In Newcastle (with pencils and markers)

September 5, 2022 | 6 Comments

Last week I had an extended weekend in Newcastle – a great sketching location 2 hours north of Sydney (I spent 2 weeks in the region earlier in the year.)

The reason for this trip was two workshops for Faber Castell which I taught on the Saturday (I’ll share more about these separately) so I went up on Friday afternoon and came home on Tuesday.

And as the title indicates I didn’t use any watercolour! Technically I had watercolour with me (in my car) but I didn’t touch it. Instead I continued my experiments with Faber Castell products! BTW It’s definitely harder to pack when using pencils and markers but as I was driving I just threw all my sets (as shared previously) in a bag!

This mini-trip was the perfect opportunity to use these pencils and markers on a variety of subject matter. I generally carried around with me Albrecht Durer Watercolour Pencils (WCPs) and Pitt Artist Pens and often had to complete sketches later in the day when I had the Albrecht Durer Watercolour Markers handy.

I took a number of progress photos during the weekend and I’m happy to share these with you in this article so that you can see more of my thought process as I try to work out the best way to use these tools.


When I arrived in Newcastle at 2:30pm it was raining so I started to look for a cafe to visit. A nice relaxed cafe session would hit the spot but I then discovered that practically every cafe in town closes at 2pm! Instead, I bought an icecream and I sat in my car to sketch Newcastle Beach. I then went for a walk around Fort Scratchley.

The week before, I’d been experimenting with layering Pitt Artist Pens over Albrecht Durer Watercolour Pencils. Because of the waxiness of the WCPs the Pitt Pens (if applied over the pencil marks) can be moved around with a little bit of water. This is what I was testing in these two sketches. 

It was raining lightly during the second sketch and so I was standing up sheltering under a tree. Using pencils and markers is certainly more convenient than watercolour when sketching standing up. Here is a photo of my WCPs in the front pocket of my bag and my Pitt Pens in a pencil pouch.

The rain stopped and the sun came out so I decided to brave the strong cold wind and do another sketch of Fort Scratchley. (Hoping that the rain wouldn’t return!) I used the same technique and remembered to take a few progress photos! This photo shows how much WCP I applied for the first layer. Hmm, the wild weather certainly affected my pencil strokes didn’t it?

I then added some Pitt Pen and started to add a little water but I could feel a few drops of rain so abandoned it at this point.

Back at the hotel room I added a little bit more Pitt Pen and water and then did the sky with the Albrecht Durer Watercolour Markers. BTW I’m using an A4 hardbound Alpha and I decided that working this size is a little large for this technique. (Smaller is better for the Pitt Pens.) I was also not sure about the opacity caused by the WCPs when working this way.

But all in all this was a great little sketching session to kick off my Newcastle visit.


Most of the day was taken up with the workshops (or resting afterwards) but I did manage to do these two quick sketches. On the left, from my car before the workshop and on the right, part of the view from the back deck of my AirBnB.

The first sketch is done solely with Pitt Pens. In the second sketch I also used the Pitt Pens mostly but then layered over some WCPs (dark indigo) for the trees and then used an Ultramarine AD Watercolour Marker for the sky.


A full day for sketching… if I felt like it. I didn’t have a plan and just wanted to go with the flow!

I started with a lovely breakfast at Mockingbird Cafe on Beaumont St Hamilton. This is the perfect way for me to chill while getting my creative juices flowing. As you can see from this photo I used quite a lot of different Pitt Pens for this spread.

Here is a scan of the finished page. All Pitt Pens except for a little WCP for the sky and the coffee.

I filmed a short video showing how my finger gets used a lot for blotting when I’m sketching with Pitt Pens. Click here or on the image to view.

Next, it was time for a JimmyB sketch… 3 minutes for pencil setup lines

Then 17 minutes drawing. Hmm, I’m really out of practice doing big complicated buildings on location!

And then 10 minutes for colour. I really wish there were a few more subtle earth colours in the Pitt Pen range.

And then later in the day, I added a few more layers with the Pitts and also the sky using AD Watercolour Markers.

A walk along the harbour meant a super quick sketch (standing up) of a ship going out and then I ended up at another cafe for coffee. I decided to do a loose sketch of the complex view from my table.

After that I went for a walk and stopped to sketch another view of Nobbys Head in the distance. But I abandoned it early because:

1. I couldn’t find the Ivory Pitt Pen that I needed
2. I wanted to use the Watercolour Markers which I didn’t have with me.

So that evening I finished it off back at the AirBnB with the tools I wanted. Ah! so great to be testing these markers for complex/landscape scenes.

I wanted to try doing a marker version of the northern end of Bar Beach (a scene I did twice during my last visit) and once again I stopped early as I wasn’t sure I had the right tools with me.

Here is the final spread.

Hmm, really missing watercolour for these last two scenes.

My last sketch for the day was another of my favourite subjects in Newcastle- the silos at Carrington. This was really fun and I managed to complete this sketch on location (with exception of the sky which once again was done with the AD Watercolour Markers).

It was 3:30pm by this point and I’d been out sketching and walking since 8:30am. It was a super relaxed and chilled day – just doing whatever I felt like doing and so I was really pleased by how much sketching I managed to do. And over a few hours that evening, I comfortably finished off my pages.


Another lovely cafe session to start the day – this time at The Village on the other end of Beaumont St Hamilton.

I really enjoyed the challenge of getting a black for the cup using Dark Indigo and Walnut Brown Pitt Pens. The only WCP used in this sketch was a little Brown Ochre for the coffee and a little Ultramarine for the shadow under the saucer. (BTW No AD Watercolour Markers added to this page, just Pitt Pens.)

After this lovely breakfast, I left Newcastle – going home via Kurri Kurri. Stay tuned for my sketches from a wonderful morning of sketching there!

FInally, if you are wondering… watercolour will be returning soon! But in the meantime, I’m having a ball using markers and pencils and using them for this trip has given me a much clearer idea of their strengths and limitations.


  • Sydney Brown says:

    Very interesting post! Thank you. It is fun to see your progress with this different medium. You certainly have found a great way to render skies!

  • Jamie C says:

    I’m fascinated with these! It is always so helpful and inspiring to hear about your process, especially when using new tools!

  • Tina Koyama says:

    I’m really enjoying seeing your FC mixed media adventures, but wow, your bag looks so heavy (the one you had with you while sketching as well as your main bag)! That’s the main reason I stopped using markers years ago… they’re so heavy and bulky if you want a good range of colors. Even CPs can get heavy unless you are judicious in selection, which I have gotten much better at over the years. Anyway, I can see that you are having fun experimenting!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi TIna – the big bag was just for the car (and the workshop if needed) – so I took them ‘just in case’

      And as for my normal sketching bag… I just weighed my watercolour palette, water containers and brush (what I normally carry along with the WCPs but didn’t have with me last week) and compared to the pencil case of the Pitt Pens and guess what – the Pitt Pens weighed slightly less. So my bag was a little lighter than normal!

      But yes – reducing the number of markers one needs to take out is the big problem! 🙂

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