Start With Your Eye Level

Thursday 10am. Buildoing Blocks

THURSDAY FEB 27 10am class

Week 4 begins. We didn’t believe it was going to rain. Reports for days said it would.

I like to look at the sky and clouds and work it out myself.

It might matter a teeny bit if we got rain because we’re doing perspective from a high pathway, looking down over rooftops and beyond.

But of course we would first start in the Studio  with our warm sketches of Frenchboxes and building blocks.

We talked about building your house from the ground up.

Look through the viewfinder to see where to place the sketch on your page.

What’s in front of you is biggest and what is going away is smaller.

Same with the boxes. As it’s going away it’s getting smaller. The colours remind me of macarons for some reason.

It certainly gets your mind focussed.

Righto everyone good work.

Let’s get the pics taken and hit the road.

The next class will be hot on our heels if we don’t get going.

Thursday Boxes

So down the hill we trot. Could be rain

Up the step narrow pathway most people would never know is there, and past some older style apartment blocks.

Here we can spend some time looking at the rooflines.

Find your eye level. That’s the biggest clue as to which way everything goes from there.

A few drops begin to fall but being under the tree branches, we are not too concerned. Yet.

But I can see big splotches on some sketches, se we decide to head to the cafe.

Down the steep stone steps zigzagging way down to the street below.

Past the demolition site with the digging machine. We stop and admire it.

We all think that’d make a good sketch.

A few more drops and big grey clouds before we reach the cafe.

Belgrave Cartel this week.

One of our favorites.

The side courtyard is a little wet but the staff have kindly set up a table in the big back room for us.

The light is quite dim but we tune our eyes to work with it.

Now would you like to order coffee first asks the very nice waiter girl.

OMG I thought you’d never ask.

They do an excellent coffee here.

Very European. Very intense flavour and always consistent.

Thursday 10am. Red rooftops

Once we have that it’s time to finish the unfinished sketches.

Every sketcher has a work that tells a story. All have captured the roof and building lines as they go away.

It’s how much to leave out that’s interesting.

You want to capture the essence of where we are. To get the character of the scene.

This is Manly and you want it to look like that.

Green eggs and ham jaffles are the comfort food of choice today. Rainy day food.

So we multi task as we eat, drink, paint, chat.

Really great work today everyone.


THURSDAY 11.30am Class

Image 5

THURSDAY 11.30am.  FEBRUARY 27 ’14

Good morning to the second group today.

We eagerly get settled and observe the two still lives for us to sketch in the studio today.

We are observing ‘perspective’ today, something most of us find challenging. However, this exercise of sketching the ‘building blocks’ and the ‘French boxes’, you’ll soon see it’s not as daunting as first thought.

Image 2

It will be a matter of applying the usual, how wide, how high, and additionally – where the horizon line/eye level is, and how those parts that move away from you get smaller.

We talked a lot about how to ‘see’ what is in front of us, and before long everyone was happily busy on their first sketches.

With the usual happy banter, we manage to sketch both still lives before getting ready to head down the hill to the next location.

Today’s weather however is not being as kind as before, and we have rain! So, the hardy bunch that we are, simply whipped out our ‘brollies’ and headed down the hill.

Like a colourful trail of flowers.

Image 4

Once we were in the little park between Tower Street and Eustace Street, we observed the roof top views that were in keeping with our theme today.

We balanced our umbrellas at the shoulder, and quickly got the pen work in, sketching the sloping roofs surrounded with a bit of foliage and perhaps a church steeple or the quaint back yard areas below us, before heading off to Belgrave Cartel to continue with the colour.

Image 3

Otherwise the rain would have added quite too much of the ‘water’ in watercolour!

No one was complaining, and we were ready for our coffees anyhow.

We bundled in, with umbrella’s almost inverted as the wind was picking up now too!

Grateful for our lovely large table with cosy surrounds, we all delighted in our adventurous sketching and completed them with colour.

Image 1

Amazing how some of the fast sketching results in beautiful work!

We relished the coffees and teas and our delicious lunch, thanks to the Belgrave Cartel crew who always impress us.

We’ll be back again soon, great sketching everyone!




Friday Blocks


So we had rain.

Thought we had a deal on that.

Not Thursday Friday or Saturday!

No worries mate, as we say Downunder.

Judy and I always have a plan B up our sleeves anyway.

Everyone arrived with wet coats and umbrellas, so we used the easel in the window as a coat stand and umbrellas lined the wall.

