Term 2 Sketching Begins

We are back for a new and polished up term.

We tutors have spent time listening to what you’d like in your classes and that’s they way we work. So the new classes reflect that.

This week’s blog comes to you from the South of France where I’m sketching with 3 painter girls for the week. Two from Texas, one from NZ and little me from Sydney.

It’s a clear blue day and everything looks so lovely. Roses and aromatic vines climbing over stone walls and red tiles. Birds chirp happily. Rusting hinges creaking in the wind. The church bell tolls on the hour. I have a mug of coffee. Heaven on a stick.

But here is your week and it looks like a great start.


Thursday Still life


Erin has said Bon Voyage to us and headed off to France where she is teaching sketching at the start of this term. Ooh la la I am tres jalouse! Can somebody waft me there on a magic carpet please? Who I am I to complain though, half of France would give their right arm to come to Manly on holiday!

This term we have lots of new ideas and changes which is going to be making it very exciting for all of our previous sketchers and new folk too. Whilst everyone relaxed over our two week break and probably buried their brushes and pens in the deepest darkest corners of their desks, Erin, Christy and I were very busy bees making plans for the term with exciting things planned.

We decided that we would change the time in the studio and try a more relaxed pace by starting with a demonstration focusing on enhancing technique and reminding people of some of the basic principles which sometimes tend to fade to the back of our memory with time. We had often heard folk say “Oh I forgot to do that” so our weekly demos will help imprint things in our memories.

I had prepared the board with some tips and techniques to remember and it was good that some people busily took notes. Great to have these things written down in our sketchbooks – no excuses to forget then!

Things like: lots of white around the edges, prepare your watercolours well in advance, layer your colours etc. I started with a demonstration of some cumquats using watercolour. New sketchers can see where they are heading and for more experienced folks it is a great refresher.

We were all fascinated and extremely impresses when Therese brought in her first book, which she’d produced with Erin and Toni in our Self Publishing course recently. It really looked so professional and what a wonderful thing to be able to show everybody. Therese had produced some gorgeous sketches and I’m sure may others will be keen to do the same thing.

Erin had brought in some cumquats from her garden which looked very beautiful in a vase on the table. I heard they make delicious jam!

They make a delicious subject matter too for those with experience but for those starting out a simpler subject is in order and Hibiscus is the flower of choice. But where to get them? I trot off round the neighbouring streets scissors in hand looking for my ideal bush. Oh dear, those caterpillars attacked my favourite one and the leaves looked decidedly religious (or should I say holy?) So back I go across the road where I spied another bush with some pretty sweet delicate pink flowers. I snipped away and they looked lovely in a vase.

Lots of chatting and “how are you” and then we got down to business.

I took two cumquats to use as a subject matter to demonstrate to everyone. I focused on showing how important it is to be prepared well in advance with your watercolours.

They dry too quickly if you haven’t got colours mixed and ready and you won’t be able to achieve the desired results as stopping in the middle of a sketch and mixing up stops the flow. Positive feedback was given by everyone so that was rewarding.

After the demo one group sketched the cumquats whilst I demonstrated watercolour pencils to our new classmates. Success – you can do it after all!

Then it was off down the hill to our next destination, The White House Flower Shop.

This is the sweetest shop. It reminds me of being in France with the facade and eclectic collection outside.

The last time I saw an old leather bag like the one on the chair with a purple bromeliad stuffed inside was at my grandads in about 1969. This one looks decidedly more appealing! My grandad was a pharmacist and his bags were full of all sorts of foul smelling liniments and medicines, or so they seemed as a small child.

It was rather hot in the sun (who said this was winter?) so a few folk took to the shade and the shop looked delightful with the awning and glimpse through the door of the colourful array of flowers inside. The staff were just delightful and enjoyed having us sketch their flowers.

It wasn’t long before coffee called us.

