Category Archives: airplane

my UK holiday sketching journey begins

I am not sure where to begin sharing my sketches and stories from my recent three week holiday to England from Australia, which included the Manchester Urban Sketching Symposium, a week in Manchester, York and London. I have so many wonderful memories associated with each sketch.

I have started scanning the first of three sketchbooks.

My sketching for holidays always begins months in advance. I like the excitement of the countdown to a holiday, the research it involves  and the little things that need to be purchased that let you now you are going on a holiday . I have already written about these:

and that is before the plane leaves the ground !

When I leave, I already have in mind some the opportunities I may have and the scenes I may draw although I do not know what some specifically look like. These are fairly controlled situations and usually involve a lot of waiting time.

  • on the bus to the airport
  • at the airport
  • on the plane
  • my hotel – the exterior and the room, breakfast if it is included

These are the sketches I that I am including today. They are only a selection.  I am adding them all to flickr albums .

Each sketch is a specific memory of time and place, although some are contain generic shapes and objects (airplanes ). The more I draw these the better I get and the more comfortable I am with the process and limitations of time/space/equipment.

23Jul2016 to the airport

On the Skybus on the way to Melbourne airport.

It is a 20 minute bus journey to Melbourne airport . From previous experience, I know that I will have a view of the luggage racks or the back of someone’s head in front of me.

23Jul2016 at the airport

Melbourne airport . our plane !

At the airport there are always lots of planes to draw. It is great if I can draw the plan I am flying in (as in this case), but any plane will do. They involve lots of strange shapes (at the nose of the plane) and inconceivable foreshortening for the rest of it (lots of measuring and comparing size and angles). I usually end up with the wing going off the page . I wrote the notes on the page later to try and remember the process of customs and immigration and what we had to do when.

23Jul2016 on the plane Melb to Abu Dhabi23Jul2016 on the plane Melb to Abu Dhabi 2






22 hours of flight provides lots of drawing time – the people, their shoes, the food and more. How often are you given time like this ! I can easily spend the time trying different techniques. However I am also distracted by the movies,  reading, and discussing our upcoming travel adventure.

28Jul2016 The Midland Hotel

Midland Hotel . Manchester

We were staying in Manchester for a week. I thought that would be plenty of time to sketch the exterior of the stunning Midland Hotel, as well as the interior of the rooms. As usual there was not. Life was so busy and I was still completing the drawings  on the day we were leaving. This drawing was completed in four sessions of between 15 and 30 minutes. I would  leave the hotel at 8ish , walk across the road and sit on the same bench at the back of Central Library and add a few more lines and colour. My new best friends are Venetian red and Dark Sepia Faber Castell watercolour pencils. But more about that later…..

I hope you enjoy joining me on my sketching journey . Please let me know if there is anything you would like me to talk about. I could talk on and on about travel sketching .




travel sketching on the go

I have just spent three days in Sydney after my first year of living in Melbourne. I was going to write a blog including my sketches from the weekend. However, after beginning scanning my 18 pages I realised there were enough interesting transport and travel sketches to put together a post on them alone.

Travelling provides so many opportunities for very quick sketches as well as longer ones.  A lot of time is spent waiting, sitting, standing and  queuing. Some of it is unexpected and some you will know about in advance.  Each opportunity can also provide its own challenges and issues.

6Aug15 bus

My bus ride to the airport (above) was very bumpy. I think I was sitting over a wheel! I sketched with my Lamy Safari Joy ink pen and my hand seemed to bump along with the bus. It seemed to happen when I got to drawing faces – some big noses here. I have drawn on this airport bus previously and am used to where people are positioned and the perspective.

8Aug15 taxi
The taxi ride back to the airport was a lot smoother. I don’t catch many taxis and don’t often draw in them. The subject doesn’t move much!
8Aug15 plane
I always arrive early at the airport and enjoy the time that I can spend sketching planes. I don’t always get to draw the plane I am travelling in. Sometimes I start to draw a plane and all of the landing crew, mechanics and vehicles suddenly move away and the plane leaves. Sketched with my watercolour pencils in Moleskine Watercolour sketchbook (13 x 19 cm ) .

