Morning at Macquarie University

April 12, 2016 | 4 Comments

I had a few hours at Macquarie University this morning, doing a sketch or two for the book I am writing on Sketching Architecture. I won’t show you what I did for the book, but these are the sketches I did for myself.

I don’t know Macquarie Uni very well (I studied Architecture at UNSW… and BTW I am longing to go back there one day to explore and sketch) but I have vague associations with the place from my childhood of going to cheap movies (Watership Down and Star Wars) in one of the lecture theatres. It was brand new in the 1970s so that means it is full of lots of concrete brutalist buildings but they are set amongst lots of landscaping including tall thin trunked gum trees which softens them a lot. I LOVE brutalist architecture so I am more interested in the ‘old’ buildings than the new ones.

But my big sketch of the day (the opening image) was of the new library, designed by Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (FJMT) Architects which I did find fun to draw –  because of its strong forms and textures.

"When sketching modern buildings: Look for the strong underlying volumes and simplify the pattern of any texture."

liz steel sketching architecture tip

When I first arrived I did this warmup coloured pencil sketch.

Have you noticed a few of those in the last few weeks? I have made up a set of the Faber Castell Polychromos with the same colours as my watercolour set, so I know the colours and feel comfortable using them. I don’t think I will ever become a coloured pencil artist but it is fun to experiment.

And the final sketch I will share with you today is a quick ‘panic’ sketch (panic because of an approaching storm) I did of the wonderful ‘old library’. I LOVE the geometry of this building and all that gorgeous aged concrete. (I know most of you will not agree, but  someone has to champion the architecture of the 60s and 70s, hey?)

I used my Lamy Joy, Sailor fude pen, watercoloured pencils, coloured pencils and watercolour paint in this sketch… so almost my full kit!

And here is a photo of the full spread. It feels good to have a page like this in my latte-concentrated sketchbooks of recent months.

Finally…. I have to apologise for uploading smaller versions of my double page spread photos like this one over the last few weeks. With all the changes to my blog, I just forgot about the large size… and added to that, I’ve had the wrong option set as a default – oops! Hopefully this one is better.


So has any of my readers studied at Macquarie Uni? – what was your favourite spot?
For my other readers: have you sketched your collage/ school/ university?

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  • Tina Koyama says:

    That new library is indeed striking! I’m curious about your colored pencil sketch. . . I know that Polychromos and Albrecht Durer pencils come with the same numbering system so that they can be matched exactly, but since the AD pencils can be used dry like traditional pencils anyway, what would be the advantage of using only Polychromos? I have to admit, I have both sets too, being sucked in by the marketing info that said they match exactly (not to mention that I’m a total sucker for all colored pencils, period!), but I’ve hardly used the Polychromos because I’m always using the water-soluble ones (both wet and dry). Just curious about your thoughts on this (always curious about your process!).

    – Tina

    • Liz Steel says:

      Well, the main reason I am using them is… because of my book. But the texture is different than the WCP…but I really haven’t done a head to head comparison. I would normally use WCPs too if I wanted a dry media.

  • Dee Quine says:

    Hi Liz! Long time follower of your blog and our paths may have crossed a few times with a few urban sketchers meet ups when I was still living down in Sydney back in 2011. I studied at Macquarie Uni when I was living down there and only got to experience the new library and the Speech and Hearing Hub (across from the library) for a semester before I graduated. Anyway, one of my favourite spots there is near the lakes, which is down behind the cafeteria area. I’d buy a coffee and pastry before class and walk down there for breakfast 🙂 lovely sketches of Macquarie Uni by the way!

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