Sketching Ourselves and other Characters


New Sketchers. 12noon Monday August 25 ’14

This is a series of 3 classes for some keen sketchers who we couldn’t squeeze into our weekly classes – so it’s a bit of a ‘special’ really.

For our two brand new sketchers it was a little nerve -wracking, as you begin to wonder as you step into the Studio if this was all just a bad idea. Me sketch! What! Never have been before so why do I think I can now!!!

Well Erin told me I could. And she knows about these things. So here I am, putting myself on the line. She’d better be right.

In fact this class won’t be doing the subject all the other classes will do this week, as they are up to week 7 now, and we are week 1.

We also have a sketcher from another class doing some ‘makeups’ so for her it was very good to go back over the steps again.

We had a glass jar of simple hibiscus and began going through the stages from observation to getting down those first terrifying lines.


In fact once the first marks are made, just work in the next shapes and soon you’re ready for colour.

Watercolour pencils are a beautiful starting medium and very manageable wherever you are. Colour was layered, and plenty of whites were left, and everyone seemed quite pleased with their first sketches.

After the Studio sketching, we wandered down to Gilbert Park, where the Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, and pigeons, strutted and squawked  beneath the massive Morton Bay figs and other mature trees.

The big trees with distinct trunk shapes and ‘elephant feet roots’ were our next subject. Again, observe the forms and spread of the trunk and branches before committing. With a few little demos in my book everyone got the idea very well. And oh so different, and very much in each person’s style.


Great work everybody, and now for a much deserved coffee at Belgrave Cartel.

Our next sketch would be the 5 minute hot coffee one. Ok get that first circle in on top of the cup, throw your colour in then feel free to enjoy your coffee while still hot. When you are ready complete the rest of the sketch and there you have it.

A fab memory of your day, all there in sketches. Really great work from everyone. More next Monday – same time, same place. And it wasn’t that terrifying at all.



New Sketchers. 9.30am Tuesday August 26 ’14

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New Sketchers. 10am Tuesday August 26 ’14.

Come rain or shine, we’ll trot off to our sketching class. It so happens to be raining rather than the ‘shining’ and we don’t mind.

Today we’re going to spend more time in the studio anyway, and our theme of today is ‘mannequins, portraits and each other’. We’ve been asked to bring a handheld mirror to class, how exciting, and I know you’ve guessed it…. It’s so you can tackle a self-portrait.

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Our large class is chatty and excited and we first get started with the mannequins. We warm up our sketching arms and get back to the basics of how to measure and ‘see’ the composition in front of us, and bring that onto the page.

I do a demo of how to ‘colour’ the mannequin in watercolour, and it works well layering the three colours (yellow ochre, cadmium red, and ultramarine blue.)

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Then we have a quick chat about how to approach doing a self-portrait. The proportions of the face are observed, and a few gasps of amazement ripple around the group when realising the eyes are halfway between the top of the head and the chin! Who would have thought!?

When mentioning the ‘chin’, more specifically measured to the ‘bottom of the chin’, one of the sketchers piped up, “Which chin!?” and we all had a chuckle about that. No double chins in our class!

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We spend the last bit of time in the studio finishing up our colour, and photographing. Everyone has enjoyed the self-portrait study, and I can see a few keen to try it again soon. The weather has kindly held the rain back periodically, and we take the cue to head off down the hill to Hemingway’s. Our café of choice this week.

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True to form, we make it just in time to get to the café, and the first spots of rain are returning. We get settled inside at the first tables near the door, and it’s a good place to be if you want to sketch someone trundling past.

One of our sketchers does a lovely vignette of people passing by, a man with his dog, and someone huddled under an umbrella, a jogger etc. Lovely! Others have sketched people in the café, or their coffee’s in front of them. All really great.

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We’re enjoying superb coffee and croissants and to our delight, in pops Erin. We each have the chance to catch up with Erin and have some valuable input. Our happy day sketching together comes to a close, and though the weather was grey and raining, it definitely didn’t emulate our mood together…we were the opposite, bright and cheerful. See you all again next week.


General Sketching. 9.30am Thursday August 28 ’14

IMG_8405General Sketching. 9.30am Thursday August 28 ’14

Pretty jolly rainy at daybreak but nicely clear by the time I head for the Studio.

This week is about people sketching.  We would start the day however with our 3 mannequins Mannie, Quin, & Mankin.   All week they’ve been giving guidance to the human proportion in their own little ways.

We threw our 3 watercolour choices down the centre and everybody achieved some fun little ‘person’ sketches.

One of our sketchers has lost the use of her right hand due to a medical issue, however she did a marvellous mannequins sketch with her right hand which we all loved. Then a left hand one! Did the same with portraits too.  You’ll see them in the sketch pics. We should all swap hands occasionally.

We then did our self portraits using a hand mirror, and every one was so much fun and totally different styles.

How good this was for getting our observation skills finely tuned.

IMG_8411This week before leaving for the beach – it was doggie rescue time.  Little Mini the elderly Jack Russell had gone on an adventure without telling Mum, crossing the road and missing the traffic – just.

We found all her info on her collar and very soon the pair were reunited.  The sketchers had gone on ahead with Karen, and were happily sketching beach people by the time I turned up. A happy ending.

