Lots of sketching in Newcastle

May 16, 2022 | 14 Comments

I’m having a great time in Newcastle – there is so much to explore and sketch here. And I’m continuing to experiment with mixing coloured pencils with watercolour. There are a lot of images in this article so I’m just going to get straight into it.


A lovely local coffee and smashed avo for breakfast and then I visited a great art store.

Adamstown Art was one of my ‘must visits’ for this trip since they stock Aquarius paint. They have a huge section for pastels (this is their speciality) but they also have an impressive range of watercolour brands. They have a great online store as well.

I found myself back at Bar Beach and this time I wanted to be more intentional about my use of pencil. This photo shows my first two steps – ink then coloured pencils. This took about 10 minutes and then I had to pause as it started to rain.

Thankfully it was only a passing shower and I was able to finish it by adding watercolour over the top (10 minutes worth of painting).

Here is a close up showing some of the interesting effects of painting over coloured pencils.

I then visited the Museum and sketched a few bits and pieces related to Newcastle’s industrial past – steel and coal.

In this sketch I drew in ink, added the blue coloured pencil and then painted over the top. The vibrancy of the blue visible through the watercolour wash is amazing.

I really like the effect of the coloured pencils under the watercolour in these sketches as well. BTW these CPs were the three new Bruynzeel pencils I bought at Adamstown Art earlier in the day. More about them soon.

As I was close to the foreshore I finally got around to sketching the huge grain silo complex at Carrington. I started this sketch with CPs but then decided that I needed the ink to pull everything together.

This is the final spread with sky added.

And a close up showing all the crazy colours I used!


Another leisurely start to the day with a fancy cafe breakfast. This time it was the Autumn Rooms and perhaps the best Egg Benedict I’ve ever had!

Here are my three Bruynzeel pencils (no. 27,77 and 50). I’ve become a bit obsessed with the two blues over the last few days.

After my coffee and eggs I finished with a ginger tea. I fell in love with the teapot and ended up buying one! I know, I know, I already have more teapots than I need!

As it was a non-stop rainy day I got in my car and started driving around town. I went to Carrington to see the silos again and then ended up in Wallsend.

Here is a closer view showing my CP marks. Unless noted otherwise, from now on, I’m generally drawing in ink, adding a layer of CPs (not WCPs) and then painting last.

A big verandah wrapping about one of a number of historic pubs in Wallsend (from the coal mining days). I couldn’t help thinking about my big road trip last year while I was doing this. These buildings are hard to sketch quickly!

I was wanting to find some old miners cottages… and next headed to Lambton. I didn’t quite find what I was looking for but these three buildings were fun to draw. And one of them turned out to be a JimmyB building!

Here are the details. (BTW because I’m photographing my work in direct sunlight, the texture of the paper is appearing very strong!)

Using Naples Yellow Deep for this sketch.

Lots of fun texture here!

Late in the afternoon I returned to the centre of town to explore the area near the Convict Lumber Yard. Lots of interesting buildings line the streets.

And I absolutely love seeing lots of Coastal Banksias which are street trees in this part of Newcastle.

And the beaches are only a block away!

Not much to see/sketch in the Convict Lumber Yard but I found an interesting subject and then I headed to the entrance of Fort Scratchley and sketched until the rain started again. I didn’t actually go inside the Fort (something for next time!)

Here is a close-up. Can you see the light blue CP used for the buildings? I also love using my Coloursoft Lime Green under the grass watercolour washes.

I wasn’t ready to stop sketching yet, so even though it was raining and the light was fading I sketched the buildings opposite where I parked my car.

Back at my AirBnB I added lots of rough CP lines…

… and then added some loose watercolour washes over the top. I think that I could add a little more detail to this… but I really don’t have the time!

BTW there has been a lot of nightly homework this trip – but much easier to keep up than last year when I was moving from place to place.


