Category Archives: Opera House

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. 


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