Recent sketching outings - with some progress photos

January 24, 2022 | 5 Comments

This January, in order to feel as if I’m enjoying our summer, I’ve generally been going out on Thursdays for a sketch outing and then spending time with family on Fridays.

Last year I tried to establish a habit of Friday sketching outings but it was hard to achieve. However, this year I’m realising that Thursday is a better day for an outing as if I have a lot of work to do on a particular week, I can tell myself that I’ll get it all done on Friday. 🙂

I’ve also realised recently that it doesn’t need to be a long outing – two hours of concentrated sketching is enough to do me good!

Another barrier I had last year in regard to going on sketching outings was simply deciding where to go (especially if rain was forecasted). However, I don’t have to go somewhere new each week! Instead, all I need is to have a few go-to locations to fall back on if I don’t have a specific plan. For me at the moment, these are Cockatoo Island and the City and both of these locations are good regardless of the weather.

Another outing to the City

Last week, I didn’t have a plan at all, so I just jumped on the ferry to the City. Actually, before the ferry arrived I did a sketch in very wild conditions… holding down the book was a challenge in the strong wind. Click on the image to view larger.

When I arrived at Circular Quay, I still didn’t have any idea where I was going or what I was going to sketch so I simply started walking towards The Rocks. I know this area so well and have sketched it many times, that there was no pressure to do anything in particular.

I found a step to sit on and then sketched my favourite tearoom – The Tea Cosy.

Here are a few progress shots (click on photos to view larger)

You can see that I’m doing my usual alternating between line and colour…

… and painting the shadow areas first. Also I’m not afraid to extend the sketch across the spiral!

Next, I found myself heading to Customs House. It seems that I have this new unwritten rule that every visit to the City should include at least one James Barnet (JimmyB) sketch. Customs House is a big building to sketch but there are some tables and chairs in the forecourt making it a comfortable location to sketch from.

I decided to use a Triangular Brush (R18) from Rosemary and Co and to sketch the building in an exploratory way without a specific plan. I still followed my ‘Working Structurally’ method (from my Buildings course) but in a looser way.

Here are a few progress photos – you can see an Instagram Reel complete with background seagull noise here.

I was using the Triangular Brush in a similar way to a dagger.

Good for fine lines and then broad strokes.

It started to rain – and so I stopped here leaving the sketch incomplete.

BTW one of the features that I love about a spiral book is that when your sketch is still wet it’s easier to carry the book so that the pages dry.

I was at the 1.5-hour mark and decided that it was time to head home. Like last City sketching outing, I ended up spending the last 30 minutes sketching on the wharf. It was crowded but I managed to find a spot to stand and sketch even though my book was getting a bit wet. Here are two stills from a video to explain where I was sketching.

Here is the sketch.

Note: Often when you feel a little out of control while doing a sketch, you end up with some interesting watercolour effects. 🙂

Friday Family Outings

Due to all the wet weather we’ve been having lately, the outings with my family (my brother has 4 children ages 4-10) have been associated with short visits to a park with a good playground area.

This is a local park – managed a brief outing during a sunny bit of the day (but we were carrying umbrellas!)

The next week we went to Holroyd Gardens nature Reserve in Merrylands with a huge playground area. Started drawing this as a continuous line to match with Lesson 2 of Foundations.

It also has a really interesting section with remnants of a local brickworks – Hoffman Kiln. I’m happy that I managed to get this sketch done at the time as sketching while with the family can be a challenge at times. (Special thanks to my 8-year-old nephew for holding my heavy book for this photo).

And when I got home I added a sky shape.

Last week we managed a brief visit to another local page before the rain started. As we are Abstracting Shapes this week in Foundations, this sketch was done in paint.

It’s been a really great start to the year and I hope that I will be able to continue with my Thursday outings next month and beyond! Have you been able to get out and do some sketching this January?


  • maria bergman says:

    Hi Liz
    Admire your ability and tenacity to sketch even under the most unforgiving conditions, testing yourself and and pushing through and sharing your thoughts and process. You are such a unique role model to those of us striving to become better sketchers. Your blog entries are always anticipated and valued so much by this sketcher.
    The triangle brush looks pretty handy to switch between those fine lines and wide!
    No outdoor sketching here in New England this January. Temps well below freezing most of the month so far!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thank you Maria for your kind words! I love sharing my adventures and thoughts.
      Yes, the triangular brush is good for that (in a similar way as a dagger).
      Hope the weather warms up soon so you can get out again sketching!

  • Julie Kok says:

    Fantastic sketches as usual Liz! So inspiring. i ventured into the City (Melbourne) yesterday. Traveling on train (45min) with my daughter who was the one that had an appointment. Whilst she was busy I ventured to a shady spot, with an outdoor cafe nearby, with a great view of the NGV with water feature out the front. it was awfully hot but at least I had shade. I must have sketched for 30-40mins or so before I needed to move but pretty pleased with the outcome of my sketch which i intend to touch up sometime today. I then moved down along the Yarra River (once again in the shade) to sketch the walk over bridge to Southbank with water activity and buildings. Quite a lot to draw but I enjoyed it. I will also play around with the sketch today to where i want it. I was proud of myself for persisting in the hot weather (34c), inspired by your persistence in sketching when ever and where ever possible. Thanks Liz.

  • Jamie C says:

    Great way to work your schedule so it works for you and getting the sketch outings in. Not to mention time with family! So valuable! Love the play ground sketches! So fun, but different, and interesting edges, and shapes to draw and paint! Looks like that triangular brush really handles like the dagger, but it seems so small compared to the size of page! Ha!

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