I'm still super inspired to sketch my local area!

August 24, 2020 | 6 Comments

Rather than getting tired of sketching the same local buildings over and over, I’m actually feeling increasingly inspired!

A big part of this is the fact that I have created a daily habit for myself, and regardless of the demands of my work day, I’m finding that around 2pm I just go out and sketch. As mentioned previously, I simply choose a place to sit and then search for a view to sketch.

As I’m sketching the same scenes (mainly buildings) over and over again, I’m having to spend more time thinking before I start and this discipline of searching for something new to record is a big part of my increasing inspiration. It’s pushing me creatively! I’m also finding that I’m more comfortable sitting in really obvious (and slightly strange)locations. For more on these issues please check out my previous article: How everyday sketching differs from dedicated sketching outings and why it’s often harder!

In my last everyday sketching article I was raving about how much I was loving the A4 Moleskine Watercolour portrait format book, and this feeling continued. But something surprising happened as I was close to finishing it. Keep reading to find out more!

Urban Sketching in my local area

There are two churches which I want to sketch on the Pacific Hwy – a busy 6 lane main road. I’ve been avoiding them as the only places to sit are highly visible and close to the traffic. Not a very relaxing spot! But on this day I was determined to sketch the Lindfield Presbyterian Church.

I found a bench to sit on (an old bus stop) but it was a little too close to the road for me to feel at ease with my sketch. The cars were whizzing past me!

Next time I’ll find a better spot to sit!


It was a wet day so I went back to one of the few spots I can sit undercover – the taxi rank with a view of St Albans.

I’ve sketched from this spot so many times that initially I didn’t know what to do. And then it suddenly struck me that I’ve been totally ignoring the detail at the top of the tower. So that was my focus for this loose wet version.

The next week it was sunny and super warm (22C is amazing for mid winter). I sat on the grass verge (a highly visible spot but about 2m away from people walking past) with this great view of the Uniting Church.

A few weeks ago I wasn’t as comfortable sitting in such an obvious (and a bit weird) location, but now I’ll sit anyway. I had a number of fun conversations with people passing by and that is exactly the buzz I need during my post-lunch sketch and walk. The perfect way to get motivated to grind through my work for the rest of the afternoon.

I went a little crazy and did two experimental direct watercolour (paint only) versions of the Uniting Church. I didn’t quite get what I was hoping for so that just means I can try again next week!

Back at the Uniting Church… Having fun with a direct watercolour (paint-only) version on this occasion.

I suddenly realised that I’ve been sketching a lot of churches lately. This is because they are the most complicated buildings in my suburb and always have such good volumes. (If you don’t know, looking for the underlying volumes is a super important technique for sketching buildings.)

So it was time to change building type and sketch a shop! This is what I wrote at the time about this sketch:

Sometimes I don’t have a plan. I just start and let the sketch evolve as I work. It’s such a fun and no pressure way to sketch. I didn’t even realise that I was sketching the top of the bookstore until mid way through the sketch. Working this way – making it up as I go – is a great way to relax in the middle of a busy workday.

Sketchbook Spreads

I’ve also been having lots of fun designing my sketchbook pages and this portrait format has worked well for me.

Sketching objects from home

And finally… I’ve been trying to sketch more objects from home!

This particular sketch of a pot plant was an experiment for my tree sketching week (see here for more about that) and was a combination of blind contour lines and loose watercolour strokes. This sketch was combined on a fun spread with other random objects summarising my day. It made me ponder why I don’t do more pages like this on a more regular basis.

Therefore I want to start combining my urban sketching with some bits and pieces from home – objects which somehow are related to the story of my day. For some reason that has been feeling hard to do inside the A4 Moleskine Watercolour book. As mentioned recently (here and here), I’m absolutely loving this sketchbook for my on location sketches of my local area, but the ‘good paper’ does seem to create a barrier for me doing more quick sketches.

And so, as much I’ve loved using the Moleskine sketchbook, by the time I had reached the end of the book (early last week) I felt that I needed to go back to Stillman and Birn Alpha again. There is no doubt that using these bigger books with true watercolour paper has helped me take my everyday sketching more seriously, to make my everyday sketching more like my travel sketching. Earlier in the month I was so happy with the Moleskine that I ordered a few more, so in some ways I’m extremely surprised by this feeling that I need to ‘downgrade’ my book back to Alpha. But ultimately I know that mixing it up whenever the mood strikes me is a great way to keep my creative juices flowing.

I’m super interested to see whether using better sketchbooks for the two months (this Moleskine book and a Hahnemuehle book) will have any impact on the results which I can get on the more ‘casual’  drawing paper of the Alpha book.



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