Sketching. Playing With Colour


Monday Class. November 17 ’14.

Another blue sky day. We’re getting these more now that summer is mostly here.

Today the big tables were back and nothing setup on them. Nobody commented as being new sketchers they go with the flow.

We were going to do some test patches in our sketchbooks and layer different watercolour pencils together, and see how differently they look when different ones go over another.

This was also a chance to use the side of the pencils, held the way we do, and go top to bottom in one stroke. Then of course, fade to the sides to leave white.

Once this is learnt, going on location and using colour becomes easier.

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While it’s still in bloom, we decided to take these techniques and sketch the jacaranda tree over the road.

In this class we’ll probably do what the classes have done the week before, and simplify it for those just learning our ways.

It was so beautiful sitting on the grass opposite the jacaranda, still looking gorgeous but losing a little of its cloud of lavender bloom.

Each sketch worked so well, all different in style but capturing the character of the magnificent jacaranda. Great work everybody.


Next location was Manly Beach, south end.

Colour was what we were after. Another exercise here, using our watercolour pencils and layering the colours nearest to what we could see, to get the richness, and the waves.

Everyone did a similar panel, and worked in their colours till they had a beach scene.

This could take a little water brush just to pick up the brightest parts. Happy smiles. Quick colour. Water and waves nailed.

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Time for coffee and something yummy so we decided Ouzeria Greek, right opposite the beach would be just right. Avery Greek Island kinda day.

Here was chance to go back to sketches and ask questions which arose. Lots of learning going on and all essential for our way of applying colour with travel sketching.

In fact everybody chose something to sketch in the cafe, so for some we had the geranium hanging above and for others, their coffee cups.

All a lovely memory of another very enjoyable sketching morning together. More adventures next week.



Tuesday Class. November 18 ’14


Hello, It’s Christy here, and it’s turned out to be a bright sunny day, which is different from what my phone was telling me.

It said clouds and rain! But no, we have glorious sunshine for our large class today! We all arrive at the studio early and notice there are no subjects on the tables. What can this mean? But, Oh yes, we’re going to be doing exercises with applying colour.

Playing with colours week! We first start by doing ‘value exercises’ with the colour pencils. It’s remarkable how we can layer 3-4 colours and achieve that beautiful rich tone and colour, and we observe a lovely demo that has been left in class by Erin.

I believe it is always best to create, for example, a natural ‘orange’ by layering ‘yellow and red’, as apposed to just reaching for your orange pencil.

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We then move onto using the water colours in a similar fashion. Layering of 2-3 colours, very loosely and with the emphasis of ‘more water’ ..’less fiddling with the brush’ and coming back with some details after a moment or two of drying.

Its been very helpful for those in the class that are still new to using watercolours and allowing them to experiment with the way water colours work. Exciting.

Some commented we could carry on with this exercise all day, so many combinations to try out!

But no, it’s time to head off down the hill to Manly beach front (South Steyne) and put our new found skills to the test.

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We all arrive down at the beach side, and what a fantastic scene surrounds us.

There are young kids in red rash vests doing what appears to be ‘Nippers’ – surf life saving exercises. Their bright bodies in the waves, or bold coloured surfboards, or the bright coloured flags flapping in the breeze, or simply the beach goers sunbathing on the sand, are all game for sketching today!

Everyone is itching to sketch, so we all dissipate to the nearest benches and busy ourselves. On this particular day, the idea of sketching seems to appeal to the public and we have many onlookers who are interested in what we do, and who we are! That’s travel sketching for you!

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The sun is getting too warm now, and it’s time to head in for our coffees and lunch.

Just behind us on the beachfront is a Greek restaurant that looks accommodating, Ouzeria, and we head there. We’re seated at a lovely table down the one side that’s open, and we appreciate the lovely cool breeze.

Our lovely day together comes to a close, and we all marvel and comment on each others fantastic achievements today. Well done everyone, see you next week!

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Thursday Class. November 20 ’14

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Thursday Class. November 20 ’14

The air is filled with colour and scented blooms at this time of year. As I walk to the Studio there is Star Jasmine, Gardenia, Jacaranda, Bouganvillea, Hibiscus Blue & White Agapanthus, and now Frangipani. It transports me.

