More time or less time to sketch?

April 6, 2020 | 11 Comments

I’m finding that since I’ve been staying home, I’ve had less time to sketch and that’s mainly a result of an increased workload. So what have I been doing?

I’ve brought forward the Group Run-through for Watercolour by one week and added a Group Run-through for Foundations as well. Both of these involve a fair amount of work behind the scenes before I even start thinking about all the fun bonus material I want to create. But in addition to these, I have also been working hard to make the intro lessons for Watercolour available for free permanently. And then, as Foundations has never had any intro lessons, I decided last week to film and then release some! (You can access these free intro lessons by scrolling to the bottom of these pages: FoundationsWatercolour)

It’s been a hectic few weeks, but I do love all this kind of work so it’s been good to be so focused and productive. I feel really thankful to be in a position to generate my own work and to be able to pivot to 100% online content so easily.

As mentioned in Friday’s teacup article, I’ve also finished up a very special 3 month Group Run-through of the Buildings course… and I’ve been doing a number of live-streams on Instagram.

Last Friday I had my second LizSketchChat with my good sketching buddy Suhita Shirodkar. We talked a lot about the challenges for finding time and inspiration whilst at home, and Suhita said so many amazing things. One of the topics we discussed was having the license to create messy pages and to allow yourself to experiment. I also really liked her concept of sketching the same thing over and over and looking for subtle changes. I think this is the key to staying motivated at the moment – we can’t go to new and exciting places so we have to look more carefully at our familiar surroundings. This is a messy page I did late in the evening after my SketchChat with Suhita.

And oh! she also challenged us to draw the same thing for two weeks… and a special challenge for me to draw my hands. I’m doing these in another book so I’ll share these in a separate article.

Some days this week I didn’t get to sketch much… such as this day when I just added some notes to my spread.

I’m also doing really rough blind/semi blind sketches whenever I have a Skype call. And one day I had to briefly visit my brother to drop off some needed supplies. I stood in the front garden a few metres away from the house while the children performed for me. My phone was in a plastic bag so the photo is nice and blurry! It was super special to have this brief and distanced interaction with them so I had to add a printout of the photo into my sketchbook. I’m just telling myself that I don’t see my family for 3 months when I travel so it’s not that unusual for me not to see them for a period of time.

Although I’ve decided to focus on art and positive things here… I did receive some sad news last week. A friend from Scotland (a very special retired minister who was in his 80s) passed away after developing COVID-19 in hospital. I feel so privileged and thankful to have personally known this wonderful man and to have numerous memories of lovely fun catch-ups (in both Scotland and Australia) and to have been greatly encouraged  by his preaching. Our paths hadn’t crossed in recent years but I still have wonderful memories from an evening in 2010 when, after dinner, we went for a walk (with Bobbie) around the grounds of Pollok House in Glasgow. I did a quick sketch at the time… and so I re-did this sketch today. I love the way that sketching helps to encode memories.

(This is the sketch from 2010)
We rejoice that Rev John J Murray is now with Christ in glory, but my heart grieves for his dear wife (sending her a big virtual hug) and son and family (who I don’t think that I have ever met in all my many trips to Scotland) and all the near friends. This family has been through so much – especially in recent years. So I’m sending you all my love and prayers.
And by the way JJM’s daughter Anna (who sadly passed away last year) introduced me to Esther Semmens, who then introduced me to watercolour!

Here are the rest of the pages which I did last week.


Do you have more or less time? Have you been able to keep up (or increase) your sketching?
I would love to hear from you and I value every comment left here on my blog – thanks in advance!

Take care my friends.


  • Kate Powell says:

    Less time. Our business is still open — it is just Mitchell and I, and we are not open to the public except by appointment and our clients know we are working on their projects and on lockdown. BUT, the protocol for deliveries, answering questions by worried clients, stress of not knowing if we can be paid for our work done (so far so good), and general stress has lead to exhaustion so my normal sketching times are booked by work or sleep. I am writing, anything to get the thoughts out of my head and onto paper. Oh, and my dyslexia kicks in when I am exhausted and so there is THAT. Writing reports when you can’t see the misspelled words that are correct but not right (from-form) is also stressing.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Kate- thanks for sharing and I feel for you with your busy-ness. Yes, it’s tough. I hope you continue to be paid for your work and the questions lessen. Take care of yourself (easy to say harder to do at times I know!)

  • Thanks for sharing your sketches! I should have more time to sketch being that I am also staying isolated, but somehow the day disappears without getting much done. I make a list of a few things I’d like to accomplish through the day, but it seems that I’m lucky if I cross off two or three things…but one of them is always a sketch.

  • Tina Koyama says:

    I’m so sorry to hear of the minister who perished from the virus. Take care, Liz, and stay well.

  • Barbara Libner says:

    More time! While laid off from my job, I’ve been starting each day with a sketch. Nice to see some improvement as a result. Also I find that it gives me energy to tackle whatever else needs doing later in the day.

    • Cynthia Lynn Salaski says:

      Hi Liz, I emailed you about two months ago about one of your online courses. Due to all the turmoil in the world, I just now realized I never received a reply from you. I sent you another email today, about a half an hour or so. Please let me know if you’ve received it.

      Thank you,


      • Liz Steel says:

        Hi Cindy – email received today and replied to… but didnt get anything earlier.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Barbara – so sorry to hear about your job! But great that you are seeing improvement and creating energy by sketching in the morning. all the best!

      • Cindy Salaski says:

        Thanks for letting me know, Liz! I bought your book a couple months ago. And now I’m thinking about taking your online building course.

  • Elina says:

    Thanks for sharing! I’ve read in your e-mail that it’s quieter here now, so I decided to leave a comment. I’m usually a silent reader, but I enjoy your blog a lot and I’m so grateful that you continue to write it in the era of Instagram. I do love Instagram, but blogs have completely different atmosphere 🙂

    I’ve done a huge break in my sketching for the last several months, due to unknown reasons. Just felt lack of inspiration and couldn’t find any motive in me to search for any. But now, which all the horrible things happening around, I returned to my sketchbook as a way of silent meditation. I don’t even sketch, I just play with colours, drawing some abstractions and enjoying some positive feelings from it.

  • Bernadette says:

    I’ve been able to use the extra time to paint more often. Prior to the beginning of the pandemic I started working on painting violets and soon found that I couldn’t stop. One of my nieces had a baby who they named Violet Mae.
    Baby Violet and painting violets became my inspiration. I’ve never done a series before but found that once one painting or collage was completed I wanted to do another as I lined them up round a room.
    Painting violets helped me find a perfect transition for retirement. I’d cut back work to part time a few years ago but decided I was now ready to stop work completely.
    I am so sorry for the loss of your minister and dear friend. Adding to the loss is that fact that during this pandemic funeral services have been very restricted. It is always a great comfort to have both family and friends near to help one through a time of loss. May God’s peace continue to flow to console his wife and all who loved him.

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