Through a Window Brightly

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New Sketchers. 10am Tuesday September 9 ’14.

We wake up and it’s a sun-shiny happy day, especially nice after all the rain we’ve been having! We can’t wait to get to our sketching class, and all arrive early or right on time.
A lovely selection of bottles have been set up on both tables in the studio this morning. One has beautiful lavender hued jars, and the other varying green bottles. Both being so attractive we decided to try and sketch both in the studio this morning.
We discussed how to look at glass and especially to pay attention to the fact that there are no ‘square corners’ or pointy edges, when we come to sketch bottles. It’s all about ‘ellipses’, and we busy ourselves getting the line work in.
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I am beyond pleased walking around class today, along with my trusty assistants – Karen and Toni, we’re marvelling at the progress we’ve seen over this term. Gorgeous compositions are coming to life, and there is a growing confidence with the use of colour.
We’ve gotten a little carried away with getting the first sketch in, that we realise we’ve left very little time for the second. But this has given us the opportunity to see what a 10 minute sketch looks like, and we quickly put the line work in and loosely add colour. Wa-laa this one ends up being the favourite! Its remarkable what happens when you relieve the pressure and allow yourself freely go without expectation, that’s when the results really sparkle!
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Off we go down the hill, in the sunshine, to sketch at the Manly Wine. One of our absolute favourite cafe’s here in Manly. It’s a bit quirky and with lush trimmings, we feel like we’re vacationing somewhere exotic every time we visit here. A perfect place, when you’re ‘travel sketching’ you see!
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So, our location sketching is done right from our beautiful alcove, room to ourselves, which has large window views of the sea and beachfront area. We sit sipping coffees and our group cheerfully takes on one of their very first sketches of the ‘sea’. We talk about what colours work best for the sea, and sky and everyone is keen to try it out.
We can’t believe it’s the end of class when we glance at our watches, we’ve so enjoyed seeing ‘through the window’ snippets of life out there, come to life on the page in front of us. Its a charming way to document an afternoon, with lovely company, and great food to nibble on between sips of coffee and dips of the brush in water. Oops, one brush made it into coffee, but you’re not a seasoned sketcher until you’ve done that at least once, right?
Excitedly looking forward to seeing you all next week at North Head. Till then, happy sketching.
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General Sketching. 9.30am Thursday September 11 ’14.
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General Sketching. 9.30am Thursday September 11 ’14.
Maybe after all the rain and high winds, we think a little sunshine is amazing. But this is really really beautiful. The blue, the glittering water, the calmness. We do appreciate the beauty in our surrounds.
In fact some of the sketchers were saying how much they love their city. How very uplifting it is, and how (hopefully) far away we are from so many of the issues being faced elsewhere.
Anyway back to our warmup sketches of the day.
Glass and bottles. Looking at our way of indicating colour. Not always what you think you see, but by indicating enough colour in the right places, you’ll get a 3D object.
Blue and green tones on one table, pinks and lavenders on the other. Some simple daisies are tossed in to soften the effect.
Where to start. Where’s your biggest main shape. That’s the one, now build all else round that.
We were on the case if anyone attempted square corners on any round base. Grrrrr. Get that corner round. Use the scumbling technique to bring your eye back to what we want it to see.
Good work everyone. Not too much growling from me.
Now off to see the sea.
We walked to our next location, taking in the fresh air and listening to those cheeky lorikeets and sulphur crested parrots happily squeaking and squawking.
Today our subject is your view, through a doorway or window.
Mostly our subject is more exact, but at week 9, there is enough progress made, to allow for some improvisation.
We take up our positions in the Surf Room. Cannot imagine why it’s named that! It’s quite funny to see one of Manly’s iconic surf beaches – without surf.
The surfers and to sit on the beach hoping there’d be some action.
The only action would be coffee drinking.
Time for a demo. Most weren’t too sure how to combine a window and a view.
Inside Manly Wine, they have the big foldback windows, so I used that to frame my intended view.
Once that was in, I could put anything I liked really. I used the view straight to the water, with a Norfolk Pine or two, and a table right up close. That way I could get a sense of scale.
As we’d had our coffee and something yummy to sustain us, we could get down to work. Everyone managed something way beyond what I expected. Just lovely cheeky little moments, among some with more colour and focus.
And those windows are quite complicated to do, but you had observed your angles.
You have certainly all come a very long way with your travel sketching.
Congrats to all for a splendid day of very summery sketching.
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General Sketching. 9.30am Friday September 12 ’14.
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General Sketching. 9.30am Friday September 12 ’14.

My oh my!  15 students today and not a chair to spare.  Luckily Erin had reshuffled the studio which felt more spacious so we were able to sketch closely together today. It was very busy and buzzy which was great fun.

