Sketching Vietnamese Street Food



Well we decided to go a bit tropical this week (dreaming of holidays in South-East Asia) so I delved into the kitchen cupboards and Voila!

A veritable assortment of fruit and veg and spices ready to make a stir fry – yum!

Before the class I went to my lemongrass bush and picked a few stalks and they are so fragrant it’s just delicious, they filled my car with their aroma ( better than the usual aromas that’s for sure).

My wok had seen better days but as a subject matter it was perfect surrounded by limes, chillis, onions etc.

The Autumn sun casts wonderful shadows through the windows at the studio in May so it enhanced the look of everything.  Mind you it was a bit sweltering for some sitting on that side of the table so time to put the air-con on!  Can’t beat Aussie weather eh?

I decided that the new students were ready to get stuck in and have a go with watercolour as they had produced great results in the last class and I encouraged everyone to be loose with the watercolour and emphasize the shadows.

Yummo – gorgeous results as clearly shown in the photos.

So we then walked down via West Esplanade to a rather funky Vietnamese place that has always appealed to me to sketch as it has such an eye-catching awning and pots of banana trees.  It’s called Miss Chu’s Vietnamese Tuckshop.

Great name!


We were looking forward to eating there after sketching the front and we crossed the road to get the best view.

Gee we must be good as people stopped to look at our artwork.

Sonia, (who joined the class 3 weeks ago and said that she had always believed she could only draw stick figures) was blown away when a man stopped and watched her paint and said her painting was fantastic.

Sonia said that her heart leapt with joy and she felt amazing all day as this was a lifelong dream to unleash her creative side.

She was still feeling elated two days later!

Glad we are making people happy.


After sketching the front everyone was ready for a drink and something to eat and the menu looked very tempting.

First choice was a mint, pineapple and coconut crushie complete with an umbrella on the top.

Oh WOW this was delicious and soon everyone wanted one.

We kept the staff on their feet but they were happy as they were loving watch everyone sketching.

They even came over to take photographs of our work to post on Facebook and were all chattering merrily about us.

Made us feel good!

Vietnamese rolls, prawn salads, good coffee, amazing decor and Miss Chu’s face surrounding us on everything –  a very funky lady!

Oh yes we very happy, we like like Miss Chu!

What a lovely day, have a look at the sketches, they reflect the fun we had.




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These unusually balmy days of May, have brought us out to the studio this bright summery day! And, things are hotting up in the studio too, with a lovely new theme for this week, kindly set up by Judy!

It’s chillies and spices, and limes and onions accompanied with a lovely big wok! Let’s do the Asian cooking theme! Yummy!

Our little group today was making such good progress with the watercolours. Those who were still new to using the water colour paints were paying close attention to the basics, leaving lots of white on the edges and dropping vibrant colours down the middles, before coming back with some detail elements to round off.

See how fast sketching, and a suggestion of colour can create such a lovely composition.

Keep it simple, and it’s a delight. Well done.

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We head out, directly to the café, where our location sketch and lunch will be.

We’re off to Miss Chu, and it’s very much in keeping with our theme for today.

We take a little bit of an adventurous meander down to the café, winding down beautiful steps on one of the back streets.

Manly never ceases to reveal surprisingly beautiful scenes, around an alcove or an alleyway. This was one such walk.

We’ve arrived and have caught up with the earlier group.

We exchange sketches and marvel at each other’s work.

We are a wonderfully social bunch.

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We decided that seeing as our little group was about to get even smaller with those needing to leave early, that we’d quickly sketch our second sketches of whatever interested us at the café.

Some sketched their food, others the view from the front, and all in all, beautiful sketches were done, rounding off a warm and cheerful day out together.

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FRIDAY MAY 23 2014



Really, is this Autumn?

We need to be in Summer gear as the sun is very hot, but we’re not complaining, oh no!

Everyone was inspired by our subject matter this week as the contrast of colours especially with limes and chillis makes for a fabulous sketch.

I encouraged everyone to see everything as just shapes and not get hung up on it being too perfect, after all onions, limes, garlic and chillis are fairly organic shapes.

I am glad some folk listened and felt inspired to go a bit wild with their watercolours letting them bleed and mix.

Such gorgeous and unexpected results can happen like this.

Just have a look at the red onions, they are full of wonderful colours with rich reds, browns, yellow ochre and purple all mixed in.

A touch of chinagraph works magic too!

Some people felt their sketches were too small, some wanted to be more free, some went bananas.

It’s all a learning process.

Gail was very brave coming after having a cataract operation, especially as she hasn’t got perfect vision yet.

She had even been inspired by our postboxes from last week and done one when she was recovering.  Well done!  We are happy you are getting better.

Our thoughts go out to Jane too who is missing this term but I believe her operation went well.

By the way, nice to see Janice from New Zealand, dropping in for a class while in Sydney.

We had a lovely stroll in the sunshine down the waterfont to Manly Wharf and crossed over to Miss Chu’s.  Miss Chu must be one heck of a woman as her face is on everything – but she’s pretty striking!

She has a sense of humour too I reckon.

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I recommended to everyone the Crushie drink we all raved about on Thursday and suddenly we had a big order of them.

Our waitress who was French kept them rolling out for us!

She pronounced everything so beautifully with her strong accent, we loved it.

Today all the staff were so excited as they had received lots of hits on the internet showing our sketches.

They are a very groovy lot here – the bike outside says “You Ling We Bling”.

Woo hoo! Bling it on!

They even have a silent disco chusday’s – doing the Tuckshop boogie!

We did the sketchbook boogie and loved it.

Great setting, great students, delicious food and we had such a good laugh together.

Bling it on for next week!





The warm weather has lasted the week, and we are back in the studio on a bright and sunny Saturday morning!

Our sketchers today are very excited to see the Asian themed cooking ingredients: chilies, limes, garlic, onions, lemongrass, spices and a big wok.

We could have made our lunch right then and there! But being ‘sketchers’, instead we quickly got out our sketchbooks and happily got busy putting in the line-work for our first sketches of the day.

We keep it simple; we talk about using the vibrancy of our colour down the middles of those delicious veggies, leaving lots of white around the edges and at the top.

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We are so absorbed with our progress through our colourful sketches, that we didn’t realize a special person had just entered the studio!

Erin is back!!! Yay! We are all delighted to see her, and can’t wait to hear how the trip has gone.

It’s a marvel that Erin had just flown in that morning and breezed into the studio looking as fresh as a daisy, while I know many others would look somewhat disheveled!

I must remember to ask Erin where she’s getting her water from, or the secret?

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We persuade Erin to join us down the hill to the café, and with the promise that there would be an Australian coffee!

We’re off to Miss Chu and decided that we’d stand across the street and sketch the exterior with the banana trees, very cute awning and casual-styled outside seating.

Everyone is paying attention to the fact that we’re dealing with a bit of perspective too! Remember those angles on the awning and the plant boxes, so we don’t sketch something as though we have an ‘aerial view’ of what’s in front of us.

Everyone has done very well with their line-work and we decide to finish up with our final touches of colour and have some lunch.

An enjoyable day comes to a close, and it’s really lovely to see how everyone is progressing so well through these first few weeks of term.

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