A few steps along the street and we couldn’t wait to sit down at Foundry 53, one of our favourite cafes. Gee Manly has an amazing array of great cafes with eclectic decor, interesting food and often interesting and jolly staff. And this place is no exception. We loved all the walls and decor and interesting art. The staff here are gorgeous too and quite fascinated to watch us sketch. It’s very rewarding.


Thursday Florist

Our coffees look like pieces of art themselves! The food looks and smells delicious, the waft of fresh basil is like being in the greengrocers – yummy!

A few more technique demos over lunch and I think everyone left feeling like we had had a thoroughly enjoyable morning.



Thursday 2.May 1.

THURSDAY MAY 01 ’14 – 11.30AM – 2.30PM CLASS

A very good morning to the second group of sketchers today, and a hearty welcome to our first time sketchers today too!

The start of the new term brings a flurry of excitement and we’re all getting settled with new kit, and writing some valuable points off the white board, which will help us with our sketching technique through the following weeks. We all happily greet those next to us and excitedly exclaim ‘how much we’ve been wanting to do sketching’.

Thursday 2. May 1. (2)

 I, Christy, do a couple of demos for the benefit of those that have sketched with us in previous terms and for those that are new to the way that we like to teach our ‘Travel Sketching’ technique.

We want to give you the skills to be able to sketch quickly, and give an impression of colour. Like a great looking snapshot!

Today’s sketching in the studio is flowers and fruit, seedpods and other greenery. We’ve provided an array to choose from, so that you feel comfortable with what you’d like to sketch.

With the newer sketchers, we demo sketching the ‘cumquats’ together in a step by step approach. It’s a lot of fun, and a few chuckles at how our layering of the watercolour pencils does make our vibrant mandarins also remind us of pumpkins!

We also observe the Hibiscus flowers and manage a quick sketch of a flower or two to practice our layering of the water colour pencils. Superb outcome, everyone has flourished using the basics to get the first sketches happening. Very pleased, some sketchers are marveling at their sketched flowers.

Thursday 2. May 1. (3)

Then it’s a meander down through the park, and we’re heading for the ‘White House Flowers’, a florist on the corner of Denison and Pittwater. It’s a beautiful little flower shop and some of the sketchers want to approach their next sketch with a view from across the road, including the awning and aspect of the roof. I totally agree, it makes for a fantastic sketch. Others have preferred to sketch a selection of different plants and flowers in pots. Equally exciting to sketch.

Thursday 2. May 1. (4)

Before long, we’re heading for the café. It’s just a few paces down the road at ‘Foundry 53’. Coffees are ordered along with fabulous lunches, and we’re finishing up our final touches to our sketches today. Well done everyone. Looking forward to our next class.

Thursday 2. May 1 (5)



Image 2


Is it going to be hot or cold today – ok I’m going to leave my wooly jumper at home and risk it. (good call as it turned out)

Oh shame hibiscus never last for 24 hours, I need to get snipping again. So off I trot over the road again – at least I’ve sussed out where to go nowadays. I might be over-ambitious as I snipped off quite a few stems today.

Let’s hope it’s OK as I have 5 new sketchers joining me and five experienced hands returning. Let’s hope nobody’s overwhelmed.

So let’s show how important it is to get our watercolours prepared in advance Dropping some water on each paint colour enables it to soak into the paint and soften it so we can have our palette ready with lots of rich paint.

If you don’t get prepared like this then often the colours don’t take on such depth and they dry on the page whilst you are frantically busy trying to mix the next one.

I demonstrated cumquats for those people interested in watching watercolour. They make a lovely subject matter as they are not perfectly round so who cares if our lines are a bit wobbly.

They are a scrummy colour and look beautiful with light and shade. They also pair together well with the cumquats we have in the studio in a vase calling out to be sketched.

Even our previous sketchers were keen to re-do the hibiscus sketch that I demonstrated to our new classmates. Hibiscus are lovely flowers to sketch as they only have five petals so not too challenging.

I could see a few new folk were thinking “Crikey Judy, don’t tell me you expect me to jump straight in and do a vase of flowers”.