One sketcher was discovered by someone she knew and sat for a few minutes having her sketch done. It was all about the hat!

The others had found a good spot on the steps and being sunny had plenty of material for their beach people sketching.

You can always count on tourists delightedly standing at the waters edge and breathing in the magical scene before them.  We forget some people have never seen the sea.


Let’s go to Hemingways now and finish our colour.

It was so sunny that some sat outside to enjoy a break in the weather – until the raindrops began.   Inside they found a cosy table and then the sun came back out. Ah well. A good coffee fixes everything.

We really enjoyed today’s sketching and everybody went away with some very satisfying work in their journals.  More next week. Rain or shine.


General Sketching. 9.30am Friday August 29 ’14


General Sketching. 9.30am Friday August 29 ’14

Lashed by rain and rather bedraggled we all arrived eventually.  Just a few days till Spring so hopefully we will see a bit more sunshine than of late.  Can’t complain though really.

Guess whose birthday it is?  Yes it’s Gail’s special day, she is one of our avid sketchers and bless her cotton socks she arrived with a rather scrumptious chocolate mud cake for us all to share.  Oh yummo.  We decided we wouldn’t have it first thing for breakfast but would warm up a bit with sketches first. Too wet to go and grab cappucinos to go with it – never mind.  But thank you Gail, we all loved that.

So we really did have a bit of a laugh this morning as the subject was “ourselves”.  And what a fine and handsome bunch we are eh?

To get those sketching brains warmed up I suggested everyone start with a sketch of someone else and not to take too long doing it.  This of course resulted in a lot of people peering over each other’s shoulders at the end to see if we really were potential candidates for “Australia’s Next Top Model”.

Alas, I fear not!  We are all rather gorgeous in our own way.


So after making our classmates laugh at what they looked like it was time to do “selfies”.  We had brought mirrors in and this was really a case of making sure your observation skills were spot on.

It’s challenging but fun that’s for sure.  And the amazing thing is we know our models very well, we look at them every day normally, checking our mascara hasn’t smudged or there’s no spinach in our teeth but this is different.  Rarely do we analyse our faces like this.

Kind of scary!  Gee do I really have that many wrinkles?

Don’t emphasize those laughter lines or a few wrinkles, focus on all the positives, the hair, the brightness of your eyes etc. Yes we can make ourselves look younger 🙂

A dash of pale red on the cheeks gives us a gorgeous glow and plenty of white adds light and life.

We all enjoyed this exercise and we were all quite recognisable from our sketches.  A really excellent job!


No location sketching today as the rain came back with a vengeance so we scooted down to Hemingways on the beach front as fast as we could.  Lucky us, Erin arrived and watched us all sketching other cafe goers and our classmates again.

You all did an amazing job – think you will love the sketches!  They are fun and vibrant.  Have a great weekend everyone


New & General Sketching. 9am Saturday August 30 ’14


New & General Sketching. 9am Saturday August 30 ’14

Oh my goodness. Now that is rain. I always walk to the Studio but my very kind ‘other person’ offered to get out of bed and drive me.  At least I was dry to start class.

When everyone was seated Therese did a talk on her Canadian and Alaskin travels. Her tea towel souvenir had an excellent map printed on it, so we could follow her journey along the linen.

This is what we are training for. We also welcomed Kate back from a few weeks away with family. She was sure she’d forgotten everything, but no not at all.

The mannequins were waiting for their turn having held their positions all week. Oh the occasional leg falls off, but push it back in and we’re as good as new.  Just like us.

These are great for getting the general proportion of the body.  You do need to plan your sketch on the page to be sure you’ve allowed room for extended limbs.

Every sketch looked well balanced, so clearly people are now finding shapes easier to see.  Using watercolours and some chinagraph we use our 3 colours to place tone down the centre of the limbs. The pigments look so lovely when they mix. Everyone is pleased.


Ok now out with the mirrors.

We talk about facial proportions. Where the eyes are. Where the other features fit in.  Colour. Look for the dark round the hairline. Note the warm colour round eyes, under nose and chin.  We talk about the green tones in skin.

Silence as people take a good long look at themselves, actually observing the shapes for the first time. Yes you look but do you see.  The portraits progress and Karen and I make little suggestions where we think it will help.

What a great selection of face sketches we now have. Every one being a recognizable character you can pick out, right there in the room. Mmmm. Maybe we are the best looking group of the week. What do you think!

Rain rain go away, come again another day. It did stop long enough for us the walk down the hill, and to Hemingways. No beach sketching today. Definitely not blue like Thursday!

We’d wondered if we’d find a spot for us all, but yes, we headed upstairs where we sat in every available sofa or chair.

Lewis took coffee orders first. He knows the story.

Then back for food orders. All the essentials taken care of, we can pinpoint our quarry for ‘person sketching’. There was plenty of choice, being a rainy day and stir crazy folk who just had to get out of their houses and to a cafe. Suits us. From wherever you were seated there were subjects in front of you. We are sure they’ll never know they are being studied!!

What a great day. Everyone had quirky little impressions of what they could see, whether people, leather sofas, Hemingways portrait, dripping candle holders. Oh so much to choose.

Time to depart and enjoy the weekend. An excellent week all and such progress in your sketching.


Guess who!!






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