Term 3 Begins. Observing Nature.

Image 1

New Sketchers. 10am Tuesday July 15. ’14

Welcome back everybody. To kick off Term 3, your tutors have made some changes to the classes by listening to you our sketchers. We have 3 levels for you, from New Sketchers, General, and Advanced.

We’ve also added monthly workshops for those who’d love a full day immersed in doing what they love. Many of you who are travelling or cannot commit to a full term are excited about these.

A very excited group of ‘almost sketchers’ arrived in time to meet each other, get their new sketch kit out and settle in.

Today Karen and I would be there to support Christy as she began to teach the art of sketching.

To begin she would explain the steps to observation and seeing shapes.

Image 3

Once everyone had taken a long hard look at our hibiscus subject, and seen the shapes, it was time to put lines on our page. We had the single 5 petaled ones for today, which are easier for new people to see the shapes in.

Before long, hibiscus sketches were emerging in very different styles, all round the room. Wow.

It was lovely to hear people saying how pleased they were with their sketches.

Christy and I love it when people feel they can say that.

Image 4

We would continue the nature theme by crossing over the street to Ivanhoe Park.

Many of the trees are without leaves at this time of year, and you can see the full form from the lovely rounded strong trunk as it outspreads to the lighter branches.

So many shapes to admire and sketch.

We were also stopping our sketch before going off the page.

No need to have the whole tree to tell the story.

Image 2

In what seemed like no time at all it was coming up to coffee time.

Today we were headed for Bean Rush in Whistler Street.

The owner had very kindly suggested we could go through to their adjoining restaurant and have it to ourselves, being a big group.

We were delighted to take up his offer.

The staff were so helpful bringing coffees and lunch orders while we happily completed our trees. And working out when to stop!


Christy suggested I do one of my coffee cup demos, where you do the sketch and still get to drink it hot.

Several then tried it themselves and coffee sketches with great personality were popping off the pages..

One sketcher did an excellent one of part of the restaurant from where he viewed it.

That’s exactly what we do. From wherever you happen to be, sketch what you see.

Something quite ordinary will take on a life of its own.

So once Christy took the final pics, it was time to make our farewells.

Each one went away with a sense of achievement.

They had become Sketchers.

Image 5



General Sketchers. 9.30am Thursday July 17 ’14.


General Sketchers. 9.30am Thursday July 17 ’14.

What a lovely excited group we have today.  We introduce those who haven’t met and big hugs for those we have.

We are making a slight difference this term for Thursday General class.  We are introducing a few fun extra techniques, which still keep to our travel sketching ethos, but allow you to experiment a little.

Some could become your new favourite sketch tools.

So out with the bamboo pens and black ink drawing ink.

Our nature subject for today are the double fluted hibiscus.  We check the height and width of our subject before beginning with the first big shapes we see.

Each dip of the pen means heavier lines which flow through to finer lines as you move around the page. It’s so freeing up. Literally going with the flow.

We find that the ink takes longer to dry than our trusty black pens, so we need to wait before applying our watercolours.   Interestingly the freedom of the lines mean you feel the same when putting your colour down.  Layer over layer of course. Wow.


Out into the crisp blue day we go to continue our nature sketching.  At Gilbert Park are some glorious Morton Bay fig trees.

Our plan is to observe the strength and shape of the trunk and how it spreads its branches out to delicate light twigs.

We are sketching those flowing shapes and form. Keep your whites on the outside, and your tree will come to life.

Lunch was calling, so we headed off to Bean Rush and took inside tables in a cosy and inviting space.  Coffees and soup were popular today, and some coffee sketches did happen.

Mainly we talked about colour on our trees and keeping the balance.

If you’re using w’colour pencils, the waterbrush we remind ourselves, is to bring up the little pops of dark, and only when your have all your colours established.


Some very relaxed tree sketches came out of todays experimenting, and perhaps the bigger book is right for this technique.

With watercolour keep to those 3 main colours and layer them one over the other.  Keep it simple and effective.

We’re travel sketching remember, our flight may be about to leave, and luckily we got our sketch done!


General Sketching. 9.30am Friday July 18 ’14.

