Roadtrip2023: Blayney and Bathurst

September 4, 2023 | 8 Comments

The next morning was overcast so I headed into Blayney for breakfast.


Blayney was the closest town to the farm (15 minutes drive away) and consisted of a wide main street with an interesting variety of buildings. I didn’t actually get around to sketching the view down the main street so I’ll have to leave that for next time.

I was more interested in sketching the sides/backs of buildings!


Here is the side of the church which you can see in the above photo.

It was a dark overcast morning with flat lighting so I didn’t want to use colour for my sketch. I also didn’t feel like using ink so I grabbed a Castell 9000 pencil and did this drawing. It was quick and loose and I enjoyed it a lot!


Next, I drew the back of the courthouse. This is a JimmyB (James Barnet) building so of course I wanted to sketch it.

I thought to myself: Maybe if the sun came out later in the day I would sketch the front of the building but really the back is more interesting. 🙂


Here is the full spread showing my two graphite sketches.

Then it was time to head to Bathurst.



I didn’t have a plan for what I wanted to sketch at Bathurst and somehow I ended up at a cafe for my second coffee for the day! It has a view of some silos so I started sketching it as a way of testing some layering techniques.

I intended to sketch some buildings along Keppel Street but realised that I had left my secondary bag behind at the cafe so ended up wasting a bit of time going back for it and didn’t get to sketch anything.

I popped into Officeworks and bought a set of Graphite Aquarelle as I had been thinking about them the day before in Millthorpe. But as I decided to make this a dry media sketchbook I didn’t actually use them.


After a little more wandering around (it was a beautiful sunny day and I was in the mood for walking) I sat down at a picnic table and did a quick 15-minute sketch of this Uniting church.


The main reason for coming to Bathurst was to see the courthouse. This building which is considered one of James Barnet’s masterpieces was under scaffolding last time I was here. So I had to visit and sketch it, didn’t I?

The funny thing was that I didn’t really feel like sketching the whole building (more suited to a landscape-formatted sketchbook). So I decided to zoom in on the central area and dome, saying to myself ‘give it 10-15 mins’…


And in 15 minutes’ time, this was the result!

I’m able to do these super quick sketches of complex buildings because over the years I’ve specifically developed techniques for looking at buildings in a way that makes them easier to sketch. For these two sketches, I was looking for the main volumes first. This is the most important skill to have for sketching buildings of any kind and it forms the foundation of my Buildings course. I’m hosting a Live Version of this course starting in early October. More details coming soon!


Here is the finished spread showing the two building sketches.


More walking around and another coffee. (Note: I don’t usually have three coffees in a day.)

I was very excited to find a coffee shop that was open at 2:30pm – a rarity in this part of the world. I drank my coffee in my car while sketching the other side of the road.


Back at Blayney

Back at Blayney, I considered drawing the front of the JimmyB courthouse… but I decided that I wanted to find a landscape to sketch.

One of the difficulties, when I’m travelling through country areas, is finding spots from which to sketch the farming areas. I’m mainly driving on narrow country roads with no safe places to pull over. And so on this trip, I started driving around the outskirts of towns to see if there were any sketchable views.

In Blayney there was a nature walk with a few benches but the views were not that exciting…


…so I decided to use this sketch as a place to experiment with different techniques using watercolour pencils, graphite pencils and markers.

This was an occasion when a bit of watercolour would have been good. However, I’d made the decision to stick with dry media so this was a good exercise for me.


Another great day although I didn’t feel as if I sketched much in Bathurst. Ah! it’s always good to leave stuff for another trip!


  • Ginie Udy says:

    Hi Liz,
    I’m following this trip with interest. Mainly because my husband, Chris and I used to live in Lithgow (he was the minister at the Uniting Church there.) My brother lives in O’Connell (half an hour out of Bathurst) and Chris’ sister and her husband live in Bathurst and go to the Bathurst Uniting Church. So I’m super chuffed that the Uniting Churches in Lithgow and Bathurst have made it into your sketchbook!

  • Ruth Bosveld says:

    Great sketches, Liz. I especially love this style of yours.

  • Patricia Wafer says:

    Loved seeing some graphite sketches! The John Blockley Retrospective book arrived this weekend and while the paintings are great what I love most are his graphite sketches. Very inspirational. I have had the same problem finding safe places for pulling off the road to get more long vistas of farmland & woods. But usually can find one that has very little traffic so I feel safer. Once I had pulled over and while I was sketching a county officer of some kind pulled over and I thought maybe I was in trouble! But no, he just wanted to see my pastel drawing and it turned out he was the brother of a nurse I had worked with. Some Hell’s Angels on motorcycles also stopped to see my drawing and were very nice. You never know who you will meet sketching on the road!

    Do you have any advice about hatching with pencils? Any other posts about it? Other than just practice, practice, practice?

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Patricia,
      Yes JB’s pencil works are amazing. As for graphite sketching – I’m still working on that so nothing to share at the moment 🙂

  • Jamie C says:

    Your graphite sketches are inspiring me to finally try that medium. As much you had to talk yourself into that Jimmy B sketch, it’s certainly stunning. Such great depth!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Jamie – yes I’m loving the feel of graphite pencils so much (especially the Castell 9000) and it is funny about the JimmyB building isn’t it – sometimes you just have to talk yourself into starting!

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