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We are continuing with our classes this week to follow on with water colour pencil techniques.

The way we use it is unlike any other. We hold the pencil differently and we use heavy and light pressure to get light and dark.

Usually between 2 and 4 colours are layered very quickly to get interest in your final colour.

Everyone was totally immersed in getting their squares down and beginning the varying colour combos.

By learning to look at the world in front of you, you begin to see those layers of colour and learn which ones to put down and in which order.

Once you know all this you can mix any and all, and see what you get.

For most sketchers it’s the first time anyone has shown them how to use colour at all.


We have a chat about going to the beach to try our techniques on the sea, sky and sand.

We decide to go to Manly Cove on the wharf side of Manly because we know there’s good cafe there.

That dictates a lot about where we sketch!

We sat along the edge of the sea wall and drank in the glorious setting before us. Others sat more decorously on a park bench.

Rich in colour and action. But this is an exercise and we want just a section of it.

By doing a demo first, it was easier for people to see which colours should go down first and how to get focus in your composition.

Everybody was very happy sitting here while the world floated by, and we just had fun with colour.

Our sketcher from Philip Island is doing a few classes with us this week and finding the techniques immensely helpful. By doing this over and over you hone up your speed and smoothness.

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The coffee addicts among us lead the charge one street over to Interpolitan Cafe, and the other less dependant ones saunter in after we’d order.

They are very lovely staff here and perfectly happy about us pulling tables around and suiting ourselves. We are happy sketchers.

Time to get stuck into cafe sketching now. Your coffee or latte is just fine, and they were coming hot off the press – at one of the tables at least!

Everybody seemed very happy with working on ‘how to use colour’ and trying things out – all which helps you know what you’re doing when out & about on your own.

Excellent work for all today.



Friday Class. November 21 ’14

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Friday Class. November 21 ’14

Hello, Judy here with the update from Friday’s class.  Good Morning Sydney, it’s going to be a scorcher – only 39 degrees by the coast – the weather report said.  Yikes, here we go again, another hot one. Ok, rummage through the wardrobe for the lightest clothes possible, water bottle in handbag, hair tied back, yep I am armed and dangerous to teach!

Understanding your watercolour pencils was the aim for today, as a lot of folks tend to use one colour and perhaps don’t explore the amazing range of colours and interesting tones that these pencils can produce when layered.

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The skills learned with the pencils will translate across to watercolour too as the layering is what gives our artwork such vibrancy.  But how do you make brown from these colours? Or grey? Or a rich mustardy colour?  Ah ha, the mysteries will unfold when we try out different colour combinations.

So we did little colour swatches in our sketchbooks, noting the colours as we go and seeing the wonderful colours that are created, starting from the primary colours and then moving on to creating other shades.  Everyone really enjoyed this exercise as they could clearly see the value in it (no pun intended).  Oh I had no idea that you could make brown from yellow ochre with green and red! Yes what fun to learn how to do this.

So I chivvied everyone along to speed through this as much as possible as I had brought along three delicacies for everyone to sketch and had been carrying them around in my handbag – yes you guessed it, three great rocks!

My husband always says “What on earth do you carry in that handbag Judy?” but even I must admit that I don’t normally have rocks lurking in the bottom of the bag.

However I had brought them along to follow on from the exercise as this enabled people to directly used their new found colour skills on an object that previously may have been challenging.

“I think they look more like potatoes than rocks” said a few.  Potatoes or rocks, we don’t care – they are both round and brown.

Great work folks – have a look at the pictures.

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We rather enjoyed the free entertainment provided watching some young guy arrive in his boat directly in front of us, playing loud music from his ghetto blaster and strategically placing himself by some rather attractive young females in bikinis and unsubtly trying to grab their attention, jumping off the boat and swimming around, probably hoping one of the ladies would join him. No such luck but so funny to watch.

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Coffee and lunch was calling out to us and we headed off for lunch and Karen had organised our large table outside.  We were so lucky today having the sea breeze when we were out as it meant that despite the heat we all stayed cool calm and collected. As if we would ever be anything different!

