Sketching the same view in Surry Hills for the third time

March 23, 2017 | 13 Comments

Do you like sketching the same scene repeatedly, or are you someone who needs variety and can’t find inspiration in something you have already sketched?

If you don’t already know this, I am definitely in the first camp!

A few weeks ago, my great friend from Melbourne, Angela Williams, was in town. Due to a forecast of possible showers we decided to do a cafe-crawl in Surry Hills and ended up opposite Bourke St Bakery. This is the third time I have sketched from this location and bizarrely I have sat at a similar spot and done the same views each time – how uninteresting!

Sadly the lovely benches are gone ( you can see them here and here) and instead we (including Chris Haldane and Rooi) found ourselves sitting outside a construction site. Not quite as pleasant but still perfectly acceptable especially as there is the option of a ginger creme brulee tart from Bourke St Bakery – for morning tea. Oh! they are so incredibly good!

On this occasion my view to the left side of the intersection was very exploratory, mixing line and colour.

But when it came to sketching the bakery I decided that I needed to do something different. So I got out my small flat brush (Rosemary Series 222) and put some quick loose washes down first. Ah! I enjoyed this sketch.

Just for the record, these are the previous versions from this location – you can see them bigger here and here.

I am still keen to go back (not just for the cake!) and have another go and do something a lot more radical next time.

I personally find it very beneficial to re-do the same scene and push myself to get something different each time. What about you? Do you find inspiration in repetition or do you need to be always sketching something different?


  • Angela Williams says:

    What a lot of fun sketching with you that day Liz, and Chris and Rooi too. Thanks for managing to stop the showers by choosing the cafe crawl and inviting warm sunshine instead! The ginger creme brûlée tart was the best! I would be back there often for not only the architecture but also more tarts! We managed to fit breakfast morning tea and lunch into a great day in Surry Hills!

  • Carole Jurack says:

    Sorry, Liz, you totally lost me after the words “ginger creme brulee tart” … maybe you could round up the recipe for us! Anyway, now I will go back and read and devour the rest of your post!!! I personally like to sketch different things but I can see progress being made if I do more than one sketch of one thing! Guess that is how one learns! Great post.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Ha ha! I think its a guarded secret recipe! Totally understand your need for different things – its about finding a balance between variety and some disciplined practice

  • Chas says:

    I am in awe of the beautifully loose pen work in these sketches!

  • Kate Powell says:

    I have a few buildings I sketch repeatedly (the Greek Catholic Church in NW Portland comes to mind), and I also sketch the scene of industrial Cal-Bag with the big orange trucks outside my office window in all four seasons and many ways — If I am pushed and want a break there it is!

  • Glenn Tait says:

    What I’ve found is that the more I sketch something the more I understand the subject, it’s structure, forms, angles, and other relationships, the better my drawings turn out. This is a practice as old as the Renaissance. I have found that this type of repeated observational drawing has an added benefit in terms of recall. I can remember many details of an object and redraw it from memory to a satisfactory degree.

    • Liz Steel says:

      thanks Glenn – yes that is so true!! While I understand the need for variety, I think people miss out if they never sketch a subject a second time.

  • Frankye White says:

    I love the way that the color moves on these pages. Can you note which journal you are using for the sketches? It doesn’t have to be each time, but it helps me to see the options for sketching. Thank you for all the teaching you offer through your blog, and posting your work. I am very much a beginner, but hoping to use these “golden years” to move to novice status!

  • Corinne McNamara says:

    My husband and I eat frequently in a favorite restaurant, so when I have the sketching bug, I sketch whatever catches my eye. Subjects vary from the food and other diners to interior and exterior views, depending on where we sit. I hadn’t thought about the benefits of repeating until I read this post and looked at earlier sketchbook efforts. I have improved. Now, I care less about the people around me: the other diners rarely notice, but the servers know and peak at my work as they walk by. It’s become a comfortable place.

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