Sketching Banksia Men and Bush Babies

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Our title this week refers to May Gibbs sketches of native bush seeds and flowers.

New Sketchers. 10am Tuesday August 12’14.

I thought I’d definitely jinxed myself mentioning how we always ‘win the lucky lotto weather’ last week. But somehow we ‘do’ always end up with glorious weather!  Today was no different. It was forecast to rain most of the day, and so we’d all arrived with rain pelting down and shook off our umbrellas. But miraculously during our time in the studio, a wonderfully sunny day unfolded and we were able to carry on with sketching outdoor as planned.

Now for the first bit in the studio. We arrived to see fantastic displays on the tables, displaying seedpods, greenery and other interesting things you could find in the garden at this time of year. Today would be the first time using watercolours for most of the class, and so we spent a much needed chunk of the time in the studio discussing how the paints worked, along with a few demos to show the basics.

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I had the pleasure of Karen and Toni participating again in the class this week, and lending additional support to our large group, which saw some still preferring to use the pencils, and those venturing into the paints for the first time.

It was superb to see everyone’s compositions come to life on the page, and seeing them together as a collection is delightful. Well done everyone.

Before we went off to sketch the Norfolk Pines down at South Steyne, which was our next port of call on our sketching journey today, we had a little discussion in class about how ‘best to approach sketching the trees’. We looked over demos of loosely sketched Norfolk Pines, and other sketches of trees which showed ‘that those trees closest to you are in detail and bolder colour, the others in the background would be a mere suggestion of form and colour and much fainter.’ Exactly what we’d be looking at in our next sketches.

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We didn’t need the umbrellas when we all marched off down the hill, with the sun peeking out and warming us up, as the breeze was still rather chilly. We all arrived at the right spot, and couldn’t wait to get sketching. Everyone got the idea very quickly as we’d covered a lot of what we’d be looking for in the studio.

We all found our sunny spot and got sketching, what a privilege it is to be in this part of the world! Before long, many had finished the line work and started on colour, and decided it was time for a coffee, and so we headed off to the café.

Our café of choice this week, is Fusion Point.

What a delightful space, along with great staff, we were shown to our large table where we could all sit together and enjoy lunch. It isn’t often that such a large group can be well catered for in spacious surrounds, and so we all felt at ease to finish up our last touches of colour without needing to juggle the space on the table with coffees and sandwiches.

Another great day with the ‘New Sketchers Class’ comes to a close, and the weather held out for us, and like a curtain call, the first drops of rain returned as I headed back up the hill to the studio. See you all next week.

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General Sketchers. 9.30am Thursday August 14 ’14.


General Sketching. 9.30am Thursday August 14 ’14.

Everyone was spot on for timing today. All present and correct. We had a chat about what we’d be doing and got stuck straight in.

IMG_8161For starters we’d be using the wax water soluble crayons and Artbars for colour today.
Everyone loved the idea.
Firstly do your black pen sketch of the Banksia men and Bush Babies ( thank you May Gibbs)
Then share the Artbars and crayons around.
A little demo had everybody oohing and aaahing. Once you’ve layered your colours, pop the dark areas with your waterbrush. The colours can be quite dramatic and you can continue to layer up your colours even when wet. Soooo much fun.

Weather looking great. As Christy says we win lotto every time weather wise.

We walk our way to South Steyne on Manly Beach looking along the line of huge Norfolk pines.
I take a sketchbook and explain with a sketch how to decide your composition.
Some sketchers are happily seated at a big table and looking along the trees from there.
The others are sitting on the warm concrete steps beside the beach and looking that way.
Soon we have some excellent Norfolk pines appearing in sketchbooks.
Colours are looking nice and strong in front and softer in the distance.
Nice work everyone.

Sketching is thirsty work and some of us are lucky to have a coffee brought to us. Others already picked one up enroute.
Lunchtime is fast upon us and we decide to head to Fusion Point.

IMG_8194 IMG_8198It’s great to have a table setup and reserved waiting for our large group.
Karen and I can work our way round to see who needs advice but making sure we avoid plates of food and glasses of wine being delivered to ours and other tables.
The menu has huge choices taking you from breakfast to dinner. Everyone places an order and gets on with sketching.
We so enjoy our dining/sketching time and linger as long as we can.
Everyone feels pleased with their work today and and we part knowing there’s more fun coming next week.


