Roadtrip2023: Millthorpe

September 1, 2023 | 2 Comments

On the second day of my trip I headed to the lovely historic town of Millthorpe. Back in 2021, to quote from my blog article at the timeI made the decision not to explore it in full or to sketch too much. (Leave it for another trip!)”

I remember thinking that the buildings with verandahs on the main street were tricky to draw – and indeed they are! ‘Verandah-ed’ main streets were a major theme of this trip!

Another theme was finding a cafe that was open!

In most of the small towns I visited, some of the cafes were only open from Thursday-Sunday and typically only open until 2:30pm! So the two great Millthorpe cafes that I visited in 2021 were closed on this particular Tuesday but thankfully there was a Providore that was serving coffee and food.


After getting a takeaway coffee I sat down on the outdoor furniture of the Old Mill Cafe (closed) and started drawing the view. Back in 2021 I developed a number of techniques for sketching these types of buildings more quickly and so this view was a good way of getting me back into the groove.

The things that I look out for are:

  • the proportions of each bay,
  • foreshortening,
  • the positions of windows in relation to the verandah posts and
  • the corners of the verandah in relation to the corners of the buildings.

Notice that I didn’t include perspective in this list! That’s because these other aspects are more important.

BTW these are the concepts that I explain in detail inside my  SketchingNow Buildings. And I’m hosting a Live Version of this course in a few week’s time. Look out for more details next week!

But to get back to my Millthorpe sketch…


Here is the finished sketch – after 15 minutes of colour done on location and the sky added later that day.

Before I get on to the rest of my Millthoorpe sketches I just want to go on a tangent and share some thoughts about documenting the time a sketch takes.

When I’m out sketching I normally take a photo of the scene before I start and then a photo when I stop. In addition, I sometimes take a few progress shots but most of the time I’m in the zone and forget to do that. The main reason why I take the start and end photos is simply to record the time taken for each sketch. This is not because there is inherent merit in working fast (and if you are a beginner sketcher my advice would be to slow down a lot!) but because having an accurate idea of how long it will take me to sketch a scene is a good way of planning my day when I’m travelling.

Additionally, on this particular trip, I was interested in working out whether working with dry media was quicker or slower than ink and wash. And so I’m sharing the time taken (when I know what they are) so that it will help me analyze further dry vs. wet media for urban sketching.

For this sketch, I actually forgot the starting photo but my guess is that it took me 20-30 minutes to draw the scene. 


After tackling a difficult scene I decided to try something simpler – so this cute house was perfect!

This time I took a starting photo but not a finishing one… so my guess is that it took me about 10 minutes.

I started a second house sketch (which you can see below) and then it started raining so I started walking back up the main street. The rain stopped and I decided it was time for another street scene.


I had the urge to do a graphite sketch so I used a 2B and 4B Castell 9000 for this standing up on a street corner. This is as far as I got before the rain started again. (It was one of those days!)


And here is a scan of the sketch. I think this took me about 10 minutes to do and I really enjoyed using the graphite (despite a few smudges on the page!) It also made me think that I should revisit using the Aquarelle Graphite pencils by Faber Castell as well.


I walked the length of the main street again and found a bench under a verandah to do a fude pen version looking up the main street. Notice the house with the blue doors on the right of this sketch.

Note 1: It started pouring with rain during this sketch – I loved the way that I heard the rain on the corrugated iron roof of the verandah before I saw it.
Note 2: There were lots of benches in Millthorpe with great views for me to sketch from.


It was then time to have lunch so I went back to the Providore for a bowl of soup and another sketch!


I’m getting used to all those skinny verandah posts now!

As I looked through my sketches I was really happy with what I had achieved in 3 hours in Millthorpe and especially the way they describe the main part of this lovely town. Numerous buildings are included in different sketches and if I were to put them in a sequence they would describe the spaces in a logical manner.


Finally here are all the pages from my visit to Millthorpe…

Ah! what a lovely town and what a productive sketching session!

Millthorpe is definitely being added to my list of most sketchable towns in NSW. All the verandahs and benches make it even more sketcher-friendly!


  • Jamie C says:

    Beautiful sketches! I think I’m in love with Millthorpe now, too! I’m really enjoying the textures you are getting out of your dry media, especially for those verandas and the cloudy skies. I can see how all those practice sketches of your local green have utterly blossomed into creating these wonderful sketches when you are traveling.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Jamie! It was great to finally test these techniques with some other scenes than the boring Village Green! 🙂 And yes Millthopre is amazing!

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