Sketching. Ripples and Reflections



More blue skies.

Great that we decided to do water and reflections this week.

We have lots to cover during a term and water and the way it moves and reflects is a very important lesson, given that we are surrounded by it.

Our still life setups are goggles and snorkle with sea shells, the other a beach towel with shells.

We need to remember to measure the shape you see. Good to have a plan for where your sketch will go on your page.

Is it wider or taller?

Turn your page to suit.

Then re-measure to find the middle.

You now have something of a plan for your sketch.

You know where it’s going to be on the page.

For watercolour put your chinagraph around tops and sides to establish the light.

Get your colours ready and layer them down one over the other.

Load your brush. Big strokes. No fiddly painty painty.

You’ll be there all day.

Let the damp paint work its magic.


Christy arrives for her class. We pack up and head off.

Down James St we go and on past the Art Gallery to the little wharf area by Manly Pavilion.

The wharf pylons are perfect for seeing the rich cerulean, deep greens and purple in the ripples and reflections.

We are looking at how to translate that into a speedy sketch version.

The demo I do uses those colours one over the other while still damp.


We all enjoy the effect.

We talk about the difference between sketching and travel sketching.

Time. That’s the difference.

Getting your impression down in the available time.

With a touch of colour washed over.


Time to take our table at the Manly Cove Cafe.

A little time now to add colour if it’s not done yet.

The sketches turn out beautifully.

Coffee is ordered and some try the little samosas.

Very tasty and a nice finale to another good sketching day.

With a few challenges thrown in. Of course.



Image 18

“Hello, its Christy here” and I’m taking the second group of sketchers today.

We have a smaller group, but we do produce the goods! Just check out our lovely sketching.

We quickly got talking about the ‘beachy’ still-lives kindly set up for us, and how it would be best to approach today’s sketching.

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The basics will always apply; so make sure you’re paying attention to measuring up before you get started; once sketched in, make use of the chinograph for your white areas, and pay attention to where your focal point is by applying vibrant colour in this area.

A whole lot of fun happens when the colour is applied.

Before long, two sketches are produced and we look back at what was presumed challenging and realize it wasn’t that bad!

Beautiful vibrant sketches, and we all feel like going to the beach, thanks to the beach towel, snorkel and goggles and seashells!

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It’s that time of the day when we can head out into the warm sunshine and make our way to our next location.

Happily with a skip in our step, we’re heading for the Manly Cove area, just next to the ‘Sea Life Aquarium’, to sketch the wharf pylons and water.

We quickly get settled and all look enviously at the remarkably organised sketcher who’s brought along a little fold out chair to sketch in comfort.

However, this doesn’t hold the rest of us back, and before long when we’re applying our colour, we’ve found our seats on the ground and are happily getting on with things, as passers by marvel at our beautiful work.

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We’ve so enjoyed this location and our sketches reveal that inky green water, that mesmerizes one, lapping up against the under side of the wharf and barnacled-pylons, which leads the eye up to the curved arches and Mediterranean style buildings above it.

It makes an excellent composition and we feel like we’ve been somewhere else entirely, a little vacation for the mind while we’ve sketched today!

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Next we head to the ‘Manly Cove Café’, which is right there next to us, and settle down very grateful for the juices and other drinks on offer.

It has turned out to be a far warmer day than anticipated.

We cheerfully chat about our ‘journeys through our art’, what interested us to start sketching etc, at our little table shaded by the umbrellas.

We’re enjoying the view and sketching the brilliant-red kayaks on the waters edge for our last sketch of the day.

Image 19





Judy here writing up our Friday class – I look forward to my day teaching, it’s such a nice atmosphere and lovely sketchers.

Today our travel sketchers scratched their heads when faced with the array of objects in the studio. It was our “beach theme” day  – oh yes we’ve gone nautical.

On one table the towel and sea shells provided a new challenge with free form shapes and folds, creases and shadows.

On the other table the mask, snorkel and shells was a completely different challenge with shapes we recognize but may feel unsure about how to sketch.

Than goodness Erin didn’t include a crumpled wetsuit and spear gun!

But true to form our class got stuck in and soon discovered some new things.

This was everybody’s chance to “go with the flow”

(the flow of the shapes, the flow with watercolour and the biggest one of all : to go with the flow with yourself and simply sketch and forget about being perfect!).

A few ladies seemed to suddenly have an “ah ha” moment and loved their new found confidence confidently putting lines on the paper instead of overthinking things and sketching tentatively.

“This is what I’ve always wanted!” said one lady with a beaming smile looking at her more confident work.

That feels good – happy sketchers indeed.



So after some fabulous results we headed off downhill to Manly Cove.

