Gravestones and Serenity

Thurs Sep 19.2

Thurs Sep 19.1jpg


Hello it’s Christy here. Erin is with the sketchers in Fiji till the end of this week, and in the interim, Vivianne and I, will tutor the remaining classes till the end of term.

The decided destination is “North Head” for the end of term sketches this time, so we are the first class of the week joining me out there on a perfect day, to sketch at cemetery No 3, with its amazing view of the bay and city outline in the distance.

We all met at the ‘Bella Vista Café’, got a coffee and while waiting sketched our first brief sketch of the view or ‘café & chairs & others’, before heading up to the cemetery. We had a group of 9 today, and we all busied ourselves with chatter about the area and various paths and walks one can do at the North Head Sanctuary. It truly is beautiful!

 Thurs class 1

The flourish of “Flannel Flowers” that greeted us at the gates of the cemetery were breathtaking. For a good while, we all ambled around reading the head-stones and marvelling at the amazing view.

Before long we’d busied ourselves with sketches of close ups of the flowers, or compositions of the view and head-stones in the foreground. I also liked one of the sketches that approached this in a vignette style.

Each sketch today portrayed a distinct “moment” captured, and as a “Travel Sketching group” this is a successful progression through the term. When out and about, we take our sketching ‘bits and bobs’ and sketch brief moments of the places we’ve been, and the things we’ve seen, and add colour. The final product is not the portrait but rather the snap-shot of memories and emotive recall of a place, smell, how one felt etc. A far more valuable token in my opinion!

Thurs class 2

 Once finished sketching at the cemetery, we headed back to the ‘Bella Vista Café’ to have lunch and a final sketch of the view, or our lunch, coffee’s etc. We were seated at a lovely long table (a few extra tables were added on to the sides considering our large group) and we sat gazing at the view of the city-scape and busy harbour bay.
Many boats were busying themselves streaking white-water-tails behind them. A couple of sea-planes were making their way through our lunch time entertainment too, and I was pleased to see many of the sketchers captured them, inked in, along with the rest of the memories.One of the sketcher’s who’d boldly used “soya sauce” in her sketching the previous week, took note of my beetroot-carrot-ginger-celery juice, and started sketching what looked like an aerial view. To finish off I believe some beetroot juice was applied!Our “Perfect day in Paradise” as one sketcher remarked, came to an end and we all parted ways, with the eager anticipation of reuniting again for next term. Thank you one and all, it’s been a pleasure!

 Thurs Sep 19 3………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………


Fri 1Fri 2jpg


On a rather blustery day at the North Head, our sketchers were thrown all kinds of weather, from sun to rain and winds then back again to varying degrees of sun and cloud.

There were 6 in the group today, and we all started our first sketches at the café, accompanied by a coffee or tea. We had toyed with the idea of heading to the “view of the cliffs” at the end of the road to sketch there. However with the unpredictable weather, we decided to stay close by the café and opted for sketching at the cemetery as the class the day before had done.

Fri 3

Once out at the cemetery, it was remarkable how breathtaking that initial view is! No matter how long you spend, it still captivates you to keep watching the ever-moving landscape, with the South Head in the distance and the ferries and yachts weaving their way through the bay.

We all quickly got sketching what was around us. Some sketchers did close ups of the Flannel flowers, and of course the view was worth spending time on a full composition. The breeze was definitely causing a few disturbances, as we held onto our hats and papers in a flurry of gusts.

006Fri 4

 In one instance, I was chatting with one of the sketchers and we were commenting on how superb it would be to live on the South Head right at the tip where there is an attractive looking ornate home.
Then as if to point out exactly where we were both gazing, the clouds parted and a shaft of pure sunlight lit up the exact area where the house was! Too funny, we were then marvelling how the light was changing how we saw things in the distance.
Fri 5

Before long we were making our way back to the café. Thankfully we were given a table inside the café, as it was a little too cold and windy for outside conditions today.

So we finished up our beautiful sketches from today, and enjoyed our lunch together. Today’s sketching was impressive, several breakthroughs were noted, in how we approached our compositions. Many smiling faces at the end of today! Thank you all! Have a lovely break and see you next term.

Fri 6


 We got all seasons in one day today, sweating it out in the sun and feeling chilly in the shade.Getting to the gorgeous Bella Vista Cafe, we were told the table we wanted later on was reserved, only to find out it had already been reserved for US!!! Take away coffees were ordered and we went on our way up the path to the North head Cemetery.We were all in awe at the peace and quiet …and the beautiful view that Sydney gave us.

I think its fair to say that there was something special and contemplative about being in such a quiet spot, with such an expansive view and surrounded by gravestones!

 Everyone went their own little way and seemed to really connect with what they were sketching. Cathy was moved upon finding a headstone for a nurse whose life was “sacrificed to duty.” Her sketch became a sign of respect and an ode to someone who must have been an amazing woman.

We talked about Caths’ wonderful “loose style” of drawings and that they conveyed an energy  you simply don’t get from a super realistic hard edge line drawing. We giggled at Cath finding her “life force and energy ” while sitting on a grave in a cemetery!

More Cemetery puns ensued with Janette adding a bit of colour around one her ships to avoid the “halo” look…it was there-after nicknamed the “ghost ship”… and a beautifully painted tombstone was stopped from floating away with the addition of a “sitting down line.”

Penny really wanted to challenge herself with painting the whole vista, and we spoke of capturing the foreground, middle and background…We looked at the clusters of leaves on trees as shapes, with shadows on brighter areas, and she painted some beautiful foliage with a lovely mix of bright greens yellows and blues.

Filled with the caffeine of two coffees, Rooi was absolutely determined to draw the cross on a tombstone…looking at it from underneath no less. She does like to challenge herself that gal!  Again we visited perspective and getting the angles right, which she managed spot on.

We also spoke about using more intense colour in the area of your sketch which you wish to be your focal point.

More sail boats were observed after lunch with a little posse resembling mother duck and her smaller ducklings. Never did boats look so cute…

We had a beautiful lunch with bruschetta, ‘Paris’ sandwiches and a beef burger…but had to make sure the Kookaburras didn’t swoop in to grab our goodies, with the staff almost casually saying that, if they get your food, we will just make a new serving for you!

So, no sketching during eating as our hands were too busy forming a cage around our food!

Lots of “oohs and aaahs’ and “wow you guys are so talented” from the staff at Bella vista and we all left smiling after another beautiful Saturday morning doing what we love.


Christy & Vivianne for ErinHill 2103

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