Summer Break 2019-2020: Part 1

December 30, 2019 | 4 Comments

I’m having a wonderful summer break at the moment – spending time with family and friends, doing some sorting and organising at home and fitting in a little bit of sketching.

Last week I changed sketchbooks (again!) finishing up an A4 landscape Hahnemuhle Watercolour book (which I loved) and started a square Global Hand Book Travelogue Watercolour book. These are very popular sketchbooks amongst my sketching friends but the paper hasn’t suited me in the past – see here for more details. I’ve been keen to revisit it as lately I’ve been developing different watercolour techniques to suit different paper.

(Note: The Hand Book sketchbooks now seems to be distributed by Speedball, so rather than calling it a Hand Book I think I will have to start referring to it as a Travelogue Watercolour Journal)

I haven’t had a lot of dedicated sketching time and it’s hard to fit it in when I’m around family, but my sketching diet (sketching everything I eat as I’m eating it) has been a great way to keep up my sketching and create colourful pages.

A busy day – quick morning coffee, shop and then drive to Mosman for an appointment. Home again (lunch) and then…

I drove back to Mosman for another appointment. I had a quick coffee while waiting for my car to be washed and the girl in the cafe put a loaf of bread on my table to sketch. I only had 20 minutes so it became a bit of a pressured situation. I’m always up for a challenge but it wasn’t quite the relaxed fill-in cafe visit I had planned.

At night I was playing with Quin Burnt Orange. It’s a colour that I used to have in my palette years ago and one that I know my friend Stephanie Bower loves.

My final work day of the year… so all I managed was sketching my food. I left my palette at home and so used my emergency colours for the first time. The silly thing is that I thought the ‘blue’ pan was a pthalo blue and added yellow to it. But it was in fact a pthalo turquoise and the pure colour would have worked perfectly. So instead I painted a green cup!

A rushed carpark sketch before a gym visit and more food. BTW I eat rather boring food generally so the challenge for me for the rest of the month is to make interesting compositions.

Christmas Eve

A lovely social visit to Goodfields! I sat at the communal table and before I had even opened up my sketchbook the woman opposite me asked “Are you Liz Steel?” We then have a great time talking about art and our mutual friends – Isabel is a painter. She also was a graphic designer and it was a real treat for me to watch her flip through my sketchbook and analyse the design of my pages. I put so much effort into the layout of my spread that it was really special to see someone pick up some of my design decisions. Thanks Isabel for a lovely morning!

In the afternoon I got an exciting package from friend Cecilia (from Hungary) with four of her beautiful Walkit sketching bags to test. I love them and can’t wait to start using them. Stay tuned for more – but on first impressions I’m impressed!

Christmas Eve dinner with my parents! So lovely to catch up with them, have a roast dinner and some of my mum’s yummy Xmas pudding!

Christmas Day
As my family was going to catch up on the 26th, I spent the day with Chris Haldane.

We caught the ferry to Manly which was lovely and quiet with dramatic skies (see below) and then had a nice brunch in a very crowded and busy cafe.

Afterwards we walked to the beach which was also very busy. While there were a number of tourists walking along the beach, there were a lot of locals having a quick swim before Xmas lunch.

There were many people on the beach wearing santa hats, I spotted an ugly Xmas sweater (minus the arms!) on a surfer, and was shocked to find a number of surf shops open for trading.

Manly was getting too busy for our liking with crowds getting off each ferry that arrived. So we decided to leave and return to Circular Quay. It was also packed with lots of people from non-Christmas cultures – it didn’t feel like Christmas at all. I did a quick SOH sketch and then had fun watching Chris work. BTW it was nice to sketch less on this day and spend time watching Chris’s wonderful wet-in-wet techniques.

When I got back to my own suburb around 4pm the place was deserted (even the Pacific Hwy was quiet!)

I didn’t have much time at home as I headed out at 6pm back to the city for church – our usual Mid-Week meeting. Light traffic meant I had some time to sketch from my car beforehand.

