Another day trip to the Blue Mountains

April 29, 2024 | 2 Comments

Last week I went up to the Blue Mountains with a group of 7 adults and 4 children. This is the third group day trip I’ve done to the mountains in the last 10 months so I’ve developed some strategies for sketching as much as I can in the limited time. I don’t waste time thinking about where to sketch from – I simply make a snap decision (based on what the group is doing) and then go for it. Knowing the destinations helps a lot too!

As it turned out I got more sketching done than I expected because:
1. I wasn’t the organiser of the trip so that meant I could hang out on the fringe of the group. Finding time for sketching when you are the ‘tour guide’ is extremely hard!
2. I was the driver of the second car and on two occasions arrived at the destination a few minutes earlier (taking shortcuts). So this meant I got my sketch started before the main vehicle arrived.

I also got the children involved – letting them do a few foreground strokes in two of my sketches.

As for materials…

I started with dry media and then, when I felt I had time, I got out a water brush or my watercolour paints. I used watercolour pencils, water-soluble graphite and Neocolor II crayons. The longest time I had for any sketch was 15 minutes – the rest were done in 3-10 minutes each.

You’ll also notice that I’m currently using a softcover square Alpha. The lightweight smaller book (I’ve been using A4 hardcover recently) certainly made it easier.

Generally, I’ve left my pages as they were at the time and only did a little touch-up for the last two sketches. And of course, I added some notes back home!

Here are sketches from Echo Point (the Three Sisters and Mt Solitary) Govetts Leap and Evans Lookout.

It’s been really fun to do these crazy quick sketches during group outings. I love relying on my sketching reflexes and taking risks but I do feel the need to re-visit the Blue Mountains with more time so that I can develop other ways of sketching these magnificent cliff faces and valleys.


  • Patricia Wafer says:

    Wow! What a fantastic place and fantastic View! You all do have some gorgeous and spectacular scenery within driving distance! Have you looked very much at the work of Georgia O’Keeffe? Mostly she is known for her oil paintings but early in her life she did a lot of fascinating watercolors. The last few years I’ve been studying the work of one of her contemporaries John Marin. He painted with oil but is mostly known for his somewhat abstract watercolors especially those he did in Maine close to the ocean. He also did lots of watercolors of New York City while many of those famous buildings were actually still going up . I think you’d enjoy those also. He also was a great one for sketching but I can’t find many of the sketches online. He filled many many sketchbooks over a long life but a lot of them got chopped up and sold yet still there is a large collection and a museum I can’t remember right now. I’ll look into that! I’d love to sit down and look at some of those sketchbooks. I think artists sketchbooks are often more fascinating than their paintings.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Pat and I totally agree that sketchbooks are often more interesting (and lively) than the finished paintings!

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