Monthly Archives: January 2014

Australia Day long weekend sketching

January 26th is Australia Day and this year there is a holiday on the Monday, so a long weekend for many of us. It was a big weekend for sketching, which also means catching up with lots of friends. The sketching community is full of friends.

This sketch was actually done just before the long weekend, but these ferries are an iconic part of Sydney. I had half an hour to spare and stood at Circular Quay sketching as they arrived and departed. I was sketching the one at the bottom of the page and a man stopped to say “that’s fabulous”. I thanked him and said – they keep moving so quickly. He replied that this one would not go til 12 (in 10 min) as he was the ferry driver !

Saturday 25th January  International Sketchcrawl
What is it ?  SketchCrawl is a World Wide event: having people from different corners of the world join in a day of sketching and journalling ALL ON THE SAME DAY !!!  and then, thanks to the Internet, having everyone share the results on an online forum.
It was started by Enrico Casarosa, San Francisco, California in 2006. Sketchcrawls happen every couple of months on a date named on the forum. Then on the forum, organise your city/town/village Sketchcrawl and then post the drawings and comment on others. It is so fascinating to see what and where people draw. Just create an account and you can comment
Today there were a few Sydney Sketchers – I sketched with Chris, Lisa and Erin. Wendy & Rod were close by, but we missed them. Our little group had lots of catching up to do . As usual, I journalled my day, starting with the trip into the city. I decided to continue my ferry theme and catch the ferry in, instead of the bus.


I spent over an hour on this sketch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is always a challenge.  I spent some time setting up the lines in pencil, just a few lines in pencil. It took some time. Once I was happy with the basic lines and curves I started sketching with my Lamy Safari Joy Ink pen. I really wanted to concentrate on the features of the areas that were closest to me. I kept adding lines and shading. I stopped when I thought that I was just adding lines for the sake of it and making it muddy. Chris and Lisa also did the same angle and had the same issue . The area at the far end of the bridge was all in  shade and it was difficult to know when to stop and where to add the dark shades. We each had a different approach. Have a look at their sketches and painting and the other Sydney ones here

 Seizing opportunities. We were walking to find some lunch and saw a wedding. So I did this 5 minute sketch of a wedding at the Park Hyatt on the waterfront.  I started with the heads at the moment of the bride and groom kissing.  – just a few lines. Then drew the lines of their bodies and the stances. Then sketched in groomsmen, who were standing still, the bridesmaids, the other figures. Then they all started to move and hug. I filled in the ink after.


After lunch I got a bit silly and took out a larger spiral book cartridge paper sketchbook and played with drawing bigger and in colour and later added the sunglasses at home. I quickly learn that my watercolour pencils can get limited realistic effects on cartridge paper. I cannot get the detail, and it does not like layers or lots of water. But drawing bigger was fun and next time I will do it on watercolour paper.


Australia Day Sunday 26th
There are so many activities in the Sydney in the city and elsewhere on Australia Day. I could have been very distracted to sketch all the way on my 30 min walk to State Library where Sydney Sketch Club were meeting at 10am. In fact if I had not been determined to be there, I would not have made it past Hyde Park.
My first distraction that I did stop to sketch was five minutes from home. The  MS ColourDash. A 5km fun run raising money for multiple sclerosis. At each 1 km a coloured powder is thrown at the runners/walkers. They start off in white t-shirts and 5 colours later are a riot of colour all over. Love it. Maybe next year I will enter.

Although the weather was not great – 24 degrees and not a lot of sunshine and a shower or two, the city had a happy buzz to it, and I did not even go near the actual Harbour events.  Everyone has Australian flags that were given away. Lots of families and people of all ages and plenty to do and be entertained by.  


Sketching with a group of people is so interesting, as they each choose different subjects, and even if they sketch the same subject, no two drawings are alike. That is the excitement and joy. There is no right or wrong. Everyone does their own thing and there is always something to learn from other people. I was able to show how I use watercolour pencils to some girls who were watching me draw my baked bean toastie. I met some lovely new sketchers. 

Macquarie Street is closed to traffic from Hyde Park to Circular Quay. There is a large display of historic and car clubs, as the cars are able parked all the way don the street and people wander in and out, taking photos and talking to owners. It was damp when we started and a little showery so I found the nearest shelter with Rod & Chris. That was overlooking the Rolls Royce club. It does seem strange to draw American cars on Australia Day. Last year I drew MG’s !  But I always make sure to draw some of the people and events of the day as well.
Cars are very difficult to draw, I know that and yet I only draw them once a year. I need to practice more. It is not as if there are no cars around the rest of the year !



 End of the morning ! then off to an Australian Day lunch with a large group of (non sketching) friends



Melbourne holiday sketching

I have just returned from five days in Melbourne. It was 44 degrees for four days in a row – the four days I was there ! Very hot

A lot of the time during the day I met with some of the Melbourne Urban Sketchers, which I have written about in a separate blogpost.

The rest of the time I sketched alone or when I was with my friends Louise & eon, who I was staying with. My sketchbook pages for my time in Melbourne are journal of my days. They are reminders of what I ate, where I went and events that occurred and the people I was with.

