Seashells & Sunlotion, The Wharf in Chinagraph

Thurs Aug 8.1

Thurs Aug 8.2


Are those raindrops on the windows? Are those rainclouds on the horizon? Are those puddles I see on the pavement?

Well guess what!  Rain never hurt anyone, least of all sketchers.

Today’s warmup sketch was to be a Fijian moment, with Sunhat, sunscreen, Hibiscus and seashells, and what better day to do just that.

Umbrellas were shaken and left damply in a corner, and smiles appeared at our sunny still lifes.

People happily started, still remembering to work out where on your page you visualised your sketch, and working out if it was wider than tall.

That way you have a small chance of getting the whole thing in and some nice white space all round.

One of our newer sketchers was very pleased to get 2 sketches done and completed within the hour, like the others. Plus using watercolour for just the second time.

This sort of achievement does please you. Nor can you fiddle around too long on them. You are travelling. You are moving on. It could be the only chance you’ll ever have.

The rain stopped for us to wrap up and head down the hill to Manly Wharf, where we’d be sketching the pylons and water underneath. Good practice if you happen upon a wharf somewhere and want to get the look.

As it turned out we didn’t stay outside, and being right there we took some front tables inside the Wharf Bar.

Fantastic. So cosy sitting inside, heaters warming us, looking out at the rain and grey horizon, ordering coffee, and planning our harbour sketch. Where would you rather be.

Oh and before long it was time to order some excellent burgers or pizza – for those that remembered to stop sketching!

Something different today. Try applying some chinagraph where you’d like some whites, go over with watercolour and do the sketch over the top. Use a little black pen detail or use paint to sketch instead of a pen.

Most people tried this and produced some lovely stories of what they could see.

Stronger colour could then be applied in places to ping it up.

Much fun and enjoyment today.

Thurs Aug 8.3

Talking of Travel Sketching, our Thursday Sketcher Tom is travelling in China and Mongolia. He’s a confident sketcher so is happy to stand in public anywhere on his travels, recording what sums up the essence of wherever he is.

How gorgeous to see the locals sitting in chairs fascinated by watching him at his work. While Tom sketches they ain’t going anywhere!

How wonderful is sketching, that you can share what you do with people who cannot speak your language, but can be inspired perhaps to try this for themselves



Fri Aug 9.1FRIDAY AUGUST 9 ’13

Now today. That’s another kettle of fish – as they say.

Very appropriate considering we’re headed to the wharf later – and you can see the teeny fish swimming around the wharf.

Anyway, back to the Studio and a sunny day.

The ‘Hello Fiji’ setups were very much enjoyed. Or should I say – one was.

We were all on one table, and got so involved we forgot to swap over.

Doesn’t matter at all. The sunhat sketches were lovely and all enjoyed being allowed a little longer on the one they were doing.

Occasionally you can buy more time when you’re travelling and sketching.

A flight delay perhaps? That’s how we sketchers view it. The other travellers are fuming and you are smiling!

A nice trot down the hill in the sun, but still a chilly wind. It’s not quite summer but it’s lovely and fresh anyway.

We checked out the spot we’d be sketching at, and made the decision to take the tables right there inside facing the view, and enjoy spreading out, ordering coffee and share plates of pizza.

So when everyone was settled was a good moment to make the suggestion to try a very loose sketch starting in chinagraph, then adding the watercolour as washes where you’d like the colour to be and finishing off using your pointed brush with watercolour to put in any lines you felt it wanted.

It was rather a new concept if you’ve never tried any other way to sketch, so I did a demo, which helped to make clearer the idea of ‘no pen’ or very little.

Everyone tried their own version and thoroughly enjoyed the ‘doesn’t matter’ approach here.

I call this ‘playing’. Try it out. You may love it. You may not. You’ll have fun regardless.

One of my beliefs about travel sketching is that you should be able to sketch wherever you are at any moment.

If you don’t have your pens, use watercolour pencils instead.

If you only have watercolours, use that with finer paint to establish the lines.

If you haven’t any colours, use a ballpoint pen, anything that makes a line.

Borrow stuff! No excuses.

So another great day sketching and having a good time.

Fri Aug 9.3



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This is what we ordered. Blue blue blue. Very suited to our ‘Hello Fiji’ still lifes.

It was exciting to see Cathy’s sketches from a week in Bali. Just a delight, every one of them. She’s a colourist and Bali does lend itself to that. This is real travel sketching.

The sunhat sketches looked round and the flowers showed nicely against the backdrop.

The sunscreen still life now has an organic orange added, given to me by one of the neighbours who’d been at the early morning markets. Nice.

Four sketches each today. Woohoo. The only group this week to do so.

We did remember to swap tables half way. One gets very immersed when sketching. The world could be exploding and we wouldn’t know.

A nice sunny walk then, down to Manly Wharf Hotel and there awaiting were our dress circle seats.

Saturdays are busier down here. Today the ferry was coming in on this side of the wharf. Their usual side was having pylons replaced. Now that would have been a sketch. A beautiful powder blue crane with huge chains and pulleys, somehow getting these massive poles into place.

Those ferries are rather large, and before this huge buffer system was put in place – not a thing of great beauty – the ferries had been known to plow into the wharf on occasions. So safety before aesthetics.

I had to get everyone to hang on before I could explain what new tricks we’d be up to with our sketches of the wharf, ferry etc.

My buzzer was going and it meant my coffee was ready!!

Thanks Therese, who kindly saved the day.

The chinagraph pencil was out and I did a fast demo of the ferry as it was coming in. Over that all the colours of the sea in watercolours, with the green and gold of the boat. Then pick up any details with your pointed brush. Done, lots of freedom. Lots of surprises. Today everyone loved having a go at this.

Even 2 or 3 from some people. That’s what it’s about. Get them down fast. You’ve just told a delightful story. Sign and date them. Give them a title. Off to the next place.

A very good week and lots of pizza!

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