Sketching Jacarandas, Rocks and Water


Monday New Sketchers. November 10 ’14

Today was our 5week New Sketchers first class.

We have this series for people who’ve found us part way during the term and wouldn’t want to wait till the new term in Feb ’15.

Though of course we do have a Workshop coming up for new sketchers.  We do try to be there for you.

One of our big tables was setup and an old green jam jar filled with beautiful red hibiscus was waiting.

We had a discussion about why our travel sketching classes are so very different from other art courses, and how we use colour in the simplest way possible.

Once we begin our ‘How to see’ part of the class, there is calm. Shapes are being observed. How big is this here compared to that there.

Eyes constantly moving between sketchbook and subject.  Lines are taking shape.  Put down only what you see.

Lovely sketches are being created and now it’s time to use colour.

For the first two weeks we’ll layer our watercolour pencils using our own particular method. Lots of coverage at high speed. Gorgeous rich colours coming through.

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It’s nice when people can say they are enjoying what they’ve just fine. We don’t need to worry about what the world thinks. This is for ourselves.

Time is going so quickly that we decide to leave the outdoor sketch part of the lesson till next time.

But the coffee part we are hanging out for.


Our sketchersize is the walk down the hill and back up later and luckily Belgrave Cartel is just the right distance away for us.

Our sketch here will be the ‘5 minute hot coffee’ – or tea

They arrive at the same time so we get started.

We all get cracking and with just 3 – 4 colours very quickly complete it. And take our first sip. AAAaaaah. Life is good.

Possibly more of a six minute sketch, but this is our first time.

Everyone has had a very enjoyable time and are dashing off to other worlds with their first sketches tucked away in their shoulder bags. Sketching has become part of their lives already.


Tuesday Class. November 11 ’14

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Tuesday Class. November 11 ’14

‘Hello everyone, it’s Christy here’, and we’re in the studio this morning to frame our beautiful sketches for the upcoming exhibition. Kindly, Erin, is showing everyone how it’s done in the classes this week.

We’re all very excited to see our sketches printed out, and once we’ve gone through all the framing steps, we marvel at seeing the sketches completed and looking very professional in their white frames. It’s going to be really special to see all the classes work framed and looking impressive at the exhibition.

Once we’ve completed things in the studio, we head out to two locations to sketch today’s subjects. The first is ‘the Jacaranda tree’ and the other will be ‘water and rocks’ at the Manly Cove Pavilion.

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It’s a very short walk across the street to ‘Roger’s Jacaranda tree’. This particular tree holds a ‘possum box’ in it’s heavy purple arms, outside one of our regular Sketchers’ homes. Hence, we named the tree after him.

Today, we’re delighted to be sketching the brilliant purple flowers of this tree, and one of the sketchers even commented how they’d been wanting to sketch the Jacarandas’ to see how to get the colours right.

Its ‘Remembrance Day’ today and at 11am, we all respectfully held a moments silence to remember those men and women who have died or suffered in all wars, conflicts and peace operations. It was a special moment, all quietly sitting on the lawns with our pens down and sketchbooks, contemplating…

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Then it’s time to head down to Manly Cove, and with Karen’s wonderful help in the class today, she lead the way down to the steps that overlooks a charming view of rocks and the water.

Its a gorgeous spot and an excellent sketch location. I can’t wait to come back to sketch here soon.

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It’s been impressive to see everyone very willing to do it all on location today, from sketching through to the colour, and balancing watercolours in one hand or balanced on a knee, so that completed work was done quickly and on site.

This is travel sketching, and you’ve done a jolly good job today!

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Then we head to the Manly Cove Cafe around the corner, a little later than we usually head to the cafes, and everyone is quickly getting their coffee orders in. “Aaagh, that’s great! Sipping our teas and coffees and looking out at the beach scene in front of us”. We’ve had a great morning together and looking forward to the next.

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Thursday Class. November 13 ’14

Much excitement today as people see their sketch prints, sitting atop the crisp white frames, as they arrive.

What a buzz everyone gets.

Lots of ‘Wow, that looks amazing.’  Yes the colour is up a little and yes, somehow a frame makes a huge difference to it’s presentation.

We all line up next to our frames and begin to follow the step by step demo I’m doing. In a very short time – da daaaah. Done.

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We did take a few moments then to remind ourselves about the techniques we incorporate into Travel Sketching.

How do we begin a sketch, how do know how to get it on our page etc, right through to how we use colour ….. and are we having a good time.

Once we’d reminded ourselves that we are travel sketchers and work to a time limit we ran ourselves a little short anyway.


