Author Archives: alissa

Sketching at concerts

This week I went to two classical music concerts in libraries and sketched at each . Both concerts were beautiful and I am in awe of the skill of the musicians and performers . They were:

I am most pleased with the above sketch of Saverio , at the second concert I attended. Perhaps I had warmed up my sketching the night before. I think I may have been a bit self conscious at the first (Bottled Snail) concert, as it was held in my workplace and a few people know that I was sketching,

Habeas Chorus of Bottled Snail at Supreme Court Library. They were warming up just before the concert began

I have sketched irregularly at classic (and other) music concerts over  the past few years. It is something that I enjoy, but don’t feel in my comfort zone. I often draw people in groups, audiences or events, but for some reason I am not entirely happy with the results of musicians.

Sketching while listening to music enhances my appreciation and relaxation.  However, it all depends on the music. Sometimes  I will put my pencil down, close my eyes and soak it all in.

I have been reflecting about why I don’t have the same level of comfort as in other situations. I don’t have the answers but I think I know why I don’t have the answers,

One thing I have learnt – each situation is different – indoors, outdoors, amount of lighting, size of audience, number of musicians and how many musical pieces and the length of the pieces.  Sometimes I can choose where I get a seat but not always. There are often unknowns.


Choosing pen and ink to sketch the highlight of the black and white of the choir , the outline of the audience members. Adding colour to the Chief Justice’s portrait and the gasolier lamp.


I know that I need to make an early decision on what to draw with. I need to decide whether to choose my Lamy Safari ink pen or one or a few choice watercolour pencils. I then put everything else away. I don’t want to be disturbing and distracting other audience members by fiddling around, looking for colours. 

Although listening to a concert is an audible experience, there is often so much visual.

One of the decisions I think that I need to make is about what to focus on and put down on paper. Are they sketchy or detailed ? Often this depends on my mood. 

Do I want to capture 

  • The feeling of the music
  • Musicians – faces, feet, hands, their movement
  • Instruments
  • Audience
  • Surroundings – the building, stage

I will try to think of them as a suite of options open to me.

At the moment I think that I try to capture it all. Some concerts are only 45 minutes, some much longer and will have a few different sets of musicians playing .



an even quicker sketch. The music ended

I know that I had seven minutes to sketch Kylie, the accompanist.

another quick sketch

Sculpture by the Sea sketching

Last weekend we flew to Sydney

to do a few things, including the Seven Bridges Walk, which I featured last week ,

One of the other main events was to visit  Sculpture by the Sea . 


Sculpture by the Sea returns to the Bondi Beach to Tamarama Beach coastal walk as the world’s largest free to the public sculpture exhibition. See the spectacular coastal walk transformed into a 2km long sculpture park over three weeks featuring 
100 sculptures by artists from Australia and across the world.

see a short video here  of some highlights.

My sketches are about the people visiting and viewing the sculptures, rather than the sculptures themselves. Sometimes I like the idea of a sketch telling a story , rather than a standalone drawing of an object, especially when it is in urban spaces. 


It was a warm sunny day (26 degree) and the walk is quite exposed along the Bondi Beach cliff (which are a work of natural art and sculpture and worth visiting without the sculptures and crowds) . I did not stay out in the sun too long sketching.

A great day . I was happy with my sketches. 

Seven Bridges Walk sketching

This past weekend I flew to Sydney with my Mother to participate in the  Seven Bridges Walk  . It is a 28km walk through some of Sydney’s most scenic locations and raise funds to beat cancer with NSW Cancer Council .

The night before, in the lead up to the event I drew the map and my sneakers . 

Mum took a photo of our shoes before the walk started

We were on our feet from 7 am when we left the hotel until 4 pm when we returned. It was 30 degrees and sunshine , so we kept well rehydrated all day .

And of course I sketched ! They are very quick sketches  either five or ten minutes. Sometimes it was on the lead up to the bridge and other times after we have walked over the bridge and I looked back. I stepped to the side and let the steady stream of walkers pass by. 

I sketched in Moleskine watercolour sketchbook with my Lamy Safari Joy ink pen. At each bridge and Village we got a stamp. I asked the volunteers to stamp in my sketchbook. 

I participated in the event in 2012, a year after my medical adventure, but was not able to complete it  as it was just too much,   I also sketched then!


