Last week: My home break

January 9, 2019 | 11 Comments

My plan is to share the previous week’s sketches every Monday, however with all of the end of year articles, I need to catch up on two weeks worth. And this post is a few days late! It’s going to be a long one, so I suggest you pause to go and get a hot drink before proceeding.

The last two weeks were supposed to be a ‘stay-cation’ but instead of having a bit of a holiday (vacation) I spent the first week doing a big ‘spring’ clean at home. Although I haven’t finished it all, it certainly feels great to be so organised to start the year. In the second week, I basically got back to work earlier than I thought I would. This is because there was more tech/admin associated with the Foundations Re-Run (the story of my life!) and I also finally got a new computer (I’ve been working off my laptop since the end of April). It’s been a good fortnight, but just not super relaxing!

In terms of sketching, I managed to keep up my recent pace, even though more days were spent at home than I had hoped. There were a few sketch outings, but most of my sketching was from morning cafe visits. I’ve really come to love my new cafe – Goodfields Eatery – it is a wonderful space to be in, lovely interior, great staff and great buzz. I think it will become my Saturday cafe, as it is a little too active for getting work done. So I’m looking forward to returning to my usual morning cafe when it re-opens next week.

I’ve finished off Sketchbook #111 – a 8 x10 Stillman and Birn Alpha softcover – in just over three weeks. This is an impressive rate of sketching (at home) even for me! And I think #111 is my favourite everyday sketchbook ever! It’s got a great mix of subject matter and varied compositions. I have loved using the larger size so much, that I’m sticking with it for #112. I’m thinking at this stage that I’ll go back down to the smaller 5.5 x 8.5 portrait softcover for #113.

Although I’m very happy with this book, and the sketching I’ve done in the last two weeks, there is always room for improvement. I need to work out a way to carve out time in the evening for a little sketching. There are more objects that I want to sketch in order to create a record of the day. I know from looking through old books that the most random sketches become the most interesting down the track. I also want to start working on some research projects – such as sketching people (anatomy) and looking at strategies for drawing cars.

But apart from that, it’s been a great end of year/beginning of year.

So here are all the pages…

BTW, one of the changes I hope to implement this year is to return to scanning my everyday pages. Despite my studio lights and playing with camera settings, I just can’t get good photos of my sketchbooks. I do like sharing the spreads in their entirety as the composition of the page is as important to me as the individual sketch, but I do know that some of you like seeing the sketches bigger. So I have added some detailed scans in this collection.


Repeating this page as it was the start of the break. Brunch at Goodfields Eatery with a friend, so sketching was rushed.

Showing the Xmas tree sketch in the context of my sketchbook.

A local bakery was open on 25th Dec.

Bits and pieces from a lovely day with family.

Sketching with Chris Haldane – close up included in this article.

Back at Goodfields (on my own) and doing a full scene.

Scanned versions of this view. I really love the interior design of this place.

I was having so much fun that I stayed and had a tea.

The full spread, which also includes finally making up a palette from the Roman Szmal Paints which I got given to test during my European trip. More later I promise!

Sketching in the apple store and a few pens.

Here is a close up of my super fast sketches while waiting to be served in the Apple store – using my White Lamy Joy, a red watercolour pencil, a water-soluble ochre pen, Ecoline marker and waterbrush. Fun to do this type of crazy sketching.

Back at Goodfields…

They brought out a second coffee for me to sketch. Two coffees is too much for me to drink but I don’t like waste so I drank half of the cappuccino. I was buzzing afterwards. I’m enjoying the challenge of mixing the beige colour and the strong directional light in this cafe is great for shadows.

Bits and pieces from my spring clean at home.

I had breakfast – pesto eggs – on this day. Yum!

And then decided it was time to focus on people sketching. When in a new exciting space I prefer to capture the whole interior (with some people included) first rather than just focus on a few individuals.

Close up of my sketch. I was happy with the sketch of John, the middle barista, and the strong shapes of the guy with the cap.

Working too hard with my spring clean… so I needed to escape and go for a drive. I ended up at Palm Beach.

After saying that I never use watercolour pencils these days… I used some for this sketch!

Second sketch after my fish and chips – close up in this article.

A different cafe today as Goodfields were closed. BTW I have 9 in my local area to choose from!
I was a bit annoyed that a fellow patron told the staff I was starting to sketch them. They became a little self-conscious and I didn’t want to look at them while they were aware of it.

My NYE cuppa which you have seen before here and here.

New Years Day: cafe options were limited. Close up included in this article.

Finally got a replacement imac and setting it up. I wanted to add paint but was too busy at the time. The simple line drawing makes a nice connection to the one I did back when the drama happened.

Back at Goodfields…

… and again. This time I was in the other room as it was so busy.

Goodfields: Trying to sketch the staff but they move way too much.

Then I headed to Coogee Beach to meet Christina Lopp Schwabecher who is visiting Australia (from Tokyo) at the moment with her family. I’ve known her (online) since I first started sketching in a journal (12 years ago) and loved the wonderful beginner DVD she created with Gay Kraeger. I still have images in my head of the juicy washes they achieved with a water brush and how accessible their exercises were for people just starting.

We talked non-stop for about 5 hours and didn’t leave our comfy table overlooking Coogee beach. The beach will be there (for me) to sketch on another day so sharing ideas, stories and inspiration was the priority. We did sketch a coffee though!

And finally: Monthly USK SYD meet at Watson’s Bay/ The Gap. It was a hot day – 36C – but despite the heat I really wanted to sketch coastline called The Gap. I worked very quickly doing this.

Three little vignettes from later in the morning. A great morning sketching and catching up with the local USK SYD gang.

So there you have it! A fun collection of sketches and pages. How much sketching did you manage over the break?



  • Brenda Staresnick says:

    Liz…where do you get the month/date stamp used on each page????

    Brenda Staresnick TX

  • Peggy Wilson says:

    Liz do you layout your page first, blocking in the area for text? My goal this year is to add reportage, but not as an after thought, but as part of the composition. That said, I’m guessing you layout your page first.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi peggy. No my layout doesn’t come first it evolves as I work and that is part of the fun. Though I am very intentional about the first thing I do on the page and make a decision based on what has happened in the spreads before. My text to start the day is definitely planned putting it in a different position most days. Sketches a little less so.

  • Magdalena French says:

    Great to see all your sketches – what an impressive effort.

  • Moony says:

    Hi Liz,
    My actual daily sketchbook will finished soon, so I need a new sketchbook. My recent daily sketchbooks were easy books with easy paper which were not make for wet colours like watercolor. But I like watercolour, too. Do you know a brand wich isn’t so expensive and have sketchbook with paper for wet techniques. Perhaps also many pages (my actual book has 80 pages)?

    Thx for help!

    Greets Moony

  • Tanis Conway says:

    Hi Liz, Love your blog. I have just enroled on Foundations and after wrestling with printing out the Pdf (new printer) and taking a photo to add (new phone!) I was still inspired enough to pick up my pen and sketchbook again (after a long break) and sit in my car and sketch – cheating a bit but it was getting a bit dark! Can’t wait to get on with the course!

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