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Monday, August 18, 2014

Having a cuppa with our friends and grandmas - Reflections on teaching at Sketchbook Skool

Last week was one of the most amazing weeks I have ever had - Teaching as part of Danny Gregory and Koojse Koene's Sketchbook Skool. I was part of a 'kourse' called SEEING and it was an enormous honour to be teaching alongside Danny, Koojse, Brenda Swenson, Cathy Johnson and Andrea Joseph.

In my klass I shared my architectural background, an overview of the amazing journey I have had in the last 8 years with my sketchbooks … and my approach to sketching complex objects (two demos: one a teacup and one a building). If you haven't see the video with an overview of my demos check it out in my video page.

The creative energy in Sketchbook Skool is hard to describe. Hundreds and hundreds of SBSers all keen to learn, to share and to have fun. I knew that it would be a special week and a lot of fun… and that the sheer volume of work created would in a measure overwhelm me (in a good way) I am trying not to give too much away as I am aware that there are a lot of people who have just finished 'beginnings' and plan to the 'seeing' in the next term. So I won't say what the assignment was exactly … it did not need to be a teacup but surprise surprise that was the popular choice of the subject matter.

The resultant sketches blew me away… apart from the fact that people were sketching beautiful objects (teacups and other objects) - these objects meant something to them. You could feel this in the sketches.  I had tears building as I read stories and memories of grandmothers and mothers and travel and special people/occasions.

For me drinking tea out of a cup means
- special occasion with a friend. We have a good chat holding the cup in our hand
- memories of my Nanna and my (great)Aunty Ruby and afternoon tea with them
- at home: my cuppa in the morning,  afternoon and evening are my scheduled rest/pause times. I rarely drink tea while I am working - instead I make a pot, select a cup and sit back (often with a heat pack for my neck/shoulder) and either read or think… pause and review my work, what I should do next, or just think conceptual thoughts…and develop new ideas… oh! and often draw my cup at the time!

So last week in SBS I was thinking about my Nanna and Aunty Ruby a lot, I was also thinking about my fellow sketchers - so my solo cuppas took on a new social aspect. I felt like I was sharing it with people from all over the world.

Anyway- it was too hectic last week to find the time to sketch this SPECIAL cup. So I took a little time out this afternoon for that.

I have been thinking all week about how to describe my Nanna… but can't do it. She was very special - in a quiet, background kind of way...I can't put the rest into words!

She lived a simple, hard working farming life and although she had quite a collection of china and bits and pieces, she didn't have really have much fancy stuff. More serviceable items - and it was the everyday crockery that I remember the most.

But when all the cupboards were being emptied and stuff divided up after she passed away, my aunt found these 'weird black and white cups' in the back of a cupboard.

Of course the instant I saw them I exclaimed "Shelley!!!!" … and well they ended up with me. Funny I haven't properly sketched them since they were in my possession. Here is the sketch I did quickly at my nanna's place back in 2010 when we were all going through stuff.

Anyway… I could go on and on about tea and cups and grandmas and sketchbook skool… but I really don't have the time today.

There was also an architectural assignment but I won't bother saying any more about that except for the fact that I was so impressed by the work done - especially by those people that have been scared of tackling a building.

All that is left to say is thankyou!

Thankyou to Danny and Koojse for asking me to teach in the Skool and thank you thank you to everyone in the klass! I think you have changed my solo cuppa forever - will be thinking of you all often when I sit down to have that chill out time for myself.

I know there have been a lot of teacups lately... but after tomorrow there will be a change... I promise!! And change of the most exciting kind- travel to a foreign land!

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  1. Hi, Liz - I thoroughly enjoyed the week with you in Sketchbook Skool! Even before SBS, I was drawn to small detailed things like teacups - and buildings.

    1. thank you Judith! I am glad I am not the only one that likes teacups and buildings!

  2. Happy Trails! Over the weekend I sketched a cut glass sugar bowl that belonged to my maternal grandmother who we called "Nanny". While doing the thumbnails (which I actually did during your class) I realized for the first time that the flower design was a dogwood tree flower. That was certainly a lesson is "seeing".I did the rendering in cool grey colored pencils. This object means more than my rendering of my teacup because of the personal attachment to so many memories. This bowl always sat on Nanny's kitchen table. It is no longer used for sugar. It has been in my small china hutch on display since I received it last year and I took it out because of your class. Thanks again Liz..


    1. sounds lovely Pat! Yes...if it means more to you it is more worthy to be sketched!

  3. Lovely post, Miss Liz...we did learn a lot, didn't we!

  4. Thanks to you too Liz. SBS 2 was fantastic. I learned something new from every class. Marie Stevenson.

    1. thank you Marie... the whole 6 weeks were amazing!

  5. Hi Liz: In your klass in SBS I feel like I'd landed in the hands of a most competent, gifted teacher ever.
    You have such a gift and completely changed how I see teacups and buildings. You're thanking us? Well, I'm thanking you a million times. I so look forward to your 12 week course online. Can't wait! Have a lovely time in Brazil, so exciting!

    1. oh Joan - I certainly can't take that title... All I want to do is 'teach what I know and share from the heart' that is my motto that a good friend told me. I am looking forward to my sketching now course too and Brazil of course(should be packing now!)

  6. Thank YOU (again!), Liz! You were an amazing teacher. I don't know how you do all that you do. You have such wonderful energy and enthusiasm. Can't wait to hear more about your new online course. In the meantime, I wish you safe travels!

  7. Thank you Liz for this wonderful week at SBS, I enjoyed it so much. And a special thank you for sharing your sketchbooks so openly. These 2 sketchbookstours of you were absolutely amazing.

    1. thanks Gabi - I spent a lot of enjoyable time preparing those tours. I relish the act of revisiting my work and finding threads and it was a treat to be able to share in that way!


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