More details …. The course is a 28km closed loop circuit that travels clockwise around Sydney Harbour, highlighting many magnificent views and harbourside localities. Participants can register and start at any Village, where they can pick up their Event Guide, which includes a course map and official event wristband.  There will be water stations at each Village for participants to fill up their own water bottles..Around the course participants will use existing pathways and will therefore need to abide by normal road rules. No special event clearways or road closures will be in place. All participants walk in a clockwise direction only, so as to ease congestion and make the walk safer for all.

I did sketch and walk on one bridge. I have written about my sketchwalking in a previous blog post. 


The walk was hard work. Much of it was flat, but there were some very challenging and very steep suburban streets which we walked up and down . We walked up and across a bridge and then down to the park at the bottom of them where there would be toilets, water and sometimes food and entertainment.  We walked through some older and historic suburbs and one street had amazing Halloween decorations on most of the houses. 

Sydney Harbour Bridge deserved two sketches (above and below) 

Today (Monday) . Our leg muscles are aching, but that will disappear in a day or two. But the memories and my sketches remain !!!

greeting cards – from sketch to store

Very early in September I started drawing my next range of greeting cards, which would include some Christmas cards and also some drawn of the Supreme Court of Victoria and its architectural features. In hindsight I should have started a lot earlier as I have felt a bit of pressure to get these done to be ready for the Christmas season.

I am going to take you on the journey from an idea sketch to the printed card that can be purchased in stores. I am using my Koala and Gumnut Blossoms as an example.

After deciding to draw Australian animals on Christmas card I had the ‘lightbulb’ moment of including red and green in the gumnut blossoms. The design grew from there, 

I decided on five new cards and had the final drawings completed in watercolour pencil on A4 watercolour paper by the end of September. 

At the same time I reordered some of my previous card designs as stocks were getting low and Christmas is coming up and I have a stall at a big market at Etsy Made Local Melbourne in late November. Before sending my order to the local printing company for my new designs to be scanned and cards printed , I had to decide how many to print of each.  I was very fortunate to have two of local stockists Law Institute of Victoria bookshop and Paperpoint stationery  preorder 10 of some of my cards, including the Christmas koala and possum. I decided on 70 of each . Altogether I ordered 500 cards. 

I dropped my originals off to the printer on 25 September and received the cards on 18 October.  The timeframe was so long because I had received one set of hardcopy proofs to approve but I wanted to change the colour balance on some of them. I was then  sent another set of hardcopy proofs which I approved . Hence the delay. 

In the meantime I ordered 500 envelopes from my usual local stationery store and 500 cello bags to put each card in.

Saturday afternoon on my lounge chair’

Top Row : cello bags, cards, envelopes

Bottom Row: cards in cello bags with envelopes, strips from cello bags .

(hint learned from google searching. Put stickytape sticky side up on put cello strips on this. Otherwise they are full of static and stick to everything and anything . This keeps them in one place. )

They took all afternoon to package. But it was a nice way to occupy a chilly Melbourne Saturday afternoon. 

Today, Sunday, I took some very basic photographs so that I could put my greeting cards for sale on my Etsy online store. This also involves writing descriptions  and choosing keyword tags.  I will need to take  better photographs to showcase the cards. But the aim today was just to get them up online.

Sketching in Sydney

Last week I spent three days in Sydney. Last weeks blog showed my sketches on the way to and from Sydney and a few of the Opera House. This week are the sketches I completed in Sydney.


Sketching with Urban Sketchers Sydney in Surry Hills. An Urban Sketching event had already been organised for the date so I was able to meet with lots of people ,  35 or 40 maybe . I caught up with old friends, met facebook friends and new people. It was a wonderful day and a local example of the connections and friendships of the global urban sketchers group . Read more about Urban Sketchers  here 

thanks to Chantal for the photos











After a full day of sunshine, chatting and sketching I spent the evening relaxing … feet up….

sketching in Sydney

Sketching in Sydney 

A work conference in Sydney this past week provided me the opportunity to stay the weekend and catch up with my Sydney sketching friends . Of course my sketching adventures began on the bus to the airport.

It was empty so I focused on the back of the head of the man in front of me. Then more sketches of planes at the airport and then on the plane . 


I have been fortunate to travel often over the years and have been drawing these places and events each time . I am now becoming quite familiar with the proportions and perspectives of seats on planes .

At the airport each airplane is different and I look for the angles and curves of the nose. I always underestimate the size of it. I think they give it great character . The shadows make a huge difference to defining the shape too . And the length of the wings are always bigger than I think and the windows are smaller. I do comparative measuring of sizes of parts of the plane and put some light marks on the page before drawing (usually in a light grey watercolour pencil) .

