Norfolk Island Part 4: Establishing a Rhythm?

November 12, 2015 | 8 Comments

Continuing my series of posts from my recent trip to Norfolk Island.
Part 1: Summary of my Trip
Part 2: Unplugging and having time to think
Part 3: Struggles with a new sketchbook

So after four days of trying to work out what I was doing, on the Friday (Day 5) everything seemed to come together! I did this quick sketch during my morning walk while it was blowing a gale and the lighting was constantly changing. Challenging conditions but the sketch just happened!

I then headed to Cascade Pier on the north side of the island, the only other place where there are no steep cliffs so they could build a pier here for delivery of freight – a vitally important part of island life! Another crazy loose sketch sitting in the full sun.

I then opened up the Pentalic sketchbook and drew the scene looking the opposite direction. Here you can see the road weaving down to the coast and the cliffs of the North Coast of Norfolk Island. Using the approach I had worked out the day before, I applied loose washes across the whole scene and then let it dry. Later that day, back in my cottage, I added a second pass.

Oh! I forgot… at the start of the day I did some experiments sketching the Norfolk pine trees I could see from my cottage. I wasn’t particularly excited by any of those, but that helped me decide that I wanted to do more painted versions rather than trying to draw a loose version first in ink or watercolour pencil.

Although I had already done my quota the day, I couldn’t help myself during my afternoon Kingston walk. Just for the record, it is hilarious that all the buildings in Kingston are painted ‘Naples Yellow’ and that was the colour I recently took out my palette.

Just as well I had a little container with some backup colours – this included Naples Yellow and Perylene Green! This scene describes two iconic forms of the convict settlement on Norfolk Island.

Although you might not be able to distinguish between the roofs and walls and chimneys, I’m happy that this single view describes the Georgian house in front and the military barracks behind – three buildings surrounded by stone walls.  The single line on the top half of the sketch represents Rooty Hill Road behind.

And yes, paint first for the pine trees was the way to go!

I then walked to my favourite spot (the buildings around Kingston Pier) and sketched this collection with pitched roofs. Sketching across the spine of a book is a pain at times… but really the smaller book was the right decision for this trip.

And then finally once I got back to my car I had to sketch the view from the drivers seat! This shows three important rocky features – Nepean Island, Philip Island and the rhinoceros rock! After working out a supposedly theory for using this Pentalic sketchbook, I managed to do 95% of this sketch at the time and only needed to add a few darks later. I’m pretty happy with this sketch, and very glad that I didn’t give up on the sketchbook like I was tempted to do a few days earlier.

Day 6: As I had doubled my quota on Friday, I decided Saturday had to be sketch-free. As Sunday is my day of rest and worship, I could get two sketch-free days in a row. I managed a lengthy walk in the morning without opening my sketchbook, but didn’t achieve that during my afternoon walk! However, I hope that using my right hand gets me off the hook!

I haven’t done any non-dominant hand sketching for a while, so it was exciting to achieve this much control. I was amazed by how easy it felt and reminded once again how important observational skills are and how getting the relationships right is more important than the control I achieved with each individual line.

Day 7: Sunday. A day of rest and worship!

Day 8: Monday – it was time for an adventure to the north coast of the island, the monument marking where Captain Cook discovered Norfolk Island. Sketching in full sunlight is never a good idea, let alone when the lighting is changing dramatically and landscapes are not your specialty. Sometimes I wish I did a thumbnail first to work out the values, this was one of those occasions. But had fun anyway and the whole point of my sketching for this trip was quick and no pressure – certainly not too planned or too carefully finished pieces.

It was then time for morning tea, the first time that I had had tea and cake all trip. Shock horror! Devonshire tea is a big thing here, but Bedrock Tea Gardens do not serve scones, so I had to settle with lemon tart instead. Do you realise that I had just gone a complete week without sketching a cup of tea?

The view from the cafe was spectacular, so I thought I would do a sketch in the Pentalic sketchbook and once again relied on a second pass to finish the sketch. Later that afternoon I tried to complete both passes out on location but was not happy with the result. I pulled out a book to read mid sketch as something to do while I waited for the first pass to fully dry but that just disrupted my flow. The size of the book is too small for me to tackle a scene like this. You live and learn!

Somehow my sailor pen with brown ink made its way back into my kit and I did this quick sketch of the Main Street while waiting for my lunch. I really wanted to sketch some of the real life here on the island, but I was afraid I would go into ‘normal sketching mode’ (ie. non-stop sketching!)  if I attempted that in ink and wash, but maybe I could manage a few quick line drawings like this one.

And then finally while I was doing my usual evening walk up to Kingston Pier, I sketched that pier building yet again.

Sigh! What happened to my limit of three sketches per day?


  • Kevin Carter says:

    I wish my 'good paintings' were half as good as your 'bad paintings.' You are so skilled. Lovely work as always.

  • Liz Steel says:

    thank you! Great to hear of your email-free Sunday….I have never done any work on Sunday (my whole life)… it is the secret to a lot of things in my life.

  • Liz Steel says:

    Hi Kevin… I have done a lot of bad paintings in the past. I tried to get them out of the way as quickly as I could! Actually no matter what stage you are in developing your craft you will always have successful and unsuccessful results – the bar moves higher but it is always still there.

  • Unknown says:

    Liz, thank you for posting all of these sketches along with your thoughts, the weather conditions, etc. I like your response to Kevin. Get them out of the way—yes! 🙂 Your curiousity and interest in trying new approaches are inspiring. Jennifer

  • Barkleigh2 says:

    What fun to share your holiday and wonderful sketches with my morning coffee, when I go through my email. I'm taking your idea to have an email-free day on Sundays, too. I appreciate your blog efforts so much!

  • Liz Steel says:

    thanks Jennifer!!!!!

  • LN says:

    Absolutely LOVE these paintings of Norfolk Island. Never have I ever fallen in love with artwork of my hometown as much as these!!

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