Thursday, August 2, 2018

Workshop with Imna Serrano

My first workshop at the USk Porto Symposium was with the very talented Imna Serrano. Her work is full of life and energy! Check out her website if you are not familiar with her work –

Imna gave all of the workshop participants a gift at the beginning of the session, containing a bamboo pen, wooden stick, a length of paper, business card and badge. She talked about the feeling you have when using new tools and encouraged us to ‘play’ with these new materials.

We warmed up by making marks with the bamboo pen and wooden stick, using Indian ink which she supplied. We then drew a large foreground object/person with a small background element, followed by the two elements drawn a similar size. She said that she often used a large foreground element, cut off by the bottom of the page, as a way of drawing the viewer into the picture. We then drew each other, front on and then from the side, but as if it were one drawing.

The first large drawing exercise was called “The Pathway’. She encouraged us to sketch with long lines, keeping the pen on the paper. Then we added details, shadows and finally repeated the same colour across the picture helping the viewer to read the pathway. She suggested with my drawing that I might have made the foreground figure much bigger to improve the composition. 

I used Photoshop when I returned home to see how it would have looked if I’d drawn it like this! 

For the second exercise, we put down large shades of colour to define elements before moving in with pen line.

It was a cloudy day so we weren’t able to complete the third exercise which was about “The Big Shape’ - putting in the shadows as big, black shapes but I tried it by myself in the afternoon. Mine is probably a little cartoony but I think it’s something I could try again.

She emphasised the importance of keeping the joy of using new materials and capturing the essence of the scene in front of you.


  1. Nice post Lis. I really like the black shadw piece. Some goid tips abiut compositiom too.

  2. Thanks Liz for posting your experiences in Porto. Its great to read it for me, since I could come... Just a question to your third exercise: The challenge was to start with the form of the shadows? Did i understand right?

    1. Sorry for the late reply, Max. I'm getting an awful lot of 'spam' comments at the moment to sort through. Yes, the exercise was to start with the shadows. An interesting way of beginning a sketch for me!