Sketching Teapots & Windmills


Just a few observations I’d like to talk about as we complete week 6.

With every group each term, this is about the time some may begin to worry that you are not progressing.   Not everybody, but some.   Somehow it seems harder.  But you are not alone. This is how many feel and worry they are the only one.

We do plateau at a point where we think it should be easier.  We are asking more of ourselves, so we expect amazing results every week.  What is important is that you are asking the questions.

Looking at your work and seeing little things that don’t seem to work. Previously you’d never have known what to question.   This is progress.   You need to remember that we’re asking our brain to see things in a way it’s never been asked to before.   You’re trying to sketch with no pencil –  no safety net in other words.   And you are learning to use not just one, but two mediums of colour.   No wonder some sketchers feel uncertain.

In fact the progress you make is quite extraordinary if you look back.  For some of you, you’ve had no art experience ever.  Suddenly you can sketch.

Of course you think everything should look ‘perfect’. But there’s no need for perfect. Getting ‘it right’ is another funny one. Compared to what?  We are simply putting down an impression. Lines on paper. It is what it is.   So let’s let go of any judgement we impose on ourselves.

It’s only you we have to please. Nobody else.   You are all doing amazingly. Now let’s see how well you did this week………………. Cheers Erin.

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New Sketchers. 10am Tuesday August 19’14.

Hello there everyone, we’ve arrive at the studio and step in out of the rain, to see beautiful ‘teapots & cups and saucers’ set up for us. (thank you Erin). Today we have the pleasure of sketching these in the studio, and if it continues to rain cats and dogs outside, we’ll spend more time here doing this, and everyone is delighted.

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Before we get started, we chat about the shapes in front of us, how we’d apply paints or w’colour pencils, and get inspired seeing samples of various sketches done in different styles. Everyone’s ‘style’ will be different and that’s what we want you to embrace and bring to the fore.

Ready.. set.. go, everyone is rearing to go, and before long there’s silence as everyone is deep in thought over their compositions. I have the wonderful assistance of Karen and Toni again today, and with our large group we’re kept on our toes, each fluttering to a shoulder like a supportive angel giving input and encouragement.

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I am near astounded at the gorgeous sketches produced today, and before long we’ve finished up our sketch (and some have done two). And we make a group decision to head out while there is a break in the rain and see if we can track down the windmills.

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Windmills? I hear you say. Yes, indeed. But it was a bit of an adventure to find them, and I fear, we lost a few along the way going up Kangaroo Street, instead of Kangaroo Lane, and then we all came to a full stop where we met Smith Street and still hadn’t seen any windmills.

Luckily ‘angel Toni’ knew exactly where they were, just a few steps up Smith Street and on the left. Ta daa!!! There they were, and though we’d been rained on along the way,  and some had decided to make a bee-line for the café, a fair few of us decided to give it a go before the next bout of rain. And we’re glad we did.

Check out our gorgeous sketches of the windmills, which are part of the “Outback Lodge” B & B, which is quite a delight, and who would have thought the windmills were there, snuck back on a little street in Manly. (Apologies to those who walked much further than expected, before being found and comforted with coffee at Foundry 53).

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We all arrive to meet up at the café, Foundry 53, just as the rain really tips down and all are very grateful to be seated at our cozy table, with hot coffee’s and chuckles about our adventure to see the “windmills”.

This café is one of our favourites, with its graffiti styled walls, excellent food, even nicer staff, and it’s known for its really good coffee! ; Hence, it would be hard to keep us away from being back again soon.


Our enjoyable day comes to a close, and everyone has produced several gorgeous sketches in their books. We had essentially gotten lucky with the weather, which gave us ‘windows of time’ to get from place to place and get on with our sketching.

Thank you everyone, I’m looking forward to seeing you all next week for our next adventure.

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General Sketching. 9.30am Thursday August 21 ’14.


General Sketching. 9.30am Thursday August 21 ’14.

Hello Sunshine. Hello Raaaaaaain. Reminds me of that song.
Must say it’s looking clearer each day – between showers that is.
A happy group arrived with everything from sunglasses to umbrellas. We are ready to battle the weather come what may.
The setups of teacups and teapots looked very appealing and there is no doubting that we are attracted to pretty shapes and patterns.


We had a chat about looking down on the round tops and how they continue being round as they sit on the table. They don’t suddenly become flat just because you can’t see round the corner.

And another important point to note is that there are no pointed corners on elipses – meaning the oval of a teacup or a glass or anything round.   So make it round all the way.

We just don’t always notice these details yet when students ask why their sketch doesn’t look right – this is generally the reason.

Quite a few enjoyed playing with watercolour today. While one worked in bamboo pen and paint another played with wax crayon and paint. In this class you can try out mediums and see how you like them.

The sun was shining brightly and the sky was looking blue.   We all headed towards  where the windmills would be.  Everybody found them and gathered along the grass outside the property and began their sketch.

