Sketching Teacups & Terrace Houses

This week’s posting comes to you from Toulouse in the South of France.

Our girls Painting/Sketching week in our French Village has just come to a close. Sniff sniff. So now we are about to head to Boston.

Your tutors have done a marvellous job this week and all the words and pics have flown via the cloud to my little MacAir. Well almost. I seem to missing some teacups but I’m sure you’ll forgive me.

Anyway, on with the show.

Thursday 1. 3 Teas


With two lovely new sketchers joining the class today my hands were full juggling trying to demonstrate teacups in both watercolour and watercolour pencils.

I chose a white teacup as many people wonder how to paint white and the natural tendency is to shade it with grey.

Using grey can dull the image and so I chose blues which adds more warmth.

Some people were surprised by just how much water I put on my watercolours – got to get them wet, that’s what I say!

Be brave and bold and get stuck in – don’t be afraid as the more you hold back the faster the paints dry and the less flow your work has.

Everyone seems to be enjoying our demonstrations this term as it is good to see some techniques that you can practice yourself.

Thursday 1. Teacups

Such a lovely bunch in the class and it was nice to be able to wander round the corner for the next part of our sketching adventure to choose which terrace house to sketch on George St.

I’ve always been rather taken with two quite imposing semi-detached houses from the earlier part of this century (if my memory of architecture serves me correctly) on the right hand side which are white and blue.

How gorgeous they look in the sunlight.

And the neighbours on the opposite side provide equally as nice a view as the two semi-detached terrace houses here are reminiscent of somewhere in France, with their sunburnt wall colour and bright flowers in the front garden.


“Agh Judy!  this looks a bit challenging” say the newbies.

No problemo, houses look amazing when sketched especially when you layer your colours and have plenty of contrast with dark and light.

I think everyone was surprised at how well their sketches turned out.

I said that it is good to take a quick photo of your sketch sometimes and look at the photo later, because they always look great photographed.

I demonstrated this and one sketcher was instantly feeling happier with her wonderful sketch.

Don’t try and be perfect, that’s what I say.

We are sketching and lines will be wobbly, perspective may be out, we put lines where we hadn’t intended, but once we add our colour it all comes together often to look quite charming.

I was thrilled with everyone’s efforts and the results speak for themselves.

Wonderful inspiring sketches.

Well done everyone!

Thursday 1. Terraces

So next stop was down the hill (we seem to go down that hill rather a lot) to Showbox Cafe on Whistler St.

It is quite inconspicuous from the front but boy oh boy do they make great coffee and food.

The decor is simple and a little retro with the table styles and polished concrete floor.

It was busy so we had to snuggle together a bit and a rather nice man on one table offered to move so we could all be together.

He could have snuggled with us too as he was rather nice!

I simply adore their food choices – they make everything there including this amazing Ancient Grain Bread, full of huge whole nuts and seeds and gluten free.

I feel like it must be doing some good for our insides (try and ignore all the fattening extras on top of it!).

We finish off our sketches at the table and I help show people how to layer the colour more to add depth.

Overall it was a lovely morning and I am very proud of everyone’s artwork.



Thursday 2 Terrace houses


Some of us arrive early for class this week, we must be so excited to get sketching!

Today our subject in the studio is ‘Teapots, cups and saucers and little tea boxes’.

All that was missing was the scones with jam and cream!

Never the less, we get settled and into a demo of how to approach sketching a white cup and saucer, especially when it comes to suggesting the colouring with the water colour pencils.

We find that a little layering of cerulean and rose, creates a lovely lavender shading that we can use for our shadowed areas, a touch of ultramarine in the darkest shadows and everything else stays the colour of your page = white!

Those that have been using the watercolour pencils the first couple of weeks, are looking forward to extending their sketching adventure with the use of the watercolour paints this next week coming.

Everyone is pleased this morning and getting to do a couple of sketches before we head out.

Thursday 2 Sketches

We head out, but we don’t need to go far, just a little hop and a skip up the road and around the corner into George Street.

Where we are sketching the beautiful terrace houses there.

The weather really can’t make up its mind today. Cold, rain, sun, warm and all together!

We have jackets coming on and off and umbrellas opening and getting shaken out again a few minutes later.

In my childhood, if it rained and the sun shone at the same time, we called it a ‘Monkeys Wedding’.

In that case, monkeys were getting married all over the place yesterday!

Thursday 2 Showbox

We manage to get in all our line work in and decide to head to the café to complete our colour, considering the weather.

Our meander down the hill to one of our favourite café’s doesn’t take long, and before we know it, we are warmly welcomed in at the ‘Showbox Café’.

