Urban Sketch for Beginners – Ink & Watercolour Garden Sketch

Morning class, this week I’ve been in Corsica exploring the North Coast of the Island.

Sketching your surroundings can be such a fantastic way to create a visual diary of your travel experiences, so when I’m walking around the streets of any new town or city, I always carry a small sketchbook in my backpack.

A couple of tonal sketching pens and a brush pen is usually all I need, always trying to keep my kit as simple and minimal as possible.

The Romieu Gardens, a series of sketches

I was walking through the old town of Bastia when I came across this beautiful tranquil garden with these fabulous ornamental pillars and wrought iron gates.

Often when you’re out on location, you develop a series of drawings that build on each other. This video tutorial looks at how you can focus on different aspects of a scene exploring different materials.

So I started with a quick 15-minute black pen drawing to get the information down in my sketchbook, purely enjoying the process of recording everyday life on location and then when I got back home to my studio, I spent more time developing a sepia sketch and working up a watercolour.

Each sketch influencing the desicions for the next piece.

Downloading the reference photograph

The photo’s below can be ‘right clicked’ and ‘Save image as’, so you can use them as reference images, print them out and follow along with the video above.

Urban Sketch for Beginners - Ink & Watercolour Garden Sketch

On-location & Sepia Sketch Reference

You can also download a High-Resolution Image here.

So this is the view from where I’m sitting, I initially started with a portrait format but for the watercolour, I decided to crop the view and just focus on two main elements within the scene, swapping to a landscape composition.

Urban Sketch for Beginners - Ink & Watercolour Garden Sketch

Watercolour Sketch Reference

You can also download a High-Resolution Image here.

Materials you will need:

For the On-location Sketch

  • 10.5 × 8.5 inch Portrait Format Sketchpad, I use a Hand Book Journal Company – Travelogue Watercolour Journal 200gsm Acid-Free Watercolour Paper Cold Pressed (Not) Texture Finish


a collection of black sketching pens for urban sketching

  • Pilot G-Tec-C4 – Black
  • Muji Gel Ink 0.5mm Ballpoint Pen – Black
  • Tombow ABT N75 Dual Brush Pen – Cool Grey 3
  • Pentel Brush Pen – Black (Waterproof Ink)

For the Sepia Sketch

  • 20 x 15 cm Portrait format Watercolour Paper Saunders Waterford CP (Not) Surface watercolour paper. Made using 100% cotton. Weight: 300gsm (140lb) White CP – Cold Pressed Not – ‘Not Hot Pressed’ so it has a slight texture to the paper


sepia ink pen with a brush tip used for sketching

  • Pentel Brush Pen – Sepia Ink (Water-soluble)

waterbrush pen used for watercolours

  • Pentel Aquash Water Brush Pen

Additional Materials

  • Winsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic Titanium White
  • Small Round Synthetic brush

For the Watercolour Sketch

  • 18.5 x 25 cm Landscape format Watercolour Paper Saunders Waterford CP (Not) Surface watercolour paper. Made using 100% cotton. Weight: 300gsm (140lb) White CP – Cold Pressed Not – ‘Not Hot Pressed’ so it has a slight texture to the paper


cotman watercolour travel kit

Winsor & Newton Cotman Travel Kit with a mix of Cotman and Winsor & Newton Artist 1/2 pans

  • Cadmium Yellow Pale
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Cadmium Red Pale Hue
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Permanent Alizarin Crimson
  • Sap Green
  • Winsor Green (Blue Shade) – same as Phthalo Green Blue Shade

plein air sketch, bastia, corsica

On-location sketch

sepia townscape drawing of gardens

Studio sepia sketch

Urban Sketch for Beginners - Ink & Watercolour Garden Sketch

Studio watercolour study

You can watch the full video tutorial above and see more photos from my Corsica trip here: @willkempartschool instagram, enjoy!

You might also like:
1. An Art Material Addicts Guide to becoming a Minimalist Sketcher
2. Landscape Sketching in the Highlands
3. Urban Sketching Course

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NEW Beginners Acrylic Colour Mixing Course is Live!


Learn more about the course here: New Simple Colour Mixing Course

I’ve designed this brand new, downloadable video course to help you understand the theory behind colour mixing, discover how to mix and match colours accurately and then put theory into practice, creating a series of 4 still life paintings.

You might have been struggling to understand colour mixing for years, sometimes getting it spot on but other times when it goes wrong, have no idea why or how to fix it?

Or maybe you’ve read articles on colour theory but not had the confidence to put that new knowledge into an actual painting practice?

On this colour mixing video course, we take a really simple practical approach, over 5 hours + of tuition, you’ll gain an understanding of the properties of paint, learn the foundations of colour theory and put brush to canvas.

And we’re just going to take it one step at a time, starting with learning the language of colour, everything broken down simply so that the painting exercises and studies give you the confidence you need to develop your colour mixing skills.

I demonstrate using a traditional, 3 primary & 3 secondary colour wheel to teach you a step-by-step approach and working through these progressive tutorials; you’ll be guided by your new colour mixing intuitions, opening up the fantastic world of colour.

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9 Common Mistakes when Photographing your Artwork with an iPhone (and how to fix them)

Photographing your Artwork with an iPhone

I see a lot of fantastic success stories from the tutorials on the blog and one of the most common footnotes is,“‘my painting looks better in real life than it does in the photo.”

90% of them are taken on a phone or iPad and over the last couple of years, I’ve found smartphone cameras are getting better and better, as long as you bear in mind their sensor size.

A traditional camera has got a much larger sensor, in comparison to a smartphone.

The larger the sensor, the bigger the surface area available to capture light on, so to get the best out of your phone and get great exposure on your shots, you need to follow a few easy steps.

I’ve put together a guide below which addresses some of the most common issues and the simplest way to fix them. There are two main approaches, natural light or artificial light, depending on what lighting conditions you have available to take your photos in.

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Distracted by Light (how a bowl of apricots sent my schedule out the window)


Will Kemp, Still Life with Apricots (detail), acrylic on canvas

I’ve been distracted by an apricot.

It’s not the usual thing that grabs your eye but I’m deep in the midst of filming a new simple colour mixing course and the apricots have got me.

They were the perfect subject to teach colour theory for one of the studies and as I arranged them in the studio, a light, impressionistic, muted blue and orange composition began to form.

Pleased with the setup, I headed down the garden for a tea break.

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Discovering Hepworth, Abstract Sculpture & St Ives (inside the Artist’s Studio)


On a brisk winter’s morning in the coastal town of St Ives, we negotiated our way down the steep lanes, past whitewashed slate-roofed cottages to Trewyn Studio.

Home to one of Britain’s most important twentieth-century artistsDame Jocelyn Barbara Hepworth (1903 – 1975), who lived and worked here for more than 25 years.


Trewyn Studio – now the Barbara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden, St Ives, Cornwall

Her secluded garden studio lies behind the white arched doorway and protective stone walls to the right of the house. The property is now owned by Tate gallery but has been left as close as possible to when she worked in the gardens under the Cornish light and amongst the seagulls.

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Painting the Winter Light in Cornwall


Will Kemp, Cornish Fishing Boat, Acrylic on Canvas (detail)

Last week I was lucky enough to spend a few days in South Cornwall and caught the most fantastic weather. I’d visited this stretch of coastline before and enjoyed fabulous Summer sunrises & sunsets, fresh seafood and sparkling Mediterranean colours.

Seasons can often show you new sides of a landscape and experiencing it all again in Winter was totally invigorating.

Atmospheric mist enveloped harbours, it was wilder with more dramatic changes in light, and the sombre Winter palette reminded of James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s landscape paintings.

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