Europe18: Krakow - Wawel Castle

July 9, 2018 | 6 Comments

Wawel Castle (home of the kings of Poland and a cathedral) is located at the south of the old town and is a collection of grand buildings in all kind of styles.

It’s impressive from any angle – this photo shows the entrance ramp.

And just as impressive (but in a different way) was the fact that it was free to enter the grounds. We didn’t bother to line up to go inside any of the buildings.

Instead we found a nice comfortable bench and started sketching the front of the cathedral – so many different volumes each in a different style.

And then we walked around the side and saw this. So crazy in a good way. I wanted to sketch it, but first lunch.

Here is Esther sketching her lunch. BTW I don’t seem to have the same motivation to sketch my meals but love it when other people do.

After lunch, we found another bench where we could sit and sketch the cathedral – from the side – but the dark clouds were threatening, so I rushed mine. As it turned out, we didn’t get the storm, but it was good to have sketched this view quickly.

There are a number of very nice towers in the castle too, but this one was my favourite! And on the right side is a direct watercolour sketch of local cheesecake.

The next afternoon it was raining (lightly) and we were searching for a settled spot to sketch. We found a row of trees that we could sit under and sketch this great view of the south of the castle.

On our final sketching day in Krakow, we met up with a group of the local sketchers, and we ended up sketching the castle from the other side of the river. It was such a great day – a lovely bunch and great varied work from the group. It really makes a trip special when you can meet up with other sketchers!

I did three versions of the castle. The first version was what I call ‘the kitchen sink approach’ – I just started and tried to do everything without much planning – especially for the trees. I knew when I started that this would be a hard scene to sketch as the light was changing constantly. I also was over worrying the windows.

(BTW we were sitting at the cafe of a Japanese Museum, hence the tea sketch.)

On my second attempt, I focused in on the part that I liked the most.

For my third version I wanted to simplify the scene radically. I was also inspired by seeing the work of the locals.

My Sailor Fude pen hasn’t been flowing well, but I decided to give it a go. I was pleased with this version and it was done in a few minutes.

I was thrilled to receive a sketch of myself from Maiej – thanks!

I also met Roman Szmal who is making his own watercolour paints. These are his early tests and not available for purchasing yet. I’m holding the set that local artist Agata Kwiatkowska developed with him. It was a very nice treat to meet Roman and test some locally produced paints.

Just to finish off our day with the local sketchers…

In the late afternoon we headed back to the main square, and Ana showed us her wonderful artwork which is for sale.

It’s always good to look at how local artists treat their home town. For example, Esther and I were trying to record the white surrounds to the windows (which are tricky to do in watercolour). I realised that the local artists don’t care about that as much.

We ended the day at a cafe on the upper level of the Cloth Hall overlooking St Mary’s Basilica. I will share my sketches of it tomorrow.

A huge thanks to Ela and Anee for organising a great day. I hope to sketch with you all again.




  • Mary Beth Person says:

    I love seeing your various versions of the same scene. It really helps in identifying the techniques that you use!
    Thank you for all the time you put into these posts, also. I know it is time consuming, but oh! what fun to be able to peek over your shoulder on all your wonderful travels.

    • Liz Steel says:

      My pleasure Mary Beth – it is a lot of work but I feel really good that I am close to up to date… no huge back log when I return home. I’m glad that you enjoy my different techniques – hope it helps you in your own work!

  • Emily D. says:

    I love these posts, Liz! Thank you for sharing your travels with us! I always glean ideas and new thoughts from your posts.

  • John Flames says:

    Ohhhh… I spent 8 days in Krakow and didn’t find that cafe on the upper level of the Cloth Hall. 😉

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