Time to hurry over to Roger’s jacaranda tree – (with a B&B for possums high up in the branches.) Under the tree is Julie’s little car – in matching jacaranda. Awesome.

Both Karen and Toni were on board today. One helping a previous sketcher returning and the other helping with getting the pure colours into the lids of the paint boxes. Some wisps of colour over the blooms, more down the tree trunk, something darker behind to bring it forward. Magic.


That done we crossed back over and walked down to Federation Point and down about 100 steps to the sea washing over sandstone rocks.

This is such a gorgeous stretch of the boardwalk which wraps around the Manly Pavilion building and on past the beaches.

It’s quite private being narrow, but it looks down over the water as it swirls around the rocks, ebbing and flowing.

Today is quite mild but on stormy days it just smashes in here.

Here again we worked on white on tops and sides of rocks, darker richer colour underneath.

Splash it on, big strokes, free yourself up. Give up the detail. Smiles all round.

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Time was quite tight today as we’d fitted so much in, so with a promise of a good coffee and time to step away from your sketches for a moment, we were off round the corner.


Mahesh and Vandna at Manly Cove Cafe were waiting with a table set up for our group. So lovely being able to wander along and sit with our sketchbooks, chatting and laughing together, right here next to the beach.

Today’s sketches were very quick and loose. That’s what we’re after.

Great work everyone.

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Friday Class. November 13 ’14

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Friday Class. November 14 ’14

Judy here from the very hot Friday class.

Yes I know we are a hot bunch of gals but this Friday we we’re feeling hot as the forecast was “Sydney Temperatures set to soar to 40 degrees”.

Ouch I can ready imagine my tingling sunburnt skin before I’ve even left for the studio. But phew, a beautiful coastal breeze saved us from frying.

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Air con in the studio was much needed as Erin met us to help frame everybody’s artwork for our forthcoming exhibition.

Exciting stuff – our sketches look amazing behind glass and we all beam with delight before heading off to sketch Jacaranda trees.

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Spectacular, stunning, awesome – just a few of the adjectives to describe these magnificent trees in bloom. Oooh the colour is so lush and we try hard to capture the beauty in paint.

Gorgeous sketches ladies, just look at those sketches and feel proud.

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So we are now sketching water and rocks looking out to the ocean.

It’s a challenge to capture the waves, ripples and reflection with rocks lying underneath but everyone worked their watercolour magic and I was thrilled to see the results.

Our two sketchers who are new to watercolour threw themselves into it, with some guidance from assistant tutor Karen, and could give themselves a pat on the back for amazing results.

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We had a lovely long table at Manly Cove Cafe by the Aquarium and beach, under umbrellas and with a breeze blowing it was a lovely place to finish our morning.


Saturday Class. November 15 ’14.

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Saturday Class. November 15 ’14.

It was a very different temperature today I must say.

From 36 down to 26. Quite a drop. Could even be a raindrop falling on my head.

Framing again this morning. People get so excited about seeing them when all framed up. It’s going to be quite a show.

I keep thinking how much fun the idea is to us. An exhibition for people who don’t exhibit.


Jacaranda time and we notice how much more intense the colour is with less sun.

This means we have more chance of getting the colours. We’re all on watercolours so we firstly get all the colours we’ll use into the lid. Then add water to make a base colour. Load your brush and layer it on. Then another over that.

They all looked superb in their different styles. Everyone was pleased as they’d been looking forward to this one.

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Two of our sketchers are on Cockatoo Island. At the same time we were, they were sketching too. You’ll see the kids watching a sketch being done!


Down James St and along to those many steps.

A different colour altogether today. That’s why you learn something every time. The rocks have the same ochres, mauves & blues, sienna with cerulean sea.

It’s that swirling water that’s changed. But we need to clarify our colours so they are clear and distinguished from the next. That’s where all our whites come in.

Again it was a great follow on from jacarandas because we could use loose colour and get the look in a similar way.

Karen said we got at least 55 ‘wows’ as people walked by!

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Coffee round the corner was calling. A nice table was set up at Manly Cove Cafe, and most were going to pop the colour on both their sketches if needed.

In fact by layering down thinner layers first, you can step away then see what it needs. Usually just a dash more of the same colour will intensify the darks. Works a treat.


What great stuff from everyone today. I get so excited when I see you mastering this. I know you do too. So empowering.

More next week. Can’t wait.

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  1. I am missing visiting your classes Erin. I am looking forward to seeing the sketches on the walls – a very exciting moment.
    I really enjoyed the Jacaranda paintings this week !


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