One lovely sketcher had a couple of white flowers she’d found on the way, and left them on our doorstep to brighten up the day for anyone passing.

I like that. There’s always a nice little gesture you can do for strangers.

It can make someone’s day and you’ll never quite know.

We rush and push ourselves so much, but sometimes to take a breath and let someone in, smile at a stranger or similar, and it makes us feel good too.

But I digress.

Everyone had a darned good go at seeing how the lines went away on the perspective still lives. French boxes and little building block houses.

Observe which way the angles go compared to the edges of your page.

Once you have those foundation lines in at the base of the sketch you can build it up from there.

One sketcher was so excited about it all, she’s coming again tomorrow.

For another, this was her second day this week.

To me, if you overcome all that baggage people carry about perspective, and just quietly observe where all the lines lead, you will have it sorted forever.

They are quite simply just one shape compared to another.

Friday French boxes

Yep still raining, so grab your coats and umbrellas and let’s get to our Plan B location

All the way down the hill and straight ahead till you see Manly’s oldest church.

The Congregational Church founded in 1862.

That’s old for here you know.

Great spot for us. Coffee round the corner and a big verandah to shelter beneath and there’s our subject.

Not even much perspective to worry about from here. We’re pretty square on to it.

Judy works with sketchers on watercolour techniques. Delicious ochres and reds in that sandstone.

Before long we were all sketching happily and enjoying the decorative aspects that churches are known for.

Lots of stained glass – that’s your classic feature – and big arched doors. You got it.

We discovered a stranger sketching alongside us. We asked her if she was local.

No I’m from Urban Sketchers Singapore.

How lovely. She’d liked the idea of sketching this old church too.

I gave her my card so she can look us up.

Ok we’re off to Belgrave Cartel.

Friday. Manly's oldest Church

We took a short cut through Chancery Chambers, past where Mrs Morley used to have her haberdashery in that ‘cupboard’.

Wow there’s someone new in there.

We popped our heads in and asked what her new business is. The aroma  was divine.

I’m a herbalist she said. I do all sorts of delicious teas, fragrances and oils.

I do a consultation here at the counter and mix something to suit the customer.

She’s called it Jo’s Haberdashery.

Mrs Morley lives on in essence.

Love local businesses.

Anyway, I keep getting distracted.

We scurry on to reach the cafe and take over the back room pretty much.

It’s a very comforting place. We sit inside and look out to the narrow courtyard and watch the rain come down.

Before long we’re all immersed in coffee, paint, jaffles and salads. Happiness reigns.

You’ll love seeing today’s sketches together.  Excellent work all.



Saturday building blocks


What a funny week. Two different sketch locations, two different cafes, and two different months.

Meaning we had February and March in the same week!

Well that really was serious rain.

The sort most wouldn’t venture out into at all.

However, we sketchers carry on smiling through it all.

A few groans as people arrived but once settled everyone had a good long look at the still life setups in front if them.

At first a few lines here and there go a bit squiffy, but a little scumbling usually brings your eye back to the lines you want as opposed to the ones you don’t.

Everyone’s been given a sheet this week, which is a simple guide to how your eye level decides what happens above or below it.

We talk about that as it’s going to make a difference whenever we sketch architecture anywhere.

Saturday French boxes

We wrap up in our rain gear and head off to the old church down the bottom of the hill.

Now it decides to bucket down. Straight out of the sky.

We arrive at our corner, under shelter and nice and dry. Coffee is already being brought back from the little hole in the wall cafe nearby.

A little time taken to observe the church is a moment well spent.

Some of us stay streetside and others see that the Church is open and decide to pay a visit.

The lovely lady looking after things puts some organ music on for us.

It’s such a lovely old timber interior and makes for great sketch inspiration.

As it gets nearer to lunch a quick decision is made not to go to the cafe we’ve been to this week.

We know wet Saturdays are bedlam there, but are pretty sure we’d get a table at the little Pizza bar down the arcade nearby.

Saturday churches

A good decision. We take a couple of tables and order some tasty pizza or servings of chicken, chickpea patties or even panini with delicious fillings.

Such great value too. $10 for a pizza, and $5 dishes of ‘Street food’. I had to take some home. Where can you get anything for $5 that will sustain you while sketching!

Coffee comes from nearby cafes and can be brought with you.

When I do the pics of the church sketches it had stopped raining.

So we conclude a week with two sketch locations and two different cafes.

That’s travel sketching for you. You sketch wherever you find yourself.

Just terrific work everybody. You’re all in together now, new or not.


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