Category Archives: Manly

Easter weekend in Sydney

Last weekend I visited Sydney. It was my second visit since I moved to Melbourne two and a half years ago. I had lived in Sydney for ten years and made many good friends there, especially in the sketching world. 

I planned my visit to spend some quality time with friends, and I did, I had some lovely conversations and sketching time. It was definitely a sketching holiday and so relaxing. I filled twenty five pages of my Moleskine watercolour sketchbook (13 x 19) over the four day break.

I’ve included a few on this blog. If you would like to see them all they are on my flickr site from 13 to 17 April 2017.

I started sketching as soon as I left work on Thursday and was officially ‘on holidays’ – on the bus to the airport, at the airport. I sketched the view from where I stayed each night, food I ate and scenes along the way.  Some sketches are in ink and some in watercolour pencil and some a combination of both . Sometimes I can visualise what I would like a sketch to look like on the page, and I “know” (inside) that it will work in pen rather than watercolour pencil. On another day or another time I may have chosen different material. 

I am usually very happy with what i put on the page. Every now and then I am exceptionally pleased. I felt that this sketch of the cruise ship in Sydney Harbour really came together when I added the figures, The Sydney Opera House is in the background and it is a temptation to make it the focus.  However it did not fit on the page, so my decision was made.

I like to combine a feature of a building and the larger building to give it some context. This is beautiful The Russell Hotel  where I stayed on Thursday night.  I could spend some time on the interior, as I was leisurely eating my breakfast, and not meeting Chris and Liz til 10 am.  I tried not to get caught up in the detail of the staircase, The exterior sketch was done quickly, as once again I did not want to get caught up in the detail. I have been trying to figure out which room I was in and where I sketched from the Sitting Room Balcony, but it is a confusing building inside, with little staircases and rooms everywhere. 

Catching the ferry to Manly from Circular Quay. I sat on the top deck at the back. I watched as the city disappeared into the distance. This couple sat for a short amount of time on the bench in front of me. I got the lines of their heads and his arm down very quickly on the page, and was really pleased with the flow of the lines and getting their position down on the page. I can look at this and feel where his weight is and how she turns her head,. I ,quickly added some colour with my watercolour pencils, which was just as well, as they moved. I decided not to add the colour of the sky and water. 

Classic Manly on Easter Sunday. The Manly ferry , the coastal pine trees and Easter Eggs.

I sketched with about 12 few of Erin’s sketchers at Manly. I had met two when I was in Sydney, and had a lovely time chatting and sketching with them all. 

and home again. 

At the airport I decided   – no more sketching – (I did have a book to read) UNLESS I sat behind someone with fantastic hair, There was no one on the plane – but on the bus, there was a young girl with wonderfully braided hair AND bunny ears. How could I resist???? I’ve never drawn braids before and it was a  challenge ! It keep me very busy on the way into Melbourne city. Once I figured out the pattern, I could continue it while I waited for another bus.

I hope you have enjoyed my holiday. 

Please let me know if you have any questions about my sketching, using watercolour pencils, or my sketchbook journalling. I love to share my passion/obsession with sketching and the joys of watercolour pencils. 


Sketching at Erin’s

I was invited to Erin Hill’s Sketchclass on Friday to give a short talk about my travel sketching. I’ve talked to the Saturday group before, but not the Friday people. Have a look at Erin’s Scandinavian sketching session this week for our results. I gave a quick 10 minute talk about me and my sketching. I brought along my two London/Barcelona sketchbooks from my holiday in July last year. See these on my flickr page in the  London and Barcelona  SETS.  My sketchbooks were eagerly devoured by the class of enthusiastic sketchers. I think that looking through my sketchbooks provided them with an idea of the sort of things that can be sketched, with a different approach and  style.

 ” the power point converter for the UK – who would have thought of that”
“oh look … suitcases”

I also write notes on my pages -(something that not everyone does) and use watercolour pencils in a few different ways on the page. Read here about my watercolour pencils

I also brought along my current Moleskine watercolour sketchbook of which I was on the final pages. I started it one month ago.  Lots of time to sketch now. I approached the day as if it were a holiday. And it was an adventure. I knew that I was going to Manly , so  drew a map. Then at Circular Quay, where I had time before my ferry left.

The ferry ride takes 30 minutes, so I knew I had that time to sketch. I had run out of ink in my Lamy Safari Joy pen, so  I used the first pencil I took out of my pencil wrap to draw the people on the ferry.


Then down to business – looking outside the ferry window . I was experimenting with blue today.  Australian sky blue is difficult to get right and the ocean can be a challenge too. I like the Derwent Inktense Sea Blue. When combined with other blues in my sketchkit it has a good colour.

So after three pages I arrived at Erin’s class and gave my talk and my sketchbooks were quickly passed around. But not for long, as it was down to classwork (but we continued to chat through the morning and over lunch). While the students did the wonderful experiment of drawing a drawing upside down (it makes you draw lines that you see rather than those you think should be there), I drew the gift Erin gave me – some delicious and decadent looking pastries .


