Monthly Archives: March 2013

my urban sketching weekend

My urban sketching weekend

Over this four day Easter holiday I had the opportunity to catch up with some sketching friends who I had not seen in a while. We originally met as part of Sydney Sketch Club and now have our own social get togethers as well, where we catchup on life, families, travel. And of course, we ALWAYS have our sketchbooks with us. On Saturday Kaz, Meegan, Lisa & I spent the day in the Sydney city, sitting in a well-lit area of a shopping centre food court, with views out to the park. We each brought along a sketching project we were working on and ate, sketched, and talked from 10 am to 3 pm.  It is great motivation and inspiration and fun.

My project that day was to do some Urban sketching. In the past week I have been doing a few more “studied drawings”, and wanted to use the time on Saturday to capture my day and my city in my sketchbook. 

(If you look at my flickr site you will notice that I have a few different styles of art, and it all depends on where I am , how I feel, how much time I have, as to whether I do a quick sketch or a slow drawing or combination of the two. Sometimes it just evolves! I enjoy both)
in the food court Westfield, Sydney CBD




On Sunday I met another sketcher, Kathy, for brunch. We are a very social lot!

 I know that I am very fortunate to have people to sketch with. I tend to take this for granted sometimes and when I  get a comment on my flickr site from people who live in smaller towns or do not know other sketchers,  it reminds me how lucky I am.



Hot cross buns

my hot cross bun as promised…

Happy Easter !

and here it is as a work in progress … drawn over an evening . I never time how long a drawing takes me, as I do not have a “start” and “finish time”. I have the tv on in the background, check my emails, and get up and down to do other things around the house while I am drawing.





Here is a list of the watercolour pencils I used for this in my Moleskine Watercolour Sketchbook


Burnt Yellow Ochre
Raw Umber
Orange Chrome


Burnt Ochre
Burnt Umber
Walnut Brown
Light Yellow Ochre




Happy Easter

Happy Easter to all.
Each year I draw an Easter card for my mother and also somehow find another treat to draw in my sketchbook. This year is no different .

This is a china rabbit that I have .He comes out and sits on a shelf at Easter. My grandmother remembers that it belonged to her mother and it was there about the time she was married – so maybe in the 1940s.

I also have a hot cross bun that will be drawn and eaten and added to this page over the next day or two….check back. I will see how long it lasts , sitting there temptingly on the kitchen bench in its brown paper packet.
I have four days of relaxation, socialising, and drawing ahead of me . Wonderful

This is the same rabbit when I drew him last year

03Apr12 Easter bunny by alissa duke
Watercolour pencil on Fabbriano paper.
03Apr12 Easter bunny, a photo by alissa duke on Flickr.

 and other previous years Easter drawings

05Apr12 hot cross buns ! by alissa duke05Apr12 hot cross buns !, a photo by alissa duke on Flickr.


06Apr12 hot cross bun - one bite by alissa duke

01Apr10 Easter rabbit by alissa duke04Apr10 Easter rabbit - oops by alissa duke

01Apr10 Easter rabbit, a photo by alissa duke on Flickr.
04Apr10 Easter rabbit – oops, a photo by alissa duke on Flickr.


12Apr09 Easter Day by alissa duke
12Apr09 Easter Day, a photo by alissa duke on Flickr.


About me and my watercolour pencils

Welcome to my new blog!

My blog is starting subtly and quietly. I am still adjusting and added to it , but,  I have begun!

I live in Sydney and love to sketch and draw. I have been drawing since high school, but became more serious about it in the last few years. It is now a part of me and my life. I will do a five minute sketch at a bus stop, for a half hour or two hours while having coffee or complete a drawing over a few nights at home.

I carry my sketchbook, pencils and pen with me everywhere. There is always something to draw! I try and make the most of every opportunity.

Please click on the About Me tab above for more information.

Over the past four years I have been scanning all of my drawings to flickr to share, so please drop by and browse through them all .

I have started this blog to allow me to explore and explain my sketching and drawing a bit further.

What do I use?

My sketchkit includes:

Watercolour pencils

I use watercolor pencils (both Derwent and Faber Castell). Watercolour pencils are coloured pencils that are made of a soluble pigment, so, if and when you add water to the page or the pencil tip, the pencil the pigment dissolves and becomes like paint. I add water with my waterbrush (which has a reservoir of water) when I am out and about, or with paintbrushes art home.

This past Saturday at  Erin Hill’s sketch class .  Over lunch, I did a demonstration of how I use my pencils, by drawing a teapot! I was overwhelmed with how interested the students were in this technique. I also really had to stop and think about what I do, step by step. That has prompted me starting the blog with this post!


How I use watercolour pencils

Sometimes I lightly mark out where I am going to place the object or scene on the page in a HB or 2B pencil, just to make sure it will fit on the page and I also think where I am going to add my written notes on the page.

 I then lightly and roughly sketch in lines and areas in the colour that am going to use in that area – there is usually one or two main colours. For this teapot it was Faber Castell Cool Grey III. I blocked out main areas in that colour and then lightly and loosely brushed on water.  For example, I added a heavy area of colour on the left hand side of the teapot and then used the watercolour brush to pull some of the colour acoss the page, getting lighter as it moved away from the edge. The plate is Faber Castell Burnt Sienna . I also used Cool Grey VI in the shadows

I add more pencil colour in specific areas, and water, building up the colour over the page.

To get finer detail or more intense colour I take pigment off the tip of the pencil with the water brush.  I also add finer details and any crisp clean areas to the page directly,  with a finely sharpened pencil.

I use a combination of all of the above – making it up as I go along  . That is why I love to use watercolour pencils – they can be blended, layered, provide rough texture or fine detail.


I also use a Lamy Safari Joy ink pen (with a cartridge of Noodlers waterproof ink). Sometimes I don’t add any colour and other  times I put in a light wash or heavy colour.









I use a Moleskine watercolour sketchbook 21 x 13 cm . I only use one sketchbook at a time starting at the first page and work through to the end. I have completed 30 sketchbooks since I began using them in December 2009. It suits me perfectly at the moment. I love the way they look sitting lined up on the shelf (can you tell that I am a librarian?) . However, I have also have been known to sketch in spiral bound notebooks with biro in meetings, and on serviettes in cafés, programs in theatres.  Not having my sketch kit is no excuse not to draw! And lately I have been experimenting on drawing on larger sheets of paper.

Sketch Kit

25Aug12 Part two: making my pencil roll by alissa duke
see 25Aug12 Part two: making my pencil roll,

I hope that this has been an interesting start to my blogging world. I look forward to my flickr , facebook and new blogger friends exploring small and large parts of my world through my pencils.

I am in the exciting process of setting up my new blog. I have setup the domain name, formatted the pages, added some images to the pages in the tabs along the top of the page. Tonight (14 March 2103 ) I have chosen few pencil themed drawings that I have previously created to have on the first page of my blog.   

(I just have to figure out how to place them on the page !)