Beating the post-sketching-trip blues: 3 cafes in 3 days

April 18, 2015 | 4 Comments


It is always a bit of an adjustment for me when I come back to normal life after an exciting sketching trip like I have just had in Melbourne over the last 2 weeks. There is a special kind of creative energy that is created when you are out sketching day after day and even more so when you are have been hanging out with fellow Urban Sketchers a lot. Even though I can, and do, sketch from home it is certainly not the same as sketching out on location. So it has been nice that in the last 3 days I have been out and about with appointments and work outings and have managed 3 cafe visits in that time. Hold on! It has been 4 cafe visits!


These are the Instagram photos that I posted at the time, showing the tools I was using and the sketch in context. Aside: I think that these days Instagram is the best place to share your work. It is like Flickr used to be when I first started online – you can add your work to ‘groups’ via hashtags but are always building your own portfolio of work that can be easily reviewed by others. Facebook is great for chatting, for the here and now, but is terrible if you want to find something. If you post only to groups you don’t have anywhere that you or others can see your work easily. I am finding IG more and more interactive and a lot less distracting than FB. BTW my IG feed is here.

Anyway, going back to my cafe visits….

The opening image is from yesterday’s visit to The Teacosy in the Rocks. There is no doubt this is my favourite tearoom in Sydney. The best scones (with great jam and cream) and how special is it to get a teacosy? I REALLY love the tea they serve these days as well – from my favourite tea supplier TeaLeaves in Sassafras VIC. Their standard Earl Grey Blend is wonderful! It was nice to relax and sketch my tea and scones, playing with lost and found edges, and also texture. I decided to use my Rosemary squirrel brush for this sketch as I don’t use it that often and want to really get a feel for it. I have also been very conscious lately with my wrist in a splint that I move my wrist a lot when I paint using a dagger brush – so maybe it is better for a little while to go back to a round brush.


First day back, I headed up to Beecroft to check out a cafe I have known about for a long time. It is called Longshot and as it is known for its good coffee, I had to start with that. After just arriving back from 2 weeks in Melbourne the pressure was on! The coffee in Melbourne is so good – I didn’t have a bad one there, although it is normally served warm rather than piping hot. Warm coffee is disastrous for a sketcher but once I started asking for hot coffee it was better. Anyway, back to Longshot, the coffee was hot and strong and quite nice …but oh! not as smooth as the coffees I had had in Melbourne. The cafe interior is very nice, and there is a leafy outdoors area as well so it is a perfect spot to chill. That is exactly what I did, following my coffee with tea and a little cake. Very nice tea with a big pot. My sense of proportiob was a little off and I managed to draw the light fittings too big so my ‘cafe scene’ sketch ended up being focused on the ceiling. Oh well!

I knew I could fit the tea and cake on my page in a realistic composition so decided to overlay the elements. Hanging out with Paul Wang recently made me think of trying this. He does a lot more interesting compositions, but it is a very useful technique and one that I would like to use more often – ah! you always pick up ideas to try out when you hang out with other Urban Sketchers.

I am definitely coming back here and there was plenty to sketch and next time I will include the tables and the people in the cafe!


Second day back I had another appointment which meant another change for a quick cafe visit. I was long overdue for a haircut and now have symmetrical bangs – or ‘fringe’ as well call it. I think ‘bangs’ is a silly name but just felt like using it! I popped in to my favourite cafe in Crows nest – Sparrow – for a cup of earl grey tea. I had realised that I have been carrying around a Faber Castell Graphite Aquarelle pencil and never use it – so it was time to get it out. I had been talking quite a bit with Chris Haldane when we were in Melbourne about using pencil for visible line work as it was something she was doing more and more. Paul uses a dark pencil instead of pen for his paintings and we were thinking also about the incredible work of Fabrice Moireau. Still a strong line but softer when you use a pencil. Anyway, I enjoyed using my pencil for this sketch very much.


And then the final sketch was yesterday at Hyde Park Barracks Cafe. I wasn’t going to draw my coffee, but I had just gotten a new exciting idea in my head and I often find that sketch helps me process the idea and at the same time acts as a ‘brain dump’ so I can back to the task at hand. For this sketch I used one watercolour pencils and waterbrush.

Wow! what a long post. How have I managed to write so much about a little coffee and tea sketching – but each one used a different technique, and all four as a set seem a fitting full stop (period) to my Melbourne trip.


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4 Comments

  • Liz, I think you live a charmed (and blessed!) life. Somehow, despite the appointments and coming off a two week sketching trip, you sound so relaxed and your sketches depict that too!

  • JOAN says:

    Another post of lovely sketches and details of techniques used. I love that you post what's happening in your mind as well as what's going on with your hand.

    As an aside on Bangs (I always thought it was a silly term too) So here's what Wiki has to say about the term: The term Bangs originally referred to a hair cut "bang off" (straight across at the front) but now the term is applied to various forms of hair styling. It's probably related to "bang tail", a term still used for the practice of cutting horses' tails straight across. The term "fringe" refers to the resemblance of the short row of hair to ornamental fringe trim , such as that often found on shawls. So there you have it.
    I still think it's silly. HA!

  • Liz Steel says:

    Ha ha! don't be fooled by my blog! I only post things that are bright and colourful on it… and although I sound relaxed am often a bit of a stress head! It WAS nice last week thought to be able to make the time to have a cafe visit between appointments – often I am too busy for that.

  • Liz Steel says:

    thanks Joan! I love writing about what is in my head so glad that you enjoyed that.
    Thanks for the info on Bangs. 'Fringe' makes a lot better sense to me!

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