Yummy food and each coffee was individually decorated so they were all different.  We took photos and then headed off in different directions all looking forward to tonight with the opening of our Studio Exhibition at Bella Vista Cafe.  Great fun to be had by all tonight no doubt!


Friday November 21 ’14. A snippet of the Christmas Party & Exhibition Opening.

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Above are a few of the pics taken while it was 38 degrees, before the show – the cool breeze blew through Bella Vista Cafe and the customers were all outside enjoying that.  Tables set up, people enjoying an excellent coffee and food, dining in the presence of our very uplifting work.They go away feeling on top of the world.

Each table gets an info card with lots of blurb about who we are and what we do, and about prices if they wish to buy.

Most tables were gone later to give us space for the Kneesup.

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Then you see some of the fun and action in the evening. What a beautiful night with its  cooling breeze, and the venue certainly was perfect to show off the work of 42 sketchers. Everyone seemed thrilled to be part of it and for those who’ve never exhibited in an exhibition before, you are now stars. As one sketcher said. ‘I feel famous now’.

There are many more photos to come, and thanks to Joanna these are a few to get you going.


Saturday Class. November 22 ’14.

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Saturday Class. November 22 ’14.

Not as hot as were expecting thank goodness. Everyone arrived, a few a little weary from our Opening last night.

Including Dee, having announced last night that she got married last week and that’s why she’d missed class. We were all stunned, amazed and excited. Do you have photos? Yes, she had one – which we all thought was gorgeous. A no-fuss girl to be sure.

Well back to work then.

It was panels of layering today, as other classes have been doing, and really re-discovering our core technique for this medium. Again everyone found it tricky to start with, then easier as they progressed. Fade that more, leave the white sides. Top to bottom in one stroke. Yes Mam.

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With a good selection of colour samples in their sketchbooks, we set off to Manly Cove.  Being Saturday it’s very busy out on the water. Some sort of team game going on standing on paddle boards, little yachts further along, ferries coming and going, whew. They do yoga on paddle boards now you know. Don’t go getting any ideas about that Jo!

However if we can concentrate, we are doing another experiment with watercolour pencils. Do a simple border, mark a third down for your horizon and the rest will be the water coming down to the sand.

Now work out what colour layers will get you the look you see out there. Choose the colours which will give you the difference between background, sea and boats, coming forward to the waves lapping on the sand.


One sketcher had spotted one of the last jacarandas at the far end of the bay, so did a double page to include 2 views. A nice touch.

One of the ways to get round, what some think may be bland, is to connect your sea colour as it comes down the page. I like to intensify the colour round each boat or object, then connect with dashes of colour to link them up a bit.

They were all going to come to life once we got the water brush out.

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We were by now sitting at a lovely table set up for us at Manly Interpolitan Cafe. Such helpful smiley girls. Food was being ordered and then an egg, chicken and bok choy dish was put down opposite me!

Two bald eggs were staring at me. Something had to be done. I grabbed a water brush, with quizzical looks from others, dabbed it on someones blue pencil and placed 2 eyes on the eggs. Mmmmmm. Needs more. Another dab of red, and we had a wee mouth. Done. They loved it. Kissing eggs. She removed the coloured bits and ploughed in. Tasted great she said.


Judy was doing ‘A Taste of Sketching’ Workshop today, and they passed by to see what we were doing on their way to that jacaranda tree by the beach. Have a good day girls.

Some cafe sketches were managed in between hi-jinks and water brushes. Using several layers, dark down the centre and top – pays off. Good work. Spot on.

Today’s sketch was one where water brush touches would make a difference. The Hookers Green Dk pencil, just softly indicated becomes a delicious soft turquoise when one stroke is applied in the right places. The cerulean jumps out and the lights and darks set it off. Where is your touch of red. There look at that.

A touch of red in the sand, where the sea runs back leaving damp, softly blends the edge of the water and into the sea without a hard line.

What a good day we had. Everyone here has learned something new to try from now on. Off back to our other lives we head. It’s a good feeling walking away with all that stuff in your sketchbook.


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