I was thinking……..Aren’t we lucky to have the studio in such an amazing location so close to the heart of Manly and the water’s edge is just a heartbeat away.

People travel thousands of miles to come here on holiday and we can enjoy it every day – how lovely!

Under a glorious blue sky we may have felt a little challenged as to how to do the reflections in the water but Erin instilled confidence by giving everyone a demo – lots of chinagraph for the reflections, reflections are an exact mirror image of the object.

Be brave and bold with cerulean blue to start with, capture the light and shade.

No problem!

Atsuko was a bit of a star throughout the demonstration as she truly tested the strength of her biceps and triceps by holding out the water jar for Erin at arm’s length!

She must be pretty strong as she never whinged once.



Oh the water looked gorgeous in Erin’s sketch, mmmmm she made it look so easy.

We can do it too, can’t we?  Of course we can!

Erin and I felt so proud of today’s class for really letting go and getting that flow happening.  Some tourists were very impressed with our sketches as were the cafe owners where we sat for lunch afterwards.

What a gorgeous spot for lunch overlooking the beach and wharf, with umbrellas for shade, fabuloso coffees and scrumptious food.

I saw some wonderful samosas being devoured and some other gorgeous wraps- yum! There were some great quick sketches done of our new surrounds at the cafe with the Norfolk Pines, palms and beach wrapping around in front of us.

One of our sketchers really felt a particular sense of accomplishment from today for having attacked watercolours and sketching with a new feeling of “I’m just going to go for it” and the lovely results showed that this had paid off.

I wonder what next week will bring?  Can’t wait……………







Somehow we forget that Autumn can be just as hot as summer. As it was today.

That suits us of course when we get down to Manly Cove for the reflections part of the class.

Therese had brought her special South Coast Getaway Sketchbook. She had filled it with work she’d done each day there, and added great photographs to create a journal.

When everyone was seated I asked if she’d mind giving a little talk about her experiences which she was delighted to do. Everyone was most interested in seeing what sort of subjects one looks for on these occasions, and how she’d created this impressive and memorable journal of the trip. Thanks for sharing Therese.

We really don’t seem to like seeing still life setups which we think are challenging. That’s exactly it. We THINK are challenging.

It’s important to leave the thinking behind and get back to seeing. Really seeing.

We are using wet watercolour and big strokes. It does take a little courage to slash the colour on and drop a second strong colour into into it.

OOOOooooo. How brave. Once you’ve tried it you’ll love the results.

Even when you think you’ve blown it. You haven’t. There is always something more you can do. You’ll surprise yourself when you press on. And you’ll learn something.

For those using watercolour pencil, we use the same layering technique, keeping most of your colour to the focus of your sketch – or where the centre of interest is.

IMG_5352All packed up, pics taken and off to our next location.

This group is not slow to realise we are passing the cafe we’ll be lunching at! So it was an essential for us to stop and load up on caffeine before going the next few meters to our destination.

Round the corner we go and the view we’ll be sketching is revealed before us. Unbelievable colours and reflections.

I’ve used yesterday’s demo of this same location to discuss the colours to use.

Look carefully at the light reflected from the pylons. That’s where a wriggle of chinagraph goes. The sketch is simply a quick impression of what you see. We are not attempting to get more than that.

Simple line and good clear colour will get that.

Again we are using the colour over colour. One big stroke. No fiddly painty painty.

Big clear strokes get the colour down.

Wash and wipe the brush on your tissue between every stroke. You’ll avoid ‘mud’ if you can.

Let’s head to the cafe and complete the colour. Take a good look before you leave so you’ll know whats dark and what’s bright.



Again for the watercolour pencil people, you use your cerulean, greens and purple for the sea and reflections. Wriggle strong colour where the reflections are. Looks great.

People are really liking the fun of letting go. Letting the big areas of colour go. Let yourself go. What’s to lose. It’s paint on paper. That’s all.

Watercolour pencil is just as dramatic as you’ll see above. Only when it’s all done do you touch it up with the waterbrush. Otherwise you can’t tell what needs popping and what doesn’t.

The reflection sketches were done and quite a few started a new one of what they could see around us.

The curve of the beach and the water lapping are just in front. The big Norfolks along the promenade are appealing. The view looking through the archway at Manly Pavilion is another. Even each other.

Playing with paint is hard to stop when you are having fun. And fun we’ve had this week.

Judy, Christy and I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing the progress you’ve all made this term.

Pat yourselves on the back. More next week.




One comment

  1. I love the back to basic reminder ! and the vibrant beach theme sketches. The Manly Cove sketches are great and I get excited by hearing that everyone is “going with the flow” . Amazing art everyone


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