Sketching Down Mexico Way

Thursday 10am.FruitPG

THURSDAY MARCH 13 2014. 10am Class.

This week we’ve travelled from last week’s cool climate of Scandinavia to  the hot climate and colours of Mexico.

We’ve sketched brightly coloured fruit and vegetable still life’s and enjoyed pouring colour one over the other and seeing the pigments work.

Using the china graph to scribble in your whites is a great timesaver.

You can freely add your colour and know that the white will be maintained as you sweep your colour in.

One sketchers seemed a little hesitant. I’ve noticed this before.

‘I seem to need a practice run on my warm up sketch before I loosen up’

Fully understand.

We later agreed a margarita to start class would sort that.

Thursday 10am Veg.

On our way to Chica Bonita, our Mexican Cantina, we take a turn down Chancery Chambers, past where 100yr old Mrs Morley had her haberdashery, to the place next door – Just Gents barber.

Kylie has 3 very original barber’s chairs in a row, each with a dark framed mirror for the 3 Amigos to each see his what’s going on under their sombreros.

Once we’d done enough to get the impression we wanted, it was time for some salsa and margaritas.

Thursday 10am Barber shop

Chica Bonita is just a little corner place, quite long and narrow inside but so full of character, with it’s decorative crosses, sculls and dripping candles.

The music soon has fingers clicking.

Obviously for some of us it’s time to go 2 doors down and order our coffee from Infinity.

They’re actually a fab bakery but they do a mean coffee.

Works fine. Chica Bonita has the bar and the others do the coffee bit.

We ask for brightly coloured cups as we like to sketch those rather than takeaway ones.

These things matter to us.

Thursday 10am Chica Bonita

Tippy is in charge today, with a red flower behind one ear and a slash of red lipstick.

Right in character.

Burritos and guacomale are all ordered and thoroughly enjoyed.

They do excellent Mexican here.

At last some manage a sketch of their surroundings while a few barbers chairs get the finishing touch.

Excellent progress being made this week.

The sketches look terrific.


THURSDAY MARCH 13 ’14. 11.30am Class

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THURSDAY MARCH 13 ’14. 11.30am Class

We arrived at the studio to find beautiful fruit and vegetable ‘still-lives’ set up for us, by Erin.

What a brilliant motivator to get our sketching pens and paints out!

With vibrant colours and good-looking fruit and veg, I heard one of the sketchers remark that she’d love to bite into one of the carrots. Luckily we were heading out on location with coffee and lunch still to come, otherwise we may have been missing several fruit and veg from the still-lives for later classes!

Before we delved into our sketches, we looked over the ‘inspirational wall’ and a few extra sketches I’d sourced for today, which helped us to talk about the basics when approaching our sketches.

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Leaving ‘whites down the top and sides’, the use of ‘chinograph’ and vibrancy of colour at your focal point, all aid in helping us attain the sketches we want to bring to the paper today.

Our smaller group today, was wonderfully motivated and the first two sketches from our time in the studio, were beautifully vibrant and very much in keeping with what the theme of today would be…Mexican!

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We then headed out down the hill on our bright sunny day, and found the ‘Just Gents, Hairdressing for Men’, which had been planned as our location sketch for the day.

We had a couple unable to complete today’s class, although they would have loved to, and so our little group got a little smaller.

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But unperturbed we peeked in to see what sketching the barber chairs would be like, as they hadn’t wanted us to sketch from inside.

And, our little group was happier sketching the neighbouring bookstore, and so we did! When you go out sketching, it’s the subjects that catch our eye, our enthusiasm and hold our attention, that are the things to sketch.

We quietly sketched colourful bookracks, and the entrance, and even a guitar in our sketches on location.

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We then happily made our way to what is possibly one of our favourite cafés in Manly, ‘Chicabonita’.

Oh what fun! We were dispersed onto smaller tables, but that added to the narrow-gully-nature of the café.