As soon as work was over on Friday I walked to Circular Quay to sketch the Sydney Opera House . I was not sure if I would get another opportunity . I know I am in Sydney when I have sketched it!

and then there are the Sydney Ferries at Circular Quay…

I completed another six pages of sketches in Sydney, which I will post next week, before saying a final farewell to the Opera House and Sydney .



Farewell Sydney. See you again soon. 

sketching at the football

Sketching at the football – well, not actually at the football, but in the grounds outside, Yesterday was the AFL (Australian Football League) Grand Final between the Richmond Tigers and Adelaide Crows.

I do not follow the game at all, but it was hard to avoid, especially, since I live a few blocks away from the MGC, where it was being played, and in the suburb next to one of the Grand Final Team (and they won) .

There had been a parade, people queuing for days to get seats etc, and the energy and excitement had been gaining momentum over the week.

I decided to walk down and to the MCG and to experience it and try to capture some that in my sketchbook. There were over 100 000 in the stadium and lots of big screens set up around the outside, with people having picnics, children throwing footballs and a general feeling of something BIG .

I sketched with Lamy Safari ink pen in my Moleskine Watercolour sketchbook and  then changed black and yellow pencils. I could/should have made it lot more colourful and added water to the pencil to reflect the energy. However, I just sketched what I did at the time and then went home just after the two teams ran on, Advance Australia Fair was played and the game began, It was getting cool, raining a little and I did not understand the game.

Below are my four sketches for from the hour I was there…

Christmas is coming

When I am not sketching I am drawing. Over the past nine years that I have been sketching almost daily in my Moleskine watercolour sketchbooks ( I am sketching in my 71st at the moment). More recently I have become involved in other sketching projects that are  not recorded in my sketchbook. They involve drawing on loose sheets of paper. This change in my habits and time spent putting pencil to paper requires an entire blogpost of its own. 

Today’s blog shows what I have been working on over the last month. I plan to have a new range of greeting cards printed in October. There will be five or six. Two are Australian animals which can be given at Christmas, but also used throughout the year. 


Taken at angle . This card will be in landscape format . This is what he looks like now. Needs a bit more work

Here is my possum with gumnut leaves and blossoms. He is not finished yet, as I still need to add his little claws, finish the blossoms and add a bit more depth to the leaves. We have a few difference species of possums in Australia. They are not all this cute, and anyone who has one living in their roof will not think possums are cute at all !

These photos were taken with my camera, when I remembered.  Hence, the strange angles and shadows on the paper. I will show you the finished drawing and cards when he returns from the printers. 

And here is how he came into being. Last year I had comments asking for Australian drawings. I have a cute squirrel, and Plum Pudding and Mince Pies, but nothing Australian. I originally planned the two cards as Christmas cards, I wanted something Christmassy in the drawing, but wanted to avoid putting Santa hats on them. I also thought about the red and green Australian flora we have .


These two concepts combined to create the idea that I followed through with . 








Drawing the little possum with his cute pink nose and big eyes. 

impromptu singing sketching

Some of my sketchbook pages are at planned events and other sketched are taking opportunities when they arise.

On Thursday night I met Judy, Lionel and Angela (non-sketching and sketching friends) for dinner at Chloe’s Bar at Young & Jackson in Melbourne CBD. I arrived early and sketched. 

I knew that we would sketch and was disappointed that the iconic Flinders Street station was covered up with scaffolding. The room was quite busy and I grabbed a table for four in the centre of the room, but that meant that we did not have a view of the Cathedral – oh well , I figured we would sketch the interior, the people the food – there is never ‘nothing to sketch’!

AND then… 

About 20 Men In Suits descended on the room moving tables and chairs so they could sit together. …. . Who are they?

In their own words

      ” Blokes who sing like blokes who can sing, together”

      ” We specialise in uninvited appearances in unexpected places at unscheduled times singing         inappropriate songs to unsuspecting audiences.”

AND then they started to sing acapella- and continued for an hour ( or was it more ? ) known and known songs.

Listen to them here   

We did not know how long they would be there. If I had known it was that long I would have taken more time building up the sketch and trying to capture more character of the singers – and they are all such individual characters !!!!


An unexpected, thoroughly entertaining evening .

They just kept singing and singing. So we kept sketching !

Lionel, Angela and myself, Photo by Judy


Some patrons thought they got great value for money  – singing and sketching as entertainment !