm people you’ll ever meet. There were moments I had to blink back a few tears from the amount of awe and gratitude filling up my heart, learning next to such an incredible group of sketchers. And hearing over and over again ‘man, that would be a great sketch!’ as we walk down the street.”
– Sam Nielsen / MISA Alumni
Instructor: James Richards (LINK to website)
Sketching Spirit of Place
Urban sketching is more than making drawings. It can be a tool for exploration and discovery of the essential character or “spirit of place” of a town, street or special site. We’ll discuss and make “visual notes” regarding the landscape, architecture, culture and traditions of the historic port town of Bayfield. Then, we’ll each create a composition that conveys our notion of Bayfield’s spirit of place, consisting of:
- An eye-level perspective of a scene of your choice, combined with
- Small sketches of interesting traditional details, such as streetlamps or signs, and
- “Found objects” and notes that recall an impression of Bayfield.
These elements arranged in a compelling composition—and always with a sense of play—will represent your own unique impression of this historic town. By workshop’s end, you’ll see city scenes in a different way.
Participants will learn:
- How to “read” a place for clues to its authentic character
- A 5-step process for creating lively eye-level perspectives
- Quick sketching techniques for capturing traditional details
- Tips for arranging a compelling composition that tells a story
Instructor: Paul Heaston (LINK to Instagram)
Sketching the Weathered and Worn
“Patina” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a surface appearance of something grown beautiful especially with age or use.” Oftentimes we choose a subject just because it has “character.” Things that are wrecked and rusty draw us in because they seem to tell a story. There is beauty in these hidden narratives; in the years of wear and tear, in the various dents and scuffs, missing paint and rough edges. This workshop will show you how to use pen and ink to capture the textures and details of “lived-in” places and things in order to find the story within. An old boat, a dilapidated barn, the rusted shell of an old car are all subjects we might seek out in this workshop. We will create detailed pen and ink sketches that honor the history of these subjects as we dive into how best to capture surfaces and textures in the absence of color media.
Participants will learn:
- Become familiar with fountain pen and ink wash
- Blocking in rough shapes and establishing a composition via thumbnails and pre-drawing
- Using ink and wash details to show the character and age of subject
- Work with a detailed subject without becoming overwhelmed
Instructor: Shari Blaukopf (LINK to Shari’s online classes)
Red Rocks and Emerald Waves: Capturing the Rugged Shores of Madeline Island
No sketchbook of Madeline Island would be complete without at least several pages devoted to the island’s location on historic Lake Superior. Clear emerald waters. Rugged shorelines of poplar, birch and maple. And above all, red sandstone bluffs overlooking secluded bays. This is precisely why the Apostle Islands are so widely celebrated. From a shady spot within Big Bay State Park, we will work on capturing the ever-shifting relations between water, waves, reflections, trees and skies. You will learn to simplify a complex scene, using a big wet brush and the fewest possible strokes to create a sense of spontaneity and freshness: in the shadowed rocks, in the gently lapping waters, and in the varied greens that frame these enchanting scenes.
Participants will learn:
- Edges: How to use the right brush at the right time to get the best edge on water, trees and rocks
- Wetness: It’s all about knowing when to have a dripping wet brush for waves or a dry one for texture on rocks
- Reflections: These are simpler than you think — especially once you see how I paint them wet-in-wet
- Colour Saturation: The freshest results come from getting the right amount of pigment on your brush the first time. Put it down and leave it alone!
- Greens: The most interesting hues for foliage and trees come from your palette, not from a tube. You’ll learn to mix varied greens that make a scene more lively and interesting
- Simplification: Once you understand how water scenes can be simplified in watercolour, you can apply the same techniques to everything from puddles in the street to waves on the ocean
Instructor: Uma Kelkar
- To paint the likeness of a particular trees without drawing individual leaves
- To use color thickness and hue variation to give or take away tree volume
- To overcome the fear of wet on wet painting if the student extends methodology beyond trees