We love it, and were saturated for sketching choice, and so we forged into new sketches of what was around us.

Exactly right everyone! And another vibrant, colourful and happy day sketching comes to an end.

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A hot day almost like being in Mexico.

Little beads of sweat appear on our delicate brows.

So very suitable to follow our theme of the week.

Everybody arriving is pleased with the gorgeous bright colours of the fruit and veggie still life choice. Early arrivers get stuck in for a head start.

30 minutes with colour for both sketches. A lot of decisions to make.

Mostly what to leave out.

Don’t get caught up with patterns on fruit or veggies.

It’s the intrinsic shape you’re after.

Then if using watercolour paint, use the chinagraph pencil to highlight where your whites will be.

Both groups of sketches were very strong and colourful.


We gathered our belongings and headed off towards our next location outside Just Gents.

The 3 old chairs sit there staring straight ahead as they’ve always done. Easy to sketch just get that solid feeling.

We just missed the Amigo getting a hair cut.


Now to Chica Bonita. Our Mexican Cantina.

We are arriving before the crowds so Tippy with that fab big red flower in her hair, gives us  a choice of tables.

We like to sit together overall. Then we can share our ideas and be inspired by what the others are doing.

Now for the Infinity coffee.

A perk up of energy is just what’s needed at this moment.

So much concentration is required when sketching.

We can sip coffee and relax while perusing the menu.

What is the essence of where you are.

That is what sketching is great for.

A little this or a piece of that and you’ll have no doubt where you were.


All our sketchers are now confident and happy with what they do.

Much less now of the doubt which can hold one back.

Everyone knows how to layer watercolour paint and watercolour pencils when using the 2 mediums.

Knowing the tricks and using your knowledge will give you a memorable sketch and will work every time as all of today’s have.

Another great day for the sketchers.



IMG_4940 IMG_4935



Today another glorious sunny day in Manly.

That was lucky because we’ve gone all Mexicana this week and it wouldn’t  be quite the same in gumboots and drizabones so we’d better get those sombreros out!

It’s Judy here, I usually do Friday,  but joined the class today as it was a very full one. Good to have another hand or three.

We had a new student today who was going to be thrown in the deep end and learn how to see and actually put pen to paper (shock horror does that mean you actually have to sketch immediately?)

Yes – nothing better than committing straight away once you have been shown how to move forward with confidence.

So our colourful array of fruit and vegetables with the odd token gesture of a Mexican inspired ornament was our subject matter.

Yummy contrasts of colour ranging from deep aubergines to bright orange carrots and yellow peppers.

This is where you can go bananas with your watercolours (but yes we’ve got no bananas today – hmmm reminds me of a song ….)


Some gorgeous results were achieved by everyone in the studio before heading down the hill to our next location; a good old fashioned barber shop in the heart of Manly.

The customers must have felt like stars from Australia’s Next Top Model today as we encircled the shop with pens and paper at the ready and quickly began to sketch them being shorn.

Gee those barbers chairs can be challenging to sketch but everyone did amazingly well in a very short space of time.

We had to fly a bit to be sure to get tables at lunchtime so we rapidly bade farewell or adios to our amigos at the barbers and nestled into the Cantina.

Surrounded by colourful tiled tabletops Mexican donkeys and some tropical plants we could almost be in Cancun.

But no, Tippy the waitress with an enormous cherry red hibiscus tucked behind her ear and tattooed from head to toe definitely added a bit of an Aussie / Cantina dash.

Sketches were done of our lovely surrounds and help given on finishing off the barbers shop sketches.


Mmm how do I achieve light and shade when the object is white?  Use the caramel, red and blue to get some lovely warmth and shade at he same time.

A lot of guacamole and tortilla chips seemed to be popular – and rather colourful to sketch too.

Not everybody had enough time to sketch their lunch but “no worries, que sera, sera”.

A great week everybody. Every sketch a joy.





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