Review of my 2022 sketching

December 28, 2022 | 10 Comments

It’s that time again… when I collect all the sketchbooks I’ve completed this year and then do a review of my sketching for the past 12 months.

In 2022 I completed 15 sketchbooks:

  • 1 x 11×14 spiral Alpha
  • 1 x 7×10 spiral Alpha
  • 1 x 10×7 spiral Alpha
  • 2 x A4 Moleskine watercolour (two-week trip to the Hunter Region)
  • 4 x 8×10 softcover Alpha
  • 5 x A4/US letter hardcover Alpha
  • 1 x 7×10 Hardcover Alpha (10-day trip to Port Macquarie)

This is fewer completed sketchbooks than the previous few years because:

  • I did less travelling (normally I complete 1 sketchbook per week during a sketching trip so if I do a lot of travelling in a year that affects the total!) 
  • I started using bigger sketchbooks – the A4 hardcover version on Alpha not only is bigger in size than the 8×10, but it also contains more pages (124 vs 92).

It’s always interesting to compare quantity but of course, the number of sketchbooks doesn’t matter! The important thing is whether I enjoyed my sketching and/or feel satisfied with my results. And in a word, I think 2022 has been one of my best years of sketching ever!

I didn’t get to go on any big overseas trip/s and in fact, I wasn’t able on two occasions to go on planned NSW road trips  (a record-breaking year of rain and flooding was the main reason why these didn’t happen). But I feel really happy with the amount of everyday sketching I achieved and with the unexpected amount of experimentation I did throughout 2022.

I’ve established some regular sketching habits and I’ve become addicted to the challenge of sketching the same everyday local scenes over and over again. The repetitiveness of my subject matter is in fact helping me explore new ideas in my work. And there is always a fun challenge of designing interesting sketchbook pages as well.

Of course, there are lots of things that I still want to explore and ways to develop my work, but right at the moment, I’m just loving the journey! I have a vision of where I want to take my work but I’m in no hurry to get there – taking small steps and allowing myself to go on tangents has been really fun!

So here is a summary of what I did this year (with lots of links to the original articles)

The main theme has been experimentation and my sketching kit has been constantly changing over the last 12 months – I started with a limited watercolour palette (as part of my Foundations course) and ended the year using an Aquarius set. And then I had a coloured pencil month and a Faber Castell product month (on both occasions I didn’t touch my watercolour paints!)

I also really loved going through three of my SketchingNow courses – I hosted Live Versions of Foundations, Watercolour and Watercolour On Location.

These images show:

  • a summary page I created at the end of the Watercolour course summarising the main ideas
  • value studies, design analysis, and two-colour sketch that I did during a Lesson 1 livestream of Watercolour On Location.

But to go back to the start of 2022…

I began the year using a big 11×14 Alpha spiral book! It was heavy and a little awkward to use at times but I loved working larger!

And then while in a spiral sketchbook mood I tried a vertical and a horizontal format as well (both Alpha 7×10). I didn’t mind sketching across the spiral but the portrait version was tricky. In mid-Feb, the Village Green opened and this has become my morning sketching spot while sipping a takeaway coffee.

I’m not sitting in cafes much these days and therefore I’ve really gotten out of practice sketching people. So it was good to do the 1 week 100 people challenge again!

And then in April, suddenly out of the blue, I did a sketch (of a red post box) with coloured pencils and that started an exciting month-long exploration of using coloured pencils for quick sketching.

I had so much fun getting to know a completely different medium that I didn’t miss watercolour at all (surprising I know!)

But at the end of the month, I was ready to get my paints out again, especially as I was going away on a sketching trip.

I spent two weeks in the Hunter Region (mainly Newcastle and Maitland). It rained quite a bit so my sketching pace was really relaxed and this allowed me to continue my experimentation.

I wanted to explore ways of combining pencil and watercolour. Initially, I was using watercolour pencils with paint, but then I started playing with putting non-soluble coloured pencils under watercolour.

This was the first time that I tried something totally new while travelling and I love testing these ideas with a variety of subject matter – grand buildings…

… and some cafe sketching!

Back home – I continued to play with this combo of watercolour and coloured pencils.

I even swapped out one of my stable colours (Transparent Red Oxide) for an alternative (Quin Burnt Scarlet). Hmm, constant change was my comfort zone this year!

And then I enjoyed the challenge of restricting myself to paint-only for the 30×30 direct watercolour challenge.

In July/August I started playing with Faber Castell products and once again put away my paints for a number of weeks.

