Quick sketches during three family outings

July 12, 2023 | 14 Comments

As I mentioned last week my sister and family (who live on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland) are visiting for a month. I’m having a lot of fun going on various day outings with them and whenever there is the slightest opportunity I sneak in a quick sketch! I’m mainly using ink and coloured pencils (in the last week I’ve switched to watercolour pencils) and on occasions, I add a little bit of watercolour over the top back home.

Using paint is just not an option for these types of outings as I never know when we will be moving on! As much as I love watercolour, it is a bit of a barrier to sketching (getting the palette out etc and then worrying about wetness on the page if the call comes that it’s time to go.

It’s so amazing to be with my sister and family again so sketching is definitely a lower priority at the moment. But having said that I’m happy with what I’ve managed to do and the record I have in my sketchbooks of some really fun times!

Here are my sketchbook pages from three recent family outings…


Two quick sketches on Rocky Island and one done sitting on Edwards Beach while my sis went for a swim!

Botanic Gardens and the Art Gallery

The sketch on the left was my usual morning coffee and sketch and then we headed into the City. I knew that the kids would enjoy climbing over these blocks so I was ready to start sketching as we approached it. I had 7 minutes for this sketch and was originally thinking that I would add paint over the top… but in the end, I decided to leave it ‘dry’.

BTW I normally add watercolour paint (rather than just water) over watercolour pencils as it creates a more lively result.

At the succulent garden, I sat down as soon as we walked into the area and started sketching. I had a few minutes while the family did the circuit. Once again I intended to add paint but liked it as it was.

I decided not to go into the Garden Shop so sat on a wall with my nephew. This scene was a bit too ambitious for the time frame that we had – I drew all the lines and started to add colour. I finished the sketch in a few minutes back home.

We then spent a few hours in the Art Gallery of NSW – both the north and the south building. We were on the move too much for me to attempt any sketching apart from two shields that my nephew told me to draw!

The family then headed to the Museum without me, so I had time to have a coffee and do this quick sketch of the Art Gallery.

Blue Mountains Day Trip

The next day we went up to the Blue Mountains with my brother’s family as well (he has four children under 12). I knew that sketching would be very limited and that we would do some walking so I took a few things out of my bag that I knew I wouldn’t need (this included my watercolour stuff – palette, brushes, water containers). I was shocked to discover that I removed over 700 grams! My bag felt a lot lighter! I also decided that I would have my markers handy as it takes time to apply colour with watercolour pencils (WCPs)

Our first stop was Sublime Point – it was very cold with a strong wind so the gang did not want to hang around. So I’m very pleased with how much I got down in addition to taking a few photos.

The second stop was a picnic area and I got a little time to sketch one of the quirky fibreglass rock picnic table enclosures. My nephew discovered that it was easy to climb so soon others joined him.

I took them to Elysian Rock Lookout that I had discovered last December and as I expected. we had the place to ourselves. There are two lookouts so I decided to stay at the first one to maximise sketching time.

I did two quick sketches, one of Mount Solitary ((ink. marker and WCP done at the time, watercolour added back home) and one of Elysian Rock which I didn’t get to finish but decided to leave it as it was. Back home I added a map of our adventures.

After lunch, we headed to Katoomba…

The Three Sisters from Katoomba Falls Lookout (ink and WCP done at the time, watercolour added back home) and a quick line drawing of Orphan Rock.

And then we visited a playground which I didn’t bother to sketch.

We all had a wonderful day and I was pleased by the amount of sketching I managed to sneak in while still being very actively involved with the kids.

And finally here is a photo of my nieces and nephews – I feel so blessed to have these six special children in my life.


  • Susanna says:

    What a wonderful time you are having with your family! I especially love the sketch of the 3 Sisters- very effective using ink & WCP then adding watercolor later.
    The clouds are particularly striking!! Did you use some sort of resist?

  • Karen Isenhower says:

    What an adorable set of cousins! Yes, you are blessed indeed. Thanks for taking us along. It’s fun to see how you find a way to fit in some quick sketching. It inspires me to look for those opportunities when doing things with family. Your spreads make a sweet record of special times.

  • Doug Allen says:

    Looks like a wonderful day out, and, Great looking kids to sketch as well!
    Thankyou for that Liz,
    God Bless.

  • Barbara Joan Paolucci says:

    I Liz I really enjoyed this email. I’m ready to go on a three month journey across the United States to see many national parks. I took your schedule book design class to help me organize my travel journal. I played with many tools to bring on the trip and have decided on a color palette. I absolutely love the idea of sketching in watercolor pencils while on our hikes. Thank you!

    Glad you’re enjoying your visit with your sister and the kids. Family is amazing and a true blessing and joy.

  • Barbara Joan Paolucci says:

    Sketch book design*

  • Sylvie Jalbert says:

    Liz, you are a very inspiring coach for me! And your nieces and nephews are very charming. They are, I am sure, blessed to have a aunt like you!

  • I love how you were able to adjust your sketching style enough that you were able to capture something on paper while still being actively involved in the family moments.

  • Jamie C says:

    What a wonderful family vacation to have! So much fun! I’m taking notes on how you are managing the quick sketches on such a busy timetable, as I tend to not sketch and always wish I had!

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