GUEST ARTIST: Urban Sketching With Shari Blaukopf

Masts by Shari Blaukopf - (Doodlewash)

Today, I’m excited to feature one of my favorites artists, Shari Blaukopf (follow her WordPress blog here), who was born and is still living in Montreal, Canada. Shari’s Craftsy class was the first class I took last summer and it inspired me to try painting daily, and ultimately start this blog! Many of you are already fans of Shari’s work , so it’s a pleasure to feature her story here on Doodlewash! 

Blue and Rust by Shari Blaukopf - watercolor painting and urban sketching of trees with snow - DoodlewashMy painting story is all starts and stops. I began painting in watercolour when I was about twelve years old, studied with some of the best teachers at the time (Edgar A. Whitney, Frank Webb, Skip Laurence, Milford Zornes) and exhibited for years — that is, until my two sons were born. Then I took a long break. Not from art, really, because I studied graphic design in university and that was always how I made a living. But with children and a freelance design business taking up most of my time, there was never any time to fit in drawing or painting.

House In Shade by Shari Blaukopf - watercolor painting and urban sketching of snow with a house and trees - DoodlewashAbout four years ago, I wanted to bring drawing back into my life and, as a way to commit to drawing a few minutes every day, I started a daily sketch blog. For the first month or so, I posted a drawing every day. One evening during this time, I was searching on the Internet for other sketch blogs and came up. That was a turning point. I found and eventually connected with other sketchers in my own city and around the world, and soon began writing texts to accompany my drawings — a few lines or paragraphs about things that happened to me while I was sketching, about my painting process, and about successes and failures in my work. That blog has grown quite a bit since its inception in 2011. I now have close to 5000 followers who receive my (almost) daily posts in their inbox.

After School by Shari Blaukopf - watercolor painting and urban sketching of cityscapes in Montreal, Canada - DoodlewashUrban sketching has helped me discover not just the places where I travel to, but also my own city. I grew up in Montreal, so I knew my city pretty well. But, like most people, I never stopped to really look at things, as if for the first time. Urban sketching enables you to take the time to really observe the details of a place, to listen to the sounds around you and to meet the people in the neighbourhoods you’re sketching. In the winter I paint quite a bit in my car (sketchbook propped up on my steering wheel, water bottle in the cup holder, palette on the passenger seat), but in the spring and summer I work outside whenever I can.

A few years ago Marc Taro Holmes and I started a Montreal chapter of Urban Sketchers. At our first sketch outing we counted seven people, including us. Now the group just keeps getting bigger and we regularly have thirty or forty people come out to our events. Urban Sketchers is very much about sketching together and sharing work, so it’s a great feeling to see this group grow.

Cemetery Road by Shari Blaukopf - Watercolor painting and urban sketching of snow in a park with trees and figures - DoodlewashSeveral years ago I gave up my freelance design work and now I spend my winters teaching graphic design to college students. I feel very lucky to teach at a place where they support and encourage my painting and sketching, and to have a schedule that allows me to give workshops in the summers. I give classes both on my own, when time permits, and through the Urban Sketchers Workshops Program. I’ve taught all over the United States and Canada, as well as in Europe. Last summer I taught in Singapore, and in the summer of 2016 I’ll be teaching in Galway, Ireland, as well as at the USk Symposium in Manchester, England.

Breakwater by Shari Blaukopf - Urban sketching and watercolor painting of lighthouse and rocks near seascape - DoodlewashIn 2015, it was a great thrill to be invited to create some video courses for Craftsy. That was quite exciting because I was able to put together teaching materials based on the processes and techniques I use in my daily sketches and workshops. I love the Craftsy platform because the two-and-a-half hour classes are broken down into seven lessons, and you can watch them as often as you like. It’s a very interactive process where people get to ask me questions and post their work, too.

I share my work both through my blog and website. The blog is still a chronicle of my daily sketching experiments, whereas the website has galleries of finished work as well as a little shop for paintings. I change my sketching materials quite often, but most of what I use is listed on my blog under the “Sketching Materials” tab.

Bar & Rest by Shari Blaukopf - Watercolor painting and urban sketching of buildings and trees - Doodlewash

If I could offer one piece of advice to people just starting out in sketching, it would be to make drawing a daily priority. Carry a little sketchbook with you wherever you go, and even if you only have a few minutes to draw while waiting at the dentist’s office or in a café, your drawings will improve over time. And check out to see if there is a chapter in your city or town. It’s so much more fun to draw with other people than on your own.

Shari Blaukopf
My blog
My website

Recommended2 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists
  1. Teresa Robeson 7 years ago

    I can see what Shari is one of your favorite artists, Charlie! I think she is mine now, too. I love Frank Webb’s work…what a thrill it must have been to study under him. I also love Craftsy classes and will check this one out. Thanks for the discount code, Shari!

  2. jmlandin 7 years ago

    Gorgeous work! Love the line work, shapes and values.

  3. kungfunaomi 7 years ago

    I followed her. 🙂

  4. Sharon Mann 7 years ago

    Dear Shari, thanking you for sharing with us, my eyes are dazzled by the beauty of every stroke of paint! Thanks for sharing Charlie!!

  5. Birgit Winter 7 years ago

    I absolutely love her way of painting and sketching, each and every stroke seems to fit perfect.

  6. kim881 7 years ago

    Beautiful doodlewashes 🙂

  7. Susan Feniak 7 years ago

    I have followed Shari’s blog since I started blogging on WordPress. I really like her art. A favorite for sure. Thanks for sharing Charlie!

  8. M. L. Kappa 7 years ago

    Thanks for introducing Shari, Charlie. Am now following her blog.

  9. itsmyhusbandandme 7 years ago

    Beautiful style.