6Aug15 plane

6Aug15 passengersFellow passengers across the aisle can be ideal subjects to draw . (Sometimes the seats are just to close together and I don’t feel comfortable sketching with my passenger right next to me looking over my shoulder ).They sleep, have interesting hairstyles, lots of creases in their clothing to sketch. The sketch above was in ideal circumstances. This was before take-off and all the people stayed in place for me. I sketched this with my Watercolour pencils, but with no water added.  (and I received lovely compliments from the flight crew).

But passengers also move a lot in their seat and unexpectedly  change positions. The lady below moved a few times, but stayed in each one for a while. She also sat with her legs crossed on the seat (how did she do that?) but I missed that opportunity to sketch her.

8Aug15 passenger
and then there are the REALLY quick sketches as people hurry to leave 6Aug15 passengers2

The SEATBELT sign has been turned off at the end of the flight and everyone scrambles to standup, retrieve their belongings and then ….wait and wait. (and sketch)
8Aug15 on the plane

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

Melbourne sketching

 A weekend in Melbourne provided me with an opportunity to sketch.

I went to Melbourne to visit my four sketchbooks I had entered in the Sketchbook Project. Read all about it here. They were on tour in Australia from 1- 9 November. I visited with friends on the final day in the final hours. They had to kick us out.

But my Melbourne adventure started from the moment I left work on Friday, and arrived at the airport to find my plane delayed an hour. Sketching time !!!

baggage on the tarmac

and then on the plane

passengers on the plane

On arrival in Melbourne there was time for iconic sights as well as the iconic Melbourne weather (four seasons in one day !) Sydney does not have trams, so I was determined to draw one while I was here. I looked for the classic yellow and green trams, only to discover that they did not go down the street I was on – just very old grey trams and ones with flashy advertising

Skybus from the airport and a Melbourne tram

How could I not sketch the Flinders Street Station ?- a stunningly beautiful building

I met Evelyn and Kym , Melbourne sketchers at 11am and we sketched the historic Melbourne City Baths from across the road. We just sat down and started sketching, then it started to rain. We could (an perhaps should have) moved under shelter , but just put up our umbrellas for an hour and a half. We had our photos taken by many groups of Asian tourists walking down from the Queen Victoria Markets.

The rain has an interesting effect on  watercolour paper and watercolour pencils.
I spent a very long time on the pencil set up. We each  considered whether to add colour tour pages. I sort off wish I had not. It would have been difficult in warm, dry weather on a dry day as I could but find the right combination of colour. But added challenge of damp changed the way colours and lines reacted. In the end it actually stopped me from being fussy about the result, as it was so uncontrollable.

Were those Melbourne sketchers testing me with the weather elements or was I testing them??? Either way, we all passed!

Sketching in the rain just sketching in the rain, a Glorious feeling I’m happy again. Kym & Evelyn

me & Evelyn. Thanks Kym for the photo.


Then the rain got heavier, we decided we were cold and went to find lunch !


and then to The Sketchbook Project exhibition at the Victorian College of Arts.

Fabulous concept, amazing books ,wonderful atmosphere and the creative juices are flowing !!! We shared the books we borrowed and got to see a lot of books made by other Australian Sketchbook Project entrants of all ages.


  1. get a library card, choose a book, get a random book as well and enjoy!

with Evelyn & Kym
Halina, Louise & I browsing through my Paris travelogue sketchbook. The sketchbook is based on the holiday I took with them in 2007, so we were reliving our holiday


sketching the Sketchbook Project

the next day it was cold , but not raining! the famous coffee shops of Melbourne laneways beckoned. I was talking to much to draw more than my coffee, and even then it was cold.

and after a days adventure I was back to the airport again

sketchbook travel journal : the practicalities

 Recently I reflected on my blog on the realities of sketching and drawing in a sketchbook while travelling, and on how and what/how I would draw. On my holiday in London and Barcelona, I could put my theories into practice and test them to see what happened in reality.
 I also had a chance to experience the realities of the act of sketching while travelling. I now have the opportunity to reflect on the practicalities of sketching . This is what I experienced and will be vastly different for everyone, but might give some insight.

