'Back Home' sketching after my staycation

September 27, 2021 | 4 Comments

It might sound a little silly to use the ‘Back Home’ label for the last two weeks of sketching, but that is how I’ve been thinking of them as my staycation really felt like a trip.

Normally the transition back to normal life after a big sketching trip is quite tricky but this time I’ve been able to continue doing exactly the same kind of sketching! Well, I’ve changed back to my 8×10 Alpha and I’m doing fewer outings, but I’ve been able to continue my daily sketch’n’walk in the bush!

The main difference between sketching at Lane Cove during my break vs during a workday has been purely a matter of time. During my two-week break, even though my visits were not long, I could take as long as I wanted for walking and sketching. But being back at work, I felt pressure to get back to my desk! And that meant my sketching felt rushed.

To get around this I’ve simply made a serious assessment of the time I need to have a good visit to Kane Cove National Park and then intentionally blocked out that time each day ie. I need 1.5 hours minimum. Once I realised exactly how much time I need, I’m suddenly able to allow for it.

I also found it hard to go back to my 8×10 Alpha – it felt so small after the 30x30cm Goldline! The first few pages of a softcover book are always a little harder to use due to lack of support (see this article for more) but after a few days, it felt good again.

The other change that I made was to set up a separate bag and kit for walking. During my break I was carrying a full kit and my two sketchbooks with me everywhere just in case I saw something I wanted to sketch. Now, when I’m walking, I only take my Greenwood and a small bag with my pencils and markers. My Greenwood has become my walking book and the place where I record potential scenes for watercolour sketches in my Alpha in the future. I leave my main bag and kit in the car and then after my walk, I get these out of my car and do a second sketch (this time in my Alpha) nearby.

It’s all working very well for me and this time in the bush each day is keeping me inspired. I might be sketching at the same spots all the time but the scenes feel fresh to me every time. And I’m loving the fun visits I often have from magpies coming to see hello.

So bush scenes are dominating my sketchbook at the moment… but I’m also still doing my lockdown teacup sketches. We are in the mid-80s now in terms of days of lockdown, so I’m doing a lot of repeats. And a few Palladio sketches have snuck in as well.

Ok.. time to share the pages.


First day back to work, first spread in Alpha and a cold wet day.

A sketch of one of the Wahroonga houses I walked past during my staycation. And a Leopard print cup which will feature a bit this week.

Another cold and wet day but I still went out for a walk’n’sketch.

A simpler page – a replacement kindle, waterbottles and a scene from a carpark before a medical appointment (done with a brand new pen!);

Sketching from the car on the other side of the river.

Using the Deep Deep Light paints on location for the first time – more soon I promise!

The next day… I left my Folio palette at home but thankfully have a backup in my walking bag/kit. This is the Portable Painter Micro palette with the Daniel Smith Sketchers Kit (my selection of 6 colours). This palette is a great way to use those 6 colours. 🙂

Ah! DS Ultramarine Blue makes different greens.

Saturday walk at Davidson Park on a grey day – using Urban Grey for writing and drawing on this page.

Photo I took at the time with a brand new fancy pen. A beautiful Esterbrook Estie sent to me as a gift by the lovely people @goldspotpens. Wow!!! How amazing is that? More detailed review to follow in a week or so.

A bits and pieces page including changing my shoes to suit the early morning Davidson Park walks in the wet grass.

TIme to start drawing Blackbutt trees…. the insets are from my Greenwood (more tomorrow!)

My Houndstooth cup again and another Wahroonga House from a photo.

More Blackbutts and some more colour pencils.

A crazy Palladio sketch (more about this in the future) and some wet-in-wet wildness.

A fun page with another Blackbutt tree. I’m really experimenting with lots of texture at the moment.

A spread I started during last week’s Sketchbook Design livestream. I added something extra to it a few days later… if you are doing the Group Run-through at the moment, can you see what it was and work out why?

Another crazy Palladio sketch!

Another day, another Lane Cove National Park sketch with lots of texture… and an evening cup of Ginger Kiss tea in my Fruity cup.

Markers!!!! More tomorrow!

A map of Lane Cove National Park (the south side of the river) showing you how many options I have for different picnic areas to explore and the Riverside walk route. I love this place so much!

That Carter’s Creek three-trunked Sydney Blue Gum tree again.

Saturday bits and pieces including a Red Bloodwood tree.

It might be time to start adding some blue sky to my bush sketches. To date I haven’t wanted to as I love the green so much.

Final spread for this article… more bits and pieces from Saturday afternoon.

For those of you who are part of the Group Run-through for Sketchbook Design, I’ll be talking more about the design principles and sequencing of these pages tomorrow in Livestream 5. See you there!

And tomorrow…. I’ll share more about using markers in my Greenwood Journal.


  • Jamie C says:

    Great variety of sketching. As ever, I love all the trees! I’m inspired by these pages!

  • Rob says:

    I really like that you combine a healthy hike with sketching on the go. I read that you block 1.5 hours for the activity. Is that including the drive back and forth. And if so, how long is the drive from your home?

    • Liz Steel says:

      THanks Rob. One of the best things about Lane Cove National Park that the entrance to it is only 5 minutes drive from my house. To get to some of the parts of the park can take another 5 minutes… but its so great to be so close to home. The driving time is often included in the 1.5 hours. So my visit to the park is about 1 hour 15min. 30-50min for the walk and sketch and the rest of the time is the watercolour sketch in my Alpha book – about 20-30 min. But somedays I talk more time 🙂

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