  10. Phil Cooper 7 years ago

    Stunning images, that’s what you call being a master of your medium!

  11. weisserwatercolours 7 years ago


  12. Damita M-S 7 years ago

    I really like Shari’s work. I love my Urban Sketching group I’m steadily improving. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Author

      Love hearing that Damita! I was excited to see you’d joined a USK group! Shari is amazing and I highly recommend her Ctaftsy classes if you haven’t tried them! 😃👍🏻

      • Damita M-S 7 years ago

        Yes, I joined due to recommendation from my Austin Urban Sketching group. I will look into her classes. Thanks.👍🏼

  13. dkatiepowellart 7 years ago

    I always always enjoy seeing what she is up to and her class is good for both beginners and upward.

  14. The Velvet Soapbox 7 years ago

    Gorgeous, especially love the boats…

  15. I just love Shari’s work! Really wonderful feature, Charlie!

    • Author

      Yep…she’s a fave! And of Philippe as well. It’s such a pleasure to feature her. Glad you enjoyed this Laura!! 😃💜

  16. jmnowak 7 years ago

    Of course, as a wannabe painter, I am always inspired by great work, like Shari’s. Thanks, Charlie, for introducing me to her work.

    • Author

      So thrilled to make the introduction! Shari is one of the best instructors I know for newbies in particular. I hadn’t ever touched watercolors before taking her class last summer!

      • jmnowak 7 years ago

        In fact, Charlie, after having looked at the site, the sound of Max Brehm’s graphite beginner’s class sounds just right for me, and it’s reasonably priced too! Haven’t signed up yet, but don’t know which pencils to get…I’d prefer something soft, for obvious reasons, but that can be used for heavier shading too. Any suggestions, Charlie? 🙂

        • Author

          Sounds like a cool class for you, Janina! 😀I’m not very well-versed in graphite. I just use my Alvin Draft-Matic Mechanical Pencil, 0.5mm sometimes and that’s it. I use it occasionally to create an initial outline or rough in a sketch for proportions and then dive in with ink for the drawing part!😊 hehe Though if you do a search for Graphite on Doodlewash you can see all the artists who’ve mentioned it and what they use!

          • jmnowak 7 years ago

            OK, Ta…will do a search…thanks for the tip. PS: Today all I seem to see in my Reader is all your previous posts, Charlie…are you doodling around with it?!

          • Author

            Weird! I just made a couple corrections to older posts, but the update shouldn’t have brought them back to life again. Lol

          • jmnowak 7 years ago

            LOL…all’s well tonight! 😉

  17. Sabiscuit 7 years ago

    These are both sweet watercolour paintings. Intense, lively, full of joy.

  18. rosjenke 7 years ago

    Ohh! how exciting to have Shari on your blog. Getting into the big league now Charlie : ) Shari was one of my main inspirations and I still sigh over her work. And her Craftsy classes are absolutely the best!!!!!

    • Author

      Yay! Thrilled you liked this, Ros. Shari was my main inspiration as well! I’m just impressed with her talents and she happens to be a genuinely lovely person, so I always recommend her when I can! 😉 Totally agree on the classes…hoping more folks will try them. They’re quite remarkable!!

  19. memadtwo 7 years ago

    Beautiful work. You have good taste, Charlie, but we knew that! (K)

    • Author

      Awww thanks Kerfe! So glad you liked this. Shari was my first introduction to watercolor so it was a thrill to feature her here!

  20. Scribble Fiend 7 years ago

    Shari’s work is great, I’m so glad you featured her! I haven’t yet taken one of her classes but it’s been on my wish list for awhile. Maybe now is the time to go for it!

    • Author

      Now is definitely the time!! Hehe… I can’t recommend them enough! They’re so good and at 50% off with these links in the feature… I’d say to do it now! Yes! Yes! hehe Okay… I’ll stop pushing… but these are my all-time favorite classes so once you get me gushing about them, I can’t stop!😊 lol

  21. artandmoondreams 7 years ago

    Amazing paintings, fantastic feature. Love seeing the marks of dancing brushstrokes and echoes of her illustrious teachers. Inspiring, encouraging, and all around delightful post. Thank you Shari and Charlie, this was lovely.

  22. brushparkwatercolors 7 years ago

    Amazing artworks – i am a fan, Shari!

  23. […] a tendency to sit down without thinking, and in a panic draw everything I see.  I love the work of Shari Blaukopf, who has an exquisite sense of composition and color; Marc Taro Holmes, who knows where NOT to […]

  24. […] I’ve just finished Shari Blaukopf’s class in Craftsy where I appreciated her use of juicy colors and how she builds up a scene and […]

  25. […] boost to go on creating and having fun! I was also very much inspired by online great teachers like Shari Blaukopf and Marc Taro Holmes in their blogging […]

  26. Antonio David Gil 5 years ago

    Very beautiful works. I’m improving my urban sketching as time as I can and I like this Shari’s artworks. Many thanks.

  27. […] a tendency to sit down without thinking, and in a panic draw everything I see.  I love the work of Shari Blaukopf, who has an exquisite sense of composition and color; Marc Taro Holmes, who knows where NOT to […]

  28. […] was all about. Shari Blaukopf was one of the first urban sketchers I found and I loved her style (you can read her feature on Doodlewash by clicking here!). She had just launched her first Craftsy class in the previous month and I was excited to take it. […]

  29. […] SketchingNow Foundations with Liz Steel, Sketching Landscapes in Pen, Ink & Watercolor, with Shari Blaukopf, Travel Sketching in Mixed Media with Marc Taro Holmes, “Figure Sketching Made Simple” with […]

  30. […] / … […]

  31. […] has two sketching classes on Bluprint, Sketching the City and Sketching Landscapes. She was also a featured artist here on […]

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