Teacup Gifts... and a question for you

August 11, 2021 | 52 Comments

Last week I used the theme of Gifts to help me decide which teacups to use and sketch.

By gifts, I mean cups that have been given to me, including teacups I inherited from relatives who have passed away. There are more gifts than what I was able to get through last week, but it was a fun theme as it made me think of people and events.

I’m wanting to have a few more themed weeks while this current Sydney lockdown lasts. Keep reading for some of my ideas and a question for you!

Teacup Gifts….

Moonlight Roses by Royal Albert which belonged to my Auntie Lexie.

The first fine china teacup that I was gifted from my friend V – Hong Kong Blue by Coalport. This cup has a very plain saucer so I used the pattern on the plate and made an improvement to the design. Ha!

You can see other versions of this cup here.

A gift from the Tea Centre store in Sydney – Jardin Peony by Ashdene. For some reason, I’m yet to do a sketch that does it justice.

My second most precious cup and one that I love very much – Shelley Trees and Sunset. It belonged to my Nanna. This cup has a very distinctive shape (requiring that you hold it at a weird angle so that you can drink out of a long side) and is made of very fine china.

It was a real treat to get this out of its storage box and use it last week.

My only German teacup(Royal Bayreuth) – a gift from Steve in the Bay Area. Thanks Steve… I’m happy that I safely managed to get it home in one piece.

This is a plastic cup that was bought by Marji in Chicago (thank you!) so I could use it for a demo at the Urban Sketchers Symposium. This is a really fun pattern to sketch loosely.

A loose and watery version of a fine detailed paisley design. It was a busy day so this was all that I could manage.

This cup (T2 Mystic Carpet Ride – Sapphire) was bought using a gift voucher from a lovely participant of our Palladian Odyssey tours – thanks N!

And there you have it – 7 teacup gifts.

Other gifts include:

  • Jane McGrath cup last sketched here
  • Crazy birds blue (with Peacock) here
  • The original 100 years cups were bought using gift vouchers
  • Fruity cup (see here)
  • and more!

On Friday I broke the theme just simply because I had a piece of cake…

… so Old Country Roses it was. This is possibly the most popular pattern out there so it’s a little cliche… but oh, so much fun to sketch. I paired it with the 100 years 1980’s plate. (Hmm, haven’t sketched the matching cup yet during this project)

As for potential future teacup themes…

Here are a few ideas that I have but I would love to hear what you think:

  • Go through each colour – yellow, pink, blue, green etc
  • My favourite cups to use
  • My favourite cups to sketch
  • Hardest cups to sketch
  • Easiest cups to sketch
  • Cups with inside patterns
  • Flutes and scallops

What theme do you want me to explore?

Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
(If you are reading this via email, please click on the article title link below and add a comment on my blog – thanks!)


  • Judi Moline says:

    I would love to see a series on interiors: interior doors, windows, room corners, interior architectural elements. For those of us housebound, it would inspire us to try interesting and challenging sketches. Thank you for seeking opinions!

  • Sandie Ingram says:

    Just enjoy any cups you sketch. Especially enjoyed the last in this blog. Beautiful design. The written border gives a lacy effect that enhances the plate! Know the lockdown is miserable. I remember not being able to get out here!

  • Nina Snyder says:

    Maybe sketch your oldest most antique cups in a small group.

  • Karen Donnerberg says:

    Liz, if for one week you could have tea with anyone/anywhere…who and where would that be, what cup would you choose for that person, and why.

  • Stephanie says:

    I like the idea of doing your tea cups in groups if colors. It may inspire you to pull out new or old watercolor paints. ?

    • Liz Steel says:

      THanks Stephanie… I’m already using some of the new colours in my testing palette a lot doing this project.

  • When my mother passed away we inherited a number of tea cups. I did not know which were the most valuable or the oldest. A theme of the date and history of your cups would be fun. That’s a great way to learn why the shapes changed over the years. The oldest most valuable one my mom had was one with no handle, according to the antique dealer we asked to appraise her tea cups.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Lindsay… I dont have many vintage cups but did work out the dates last year when I worked through my collection.that cup of your mum’s sounds interesting!!!!

  • Melissa Gathings says:

    It would be interesting to me to discover your favorites to drink from and WHY. Reasons are often as various and interesting as the China itself. Thanks for asking.

