Manly Sketching Class: Week 1 - Learning to See

May 8, 2013 | 3 Comments

Well, we all had a lot of fun at our first Manly Urban Sketching class this morning!!!

We had a lot to get through in addition to the exercises for the day –  introductions, talking about materials and class goals (1. loving the process, 2. loving your materials 3. Not only accepting but rejoicing in your own mark-making and who you are). But somehow we managed even if we were a little late starting our lunch.

I want the classes to start with foundational drawing skills and translate these into exercises that can be used on location. Today we looked at “Learning to See” and how to record what you see on the page. Seeing shapes vs seeing volumes, drawing contour lines vs measuring/ sighting.

I shared the secret of my red lines. Doing red ‘construction’ lines as a quick initial setup is something I have done since July 2010 (don’t use it as much these days) and although it is a very quirky personal trait, there are some very important reasons why I have found it so effective for my sketching. So we did a number of exercises both in the studio and outside (at Manly Wharf) exploring how simple setups can be used in the drawing process, and when to measure vs when to draw blind contours. Using the red lines helped us analyse and understand the process.

When we went outside, we used a combination of techniques and also made sure that we had a clear focus so that we didn’t get distracted by all the details in front of us. These are not completed or ‘pretty’ drawings but we could really see the process of our work. We were not looking at the finished image but the workings…and I found this VERY exciting and stimulating! What really blew me away is that each person had had a different experience and had made different adjustments along the way – eg. one person adjusted the setup very early on, while someone else corrected a mistake when doing the ink ‘on the fly’ later in the process.

It is this spontaneous discovery and the process of recording it in an exploratory way through sketching that is the thing I love so much and being able to share this with the class was such a buzz today. I loved hearing all their ideas for ways that they could modify the exercise to other sketches of their own during the week!!!

Can’t wait for next week – we will be looking at lines…and we all know how much I LOVE LINES!

Also looking forward to a few more joining the class who were unable to make it today!


  • How lucky your students are Liz! It is wonderful to read about your teaching process. I love what you do with the red lines and I'd like to hear more about these in Barcelona.

  • larry says:

    Another vote for hearing more about red lines, Liz, and how you get rid of them once the organizational lines are no longer needed. I use a 3H pencil myself.

    When I read "Manly Urban Sketching" I couldn't help but wonder why Liz wouldn't call it "Womanly Urban Sketching." Only later did I learn it was a reference to the location (grin).

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