We are lucky enough to all be seated together around the red table that I adore, and we order teas and coffees and our much anticipated lunches.

The food served here is beyond scrumptious and several of us have been talking about our previous meals here, and had already lined up our orders!

Today, for me, it was the absolutely divine ‘carrot and coconut pikelets’.

We draw to a close, dipping fingers to pick up the last delicious morsels, and sips of coffee, and of course last minute touches to our beautiful sketches.

Lovely day out together, regardless of the weather that couldn’t make up it’s mind.

See you next week.





We had a large group today and there was lots of chatter and gaiety.

I demonstrated a tea-cup using watercolour pencils, focusing on the contrast in light and shade and being brave and bold.

The tea-cups are very bright colours so they make for a lovely image.

Everyone asked a lot of questions which was great, I love enthusiasm!

Some folks brought out their sketchbooks to show how they had been practicing since last week and they are really coming along.

Friday TerracesJPG


Our sketchers really tried hard to replicate the example I had shown and really produced some magnificent results.

I encourage everyone not to try and be perfectionists, we are not doing Rembrandts, we are capturing things that we otherwise may never remember or reproduce.

Also remember when using the waterbrush to use it sparingly, your results will be nicer, don’t spread the water everywhere as it can muddy the colours.

Next stop George Street.

Most of the class sketched No 34 but three others decided on the steps at No 34 and painted the houses and group opposite.

Everyone worked so hard layering colours and I gave a quick demo of how to emphasize the shadows under the balcony and roof and provide good contrast.

Some fantastic results by everyone I must say.

I am quite thrilled with how everyone is progressing, it is very satisfying to see such great results being achieved so quickly.

We used lots of caramel, dark blue, cerulean, red and rose to create warmth.  Some yummy results that’s for sure.

Showbox Cafe is our next stop.

I LOVE this little cafe as they have such an original menu, really wholesome food and they make it all themselves so you know you’re eating good stuff.

I must say the ancient grain bread with goat’s curd and beetroot and walnuts is a wondrous combination.

Everyone really enjoyed the food and it’s nice when we all manage to get a big table together and people are enjoying the setting, camaraderie, delicious food and art of course!

What a lovely way to spend the morning.

Everyone finished off their sketches over lunch and there were lots of admiring comments when observing each others artwork.

And rightly so.

Well done everyone, we had a lovely morning and you did amazingly well.



Saturday Teacups


Today we were a cosy group with only 5 of us so it meant there was plenty of time to ask questions and get individual attention if required.

We focused on getting our ellipses correct on the teacups.

Oh I know how they should look but somehow they never come out right is the frequent comment.

As I explained, depending on your eye level the ellipse will change so it will become narrower or wider and if we look directly over the teacup it is a beautiful clear circle.

When you sketch the saucer don’t forget that it too is a circle or narrower ellipse but we just can’t see the line behind the teacup.

I think a few people had an “ah ha” moment when I drew a few examples.

I was a bit of a bossy schoolmaa’m as I said nobody was allowed to draw one square edge on a teacup – I know it was tempting as we tend to not really “see” what we are looking at sometimes and think we know what we are seeing.

Does that make sense??

Sat. White Terraces

Even our wonky lines and scribbles look great once the colour is on.

I encouraged a couple of our previous sketchers to really loosen up with the watercolours and they really did.

OOH I loved the results, very free and creative.

Saturday Terrace Sketch copy 3

Oh the strain of the long walk round the corner all of 30 seconds to the terrace houses for our next location.

We all decided to do the same houses today and it was lovely to stand in the warmth of the Winter sun.

I stressed that there need to be shadows under the awnings and that this contrast between light and shade will bring your art alive.

“Oh Yes” they all said, I can see what you mean when I demonstrated this.

What amazing students, you took on board the advice and produced some fabulous results.

I think the pictures speak for themselves.

So Showbox Cafe it is for our final location.

How lucky were we to grab the one and only table left (I thought we might have had to fight off the thronging masses but twas not to be).

Lucky we were just a small group as that meant more time to finish off sketches and attack another subject in the cafe – yes those dreaded teacups and their ellipses.

I wanted to pat everyone on the back as they really got it and produced wonderful artwork of their coffees and lunch.

Lots of light round the edges, layer the colours, let the watercolour run free and don’t overwork.

I watched everyone work so hard to remember all of these things and hey! it worked!

Here’s to more exciting sketching next week – we have chosen a lovely subject matter, can’t wait!

Sat SketchesJPG


















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