I normally take notes in a separate book but as I didn’t have that with me I wrote in my sketchbook. We didn’t have a Christmas message but instead our minister preached on the next verses in the series in Revelation 1 that he is doing at the moment. I was pretty amazed that this passage had two references to what I wrote about Christmas here on the blog last week – the importance of Sunday “being in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day” and the resurrected Christ “I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore.”

Back home and I tried to sketch a T2 mug on the Hand Book paper (oops, I mean the Travelogue Watercolour Book). Note: my teacup sketches are extremely dependent on the paper I use so I expected this sketch to become a watery mess… and indeed that is what happened.

Boxing Day

A quiet start to the day including another watery mess experiment and some architectural history reading. I have realised in the past week that when I truly switched my brain off from work I want to return to my old hobby of reading architectural history books – so a book on the Renaissance and a few on Venice was what I pulled out. Yes, I know, I’m somewhat unusual!

The ink drawing is a good example of what happens when you attempt to sketch a complex building without thinking about structure – something I explain in detail in SketchingNow Buildings. BTW although I’m having a week off, I’m really looking forward to starting the Group Run-through of this course in the new year!

Family Gathering:

Of all the crazy things to do, I somehow left home without my handbag (just my phone, keys and secondary bag with my sketchbook in it). This meant that I had to find my emergency sketch kit in the back of my car. I think I put this together 6 or 7 years ago and have never used it. Interesting that it contained Quin Burnt Orange. I did some swatches to see what was in the kit – the colours were fine but I was a little worried about how difficult it would be for me to use the thin fineliner on this textured paper. I intended to sketch my food but when all the family arrived, everything got too busy and I realised it would be too hard. So I didn’t end up sketching anything (including my food) during the gathering.

I know that I share bits about my sister and her family in Scotland, and if you did SketchingNow Edges then you would have met my dad… but apart from that I keep my family generally out of my blog. I have two brothers in Sydney and four nephews and two nieces. We always have a wonderful time catching up!

Here is a photo of the two youngest ones… I had a lot of fun with my littlest nephew this year.

That evening when I thought the crowds would have gone home I went out for a little bit of shopping. Two cups and saucers (at a reduced price) for coffee (not tea) and two pairs of shoes. Extremely tired but still I sketched at night.

A quiet breakfast at Goodfields – I’m still working out how best to use the paper. The high-pressured situation of sketching a hot breakfast is a good way to test it. And just for the record, I never let my food get too cold.

And then in the afternoon I went back into town to catch up with a friend – he was running late so it gave me a chance to do a quick sketch.

And then at night I did another version of my new shoes – final Ziera purchases. I was pretty happy to find two pairs of sneakers in my size amongst  all the piles of boxes in the closing down sale… but sad that the store where I have bought all my shoes for the last number of years is closed.

More food and a simple sketch of how I connected a pocket digital radio to old ipod speakers so I could listen to the cricket.

Note. One of the fun things about looking through my old sketchbooks and the summer period is all the random references to cricket. I’ve really stopped following it in recent years but decided that as it’s ‘the sound of summer’ and makes me think of holidays (and particularly sewing during summer break) it would be a nice thing to have on in the background.

Also… the thing I most enjoy about looking back on old sketchbooks is coming across the most random and everyday objects. They always bring back forgotten memories of daily life. So I want to start sketching more bits and pieces from my day.

A day at home sorting and snacking 🙂

BTW I absolutely love my new grey stoneware cup and saucer which I am using for my coffees at home.

and preparing for some sewing. I just have to review dress patterns and sort through my material next. Then I might finally get around to starting.

Well this has been a long post full of detailed descriptions of my low-key holiday week. It’s been a bit random and trivia in places, but I hope you have enjoyed it.

How did you go fitting in sketching into your busy schedule last week? I would love to hear from you in the comment section.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday week!



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