Drawing the Drawing Office

April 5, 2024 | 8 Comments

On Wednesday afternoon I made a quick visit to Cockatoo Island as I have a workshop there coming up soon. It’s a private workshop for a local firm of architects that was originally scheduled for December last year… but rain and other things have prevented it. So I had to go back this week and check my locations.

When I was there in December I was saddened that my favourite building on the island  – the drawing office – had been renovated.


It used to be delightfully run down and so much fun to draw. (Here is a photo of it in 2008 on my very first visit to the island.)


Now it’s too clean and almost regular. (But of course, I do understand that they have to make these old buildings useful and brought up to code).


I was reminiscing about previous times when I’ve sketched this building and so this time I intentionally tried to be loose! I lost a little accuracy in the process, but that’s okay.


I also did a few other quick sketches on the island. This is a multi-tool continuous line drawing.


And then two quick panoramic views – the second one was done from the wharf while waiting for the ferry.


I’m really looking forward to the workshop – it’s a long time since I taught sketching on location (recently I’ve been teaching interior designers in their offices) and Cockatoo Island is such a perfect location for sketching.


Some of you who follow me on Instagram might have seen my story the day I was putting together the very cool sketching kits which every participant will receive. Thanks to LarryPost for helping with this.

And yes, I will share more about the workshop afterwards.

Final thought – Cockatoo Island is easier to get to from my new place so I’m excited about the prospect of visiting more often in the coming months.


  • Ginie Udy says:

    Liz, I love your sketch of the Drawing Office. Love the feel of it, which though based on the renovated building, looks more reflective of its rust, gritty ‘original’ look and feel. Great!

  • Peter Joscelyne says:

    Absolutely was my favourite building on the Island Liz. I too was saddened when I first saw its new self glossy self. I do understand that it’s a necessary consequence of the conservation work, but I’d love to see the louvres replaced. They added a great texture to include in any sketch, loose or otherwise. Still, the Island remains one of my favourite and most visited venues.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Peter – yes agree, if the Louvres were added it would help (not so flat) and yes! a favourite spot to sketch in for sure!

  • Lois H says:

    Would love to learn more about the kits you’re putting together. The loose sketch of the Drawing Office looks fantastic. It has a whimsy to it that seems to capture what you remember about the original structure. Thank you for sharing. Always an inspiration!

  • Jamie C says:

    I think it is so wonderful that your sketchbook pages capture the evolution of a place. From the old dilapidated, to the conservation work. It’s like the heartbeat captured in paint! Such an advantage in going repeatedly over time, that simply does not emerge until many visits later!

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