Urban Sketching: Bellingen’s historic street facades

Explore the cultural heritage of beautiful Bellingen through the joy of urban sketching in a relaxed, non-competitive environment. This 5 day workshop invites you to take the time to see and record through your sketches, the beautiful, historic facades of Bellingen's main street.

We will start by making our own concertina (fold-out) sketchbook which we will then fill with a continuous streetscape, illustrating the wonderful built heritage of Hyde Street. Through demonstrations and clear explanations, you will be encouraged to develop your own form of graphic expression using whatever media you choose, all the while being encouraged to explore outside your comfort zone.

By the end of the week, you will have discovered new ways of seeing objects and shapes, new techniques for expressing them and confidence in your personal sketching style. The end result will be a two-metre-long sketch of Bellingen and a wonderful record of your Mid North Coast summer break.

We will be outdoors most of the time so be sure to bring a hat and sunscreen.

  • Full days - Monday to Friday - 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Suitable for ages 18 to adult
  • Everyone
  • Join waiting list

Course Info

Day One
Design and production of a concertina sketch book plus fundamentals of sketching with watercolour.
Materials will be supplied and instruction given for the making of an A5 fold out concertina sketch book in quality watercolour paper. The cover art may be supplied by the camper or chosen from a collection of magazines made available by me. The sketch book will then be filled in the course of the following days.
Preliminary exercises of mixing colours and playing with shapes in watercolour.

Day Two

Sketching the built environment. This is the main part of the workshop and will involve morning and afternoon sessions sketching and painting buildings on the Bellingen high street, such as the Federal Hotel, Hammond and Wheatley, etc.

Each session will focus on a particular aspect of urban sketching with detailed explanations and demonstrations:

  • understanding what you see
  • simplifying the scene composition
  • creating shapes
  • perspective
  • tonal values – light and shade
  • different media

Each day ends with a “throw down” where sketchers show their work and receive constructive criticism in a good natured and non-threatening way, from the tutor and their fellow sketchers.

Day Three

The week will be broken on the middle day by “a day in the bush”, sketching a rural scene to explore the relationship between the built environment and the natural environment. We will choose as the subject a rural building in a natural landscape giving us the opportunity to play with a different palette and different forms from the stricter geometry of the town streetscape. This will require car pooling and it will be recommended to take a packed lunch and plenty of water.

Day Four

Sketching the built environment – as Day 2 but in a different part of the street to progress the streetscape image in the concertina sketch book.

Day Five

Embellishments and annotations to the sketch book.
The final stage will focus on tidying up the sketches – looking at the spread as a whole so that it works as a unified piece. This will include adding titles and notes if desired and possibly adding some thumbnail sketches explaining details.
The end result of the Hyde Street sessions will be a continuous, multipage spread concertina sketchbook illustrating the historic buildings of the Bellingen high street, Hyde Street.
This session will most likely take place at our venue and, providing the organisers can accommodate it, will result in an exhibition of the work for other campers to come and see (to be confirmed).

  • Some drawing experience is preferable
  • Experience with watercolour is desirable

Please bring the following on your first day of class:

  • No smaller than A5 sketch book for study sketches – min 180 gsm paper such as Moleskine
  • Lead pencils
  • Watercolour palette: a set of half pans is enough. It is good to work with a limited palette so 12 colours should be plenty. (The colours I use most are Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine which mix well to form warm and cool greys. In addition Raw Siena or Yellow Ochre are good for buildings and as a base for mixing greens. Other colours students could include are Burnt Umber, Van Dyke Brown, Paynes Grey, Scarlet Lake, Sap Green.) Good brands are Winsor and Newton, Daniel Smith, Schmincke and Maimeri available from most art suppliers incl https://kadmium.com.au/ in Coffs Harbour. A good starter kit for the uninitiated is the Winsor & Newton Cotman Half Pan Watercolour Pocket Set (about $98).
  • Sharpener
  • Sable or quality synthetic brushes size 4, 6 and 10
  • Water jar
  • White hand towel or washer that will get paint on it
  • Fineline markers – 0.2, 0.4, 0.8
  • Fountain pen (optional)
  • Colour pencils – Faber Castell Aquarelles (water soluble)
  • UHU stick
  • Small snap blade cutter
  • Steel rule
  • A folding stool or camp chair

Your class has an extra cost of $25 – this cost includes:

  • Materials to create an A5 fold-out concertina sketch book, in quality watercolour paper
  • Magazines to create your cover art with

Payment details provided on booking.

Happy Camper Reviews

Mike Botton
Course Tutor

Mike Botton

Mike’s introduction to drawing was through his studies in architecture in Sydney at UTS and in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, then in interior design in Cardiff, Wales. On his return from travels he spent a brief period teaching an Architectural Drafting course at Randwick TAFE . Through the 1980s and 90s his focus in architectural practice was largely on presentation and perspective rendering using ink line and watercolour wash. This technique became the foundation for his urban sketching which he mainly practiced when traveling, to produce a travel journal. In 2013 he left the world of corporate architecture and design to establish the sketching tour company, Palladian Odyssey, which ran sketching tours focusing on the extraordinary architecture of Renaissance Italy. Each week-long tour would comprise groups of 12 artists with daily workshops in various locations around Northern Italy. Whilst he was not the primary teacher on these tours (his main duty was that of tour operator), he contributed to the daily tutorials and helped out guests where necessary. Since 2013 he has been an active member of Sydney Urban Sketchers and has attended three international Urban Sketchers Symposiums in Singapore, Porto and Amsterdam, each offering daily workshops from renowned artists from all over the world. He has participated in over 12 of these workshops from which he has gleaned a variety of sketching and teaching techniques whilst always honing his own skills.