I enjoyed getting to know Albrecht Durer Watercolour Markers, Goldfaber Aqua Markers and Pitt Artist Pens. And I also added either Polychromos coloured pencils or Albrecht Durer Watercolour Pencils into the mix.

I had a short trip (4 nights) to Newcastle (teaching some workshops for Faber Castell) and this is the first time that I’ve gone away without my paints.

I particularly enjoyed using Pitt Pens (a connection with my architect days?) and had a fun morning in Kurri Kurri sketching a big Kookaburra and a few fancy pubs.

The last quarter of the year was focused on going through the concepts of my Watercolour On Location course – including using markers for thumbnails and two-colour studies.

And in my own everyday sketching, I started exploring ways of combining the GoldFaber Aqua Markers with watercolour.

I’m particularly liking the way the markers add vibrancy and some interesting textures caused by mixing the dye of the markers with granulating pigments of the watercolour. My current fad is a little lavender marker – a hue that I don’t use much in watercolour.

In November I had an amazing 10-day trip to Port Macquarie – catching up with friends, spending lots of time in cafes and obsessively sketching the rocky beaches in the area.

Ah! it was a very special time and more experiments with coloured pencils, markers and watercolour.

Back home… I’ve been working through my collection of teacups (and teapots).

And then last week… a few days in the Blue Mountains just before Christmas. I haven’t yet shared my adventures with you but I did a lot of sketching in a few days and got my watercolour pencils out again! Stay tuned for articles next week about this.

Finally… just a few more images to highlight two themes that have been a constant in my everyday sketching throughout the year…

I’ve continued to go to Lane Cove National Park regularly (I’ve probably averaged one or two visits a week which I’m fairly happy with).  This year I was focusing more on how changing my materials affected my sketches of similar scenes but due to all the rain this year I haven’t been exploring the park as much as I did last year.

I’m still super inspired every visit and there is still a lot more to sketch there.

And on the other hand, my local area isn’t particularly exciting!

But I just love pushing myself to sketch it daily and find new ways to record the same scenes over and over. All the experimentation with different materials has definitely helped keep my inspiration all year.

And I love the ongoing challenge of creating interesting compositions on my sketchbook pages – combining Village Green sketches with other objects from my day.

See my Sketchbook Design course for more on this topic.

This article has been a lot of fun to put together but it’s taken more time than I thought it would! 🙂 So I’ll review my 2022 sketching goals and share next year’s goals in Friday’s article.

Do you do an end-of-year review of your sketching? How did you go in 2022? Are you satisfied with your sketching practice/output/progress? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

(If you are reading this via email, please click on the article title link below and add a comment on my blog. Thanks!)


  • Caroline Hill says:

    Fabulous work throughout the year, Liz! I find your work so inspirational! It’s great to hear about all the different types of sketchbook you use, and the various combination of mediums, thank you so much for sharing. I want to do your foundations course and am looking forward to seeing more of you, and your work! Happy New Year!

  • Jan Kraus says:

    I’ve never done a year review of sketches, but this post has inspired me in so many ways. It’s time for me to start a new tradition and review my year in artwork. Since Covid I’ve become fascinated with working in sketchbooks. I am looking forward to your Sketchbook Design class.

  • Carrie says:

    It’s taken me 6 months to get through one sketchbook, so it’s definitely a goal to complete waaaay more in 2023! Thanks for the inspiration! But question: do you work in more than one sketchbook at a time?

  • Rhonda Baldwin says:

    I’m really enjoying your sketching articles. Over the past few years, I’ve become a travel journal artist and urban sketcher. Your blogs have been so helpful and full of ideas to use and try. Thank you so much!

  • Brooke Adams says:

    Really inspiring, Liz. Looking forward to Sketchbook Design to help me jumpstart sketching again in 2023!

  • Cathy Gatland says:

    Fantastic Liz, wonderful to see you continue to be so enthused by your sketching practice, growing, trying new things, and so prolific!! Best wishes for another wonderfully creative year!

  • Bettina says:

    Thank you, Liz, for sharing all your beautiful work and encouragement. It’s stimulating, especially when one doesn’t dare. Sketching life , our lives, is such a good souvenir! I have become addict to your lessons – and tea cups?. I wish you a very Happy New Year and a colourful 2023.

  • Jamie C says:

    You have had an amazing year of sketching! I appreciate that you share it with us!

  • Liz Steel says:

    Thanks everyone! Love reading all your comments!

Leave a Reply