Sketching Vignettes. Small Aspects of Something Bigger.

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New Sketchers. 10am Tuesday July 22 ’14.

We had a very happy group of New Sketchers arriving ready for their second sketching  day.

Christie explained what the subjects were about and how we would approach them.

Vignettes it would be. The little snippets or small aspects of something bigger.

What we were looking at was carved boxes, decorative bowls and stands, a Vietnamese dagger and a Victorian mantelpiece support.


Sketch any or all, and perhaps spread them over two pages if you feel like it.  Use your sketchbook to suit what you’d like to do.

There would be the first hints of perspective in the objects, and this had to be observed and though not yet understood, to be sketched as it looks – not what you think.

We were doing sketches on both tables, and taking just 30 minutes for sketch and colour.

You’re in the deep end now, and still afloat.  Good work everyone.

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We would then be walking from the studio across to another part of Manly, to some early workers cottages, with delightful detail in doorways, iron work and railings, gates and rooflines. Our Federation period is akin to Victorian.

This was the first taste of real Travel Sketching for some. Standing in the street, holding your book, pens and w’colour pencils. Unaware of the fascinated gazes of the passersby!

Simply getting down as quickly as possible, the scene in front of you, and the portion you’ve chosen.

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Everyone managed incredibly well. For some, their second lesson only and look what they are coming up with. We know a few were finding it hard, but you have begun to see. Look how well you’re doing already!

Christy is moving from one to the other, helping those who want advice. Karen is also giving guidance and everyone is on a roll.

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Time everyone. Pens down!

Up the road we go to the recently renovated Newsagency and Post Office, which is now the Roast Office Cafe.

People love the decor. Old timber, peeling bricks, pre loved cinema seats, big old tables and lounge chairs.

So many quirky touches. And the coffee is great. Plus, you must try the little spinach, quinoa muffins. Just right for a mouthful or two between completing sketches.

So another really enjoyable class in the very pleasant company of our sketchers.

Excellent sketching all.

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General Sketching. 9.30am. Thursday July 24 ’14


General sketching. Thursday 9,30. July 24 ’14

Sketchers were waiting when I arrived, already eyeing the displays on the tables.

Don’t worry I say, whatever is on the table is really about seeing. Looking at it as shapes. Comparing angles and so on. Once you are doing that, it becomes easier to get started.


Vignettes it will be, with bamboo pens and black drawing ink.

Take each subject and do a small sketch, moving around your page doing little sketches wherever they fit the spaces.

Some of the small boxes need the ‘going away’ or perspective to be observed.

If you don’t see it and simply sketch without allowing for it, you’ll wonder why it’s not looking quite right.  Some delightful work was done today in a wide variety of styles.

We were then off to do more ‘on location’ vignettes on the other side of Manly.

On the street corner our group sat, sprawled or leaned anywhere they could to get the views they’d picked.   A cream and blue Spanish Mission style building across the road appealed to several.

Others were happy to do iron lacework, hanging pot plants and bull nosed verandah details on our side of the road.

Most were hanging out for a coffee by now, so even though sketches didn’t have much colour on yet, take a memory snap and head to the cafe.   We all found somewhere to sit once inside The Roast Office and coffees, soups and other tasty dishes were ordered.


Back to sorting our colours  With watercolour I was showing a couple of sketchers who hadn’t been with us while travelling, how we use our colours.

We show how to use them ‘our way.’  Watch the colours blend. They do it by themselves and you’ll get a beautiful effect as the pigments work together.

All today’s sketches captured something of the older style homes we have around Manly. Just snippets of something bigger, with little touches of colour simply applied.

That’s Travel Sketching.  A little tells a lot.  Really lovely work today everyone.

Yes I know, you find it challenging sometimes. But wow look what you can do already.


General Sketching. 9.30am Friday July 25 ’14

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General Sketching. 9.30am Friday July 25 ’14

Oh oh! Who forgot the studio key? Yes it was me I have to admit, but as Sarah gave me permission to blame it on my creative mind, I felt better.

Must be a key day as Erin was chasing the bathroom key that somebody had run away with yesterday.


It was a busy class today and I saw a few hesitant frowns when looking at the objects on the table that we were going to do vignettes of.

Agh – tiny detail.

Not to worry don’t get hung up on the details and just get something down. We focused on capturing the light and not necessarily sketching everything, we could feather one edge out.

Looking good.

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I challenged everyone again to do a 2 minute sketch.

I don’t want it to stress anyone out. But after 2 minutes it seemed that the fast sketches were often turning out better than the longer ones.   No stress just great results.

Weather looking a bit rainy (nearly forgotten what rain looks like) so some headed off in cars to our next stop – Darley St to sketch details on houses and in the cafe.

Darn it those raindrops are stuffing up our sketches. Hard to draw on soggy paper so fast sketching it was before seeking refuge in the cafe. (I knew my timed sketches would come in useful somewhere!)

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This is a lovely place and we were lucky enough to have a large table which we nearly all fitted onto. Two sketchers had a sweet table by the window and were so engrossed in chatting the sketching fell by the wayside.

“We don’t come here for sketching” said one of them jokingly “we come for the social life!” Ah yes, we’ve combined the two , sketch and socialise – you can’t beat it.

Yet again I was proud of my classes work today. Well done everyone.


General & New Sketchers. 9am Saturday July 26 ’14


General/New Sketchers. 9am Saturday July 26 ’14

It’s raining. It’s pouring. But will we get a break between times?  As it furned out, yes.

Sketchers were arriving and with plenty of raincoats and umbrellas. Very smart thinking.  We sketch anyway. Maybe under some shelter but nothing stops us.


We welcomed a new sketcher and good friend of one of our long term sketchers.  While she and our assistant tutor took a place out of harms way, our newish and regular sketchers sized up what was on the tables.

Vignettes mean you can use your pages to sketch any or all you see, and scatter them wherever you please.

That little bit of perspective catches people as it narrows at it’s going away point. Somehow the fact that it’s getting smaller at it’s far end never seems to be how it seems. But it something you simply have to lock into the memory part of your brain!

Our new sketcher has completed her first hibiscus sketch and added colour, by the time we get ready to go out on location. She’s feeling pleased with her efforts, and everyone gives her a “wow’.

Excellent work everybody.

Out into the rain for our sketchersize part of the class.  A sea of colourful umbrellas parades through Manly towards our little ornate cottages.

A passerby pauses as he sees a large group of us peering at the houses.  ‘Is it Open House here today?’ He enquires.   Saturday is real estate day so you’ll see groups of folk waiting to inspect properties  all over Australia.

We laugh and hope the people inside the cottage don’t think the same thing! Nope it’s just those pesky sketcher people again.


The rain had almost stopped but for a few drops from trees above.  Karen kindly holds umbrellas over sketchbooks where possible.

Most get done several vignettes done, even without colour and head a little earlier than usual to The Roast Office cafe, just a tad up the hill.

We all manage to find a spot either at the big table, at seats by the window, or the comfy chairs in the salon area. Plenty of room to have coffee and tasty lunch choices, and carry on competing work.

I did a couple of coffee demos. The ones where you sketch your coffee and still get to drink it hot.  Several tried the same idea and they looked great.

Keep those whites and layer your colours. Some delighted smiles as coffee sketches pop off the pages.  Some very yummy muffin sketches happened too.


Everybody learned a few new tricks this week and some very happy smiles came from all around.

And take a look at those blue skies out there. Sunshine just everywhere. Would you believe it!

Thank you to the boys at The Roast Office for being so very kind and helpful to everyone this week. I think there’ll be a lot of return visits from our sketchers before long.

Another great week for our sketchers More next week.


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