I carry the one sketchbook a Moleskine watercolour sketchbook 13 x 21, my watercolour pencils in a wrap and Lamy Safari Joy ink pen – note to self – Always bring extra ink. I ran out with two days go. Not a tragedy and I could have bought more. Instead it just meant that I used other pencils and left the writing until I got home.
I starting with my traditional airport sketch – with extra excitement this time when the departure lounge was cleared.



Some iconic Melbourne – Flinders Street & tram

other sketches  – a motorbike parked outside State Library

A building in Flinders Lane. It is on the last page of my sketchbook, so has some scribbles. I show people how watercolour pencils work on this last page – scribble scribble scribble, splash splash

I did sketches at my friends – lettuce in pot that was sitting in the sink . I later printed it at home on a card and sent it as a thank you card for having me as their guest. We did eat some of the lettuce.

We also ate out.Brunch at Mossgreen tearooms in Armadale on Saturday.  I have a page of notes next to write next to this sketch about our wonderful experience there. I sketched my breakfast while we were there. Scrambled eggs with salmon and dill.

The waitress watched and chatted to us as it was nice and quiet and early. She also loved to sketch and we left her inspired and with the contact details for Melbourne Urban Sketchers.

I took a photo of the tearooms from across the street and sketched it at home. I like to sketch on location, but I did not have the time and it was too hot.


My friend Louise was cooking dinner from a simple recipe form the internet (she searched for something with spinach as she had a lots in the crisper) it was untried, but simple, so she tried it, I have no enthusiasm for cooking, but was happy to chat in the kitchen while she sliced, chopped and baked.

I was inspired by their home grown garlic (small but very strong smelling) and had an idea to draw the ingredients, spreading over two pages.  It then moved to drawing all the ingredients and the finished results, which would hopefully be mouthwatering .

As I have used my watercolour pencils for the past five year I am very aware of the colours and how to apply them and what will happen when I add water (some colours change a lot !) I also know how textures can be achieved, although I am still learning all the time. That is why I am passionate about using them …


I then the decided to leave space to add the list of the ingredients and recipe.
The pressure was on to draw the ingredients before they were added to the pan. Some were drawn after the pie was in the oven (an onion is an onion). I grabbed some spinach before it was added and other being chopped. I could make a whole blog of this.

I realised that I would have to add tasting notes, as we were all a little disappointed at the bland taste .

The next morning I was up before the others, in the kitchen, had take the left overs (just as well there was some) out of the fridge and drew them before the others were up for breakfast ! This was the day I was leaving……

My plane to go home

Sketching with USK-ers interstate

Urban sketchers is a global community of sketching, sharing the places we live and travel to online. It is also a global community of people that you can meet and sketch with all over the world. There have been many stories and sketchers of people meeting up with local urban sketchers in a country they are visiting.

This page is about my experiences in the last month. I live in Sydney I had the opportunity to connect with urban sketchers in Brisbane, Newcastle  and then Melbourne in the Australian Christmas holiday break. In each city I sketched with the locals (and some other Sydney travellers). I had met some of them previously but also met new people. I initially contacted them online via facebook or their blogs and let them know that I was visiting and the dates and they arranged place to meet and sketch. Often an event was organised around my visiting dates !

This is a bit of a long post with my sketches and a some notes. I filled many more pages of my sketchbook in Melbourne, but they are not Urban Sketches. They will all get scanned and put on my flickr page. I will also write a separate Melbourne blogpost on my site with those adventures soon.

Have watercolour pencils , will travel !


A day in Brisbane in early January included a group of JJ, Asuka, Leeanne, Geoff (who sketched with us in Sydney recently) and Chris (also from Sydney) .

Asuka, Leeanne, Geoff Chris, JJ and me (in a circle left to right) at Steam Café, Southbank. Thanks to JJ for the photo
We met for coffee and quickly moved into discussion of art materials and looking through each others sketchbooks. It is so different to see the sketchbooks in reality and turn the pages. JJ and I had a discussion on drawing feathers.

We sketched at Southbank in the shade of the trees looking over the river to the city. It was very hot and we were outside in the morning and headed for airconditioning from lunch onwards.

I revisited the same area later in the week to draw some more.



Newcastle was an organised USK event where Sydney Urban Sketchers visited Newcastle. I have written the day up separately

It was a wonderful event and so good for many of us to connect with Urban Sketchers we had met online and for the Newcastle sketchers to meet us (and vice versa) and show us their city . Thanks Phil .

Thanks Judy for the photos


Both of my visits interstate coincided with extreme heat. It was 41 degrees in Brisbane and 44 degrees (for 4 days in a row) in Melbourne. But still we sketched, finding shade in the morning and then air-conditioning. A hardy bunch !

I was in Melbourne for a week and fortunate to have all my days free , so lots of time to line up sketching activities with Urban Sketchers in Melbourne.  Kym, Evelyn and Angela – combinations of the three, and others as well. I had met them two or three times before, so it is like meeting up with friends (which is actually what it is). We took every opportunity to meet and sketch: before they started work (a 7am start one morning!) their lunch hours and any other time. My visit also coincided with another Sydney sketcher travelling. Chantal was in Melbourne and visiting her sister Suzette. We had a morning with them too.


