Working through Melanie Chadwick's Winter Drawing Prompts

January 9, 2023 | 2 Comments

A few months ago I discovered the work of Melanie Chadwick – an illustrator based in Cornwall UK. I loved her charming illustrations of the landscapes and coastline of one of the nicest parts of England.

And I love her use of pencils, markers and watercolour. 🙂

Then I discovered that she was hosting a challenge for winter sketching – #joyofsketchingoutside – and I thought it would be a fun thing to try. But with all the craziness of this November and early Dec I forgot about it.

Melanie then asked to interview me for a podcast that she was creating as part of a new online course she was creating. I said yes! and we had a fun 30-minute interview and then proceeded to talk for another 1.5 hours. We have a lot of things in common!!! (More about her course below.)

After the call and our discussion about the landscapes of the Lizard peninsula, Cornwall, I decided to join the challenge (starting a week late!)

My goal was to use these prompts to further explore my mixing of pencils (either coloured pencils or watercolour pencils), markers and watercolour.

Here are the sketches I’ve done to date for these prompts.


SKY: It was a little different just to focus on the sky. I was interrupted mid-sketch and had a long chat with a local. When I returned to my sketch the sky had totally changed! Playing with chinagraph and coloured pencils in this sketch.


SKY: Just watercolour in this sky but mixing two colours – Cobalt Blue and Manganese Blue Hue

SKY: Intentionally layered (and blotchy) sky to match texture used on Mount Solitary – mixing GoldFaber Marker and watercolour.


SKY: Watercolour and GoldFaber Aqua markers.

WATER: This was the hardest prompt for me to do in the last few weeks so I had to make a special quick trip to Davidson Park last Saturday.

Hmm, I would really like to do a  mini river/harbour water project in a similar way that I focused on ocean waves during my Port Macquarie trip. I want to find a fun textured and slightly abstract way to do this type of water mixing pencils and watercolour.

ROCK: Well this prompt was done many times during my short Blue Mountains trip! 🙂

TREE: I was not at all concentrating on this sketch at the time due to a fascinating conversation with Joe Whyte and Chris Haldane during a recent sketching outing to Wendy’s Secret Garden.

TREE: This Sydney Blue Gum at Lane Cove National Park was not looking healthy! For the rest of the sketch, I was playing with marks from a Rosemary R20 Red Dot flat brush.

TREE: Experimenting with different ways of sketching the trees in my local Village Green.

TREE and SKY: Another view of the trees (this time on an overcast day) and a yellow sky combining GoldFaber Aqua and watercolour.

TREE: Another Village Green experiment. In this one, I used some pastel marker shapes initially and then painted over with watercolour. Some very interesting effects, hey?

RUIN: I had somewhere specific in mind to go for ruin but we have had a really wet few days. I managed to get out to the Old St John’s Cemetery in Gordon and sketch some RUIN-ed graves just before a huge downpour. I haven’t finished this spread yet (but will do during this week’s livestream for Sketchbook Design)

STONE: All the important buildings in my local area are made of brick so I wasn’t sure where I would find some stone. And then I realised that St Alban’s church has a sandstone wall. And so I was able to sketch this on a wet day from a sheltered spot of the taxi stand.

And I’m now up to date!

It’s been really fun to take part in a challenge like this. One sketch per week is achievable and the prompts are general enough that I’m able (mostly) to find them in my local area.

As for the online course I mentioned above…

The Joy of Sketching on location course is all about building a joyful, consistent outdoor sketchbook practice, where there is no fear of drawing what you see and messy mark-making is to be embraced.

The course looks great and I’m particularly looking forward to the sketchwalks in her local area!

Melanie has kindly offered a discount code for the first 20 people to use it. Use code STEEL20 for 20% off  (Thanks Mel!)

Find out more here.



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