                               PRACTICALITIES – MY PENCILS

I have a customised pencil wrap for my watercolour pencils. Read and see the story of its creation. This was my opportunity to test it out while travelling. I found that the design was great for all of my on the spot sketching, for example leaning up against a wall, at cafes or on the plane. I can have it out in front of me and see all colours at once.   I only lost three pencils in London. (Light Chrome Yellow had to be replaced twice – why was it jumping out??). But losing pencils (and erasers) proved an excellent excuse to visit two amazing art shops that I knew of. They are both traditional shops that are a joy to browse through – lots of wooden drawers with papers, paint pigment for grinding and other Cornelissen & Son Artists’ Colourmen in Bloomsbury and Green & Stone of Chelsea. Heaven


day before London- a lot dirtier and worn now

Sharpener pocket
I had asked for pockets for my eraser and my pencil sharpener.
Sharpener – worked brilliantly. I found that I did not take the sharpener out of the pocket, but put the pencil into the sharpener while it was in the pocket.  The pocket did fill up with pencil shavings, but it worked really well. I think we may make the next version using a sharpener with a container attached to it. I think Staedler make one

Eraser  – did not work. I broke my eraser into smaller pieces and would put one piece in the pocket. However, they fell out and I lost so many erasers throughout London in the first week. Very frustrating. But then, in Barcelona at the Urban Sketching Symposium, we were given lots of freebies by the sponsers. One was a mechanical eraser – It has solved all my problems. And I can put it one of the pencil slots in the wrap.

Tombow mechanical eraser

I slept with my sketch book next my bed (or is that in my bed ??), so that in early hours of the morning (we had long summertime hours in the UK) This was in London in the first few days.

This photo was taken in Sydney, but gives you the idea of how I sketch at the table. Please note  I usually put my pen down when eating. My pencil wrap would be on my lap or on the table


  • As a passenger in planes, trains and cars. This worked best when I knew how long the journey would take 
Sydney Airport

a quick sketch and slow drawing on the long plane journey

  •  In queues. There are plenty of those and some of them very long
on the Tube  no time to sketch! the trains come so regularly

at the check in desk at Barcelona airport. the line moved so fast !!

  • While waiting  for people. When a travelling companions are texting, emailing, resting, shopping. I usually asked for 1/2 hour “meet back here”.  I then had a known timeframe. My travelling companion knew that this was a sketching holiday for me and was prepared to these moments.

and I sketched everywhere 

Albert Memorial


The Tower of London
Trafalgar Square


A closeup of how I hold my sketchbooks and pencils. My sketchbook is balanced ontop of the pencilwrap, so that I can easily lift it up to gain access to the pencils. I also hold a selection of colours I am using in my sketching hand. It sounds awkward but it works for me


outside of St Paul’s Cathedral

outside of St Paul’s Cathedral
I would love to hear others experiences when travelling and any hints and tips. What do you do ?

If you are in Sydney. I am talking about my travel sketchbooks at Erin Hill Sketching  sketchclass on Oct 26 . Book in and I will see you there !

Drawing on envelopes – one week to go (and other travel drawings)

This is my final drawing on an envelope to my travelling companion.  It is my mum. She lives interstate and will be in Sydney next week, to fly out with me to London. A drawing of an airplane seemed a fitting theme for the last envelope in the trip preparation build up. She has told me that all of my envelopes are currently pinned on a notice board at her home. I hope that she will take a photo of them like that so I can add it to this blog.This “drawing on envelopes” began ten weeks ago and I have written about each one each week.
Up Up and Away
This week, I also drew my squirrel envelopes again to post to some English friends we are visiting and also some other English friends in Australia. I am not sure if any of them will appreciate the squirrels, since they are pests in the UK. This was my favourite envelope as  love the way the squirrel is looking up from the page.
squirrel envelopes are multiplying !
AND  my travel drawing this week is my new watch .
Why ? It is a special watch that has vibrating alarms set during the day to remind me to take my tablets. This is the first overseas travel I have done since my serious brain surgery and hospital stay two years ago which I sketched and journalled.
I am well and life had returned to normal, but I now take lots of tablets (packing my carry on bag has been an adventure). Using my mobile phone alarm was becoming impractical. I wanted an alarm that had no sound, just vibrates . I finally found one online and received it in the mail this week (with much less packaging then my pen!) 


So this holiday is very special for many reasons, one of which is that it is a major step to having a normal life  – not that I travel overseas very often! It is the fact that I can if I want to and I am alive and well enough to do so.