Once again decide how much goes in to tell the story.  The shapes here are not very complicated. It’s more about of comparing shape against shape. Deconstruct in other words. It becomes ‘a thing’.

Is that raindrops falling on my head? (another song about to burst forth!)


Cafe time! Scurry scurry before the rain.  Here at Foundry 53 they have several nice big community tables just right for our group. Some rather like the big sofas you can relax into and still have room for your paints coffee and gorgeous plates of food.

Our time went quickly and while Karen and I take mouthfuls of coffee, we work our way round everyone who needs advice.


One or two try the 5 minute coffee sketch and a few try people sketching. They’re all shapes whatever they are.   Pictures are taken of our very successful sketches. Then believe it not its time to depart.

You’ve all made great progress in the 6 weeks we’ve been sketching this term and we are so proud of you. Give yourselves a pat on the back. Yes even you!

Wonder what well get up to next week. MMMmm.


General Sketching. 9.30am Friday August 22 ’14

IMG_0203General Sketching. 9.30am Friday August 22 ’14

Well the endless sunshine couldn’t last forever and this week we have been more or less drenched permanently! The flowers and ducks love it but not necessarily us hardy sketchers.  Rain and paper……. = papier mache. Not a good mix.


We were a smaller bunch than usual but as rowdy as ever I must say.  We were sketching one of my favourite subjects, tea cups.

I love cups as we generally find them everywhere we go in life and the good thing is that once you have it sussed as to how to sketch and paint cups, then you will find yourself greeted with a veritable choice of cups everywhere you go and you can move forward with confidence, painting any cup or mug you see!

t’s not as complicated as you might think – circles – get them right and a bit of shadow here and there and you will be all set.  But the ellipses change depending on where your eye level is. Takes a bit of practice.

I had everyone terrified of sketching a straight edge on a teacup or shock, horror – pointy corners where there should be gentle rounds!  But you all did a marvellous job and everyone handled things beautifully today, we even swapped tables and managed more than one sketch.


We were soon to head off after I had taken the photos of everyone’s sketchbooks but we all got a huge shock as a car crash happened right in front of us, as I was preparing to take pictures.

Oh dear, what a shock, luckily nobody was hurt but the drivers were very shaken and Gail and Jane were amazing helping the people who had been in the cars.  Kettle boiled, cup of tea made to alleviate the shock, everybody OK, police on the way and so we were clear to head off finally.

Sorry no windmills today, too much happened.


So we went straight to Foundry 53 for lunch and coffees.

It’s such a funkylicious place with amazing food, just check out the photographs, the food and the decor are both equally as interesting. Now today our intrepid sketchers were keen to capture their coffee cups and lunch plates, after all we have been practising all morning, so we are experts now aren’t we?

Oh Yes We Are!  Our wonky circles look rather charming, our teapots are rather original, and our wobbly lines add amazing interest.  Yes we are sketchers and we are not aiming for perfection, just some original sketches.  We love it.


Saturday New & General Sketching. 9am August 23 ’14


Saturday New & General Sketching. 9am August 23 ’14

So much rain this morning. But I now know that when we need the sunshine it will be there bright and cheerful at the exact time we want.

It was interesting to see everybody sitting at the table without the lovely silver jug. Aww what’s wrong with the silver jug?   Much mirth as I ask if ‘it’s too hard’

Yep that was the truth.   Toni and I had a giggle.   As it happens it’s easier than the ones with the patterns.

One sketcher arrived and sat there and had the whole table to herself.

We showed the silver jug demo from the other day and it seemed to make sense after that.

We talked about the round elipses and how all the cups and saucers follow the roundness of the top of the cup. All round. No pointy bits.   Because there were so many patterns on them I needed to demonstrate getting your tone down first, leaving white tops and sides. Pattern goes in after you’ve established your base colour.

We were so engrossed in our teapots and cups that we might happily have stayed all afternoon.   Ok let’s go find the windmills while the weather is blue and sunny and we did.

Most had never seen them. Or this gorgeous tree lined tranquil street one back from the main road.  We all agreed we do look more at things around us as sketchers.


Coffee was calling so we gathered our gear and off we trotted to Foundry 53.

It’s quite a favorite for several who know it and a real delight for the first timers.   As always we manage to find somewhere to sit even though it’s not always together.

This is how we get to know each other too. Sharing a coffee and lunch together. Chatting about colour. Seeing how the others did this or that.  Totally non competitive. Simply enjoying our differences.

We had a smaller group so everyone had help when needed and could talk about where they thought they were up to with their sketches.  Another very enjoyable week has just concluded and we’ll see what happens next week.

Oh, it involves bringing a hand mirror. Now there’s clue.


  1. Robin Hall

    It is a delight to be able to catch up with all the fabulous sketching being produced each week. Really keeps me in touch.
    Best wishes to all.
    Robin Hall


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