A really special treat… I had a coffee with Rosemary a local historian AND she gave me a copy of her wonderful book on the history of Newcastle’s Port. Wow! this is exactly the type of book that I was looking for. We talked non-stop for 2.5 hours about a whole lot of topics… but the history of Newcastle was our main theme.I’ve got lots of ideas of places to explore during my next trip to Newcastle.

Before I met up with Rosemary I did this sketch of the old Post Office (a building I sketched during a USK Sydney & Newcastle event a number of years ago).

Ah! I’m now noticing the historic brick paving Rosemary told me about.

Two quick sketches…

And then another industrial part of the port – this one was done while the rain started again.

My last sketch of the day was JimmyB’s grand Courthouse. I wasn’t able to finish it due to more rain.

Here is the finished sketch. The typed paper on this spread is from a fun session with a typewriter that evening while visiting friends.


I was very happy that my visit to Newcastle coincided with a meet of the local USK chapter. Was great to see Phil and Jill again and meet some other sketchers.

We sat opposite the magnificent Jesmond House on a glorious sunny day. It was a bit of a shock to my system to be sketching alongside others after a week of going solo!

This second sketch was started towards the end of the session, and I’m just leaving it as is!

We all went to Bar Beach for a coffee and then I decided to head south – hoping to make it to the Merewether Baths. But it was too far away so I turned away halfway there. This is the view looking back to Bar Beach.

I found a nice local cafe to have some lunch and then got in my car to drive to Lake Macquarie. I headed to Warners Bay…

and did this sketch looking into the sun. That dark blue pencil strikes again!

A little walk along the lake and then it was time for an early dinner.

Fish and chips at Belmont looking at this view.

I’ve had such a great time in Newcastle and know that there is a LOT more to explore. This week, the second for this current sketching trip, I’ll be exploring some smaller towns in the Hunter Region.


  • Cora Brown says:

    The colored pencils are adding so much dimension and vibrancy to your sketches. I’d love to take a SketchingNow Colored Pencils class! Thanks for sharing you lovely journey with us.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Cora. I’m not really using them much differently from the way I have used WCPs for many years! There are already some demos of this inside existing SketchingNow courses – Lesson 1 and 8 of Foundations and Lesson 3 in Edges. 🙂

  • maria bergman says:

    Your use of colored pencils in the grain elevators sketch is otherworldly! Who would have thought grain elevators could convey so much magic?
    I can’t stop looking!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Maria!!!! I just threw in a few of my favourite coloured pencils and hey, it worked!!!!

  • Lesley Dawe says:

    Have a wonderful second week, Liz!

  • Fiona Campbell says:

    Hi Liz, Very interesting read as usual ! Love that Mine silhouette ??.
    Are the Bruynzeel pencils watercolour or pastel or coloured pencil ?

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Fiona – the silhouette was a display and the only thing in the museum that gave any idea of the steelworks.
      The Bruynzeel pencils that I’m using at the coloured pencils. I have a few WCPs but haven’t tried them yet… and I’m thinking that I should get a few pastel ones as well!!!

  • Annette Huppatz says:

    Oh it looks like you had a wonderful time up there. Adamstown art are one of my favorite online stores. I get all my Roman Szmal paints from there. I’ve often wondered what the Bruynzeel pencils are like. I might have to try some. I really enjoyed the way you are incorporating the two.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Yes Annette – I’m having a great time. Good to hear that you are already ordering Aquarius from Adamstown Art! 🙂

  • maria bergman says:

    Hi Liz
    I noticed the paper you’re using has a bit of tooth. Are you still using an Alpha?
    Thank you!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Maria – for this trip I’m using my favourite travel sketchbook – Moleskine Watercolour book. One side of the page has a strong texture and the photos of my work taken in midday sun make it very noticeable! 🙂

  • Jamie C says:

    Stunning work and a fabulous trip! Your work has such energy, especially with the use of the colored pencils!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Jamie!!! Yes the vibrancy of the CPs is adding an extra dimension to the energy of my work.

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