Last month staying home and lockdown restrictions easing

May 18, 2020 | 34 Comments

It’s over a month since I last published an article in my “Last Week’ series… so this one is entitled “Last month!”

I’ve been continuing to fill my everyday sketchbook but stopped posting my pages here as it takes so long to scan and put these articles together. And although it’s important to me to have a digital record of my work, I’ve been wondering if  there is enough interest to justify my time. But on Friday afternoon I decided it was time to do a massive catch up and it was indeed worthwhile for me to review all my work like this. The discipline of scanning, editing and uploading to a single article has given me a chance to assess where I’m at right now. In Summary: I would like more variety in subject matter (this is something I can improve if I just put a little effort in) but the colours and composition on many of the pages makes me happy. And most of all I’m really pleased that I have such a good record of my life in the last few months and that my sketchbook is just a zero pressure place for me to play!

Here are a few thoughts:

  • I’m on my third Square softcover Alpha now since I started staying home and I’ve really been loving the size and format.
  • I’m not putting much effort into my sketches – just doing something (anything) everyday. My everyday sketchbook has suffered a little since I started my virtual trip as I’m now committing to record two stories for each day (my real life and my virtual life). Overall I’m happy with what I’ve managed to achieve.
  • I’m trying to have a 30-45 minute  session at the beginning of the day, sketching my coffee and doing some planning (in lieu of my normal cafe visit), but it’s been hard to stick to as I have a lot of things going on at the moment.
  • I’m loving my blue coffee cup and the red stamps (stamps by Kelly Purkey)
  • These pages contain some warmups or demos for a number of the bonus videos I have been filming each week for SketchingNow Foundations and Watercolour
  • I’ve also been doing some fun tests with watercolours – especially with my morning coffee sketches – often it’s because I was thinking through some issues which have come up inside the SketchingNow classrooms. I love pushing the limits of the Alpha paper in terms of watery, juicy and pasty combinations. Sometimes I use my everyday sketches to test undesirable watercolour techniques – too many layers, too much water, too much fiddling. This certainly helps me answer questions and understand the struggles of many people inside my SketchingNow courses.
  • I use my sketchbook to document the events of the day – these days any contact with other people gets recorded  – and I have continued my normal practice of  jotting down a summary of what I worked on. Due to all the increased online activity lately we did a big upgrade to the SketchingNow site (which is great!) but well, there have been some teething issues which have sometimes taken a lot of my time. So you will see numerous references to these ‘fun’ admin incidents. Note: I find the record of my daily work tasks really interesting when I come back down the track as they often help me plan future projects better.
  • I’m still recording my outfits if they change.
  • I’m enjoying recording family Skype sessions with rough sketches and notes – and the occasional Gaelic word which I learn from my niece in Scotland.
  • I’m a bit rusty with my roman numerals – it took me 9 days to realise an error!

And finally…

The only sketching I have been doing outside of my home has been a few simple line drawings on some toned paper in my car when I went to the supermarket. We were not allowed to go out for recreational purposes, so I decided not to do any sketching out on location. However on Friday things changed. This is what I wrote at the time about this sketch.

Lockdown restrictions have eased a little for us in NSW today. That means cafes are open for up to 10 patrons and we can go out for recreational purposes. So I had to do an urban sketch to celebrate!

It was busy (with social distancing) but I was on my own on the other side of the road the whole time. It was cold and about to rain so I only did a really quick loose sketch… but oh! it felt SOOO wonderful to be sketching outside, on the streets, with people coming and going. This is the first time I have taken my sketchbook out of the house in over 8 weeks!

It was special to briefly say hello to a few more of the @goodfieldseatery staff working again! Miss you all so much.

And on Saturday I visited my family. Due to my extensive travel in recent years, I’m used to going for 3 months without seeing them so it’s not that weird to have not seen them for the last two months. However, it was so lovely to have a face to face conversations with them and be in a nice spacious home (my home is a very small apartment with a tiny balcony). My 6 year old nephew showed me this very impressive school assignment – a Leaf Knight. Of course I had to draw it. So impressive! It was really fun to be sketching amidst distractions – my nephew telling me I had missed something and my nieces starting to go through the pens and brushes in my kit.

Although it’s lovely to have some more freedom, I’m still going to be very cautious and continue to stay home mostly. I’m very happy at home and still have many more ideas for things to sketch and ideas to explore. If only I had more time….

Okay, enough thoughts – here is a selection of my pages:



So how have you been going lately? I hope that you are all still safe and well and happy to be home. Are you getting bored, or do you still have lots of motivation and inspiration?

I would really love to hear how you are going in the comment section below – blogging can be a very one-sided activity at times and I would love to know that you are all doing ok!



  • Michael says:

    I follow you on Instagram but I prefer the blog posts (reading on a computer), the screen is wider and I think you can write more text more freely. I also think the blog is good because you own it and you’re not dependent on Instagram. I learn a lot from your posts, such as the previous one on your earth colors and I love seeing your sketches, so there is definitely interest! If batching them together saves you time then maybe that’s a good solution.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thank you Michael!!!!! Yes, I prefer my blog too – I have a chance to read share my thoughts and document my journey. I can’t showcase my work on Instagram in the same way.