Oh Yes that’s your first attempt but the beauty of flowers is that we know the leaves have a leaf shape and the flowers have petal shapes but they are easy to do because if your sketching lines take you somewhere you hadn’t planned, no worries, it looks OK.

Using watercolour pencils is a great way to start. They don’t bite! Layer them, use some unexpected colours, work the colour harder into the shadows, more softly in other areas building up the layers and vibrancy of the sketch. I think some people surprised themselves.

So we take a lovely stroll through Ivanhoe Park. It’s a beautiful spot with a wonderful selection of plants and trees that change through the seasons.

The White House looked just as welcoming today as it did yesterday but the arrangement had changed.

Grandpas bag had jumped off the chair and was now on the ground and some amazing rusted giant metal lilies adorned one corner. Anita was instantly drawn to them – they were calling her name and she felt a purchase coming on!

It’s so nice when we support local businesses especially when we have sketched them! The staff are lovely at The White House.


We didn’t spend as long outside the flower shop as tummies were rumbling and the thought of a cappuccino was very appealing so we made our way all of 50 steps along the road to Foundry 53.

Wow I love this cafe, it is open and airy and has all sorts of quirky artwork on the walls, my sort of place.

There’s some great art on the door to the Ladies and opposite it too. Quite funkylicious. The enormous high tables are just perfect for our sketching group as we can all stay together and be a sociable team.

I went round the table giving people some more help with taking their sketches a bit further.

Sometimes people are tentative about putting down too much colour when they first start sketching or pressing too hard with the watercolour pencils.

So what if your nib snaps off, luckily someone invented sharpeners! Sketches come to life more with the strong contrasts and everyone has a different style.

We like to stick to our basic principles though of leaving lots of white around the edges, layering up the colours and putting in shadows around the base and edges of our subjects.

Everyone said that they felt they had learned some new things, even the oldies!

The feedback was that people loved watching demonstrations and focusing on techniques. I felt delighted that people are enjoying their magic three hours out and about travel sketching.

Looking forward to next week.



Saturday 2



The weather, though initially raining, has decidedly gotten better with a bit of sun!

Our class today, along with a couple of new faces, is happily greeting each other and getting settled.

Sparked by the interest of seeing my book open on the table ready for my demo, everyone is keen to observe and get into their own sketching.

Saturday 1.

So pens at the ready, lets go! No holding back, lets put our lines down making sure we’ve paid attention to where the centre point is.

Everything else around that is like completing a puzzle. We have a few ‘Ooohs and Aaaaghs’ when we apply the colour, and before you know it, a fast little demo is actually worth something, if anything, a nice little composition.

Everyone being very enthusiastic today, must have been the lovely break before this new term, have sketched two beautiful sketches in the studio, making good use of ‘getting back to the basics’ when approaching their sketches.

Saturday 3

Then it’s our meander down through the park, heading for the ‘White House Flowers’ florist.

Along the way, we’ve encountered a large burly man guarding the gate entrance to the Manly Oval.

Oh yes, there is rugby on the go and they want us to pay to enter…but we fluttered our eyelashes and smiled, commenting we were only passing through, and so our happy bunch slipped through throngs of large rugby players, till we were out and beyond at the flower shop.

A quick stop to grab a coffee enroute and we’re sketching outside the beautiful flower shop. One of the sketchers commented how ‘French it all looked’.

We’ve completed our line work and decide to head for the café to finish up on our colours.

Saturday 4

Just a few paces down the road at ‘Foundry 53’, we top up our need for more coffee and order our scrumptious lunches.

Something about a colder day, and a hearty appetite I think! Its time to photograph today’s sketches and we’re bringing a fantastic first week in the 2nd term to a close.

Well done everyone.

Saturday  5

©ErinHillStudioChristyPowellJudy Salleh


And here’s where I was on Saturday morning. Having coffee in the square in Carcassonne while the market was on.

Morning Markets in Carcassonne

More for you next week. Happy sketching.




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