Roadtrip 2023: Happy with my decisions

August 25, 2023 | 20 Comments

This week I’ve been away exploring a number of historic towns in the Central Tablelands and returning to some places that I visited during my epic 6 week roadtrip in 2021. Technically this trip is not a roadtrip as I’m staying in the same accommodation all week and I’m simply driving to a different town each day.

In 2021 I covered a lot of ground and often only had an hour or two to spend in a place, so this year I’m taking it more slowly and really exploring each town. That has been really good!

So I’m happy with the relaxed pace of this trip!

My Sketchbook

I’m also happy with the decision I made about which sketchbook to use. If you missed it… last week I wasn’t sure whether to take the square or the 8×10″ softcover Alpha sketchbook. I decided on the 8×10″ – the size has been great to use and there are plenty of pages. I’ve been filling approximately 6 double page spreads in my book each day so I definitely won’t run out of room. (If I had used the square book this amount of sketching would have filled 8 or more spreads each day which would have been a problem!)

This size and format of sketchbook is giving me lots of options for combining different sketches on the one spread. And I have plenty of room for notes (this was one of my concerns about the square book).

Note: These sketches were done during lunch at Millthorpe. (I’ll share more about that next week when I’m back home.)


And here is another photo showing a spread made up of multiple images and the state of the table as I do my nightly homework.


My Materials

The other big decision I made on Day 2 of this trip was to limit myself to dry media! I did pack my watercolour gear but it’s staying in the car.

I know some of you only want to see my watercolour (don’t worry it will be returning soon!) but there are a number of reasons why I’m happy to have a watercolour-free trip…

  • I’m in a dry media phase at the moment and when I get home I want to continue to experiment with graphite and start to use the pastel pencils Faber Castell Australia sent me (see more here). So if I were to switch to watercolour for this trip it would be hard to return to these dry media next week.
  • I’m very interested to see if using dry media makes it easier to sketch when I’m travelling. It’s definitely easier to start a sketch and it’s more convenient  to sketch standing up when I don’t have to worry about paint. But will this change the amount or type of sketching I’m doing this week? (Stay tuned to find out!)
  • I have been tempted a number of times this week to get my watercolour out as I think in many instances it would have been easier for me. Sketching with watercolour is just so enjoyable and gives me lots of options. But I love a good challenge and using dry media this week has certainly been that at times.
  • I don’t mind the buckling of the paper in the Alpha sketchbook when I use watercolour in it (I like the ‘lived-in’ feel of buckled pages)… but as I’ve started this book with dry media I want to maintain the perfect flat pages for the rest of the book! 🙂
  • A break from watercolour will do me good and I’m hoping that when I return to painting I will have some new thoughts!

Looking forward to sharing my adventures with you next week when I’m back home!


  • Ginie Udy says:

    Looking forward to seeing and hearing more about this trip! And your explorations in dry media.

  • Lois Houston says:

    I’ve only recently discovered you and your painting and as a newbie artist, am very keen to watch both your watercolor and dry media work. You’re giving me the courage to try new things and not box myself in to one type of art! I love your loose, relaxed style and have been really enjoying learning from you. Hoping to take your teacups class this fall when life settles a bit. And I’m headed to the Grand Canyon and Zion Canyon in a few weeks – I can’t wait to do some sketching while I’m there!

  • Delia Mohlie says:

    So this is the first time I have seen a fixative spray can in a photo of your sketching supplies. Would like to hear about when and how you use it. I admit that I hate smudging, but wonder about what fixative to use and the pros and cons.
    (Loved your live Teacups course!)

  • Emily says:

    I’m heading to Scotland in a week and I’ve been going through my sketching kit deciding what to bring, and your thoughts have been really helpful! I’ve always loved sketching with colored pencils so I’m binging those but I’m also thinking I’ll do “homework”and do pencil/pen sketches and then add watercolor later, since it looks like rain is definitely in the forecast. 🙂

  • Patricia Wafer says:

    You are a woman after my own heart! Your post has reminded me I need to get in the car and go more while I am still relatively hale and hearty! For various reasons I can’t take as many week or two long trips per year as I might like. BUT there really is no reason why I cannot occasionally use my home as my base and make day trips for a 5 day stretch.

    I am very lucky to live in south central Wisconsin where there are scenic and interesting destinations with tons of sketching opportunities in any direction from Madison. Not quite as scenic as Australia (!) but due to the last ice age and the way the glaciers moved we have incredibly varied topography in a fairly small area. And lots of scenic small towns with history and character and interesting architecture. Reading about your travels in your part of Australia made me realize that now I am retired I can visit some great places where I have never sketched before.

    Thanks so much for inspiring me to make my own 5 day travel plan with my home as base camp! Next week the weather is supposed to be perfect so I will plan it out so as not to waste time and take a compact sketching kit so I don’t dither about what I am media I am going to use. I am doing the Foundations class now and am sure I can work my homework into the week. It seems that you are always very organized for your trips so I will take that as my guide! This is so exciting!! You have opened my mind yet again to think outside the box when it comes to where and how and when I can get out there and sketch. Thank you, Liz!!!

  • Jamie C says:

    Your travel sketchbooks are always so amazing and I absolutely love day trips from a central spot. It’s my favorite way to travel and explore. Looking forward to reading all about your adventures and how the dry media works. (A flat book when done? Crazy! Lol!) I see the fixative on your table, so I’d love to hear how that works for you, too!

    • Patricia Wafer says:

      I would also like to know how the Art Spectrum spray works for you with the above kit? I have only used it for soft pastel work and use an aerosol (Blair Low Odor which comes in small cans but should only be used outdoors) when I do graphite drawings. Art Spectrum is a better choice as it has no solvents. I have a small spray bottle made by them to help decrease the weight in my sketching pack. I also just today noticed that Art Spectrum now also has a refillable “aerosol” spray bottle which I am guessing has a bit of a finer spray than the usual one. Do you think that would be useful?

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Jamie and Patrica – I’ll share more about the Spectrafix later. Its good that its non toxic but not super effective.

  • Patricia Wafer says:

    Just now noticed your tiny pack of 1/2 artist crayons! Brilliant. I am guessing they are Neocolor II so they could make a sort of wash with a waterbrush if desired. I have a big plastic Art Bin box full of nearly every color that I sometimes drag around but it never occurred to me to pare it down to the most useful colors or break them in half to save even more room and weight. They are amazingly heavy for as small as they are I assume due to a stronger pigment to wax ratio than more generic crayons. You have travelling light yet with plenty of sketching gear down to a science! Thanks again for another great sketching kit idea!!

  • alexandra sirugue-mac leod says:

    Beautiful sketches and I am always excited to see you go through a dry material period ;))

    Thank you for all your work Liz!

  • Teresa Finch says:

    Back to time. 6 pages and homework?
    Please keep us updated on how to schedule the art work.

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