Three important sketching skills that you can learn from sketching teacups

May 13, 2024 | 4 Comments

I’m gearing up to start my Teacups this week – on Wednesday 15 May – and so I’m going through the lessons and the main concepts from the course. Three big themes from the Teacups course are also very applicable to sketching other subjects and they are:


1. Drawing Ellipses

Over the years of sketching teacups, I’ve developed a simple way to draw ellipses and I can’t wait to show you inside the course. But drawing an isolated ellipse is only the beginning!

We then look at:

  • how to draw concentric ellipses (cup rim, cup foot, saucer and pattern ellipses)
  • how to combine patterns and ellipses when sketching saucers and
  • how to draw complex forms such as scalloped cups.

Once you have developed these skills you will be able to draw all kinds of subjects containing circles and ellipses.


2. Creating lively shadow watercolour washes

Sketching teacups in watercolour is a great opportunity to create lively warm and cool shadow washes to represent areas of shade (form shadow) and cast shadow that are typically found with a cup and saucer. This skill can then be applied to other subjects, including urban scenes. In fact I use my teacups sketches as a way of testing new approaches to shadows that I then use when sketching on location.

3. Painting complex patterns in watercolour

The endless variety of patterns and colour combinations make teacups such a delightful subject to sketch in watercolour.

Inside the Teacups course, you’ll learn how to analyze complex patterns and then think through how best to paint them in watercolour (thinking about the different colours needed and what order to paint them).

You will also learn how to decide whether to do them wet on dry or wet on wet, and how to interpret the pattern to make it easier to sketch.


Finally just another reminder…

Teacups Live Version starts  Wednesday 15 May. We’ll be going through the course together as a cohort over 4 weeks and I’ll be hosting 3 bonus livestreams (the first one occurs this week you need to signup straight away so as not  miss it!)

If you have purchased the course previously you have access to this Live Version for free – simply go to the classroom via My Account My Courses at and follow the instructions on the classroom homepage.

Also note the price of the Teacups course will permanently increase by 20% on Thursday 16 May – so this is the last time you can join the course for the current price.

Find out more about Teacups here



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