  • Bonnie-Britt says:

    Hi Liz, I agree with Michael about the blog. I also prefer to read your blog, rather than Facebook or Instagram. I have a sketching blog of my own and I consider it as a safer archive than FB and Instagram and easier to look for certain themes that I sometimes want to revisit. Your blog is a daily inspiration for me and especially in these days where I have a lot of spare time (only working 2 days per week due to the Covid situation) it is so important to keep inspired and motivated ! I do not comment very often, but you can be sure that I read every article that you post !! Thanks a lot for sharing all your precious thoughts and drawings !!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Bonnie-Britt!!! It’s great to know that some other people still prefer blogs and thank you so much for reading – it means a lot to me. take care!

  • Joy Liddy says:

    Dear Liz, …I’m one of the silent majority who enjoy your blog posts but who doesn’t let you know. I’m sorry about that. I enjoy reading your thoughts and looking at the work, and I benefit from the information that you share. I’m actually working more because of Covid…so…I look forward to the time when I can practice more. Thanks again, Joy

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Joy, thanks for your comment – it means a lot to me and I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well! I understand the working more thing!!! 🙂

  • Sandy Tello says:

    Ir’s incredible that you have the amount of time for all that you do! Like you we try to be cautious–fear of the unseen can have that effect. But your comments and artwork help to keep the hope that life will return to normal again. For now, we have time to get our homes in order, put away things that don’t matter, and do the things that bring us joy and peace. You definitely help–take care and be safe, and create!!!

  • Cheryl P says:

    Liz, please keep publishing and posting. I read every one and look closely at your sketches.

    Here Stay at Home has been relaxed, but I haven’t. I am responsible for groceries and dog walking, but my only recreation is beach yoga (with proper social distancing and masks) and Plein air painting. I just participated in the first virtual Forgotten Coast en PleinAir Quickdraw competition this weekend. Which included artist Leon Holmes from Australia.

    Thanks so much for your efforts!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Cheryl!!!!
      I understand the not being relaxed at home thing , I feel as if I have less time now. Great to hear that you had a virtual PleinAir Quickdraw competition – what fun!

  • Amanda L says:

    I appreciate being able to read and to see what you share! I really enjoy your style, and it has been fun to try to find my own way of documenting different things. Thank you!

    I’m not sure I would survive not being outside, I am impressed by all of you who had to do that. It gives our days so much life and joy to be out in nature. We start first grade this fall and nature journaling is part of our curriculum, as is drawing and watercolor, so I’m enjoying getting ready for that. (For anyone reading this who is curious, we are using Charlotte Mason’s methods).

    Thank you again!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Amanda – where are you? In the country somewhere? Happy for you that you are able to be out in nature. As for us city-dwellers, we do what we have to do 🙂 and it makes you appreciate so many things!

  • Isabelle lantieri says:

    Hi Liz, I am a big fan of you even if I am silent most of the time …. I took three of your courses and learned so much already. It is always a pleasure to read your blog because it is an inspiration.
    Since the lockdown restrictions I have been teaching remotely and it has been challenging. When I get some time from my teaching I do watercolors. Recently I did a virtual trip to Italy ( I was supposed to go to Puglia and Basilicata this march), I learned a lot about baroque architecture : thanks to you for this wonderful idea, it gave me the illusion of traveling.
    Thank you again Liz for sharing your beautiful work, ideas and guidance.
    Stay safe and enjoy family.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Isabelle – lovely to see your comment 🙂 and I sympathise with you with your remote teaching – it’s so much work isn’t it? So great to hear that you did a virtual trip! yay!

  • Allison Kimbal says:

    Thank you for continuing to publish your work in this manner. It feels more rich and intimate than social media. It inspires me to see your work not only in pieces but as a whole. Truly, I know what it takes to run a site and maintain, your effort is greatly appreciated.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thank you Alison – I really appreciate your comment! Hope you and your loved ones are safe and well.

  • Angela Woods says:

    Thanks for sharing your amazing art! I really enjoy both your instagram posts and blog. I like the immediacy of quick snippets on instagram & the longer posts on the blog – like others, I like seeing the blog on the bigger computer monitor. I find the amount of time you find for daily practice very inspiring, and have recently started a square format book for daily sketches, doodling & covid isolation sketching. I sketch as much as I can when I travel and keep a digital journal and take copious photographs. After my big trips I make an illustrated memory book sketching from photos all the things I didn’t have time to sketch while actually traveling, and then filling the space around them with a handwritten version of my digital journal. I’ve found this really fun and I just recently finished a 6 journal long series of a trip to Thailand, and have started on another of these from a trip to Australia. It is kind of similar to your virtual trip, although at a much slower pace! But I find virtual travel, especially revisiting places I’ve been, pretty satisfying. I’m debating about posting photos of those journals on instagram, while I would enjoy connecting with the online community, I don’t like the instagram terms of service in regard to artistic rights. But maybe I shouldn’t worry about it and just share – I certainly find it inspiring that others do! Thanks for being one of those inspirations!