General Sketchers. 9.30am Friday August 15 ’14.


Good Morning world, it’s Friday and I just love my Friday’s teaching, so I am eager to get to the studio.  How lucky am I to have a job I love.

Erin had set up some interesting displays of seed pods and berries which we all enjoyed doing.  Better than the stairs last week was the general consensus!

Yes, I know some folk weren’t enthralled with the stairs but we need to know how to sketch them and in fact everyone was rather pleased with their results. It’s not necessarily about the subject matter, it’s about being able to “see” how to sketch anything that is around.

I did a very loose demonstration for the class and was going to stop but I was requested to continue, so I happily did.  Ah nobody has to force me to paint, it’s what I love best.

Just a bit of gentle persuasion and I could keep going for hours, but NO! I have a class to teach.  I had previously encouraged everyone to make sure they have large containers of water to use with the paints if they are in the studio and to change the water often.  Margaret did us proud with her giant sized vitamin container.

So proud of everyone today as people who weren’t use to using a lot of water and letting the watercolours go really decided to have a try.  What can I say? The results speak for themselves – FAB artwork everyone!

Next port of call was the beachfront in Manly and sketching the Norfolk Pines.  It’s quite a challenge to work out the perspective on them but I pointed out that in fact it was like an isosceles triangle from the top of the tallest pine in the foreground to the ones in the distance. Yes it is all just shapes, work out the shapes and things will come together.

Everyone produced some great artwork and I had to be bossy and limit the time as we had spent quite a while in the studio – they’re not used to me cracking the whip.


And off we went to Fusion Point and had a large table reserved for us which was wonderful.  The food was delicious and coffee was smooth and robust.

So we were a very happy bunch chatting away over lunch when we got a surprise and a familiar voice said “Hello”.  Lo and behold Jane appeared to join us if there was a spare seat, and luckily there was.  Jane is one of our regulars and we were all so enthralled with her new neopastel colours she had just bought.  I was the lucky one who got to try them out – wow they are yummy, vibrant colours and easy to use with interesting textures and effects. I can feel a spend coming on!

So another happy day sketching with my lovely class. Great work folks 🙂


General & New Sketchers. 9am Saturday August 16 ’14.


General & New Sketchers. 9am Saturday August 16 ’14.

Hurry hurry hurry, oh good Karen has opened up and most everybody is sitting in their places ready to get started. Excellent.

We are starting watercolour today, so we quickly check that everyone has taken off the wee wrappers on each colour pan. Not many to do so we get that done and we’ll be ready to start straight away when our sketch is done.


This was fun. Decided to do a demo using the watercolours the particular way we do. Clean colours every time, and you can layer colour over colour and watch the pigments work their magic. This is what we adore with this medium.

Someone mentioned they’d heard watercolour is very unforgiving. That is what we love, the ‘accidents’ if you like. In fact as I was showing some, with a clean wet brush you can remove anything that is too strong or needs softening.

We look out the window and the rain is coming down in buckets. Mmmm. Well let’s carry on and by the time we leave we’ll decide on Plan A or B.

Guess what. It stopped. Of course it did. We are the sketchers and we have special powers over rain. Off we all went, trotting, chatting and chirruping happily. To the beach we were headed. That long line of trees was our destination. Our sketches would involve some perspective plus softer colour in the distance.

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Another demo here. How to look at your composition and have your eye level as your guide. This is new for most so we’ll work more on this as term progresses.

My coffee is brought to me and I become a better person. Both Karen and I are working alongside each one to get that jolly distance thing worked out. Everyone manages just fine. We decide to head to Fusion Point once the sketches are more or less done. It’s looking a bit grey and coffee and food are calling.

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Today is a wettish Saturday. Nutsville for getting a table anywhere. But Elaine the owner has found a big lounge area and set up a second table for the others. Karen worked with one table and I looked after the other. The time was passing and I was getting away to be the guest tutor at a business seminar on the other side of Sydney. I left Karen to do the final pics and make sure everyone was enjoying themselves. I think some may be still there. Happily indulging in warm soup, chatting with friends and sketching in an excellent restaurant. Does it get better than this. See you next week for more good times.



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