Last Week: New tools and new ideas

August 17, 2022 | 8 Comments

Last week wasn’t the most exciting in terms of subject matter but it was significant due to new tools/techniques and new ideas.

The Faber Castell products that I used…

  • I started the week using coloured pencils (Polychromos) under the Albrecht Durer Watercolour Markers (AD Markers)
  • After a few days I switched to combining the Albrecht Durer Watercolour Pencils with the AD Markers
  • And then I changed markers and started using the Pitt Artist Pens (on their own and with a little coloured pencil)

I’ll comment more specifically on each combo when I share the full double-page spreads below. (If you missed it, I’m exploring different Faber Castell products as part of #Colour4life 2022 and as prep for a workshop I’m teaching next week.)

As for the new ideas…

I’ve been very aware for the last few weeks that the subject matter in my sketches is extremely repetitive. Most mornings I go out for a takeaway coffee and then I sit in the sun somewhere in the Village Green area and do a sketch while sipping my coffee. So my sketches are either of the lift building, the cafe, one of the two rotundas or the Spanish Mission building that faces the Green. Lately, it seems to be the lift building that is my go-to subject and it’s become similar to my old routine of sketching my morning coffee.

As I’ve mentioned previously on the blog, local sketching is all about finding somewhere comfortable to sit and then searching for something to sketch (see article here). This means on busy days I simply repeat views I’ve done before. It’s not so much about the result as it is the act of getting my hand moving and my creative juices pumping at the start of my work day. And of course, the morning sun and caffeine are important too!

I know that if I brought a seat with me I then would have many more options but as I often do a quick supermarket visit after my sketch I don’t want to have to carry anything extra. Maybe I should sketch standing up? But I can’t do that while I’m drinking a coffee – so maybe coffee and sun first and then sketch? Hmm, what other options do I have?

And then on Friday night, I went to an exhibition opening that was super inspiring in regard to these thoughts.

Richard Briggs was commissioned by Marrickville Metro to do two murals depicting local scenes and involving the community in the project.

Here is a little more about the project.

To do this he spent 1 month sketching in the streets of Marrickville and even made a cart as a way to connect with the locals and find out where their favourite places in the suburb were. How cool is that?

And he then combined the images into two composite images for the murals (another 1.5 months worth of work). I’m yet to see these murals so a return visit to Marrickville is on the cards.

As for Richard’s original individual sketches – they are beautiful open-ended line drawings (a lot of continuous lines) that tell really special stories about the people and places of Marrickville.

So incredibly effective! You can imagine how inspiring it was for me and how it ties into my thoughts earlier in the week about my own local sketching.

Congrats Richard on a truly impressive body of work. Check out more on his Instagram account.

I’m now thinking about how to more intentionally document my local area and how to fit this into my typical work day.

As for my sketches last week…

AD Markers and coloured pencils to start the week. A broken cup (it’s one of my coffee cups so not quite as important as my teacups) and I was playing with creating backruns/blooms.

On the next day, after doing my morning VIllage green sketch, I decided to start using watercolour pencils (Albrecht Durer pencils) instead of coloured pencils (Polychromos)

I particularly like the texture in the grass area here.

As I wrote on the page “Ah! feels great using AD WCPs again… like old friends.”

Detail showing the fun effects of the watercolour pencils and watercolour markers combined.

Then I tested this combo at Lane Cove National Park.

Another detail showing more fun textures. Lots to explore!

At night I did two Australian Architecture sketches and experimented using the WCPs to modify the colours of the markers (focusing on earth tones).

But my favourite part in this spread is the marker work on the road.

A busy overcast day – so a cafe visit, a few swatches and some second-hand books.

Once again I’m very interested in the combo of the WCPs and watercolor markers… but just to be different I added some Pitt Pen to the shadow areas on the saucer.

And then almost out of the blue I put the WCPs and watercolour markers again and switched gears entirely – using only Pitt Brush Pens for colour.

I really love the crisp hard edges of these permanent markers and they remind me of my architect days.

Driving around Marrickville (in fading light) trying to find a spot to park and a view to sketch. This wasn’t particularly exciting so I stopped early.
Added coloured back home and I was pleased with the grey in the sky (combining Ultramarine and Beige Red).

It was fun to do the texture to the hedge and some different layers of colour under the gable.

I then drove to the gallery where Richard’s exhibition was and sketched in the car until it was dark. (Colour added back home.)

I could add more layers to this but it’s a good record of my exploration of mark-making and getting to know the colours of these Pitt Brush pens.

Saturday: In some ways I think that markers are easier to use than watercolour for the rotunda and background building. I enjoyed the challenge of a teacup and exploring more layering with two gum leaves.

I was using rapid strokes for this sketch but know that if I slow down I can achieve a more solid colour.

Close up of the leaves.

It was a nice day so I decided to go down to Lane Cove National Park for a bit. I added a little bit of WCPs first and then put the Pitt Pen over the top. This is exactly the same way I did my Greenwood sketches last year – though for those sketches I was using Copic markers instead of the Pitt Pens.

I was also experimenting with smudging the colour with a finger – this has to be done immediately!

There is something very special about the colour in these Pitt Pen sketches and it’s very nice not to have any buckling of the paper as well. I intend to continue with the Pitt Pens this week… but who knows what I will try next.



  • You have inspired me to go out with my sketchbook and capture my city. I do not have markers but I have polychromos so I guess I’ll have to make it work. Thanks for the inspo

    • Liz Steel says:

      HI Sandra, Great to hear!!!! It doesn’t matter what tools you use, the important thing is to get out sketching 🙂

  • Sheila Pallotta says:

    I understamd the issues for you with this, but I would really like to know how you would compare the COPIC markers and the Pitt pens.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Sheila, Copic have the major issue of bleed through so not really sketchbook friendly but they do create smoother coloured shapes and have a bigger range of colours. Pitts are great for using in sketchbooks but don’t fill areas as easily. Also colour range is limited.

  • Jamie C says:

    So inspiring! I’m loving all your explorations and experiments and seeing the results!

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