  • I’m another of your silent followers – from the highlands of Ecuador – course-taker, admirer, and recommender to others for your courses. I love finding your blog in my email. I’ve learned a lot from your courses and go back to them when you update with new videos. A lot still to learn, but I posted my latest blog with drawing and watercolors for first time… From this great distance, I send “saludos” of friendship.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Judy – wow! highlands of Ecudar – that sounds nice. Thanks so much for your comment and kind words… and thanks for being a recommender too. That means SO much to me.
      Sending you a warm saludos back! take care!

  • Marta Raaka says:

    Hi Liz,
    I appreciate all the time you put into these blogs. And, I definitely read all of them. I agree with above comments, especially the value of finding certain topics in your archives. I often go back to them.
    I have plenty to keep me inspired from the art world and my garden projects. But your posts and the run through of past classes really keep me on track.
    Thanks for all you do!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Marta!!!!!
      I hope you are going well and great to hear about your art and garden.

      Thanks for your kind words and all your interaction in the classroom. I know that many other participants (as well as me) love your every inspiring comments. Big hug!

  • Maria says:

    Hi Liz. I’m a new follower. Your blogs inspired me to start my own at the beginning of Illinois’s USA stay-at-home orders. I struggle to sketch everyday, but am getting better at making it part of my day! My sketchbook began on March 21st and continues to today. I’ve filled one sketchbook and am started a new one this morning. I tend to spend too much time on my sketches 2 hours or more) and am thinking that I should set a timer for 1 hour. Would that help? Thanks for sharing your talents and creativity. You’ve helped me during this time of COVID-19!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Maria, Great to have you following along and to hear that you are starting to sketch… and a huge congrats for finishing your first sketchbook! That’s fantastic!

      And yes, setting a timer is definitely worth giving a go. It also helps to spend a little time looking at your subject before you start and thinking about the important edges and shapes. Get the important parts down first.

      • Thank you for the tips, Liz. I subscribed to your free Foundations lessons and have a better understanding of edges and shapes. It was helpful! I hope to sign up for the class in June.

      • Liz Steel says:

        Thanks Maria! Great to hear… see you in the classroom!!!

  • stefan wasinski says:

    Hi Liz – Thank you so much for your blog…and the plethora of information you share freely with us all. It is a special pleasure to read your reflective thoughts, see your creative sketches and quick snippets of life in visual form. I am an avid ‘consumer’ of all your teachings on drawing, materials, paint, sketchbooks, brushes etc and currently doing my third course with you – watercolours…whilst patiently waiting for a Daniel Smith Mixer set I ordered weeks ago and am desperate to get started with! Your calm words, thoughts and sharing of your day-to-day is a great little oasis to enjoy. I think we are all so fortunate that you are not only an amazing teacher but also happy to step out from behind that role…and just be you – and freely share your achievements…and the wasted time that can be life due to modern frustrations – and throughout your journey remain motivated – and energise us – the rest of your worldwide community. Thank you for giving.

  • Vickie Wilson says:

    Also a new follower since signing up for your foundations and watercolor class. I look forward to getting many more Friday blogs in the mail.
    Unlike most of the world, my section of it (which is vast open country, with very little population), has not been locked down. Only the national park has been closed and the non-essential businesses. Most of those have since opened. I own an essential business and have been very busy, thanks be to God.
    I’m now about a week behind in the classes and am so inspired by how much work you get done in 45 minutes, that I plan to get caught up ASAP!
    Please keep on with your blogs as I don’t do Facebook or instagram!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Vickie – nice to hear from someone not in lockdown and that you are busy! All the best with keeping up with the course – I know that it’s hard at the moment! And don’t worry, I’m not giving up my blog!

  • Hi Liz, thank you for your blog, your generosity in sharing your observations is much appreciated. My work has not decreased during this time, for which I am grateful – however a tiny bit envious of the focus some people have been able to devote to their creativity (and then I tell myself not to be ungrateful for my work and of course, income). I am sure I am part of a large community of readers who don’t comment enough 🙂 I blog myself, so I know how much work goes into formulating a post, and it is discouraging when you don’t see the response.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Rosalee!!!! I had to smile… I struggle to find time for sketching just for me. Most of mine is nowwork related and although in many way its a dream come true, it’s not the same as having to time to sketch for me. All the best for the your work and creativity!

  • Kristine Martens says:

    Thank you for your creative insights and commitment to artistic growth. I got away from my watercolors for a few months doing some large acrylic pieces but soon I will will be back following your path with my endeavors. Your generous sharing during this time have been such a comfort and so stimulating. THANK YOU.

  • Mimi S. says:

    I so appreciate your posts, your palette, color mixing, scripture and encouragement. I always read them and sometimes get behind, as now. I now sketch my clothes everyday, Bible verses, sun sets. I like reading the comments, too.

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