Image 8

General Sketchers. 9.30am Friday July 18. ’14

A new term, a new time (9.30am), and a few new faces, how lovely.  So nice to reconnect after our brief break. Bali seemed to have been the flavour of the day for some folks during the break. Sounds fab.

We were greeted in the studio with some beautiful hibiscus displays that Erin had freshly picked this morning for us – thank you Erin – hope you weren’t plucking them in your pyjamas at 5am.

Image 10

The vibrant and deep reds were a joy and so were the pale orange ones so we did two sketches today of both displays.

I challenged the class to do their second sketch in a short space of time : two minutes to sketch and three minutes to paint. Oh crikey Jude, you’re cracking the whip right from the get go! Yep.  I’m the big bad wolf today but everyone was so pleased with their results when they rose to the challenge.

The main purpose of this was to loosen up and a lot of people felt their five minute sketch was better than their first more careful one. Just goes to show. Loose is best.

Image 7

So then we branched out to paint trees in Gilbert Park (no pun intended of course).

Loved the results mainly with watercolour pencils. I was thrilled with everyone’s work today.

Bean Rush cafe was very welcoming and it was not till later that I realised I had forgotten the class now finishes at 12.30 now. Don’t think we got to the cafe till then! I just carried on way past one as usual!

Must remember to take my memory pills next week.


General & New Sketchers 9am Saturday July 19 ’14


General & New Sketchers. 9am Saturday July 19 ’14.

Is that rain? Well it already feels like snow,  and there is some in The Blue Mts. Gee we’ll need to wrap up warmly today.

This was the first day for another gorgeous group of ‘keen to learn’ almost sketchers. Most were seated at the bigger table as Karen – sorry – I forgot to introduce her as one of our assistant tutors. Wonder how that happened!

On the other table were our more experienced sketchers who were about to do some fun quick sketches of the hibiscus floral arrangements. Like Judy’s yesterday class, they did 2 minute sketches and 3 minutes for colour. Fantastic results.


For the new sketchers, we started with a quick (everything is quick) explanation of what we mean by travel sketching. That impression of something you are inspired to sketch, observed and into your book in the fastest time. Sign and date, give it a title. Move on.

Once we’d observed carefully the shapes and sizes of our flowers, we started with the biggest main shape. The first piece in the jigsaw puzzle you might say.

With our sketching there is a sense of freedom. Doesn’t have to be ‘right’ or ‘correct’. Down go the other shapes, watching where they are in relation to each other.

Now the 3 layers of colour. We get out our w’colour pencils and begin laying down the colour. Each sketch is so different and so bright and cheerful. Everyone seemed happy with their results, and having never sketched before, with good reason.

Now to the park. Bbbbrrrrr.

Our sketching this week is about observing the beautiful designs in nature. Petals as they overlap. Stamens with tiny coloured rounds on the end. The flow of a tree trunk as it reaches up and spreads it branches skyward. We often miss these incredible designs all around as we hurry to beat some deadline.


We spent just 15minutes sketching our trees, as that hint of rain was drop dropping onto our books. To the restaurant we hastily headed.

We were invited again to take up residence inside the very lovely crisply designed Mare Sole Italian. Peter very kindly put tables together so we could all see when demos were done or questions answered. Some of our ‘Not new to Sketching’ girls did their coffee and even the very red espresso machine.

Finishing touches were added to trees, since we’d hardly had a chance to get colour on. Leaving the whites will give you a sense of depth, and very quickly – there’s that word again!

Well we have completed our first week of term 3, and lived to tell the tale. Everyone now can call themselves a sketcher, with some great sketches in every book. And it all gets easier from here.

Till next week. Erin, Christy and Judy.



One comment

  1. Carla

    Erin –
    I am so very envious of your students! I only wish there was a sketching group here that I could take. (I’m in St. Louis, Missouri) It would be so nice to have a group of like-minded new sketchers to learn how to do this. I think it must take away (or at least help) some of the intimidation of learning to sketch. I love reading & learning from your blog & seeing what your sketchers are doing. Thank you so much for doing a blog like this.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: