Christmas Eve Urban Sketching with coloured inks

December 29, 2014 | 3 Comments

I had decided a few weeks ago that if I got my work done I would spend Xmas Eve chilling in a nice cafe. With the forecast of morning showers and a visiting Urban Sketcher in town, I managed to do this with some good company. It was great to meet Joe from Melbourne and that Jane, Clover and later Dominic were able to join in too – at very late notice!

I wanted to head to Surry Hills and a number of cafes were closed(already on their Xmas break) so I settled for my second visit to Reuben Hills.


I arrived early and was very pleased to see a bus stop directly opposite the cafe so I could sit in comfort for my first sketch. I started with my mixed grey and mixed dark green DeA ink and after I had added the first few washes decided that I liked the limited palette, so left it as it was.

BTW this is my first sketch using my new Handbook Watercolour book and I was  happy with the result, although the granulation is very much created by the paper texture and a little too regular for my liking.

After our coffee and breakfast order, I ordered a tea and asked the waitress about the cups. I then looked up and saw a barista carrying two China cups. ‘ I have brought you two cups to choose from. You are lizsteelart aren’t you? I follow you on Instagram!’ Wow! what a small world!

It was crazy busy in the cafe that morning and our table was crowded with cups and glasses and teapots and art supplies. A special thanks to the lovely staff who looked after us so well while we sketched (we did keep a steady stream of orders up!).

We were thinking about sketching around QVB and Town Hall but were a little worried about the last minute Xmas shoppers so in the end settled for one of our favourite sketching spots – George St in The Rocks at the rear of the MCA. The collection of buildings along the western side of George St are great – I have sketched them many times but never get sick of the view.

I pulled out my Kaweco Sport pen filled with mixed Raw Sienna and tackled the old police station and gothic building next door from an angled position featuring  the small Christmas trees lining the street.

BTW I received the BEST passer by comment I have had for a long time “Ya having a win?”

I am still finding working with a light coloured ink a little disorienting. It just feels strange – ink is normally black and strong so when it is light the most generic characteristic of ink is missing. On this occasion I wasn’t sure once I had finished my linework whether to add colour at all. But in the end I decided to add watercolour and see how it looked. I felt it needed some dark areas so added a few additional lines in my mixed grey. Oh! so much loving all these new decisions.

Time for another sketch but this time I used a mixed Burnt Sienna DeA ink. I was starting to get a little ratty at this stage so worked very loosely. (Ratty?-  I have a few issues with my wrist and neck at the moment so there is a limit to how much sketching I can do in the one session). It didn’t stop me from doing ANOTHER one though did it? If I have to work fast, there is no doubt that using watercolour pencil is the way to go for me.

A lovely morning and nice to have another ‘Adhoc’ sketching meetup with a visiting USKer.
It will take a little time before I get a chance to do a full review of the Handbook, but I can say straight away that I am extremely pleased with it. The paper is beautiful and I am totally loving the size of the book- I am using the square format. I am also loving the variety of inks and how that is impacting the narrative of my sketchbook.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas … I have enjoyed 4 days unplugging totally and some great family time. Done a little sketching of bits and pieces that I will share in my next blog post.


  • larry says:

    Wow…what a great day. You're so much more productive than I could ever be. The gray-green building is amazing. You can almost feel the wall texture. I do hope you teach us a little about your watercolor technique in the class. I find it elusive. And that 'raw sienna' ink. I would have left it without color, though the finished watercolor is perfect.

    Cheers — Larry

  • I LOVE your handwriting! 🙂 It's so much fun to enjoy your outings vicariously. Maybe someday I'll have the energy to find some fellow sketchers in my neck of the woods. Amazing fun!

  • Chantal says:

    Definitely winning with the Raw Sienna 🙂

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