Last week: cafe sketching

January 14, 2019 | 11 Comments

Last week was the first full week back at work after my pseudo break. However, I actually went ‘away’ for two nights, so it was far from being a normal week where I could establish some 2019 routines.

So where did I go? I booked a serviced apartment in town so that I could spend a few days reflecting on 2018 and planning 2019. My secret for getting a lot of things done is to spend a fair amount of time thinking and planning, and locking in specific time to work on projects.

As I live and work in a tiny apartment it’s hard for me to disconnect from everything enough to do some serious thinking, so I decided to get away for two nights in order to do this. It was great and I got a lot done.

I ended up sitting in cafes (as well as the hotel room) during my planning days, and as a way of processing my thoughts, sketched my food and/or the view. So it appears that this week all I did was eat and drink. Not true! It’s just that cafe visits are the perfect opportunity for me to do some sketching.

So although I’m pleased with the sketching I did last week, I really want to carve out some time in the evenings for some object sketching and/or working on some of my research projects. Did I say that in last week’s article? Yes, I did! Obviously, it needs to be my focus for this coming week.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my pages…
(and they are all scanned this week… this is quite a task, but I’m happy to be back doing it!)


My local cafe is open again, but not many people to sketch. It was a little difficult sketching this guy as he was a bit too close to me.

Planning days: First night dinner at Boon Cafe

Planning days: my room and my emergency purchases (coloured pens for my yearly schedules and a pipette to transfer ink between pens as my writing pen ran out).

Planning Days: Session at Toast Cafe (and my brunch).

Planning Days: Session in Hyde Park under a tree.

Planning Days: Session at the Palace Tearoom.

When I got up to leave, the man sitting at the table behind me said “Hi Liz – I follow your blog!’ He was there writing and in fact dedicates a whole week in January to reflection and writing. Small world! Lovely to meet you, Anthony!

Planning Days: Dinner at Chat Thai, sharing a table with two American ladies. I had an amazing view, but felt pressure to vacate it as the restaurant was really busy.

Planning Days: Final morning session at Paramount Coffee Project. The table was too small to work effectively (I’m so picky about my cafes now… it’s certainly not just about the coffee!)

Train ride home and back at usual cafe the next morning. For those of you doing SketchingNow Foundations, I talk more about this sketch in a video in Lesson 2 Bonus Material.

A fun continuous line sketch I did as an extra exercise for Foundations course.

(BTW it is great to see people trying this in the classroom over the weekend. I’m loving this re-run SO much!)

Another cafe visit and sketch. I chose the wrong moment to capture the guy in front and then lost a bit of interest in the whole sketch. This is totally okay as the point of my cafe visit is work, and sketching is secondary!

A carpark tree (done with waterbrush), and a record of purchasing a 1kg bag of premium earl grey tea (it’s a bit of a ritual to do this).

Saturday brunch at Goodfields. I didn’t have my Lamy Joy in my bag, so I did this paint only.

How did you go with your sketching in the last few days? What do you want to work on this coming week?


  • Rachael Ayres says:

    Most intriguing to me is the effect of using a waterbrush – that single tree just doesn’t have the life (and the Earl Grey too) your other watercolour pics have – the other ones zing, even when you’re quick. The tea cups are especially lively. Love the perspective in the cafes – and with the Hyde Park pic. Inspirational.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Rachael,
      Yep – waterbrush sketches are nearly always flat! That’s why I rarely use them.
      Interesting that you mention perspective in the cafe sketches as ‘perspective’ as such is a very small part of them. Most of the sketches were drawn thinking about edges and overlapping planes in space not traditional linear perspective.

  • Manuela says:

    Your planning books Look very interesting…
    They seem to have more Pages than the normal notebooks?

  • Sian says:

    Incredible! I love your style. I envy the skill to be able to sketch your surroundings and make it look fabulous.

  • Yvonne Carpenter says:

    Hi Liz!
    Thank you for sharing the sketches from last week! It is always a pleasure to see what you were up to across the world 🙂

    I have a technical question for you – you said you scanned your pages – i know from your previous posts that you often use the S&B 8×10 sketchbooks or the Moleskine A4s. Do you scan one page at a time and manipulate them in photoshop to connect, or do you scan the entire spread at once? I guess you would need a very large scanner if you do the whole spread at once, but i thought to ask. For now, I just take pictures of my sketches, but that always comes out distorted and poor lighting/shadows stand out like a sore thumb! I will eventually use my A4 scanner, thus my question. Thanks!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Yvonne. It actually takes me three scans to do a spread and then I use the photo merge to join. It takes a while and that is why I’ve not been scanning lately. In regard to photos I found sunlight the best but I have some big studio lights which I use now.

  • Marion Snowdon says:

    I love it when you do outdoor sketches and include trees amongst the architecture, brings nature into the scene! The sketch from Hyde Park with recognisable Sydney buildings behind is lovely.

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