Sketching with Kym before she started work. The staff at The Quarter on Degraves Street  took our photo and put it on instagram. We received lovely reactions and had some great conversations everywhere we sketched. In most cases cafe staff love it when you sketch their food, cafe or coffee. I think that it is because you are taking the time to appreciate on paper the food they have taken time to prepare and look at it in a way that other people do not.  

Breakfast with Kym at The Quarter café in Degraves Street

Old Treasury Building – historic museum and exhibition

with Angela and Evelyn at The Old Treasury building

with Evelyn at Time Out Café in Federation Square

with Evelyn at Time Out Café in Federation Square
DAY 2 
With Chantal, Suzette, Evelyn at Koko Black cafe where they let us sit all morning and gave us a sample of chocolate


 After farewelling Suzette and Chantal, Evelyn and Angela and I ventured outside into the heat.The joy of sketching with locals is they can suggest places to sketch and it is often an opportunity for them to sketch something that they have been meaning to do for ages. They took me to Town Hall. There are a number of pianos in public spaces called “Play Me I’m Yours” – which is what it is. A piano is there (all painted colourfully).  You can sit and play them. I do not play, so sketched them !

with Evelyn and Angela at Town Hall “Play Me I’m Yours” piano


I then found another piano and player outside State Library of Victoria

another “Play Me I’m Yours” piano. State Library. on my own


The earliest start 7am, for a prework sketch with Kim & Angela in one of Melbourne’s laneway cafes. Plenty of time for continuing conversations that we had started the day before !

with Kym and Angela and No 5 Café

Then moving onto a tearoom that Angela had wanted to sketch. We sat outside looking in

with Kym and Angela at Hopetoun tearooms. the Block Arcade

My final sketch with a Melbourne sketcher was as Evelyn & I sat on the steps of the Parliament of Victoria. She sketched the panoramic view and is determined to bring the Urban Sketchers group here. I sketched the building for another project I am working on (which is another blogpost on another day) . We were sketching when a camera crew and others came out and were interviewing a politician/spokesman from Emergency Services about the ambulances coping with the demands in the extreme heat. So I sketched them !

on the steps of Parliament House. with Evelyn


Urban Sketchers in Newcastle

Yesterday, on a lovely sunny day around 26 sketchers met in Newcastle for our first regional Urban Sketching event. Quite a few of us caught the early train from Sydney for the 2 hour 45 min trip. We all met in a carriage and it was a great opportunity to catch up before arriving. Phil in Newcastle had done an amazing job in planning and organizing the day, with a map and photographs of potential buildings to sketch!

I started my day with a coffee sketch and a map


Urban sketching in Newcastle
After an initial introduction by Phil and Liz, and a look at the map we headed off in different directions to meet up again in two hours time.
A few of us walked a few blocks to the former Post Office building, now boarded up. I sat across the road with Ethna, Lorna and Diane and then with Deb and Lisa. The building may be boarded up and ruined inside (I later saw the consultants report online – scary) but exterior looks spectacular and I was fascinate by the shape and colour of the copper dome. My plan was to draw a small quick sketch in ink and then spend the rest of the time drawing some of the architectural features in more detail. But unfortunately I made the drawing too big on the page and got caught up in the detail. At a certain stage I said “enough” and moved onto the drawing the Dome , which is what attracted me in the first place!

Lots of green coloured copper and rust. Beautiful ! The FaberCastell Earth Green watercolour pencil is the perfect colour. I was enjoying this. It is very useful colour for many drawings. It is a very good for eucalyptus trees too.

Then it was time for lunch and a show and tell of our mornings sketches

Such a wonderful variety of styles and subjects. Some amazing use of colour too.  It was inspirational to be sitting and sketching with so many people that also enjoy sketching

After lunch we continued, deciding to head in a different direction. Phil suggested along the water to the Wharf. Once we got to Queens Wharf, we found new topics to sketch. I was taken by the skyline of the industrial area. Cranes, bulk storage for grains and a coal loader. Next time I would like to look closer at this area. Newcastle has a long history. It was one of the original convict settlements and then based on the coal industry. Some of this has moved away and Newcastle is re-inventing itself, although the coal terminals still play a vital role in the region.
I walked down the wharf and found my next subject ! An old rusting sign on an unused section of the wharf
I wanted to include enough of the sign to read the words, but also get a chance to draw the rusty cement wall. I was later able to add context by drawing the barnacles and the water. I stayed far too long in the sunshine drawing this. Even though I had hat, sunglasses and sunburn cream, I still felt the effects of the day that evening.
It is not the most beautiful sight in Newcastle and not one that the locals would prefer to be shown to the world. But I had such fun drawing this, and it is part of the urban landscape.
An extra treat was a cormorant bird emerging from the water and gulping down a fish in front of me !
and then at 4.35 we caught the train for the journey home.
It was a great day out and so good to meet with Newcastle sketchers that we had only met online.  Everyone would like to return to sketch here again.