I gave a workshop and prepared some handouts on my 20 min technique for urban renderings. Here below, is the process from beginning to end including the color wash.

There was a great attendance, I am quite happy. I presented using a sequence of panels and the second half of the time was to put all this to practice by the local Urban Sketchers Boston. It’s been two years and our group is growing. We are about 415 members to date and Christ Tritt and I run it every weekend, planning meetups and researching the local architecture to give an insight on the site prior to visit. Now with great weather, we can do more plein air workshops like this.

This demos were done in a 9″x12″ Stillman and Birn Zeta series notebook heavy stock for mixed media. The linework was done with a Lamy Safari EF. Some of the black brush strokes in the values study were done with a multiliner brush pen.

I wanted a support that could be smooth enough for fine linework, heavy ink brush strokes and take a few layered watercolor washes, so I decided to use the mixed media notebook.

One of the things I wanted to emphasize is the drying time between the watercolor wash layers. When you are working on a fast sketch, the wash has to be light so it can dry faster, most important, the base layer, as it covers about 80% of the paper (I do leave a lot of white untouched areas in the peripherals of the sketch to allow it to “breath” visually)

First layer is the lightest value of the local colors on every area, the subsequent layer is massing the main shadows, the third layer is the smaller darker areas, and the fourth layer is the accents that will enhance key areas to give it depth and good contrast.
I concentrate most of the pigment toward the horizon line and toward the center of the paper. I create interest in the focal point/area during the prior ink drawing process by  doing more detail and making it visually heavy in those areas keeping the rest of the drawing very loose.

Laura Sfiat


  1. This is so helpful! Thanks for posting (sounds like it was some time ago). I'm new and enthusiastic about drawing and urban sketching -- looking for instruction and skill building. If you do any more workshops, classes or even private tutorials, I'm in! -Jennie
    (I follow USB on fb, so if anything does get scheduled I'll see it there).

    1. Hi Jennie! Thank you! If you follow the hashtag uskbostontutorials in Instagram! Our instagram is @uskboston there are more sheets there and of course events are in our page.