  • Jane Varley says:

    Hi Liz, all the ideas you listed sound interesting. I really loved looking at your month of teacup sketches all lined up and lookIng like little jewels. So perhaps groupings of colours would be interesting. Also, with your Nanna’s cup in mind, quirky shapes might make an interesting theme or groupings of decorative patterns, e.g., geometric patterns, roses, daisies, polka dots. Hopefully, the lockdown will not last that long!

  • Marta Raaka says:

    I would like to see your favorite cups to sketch and why they are favorites. Then maybe the hardest ones to sketch and what makes it hard,
    I have just a few teacups from my favorite aunt and my grandmother and I really cherish them!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Marta… yes, I’m thinking about these themes… but oh! so hard to choose my favourites! Glad you have cups from your relatives… so special isn’t it?

  • Susan Drysdale says:

    Hi Liz,
    I’d love to see easiest and hardest cups to paint – with an explanation why! I’d also love to know how many cups you have! I’m constantly amazed at the new ones you pull out of the cupboard. I only have a few and none are easy to paint for me- the patterns are too detailed and I struggle to simplify.

  • Yves Couture says:

    Presently following your “Buildings” course, I plan on doing a series of doors that are in the buildings on our property.. I would like to see you explore doors, grand and humble ones.

  • Peggy Wilson says:

    I would enjoy a sketch page of one teacup in 3 different view points. That’s kind of an architectural approach, but it would be interesting to read more details, like measurements.

  • Virginia N Woodeson says:

    Hi Liz,
    I’d love to know which teacups make the best tasting tea…is it an illusion or is it their design or substance. I guess the ones you enjoy drinking out of the most and perhaps telling a wee story as to why.

  • Sue Brown says:

    You could expand on this gift collection – this time do a composition of the cup with another object that reminds you of the giver.

  • Kay Ellis says:

    Hi Liz,
    I love the very thin shallow old teacups which I think are the nicest to drink out of. Your Shelley cup is very attractive with the scalloped edge so maybe different edges could be a theme, also groups of cups of the same colours would be interesting. Maybe your ‘memory cups’ of relatives could have a painting of the gifted cup and saucer and other things relating to their life on the page (a sort of ‘teacup family tree’) . Your paintings are really inspiring me to have a go at painting my own cups and saucers. We all need more beauty in our lives, especially now.

    Did you know that there is a Tea Cosy Festival (Fish Creek)? People have made some really gorgeous teacosies?

  • Sylvia says:

    It would be fun to see what tea you drink from the cups you have. Do you have a favourite cup to go with your chai or Earl Grey sort of thing. Perhaps drawing the tea package alongside and how you take your tea written there.

  • Virginia Woodeson says:

    Hi Liz,
    I’d like to see your favs and a blurb about why…..history? taste? feel?

  • Martine says:

    Also not about the tea cups, but I absolutely love that piece of cake, it looks fantastic!

  • Sarah Fields says:

    Love ALL your teacup sketches, but I learn alot from doing the same one in 3 or 4 different ways, exact, lost edges , etc.. Also, the history behind each one is so interesting! Colors groupings are definitely fun too 🙂

  • Maria Lopes says:

    Always beautiful yours cups! And the colors are so vibrant, I love! Congrats!

  • Jamie C says:

    I’m always a fan of chronological, as in the order you received and/or purchased them. Talk about a way to create a narrative stream of ones life!

    Love seeing the China plate in use with cake! Seems extra special!

  • John Burman says:

    Maybe other small things with rich memories. I follow every post you make with great interest and enjoyment. I find I sketch buildings more than anything else.

  • Mary Garland says:

    If along the way, someone had told me that I would be smitten by a teacup, I would have had a good laugh. But alas, my attention has been arrested by just that, a teacup. Your cups, along with the collage from a recent post, are GLORIOUS! They transcend the porcelain and bone china of my ancestry from the American South, no longer static objects of desire but alive with movement, color, and light. So engaging. Every time I see one, I think ‘the universe in a teacup’ because of the stories, the histories, and memories they could tell. Thank you for sharing them and your inspiration. They are a gift of joy.

    A gift to the senses
    The world to see
    Through glorious color
    And a spot of tea

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