Lots of people doing catch up lessons so it was lovely to have some new faces and everyone was keen on the subject mater: bottles and glasses, although the question of ellipses and how to get them right was forefront in everyone’s minds.

A little tip: turn your book on its side once you’ve drawn your ellipse and somehow it makes it easier to see if it is right or wrong.

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No pointy corners – we were under strict instructions.  We wouldn’t dare. Gee we wouldn’t want to show ourselves up!

Time to warm up so I put my timer on and everyone got stuck into doing fast 2 and 4 minute sketches to loosen up.

As is always the case, people are surprised by how good these fast sketches turn out.  So we managed to achieve quite a lot today, lots of different sketches, in fact a couple of folk got through that many pages they were running out of paper in their sketchbooks.  Good work, that’s what I say.

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Manly Wine (at The Sebel Hotel) is our location spot and cafe for today.  Love this place, it’s a little bit whacky with funkylicious flamingos, tropical ferns, palmtree wallpaper and really friendly efficient staff who catered to our every need.  Oh and the view overlooking the beach isn’t too bad either.

It’s also really nice that we can relax here for a little longer than usual in a cafe.  Makes for a very relaxed atmosphere (in fact I spied a few glasses of champagne being downed by some of our sketchers) – makes for loose sketches, so that’s good!

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We sketched the view from inside as our subject is  “through a window”.  Wow we had some lovely results from everyone.  A little challenging to work out how to get the feeling of distance through a window right, but soften it a bit and voila, it all comes together.

A couple of folk had to dash off early and quite a few others were excitedly talking about their forthcoming trip to Tuscany.  Jane popped in to say hello too.  Quite a social scene we have.

The staff rather loved our sketches and there were quite a few oohs and aahs and wonderfuls from them.  They wanted to post our artwork on Instagram.  Oh yes we love that.

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One lovely girl then asked if I could kindly sketch a magnum of Mumm Champagne for them as they had a special Mumm promotion day and they would like to use it for celebrating.  No problem, nobody needs to force me to sketch.  It was rather lovely actually as a few of us stayed on for a while chatting away and before I knew it the afternoon had flown by.

Only one more sketch lesson for this term left, oh I will miss my class in the break.  But we are looking forward to next week where we meet at North Head Cafe to sketch on location for a change.  Ooooooh can’t wait…..


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New & General Sketching. 9am Saturday September 13 ’14.


New & General Sketching. 9am Saturday September 13 ’14

Oh we’re back to the rain. But that doesn’t mean I don’t throw my sunnies into my bag before heading to the Studio.

Just as well because I needed them an hour to two later!


As people arrive they seem happy with the coloured glass and bottles on both tables.

The early ones circle the table looking for the best angle!  Perhaps the first sketch of the day is definitely the warm up one. and the second seems looser

Probably cos you’re now on a time limit. Well, you know, you took awhile on the first one!

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Both setups are exercises in seeing elipses.

Round all the way. Round things don’t have pointed corners. Do we do pointed corners? Never.

Keeping those white tops and edges is key to travel sketching. The short cut version of everything. We’re not colouring in or painting.

Simply indicating colour and moving on.

And keep those colours pure. We talk about our preferred way to get layer over layer. It’s done on the page, not in the paintbox.

We are then out the door and on our way to Manly Wine. Woohoo.


Today we are having the ‘Birdcage Room’, however it turned out the Surf Room wouldn’t be needed right away, so we could get some time to do our window frame and beach view.

Back to the Birdcage to add the view and colour.

By the 9th week everybody is pretty confident about getting their sketch down and laying down some clear colour. Different styles are definitely emerging now, and the progress when we look back over the books is stunning.


By the time we’re looking at putting colour down, we’re also making decisions on how to get the window and the view working.

Should I make the window frames dark and the view pale – or the other way round?Whatever works for you.  Neither do you have to put colour over every little bit.  This is an impression. As you see it. Keep it simple.  Doesn’t need the story of the world to make it work.

Such a successful day everyone, and some really gorgeous sketches.  More next week for our special adventure at North Head.

I’ll be thinking of you from Tuscany.  I truly will. Cos you’re such lovely sketchers.

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  1. earthfirst111

    Hello Erin, I know you are off to Italy & I wish you the best time J.

    I’d like to book Saturday sketch classes with you again and will give you in advance 3-4 dates that I will have to do on a Tuesday or Friday.

    The Saturday dates that I cannot attend are sat 18/10, sat 1/11, & 22/11. I will get back to you with advance makeup dates.

    I’d like to pay the $350.00 as requested. I cannot see on your website your bank details.

    Could you please email bank details so I can transfer funds .

    Thanks so much


    Debra Gillis



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