Melbourne Trip 2016 Part 4: A morning of work in Kew

March 22, 2016 | 3 Comments

Travelling as part of your work always sounds so exciting, but for most people who do it regularly it can be a very tiring experience. I used to travel to Melbourne for work a lot as an architect. Between 2000-2002 it was once a week –  6am flight down, straight to a site sheds for continuous meetings and site inspections till 5pm then a rush back to the airport for a 6pm flight home. If I didn’t pack a peanut butter sandwich in my work bag the night before I might not get any food all day. It was exhausting and I really started to dread travelling for work!

So it goes without saying that these days my travelling for work is a LOT more pleasant! But it is still work, and during my recent trip to Melbourne, I had a number of big projects that needed working on when I wasn’t teaching or preparing for workshops. So every spare moment was spent on my laptap.

On Monday – the day I gave my talk and demo to the Watercolour Society of Victoria – I headed out to find a nice cafe in Kew where I could do a number of hours of serious work. Of course, that meant I started with a coffee (and toast) sketch to get my brain into gear.

The few minutes (probably a maximum of 10) that I spend doing these ‘on the table’ sketches set me up for a good period of work, getting my creative juices pumping and my brain focused. In a standard workplace this might be seen as wasting time, but I know from experience that it is the best way for me to get super productive.

Part of the work that I had to get done during the week was to do a few new sketches for the Sketching Architecture book I am writing at the moment. So after a few hours on my laptop I was ready to head out onto the streets and do a few ‘thinking sketches’. I had a list to work from but on this occasion, I wasn’t necessarily intending them to be images I would use in the book. Instead, the goal was a bit of experiment sketching exploring a few ideas I was working with. (Note: I find the pressure of having to do a good sketch for publication can sometimes put me off, so I try to sketch without any expectations.)

This was a very quick (under 10 minutes?) sketch of the main intersection in Kew. I started with the big shapes in watercolour and then added lines over the top. These days I am using shapes more and more for complex scenes – they just make is so much easier to simplify and get the big picture down on the page quickly. I really loved this crazy complex intersection  – Kew Junction.

I then did a similar exercise (paint first) with one part of the old Post Office – now called QPO – but this time drawing with a continuous line.

I then decided it was lunchtime and found a nice Japanese place. I wasn’t going to sketch but when they bought my tea out in such a nice cup/pot I knew I had to sketch it.

And so ended my morning of work in Kew – it was very productive in terms of laptop work AND I was pleased that I managed to squeeze in a few sketches as well.

And just because I have been cropping some of these sketches to make them larger for you to see, here is the collection of pages in my book showing the full collection. Not bad for a morning’s work – hey?

So do any of you travel for work? Do you manage to squeeze in a few sketches at the end of the day (view from your hotel room)? Do you get up super early for a morning sketch?



  • Youanna says:

    My goal is to try to squeeze a sketch during lunch time, at my desk. I find it forces me to work fast, and not so neat and detailed. If I sketch at home in the evening, I get too involved with my sketch, and it becomes more like a drawing. But your work/art keeps me focused all the time! Let loose, record, stop worrying, embrace the wonkiness! Cheers!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Youanna – great idea to do a lunchtime sketch – sets you up for a good afternoon of work hey? So glad my work helps you keep focus- thanks!!!

  • Josephine says:

    Hi Liz, love your sketches… do you actually write like that on your pages? ????Thanks for sharing. I can’t draw but always admire pottery and water colour paintings. That’s a pretty piece of the QPO you did, i hadn’t quite looked at it this way and i pass by it so often too. I work in Kew in a simple cafe off a quiet street. So, if you are there again, i hope you stop by here and i’ll make you a cuppa.

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