I drew them for 15 minutes, while the class did their lesson and then completed it at home. Although I do not have a sweet tooth , I find biscuits and cakes fun to draw and I seem to have quite a collection now . See them here



next : 15 minutes – draw something from your bag – my keys

Then a walk to a wonderful local store The Modern Furniture Store where they generously allowed us to sit in the store and sketch.

and home on the bus… a full day of drawing . I Love it !

Erin Hill’s travel sketch workshop

Today I travelled to Manly to give my third (or is it fourth) guest presentation at Erin Hill’s Sketch Class. (Scroll down to the bottom of her page for today’s class photos and sketches). I had the privilege of sharing my enthusiasm and excitement about sketchbook travel journaling. I talked about how and when I sketch and why. I hope that is provided a little insight into the world of travel sketching.
I sketched my day from the start to finish , so that when I arrived at the class I already had sketched on the ferry. I left a space for the map, which I completed at home. I penciled in a heading, and completed at home, to match the colours I used on the page during the day.
leaving Circular Quay on the Manly Ferry. A classic view of the Opera House and Sydney  Harbour Bridge
Arriving at Manly Wharf and sketched at the wharf
After my short chat we did our own travelling from Erin’s Studio at Manly to Shelly Beach. It is a 15 minute beachside walk . Just perfect on a sunny day. We stopped twice along the way to sketch the scenery, sculptures on the way, plants and people. It was a chance to try and capture the essence of a moment or place on paper.
Sandstone cliffs on the Manly to Shelly Beach beachside walk
View to Shelly Beach as we got closer
Water dragons sunning by the side of the path
Our final destination was the Sand Bar café at Shelly Beach. We continued to sketch – I did my lunch of course. One of the newest sketchers had her priorities right – her lunch plate on her lap and sketchbook  on the table !
View from Shelly Beach and my lunch from the Sand Bar Cafe
It was all over to soon and time to say goodbye til next time.


and I sketched on the way home, finishing with the ferry ride home.
so many sail boats on the harbour

view of the sailboats from the ferry

Erin’s Sketch class and a days travel journaling

My first blog post, on 27 March this year was prompted by going to Erin Hill sketching classes to show her students how I use my watercolour pencils. I talked about it to the class and then I realised I really needed to put it in writing, as so much of it happens in my head. So that became my first blog.  Read about the steps I go through here

Yesterday, I had the honor of being invited back by Erin to show her current Sketch class how I use my pencils. I decided to also use it as travel journal day, as I knew it would be a full day out and I may have the opportunity to capture moments on my day. This is all in planning for my very upcoming holiday to the UK.

I filled 8 pages of my Moleskine watercolour sketchbook. You will notice that there are a few different styles. Each is suited to where I am and the time I have, and how I feel.

I started my day on the bus into Sydney city and was not planning to draw, but the man in front had a hair “style” worth drawing. I knew I had 20 to 30 minutes to draw him, until the bus reached the city. When I got home at the end of the day I realised I had not  left a page for a map for my travel journal day , so I squished it in on the page around him.

On the ferry from Sydney city to Manly I had 30 minutes to draw something. No one else was outside where I was sitting, so I drew the scenery and me.  There is never nothing to draw! When I got to Erin’s class, one of the other students had also drawn her crossed legs on her journey in


At Erin’s class this week the theme was glass bottles and jars and she had them set up on the tables. I choose these old pottery bottles. I drew them once and then a second time to show the class of 10 how I use watercolour pencils. As you can see from the second drawing, there is not a lot of marks on the paper, bit there was a lot of discussion and questions. I hope that I opened the students eyes as to the different ways watercolour pencils can be used to make marks on paper and how I use them. It was inspirational to talk with them.

Erin has Thursday Friday and Saturday classes and the students glass bottles and jars drawings from those days  are here. A wonderful variety of styles, line work and colours !

We then walked a short way to a local Art gallery “Raglan Gallery” to sketch. They had some lovely glass and ceramic bowls and jars, but I chose a small alabaster classical statue.





 After about  30 minutes we went next door for lunch and more sketching . Although we were eating in, I noticed that their takeaway cups were blank – a ready made canvas.   I have only recently “discovered” this,  and have drawn on coffee cups at Cockatoo Island and  RPA . People have been doing this for ages and there a entire blog using them as the canvas for New York City.
At lunch I sketched y lunch, some of our group. Some of them also sketched on a cup  
After a few lovely hours with fellow sketchers, I made my way back to the ferry terminal, to discover the next ferry was not leaving for another 30 minutes. Time for another sketch! I drew the view across the water to the beautiful buildings . Then I saw the ferry pulling in, so quickly went through the ticket gate to join the queue. I was at the back of the queue, which didn’t move, as we had to wait for all the passengers to come off –  so I sketched the people !

 And then finally – a VERY big swell saw the ferry moving up and down in the waves as we left Manly Harbour. I could see how much we were moving as the horizon moved from the top of my line of vision to the bottom. A man stood on the side deck enjoying it all.
I think sketching the scene may have stopped me from getting seasick
A very big, long day, but I was immensely pleased with what I captured in my sketchbook and the opportunity to sketch with other motivated people

St Andrews College, RPA