Recent sketches: Two quiet weeks and some tonic sol-fa

September 30, 2022 | 13 Comments

I’ve had a lot going on over the last few weeks and so I haven’t had much time for my own sketching. So I’ve titled this article ‘2 quiet weeks’ as it’s just been normal stuff but as usual I’ve filled at least a double-page spread each day.

In these pages, you’ll see the usual Lindfield Village Green/street sketches, a few Lane Cove visits and two sketches from a brief outing to Bobbin Head. You’ll also see teacups from my latest project that I explained on Wednesday.

I’ve also done a few experiments with my new Pilot marker brush pens (see also here) and with the Faber Castell GoldFaber Aqua markers (sometimes mixing with watercolour). You will notice some sketches with crazy intense (but quite beautiful) blue/purple areas done with the GoldFaber Aqua Blue-Violet marker. I’ll share more about what I’m doing with these experiments next week!

The only thing out of the ordinary is this sketch of Westminster Abbey (painted while watching the Queen’s Funeral) with some strange letters and symbols under it. These are the Descant and Soprano parts (written in tonic solfa) of the tune Crimond that was sung to Psalm 23 (The Lord’s my shepherd) during the service. 

My church sings from the Scottish Psalter and our Psalmbook uses Sol-fa. (I normally explain this by referring to a certain song in the Sound of Music). You can see a page from our Psalter in a sketch from 2010 here. I’ve never properly learned how to read music but I can sight-read sol-fa. 🙂

I also sing the descant part to a few tunes, but for some reason, I’ve never learned the beginning of the descant for Crimond. I normally jump in half-way through the first line (at the d.m:s).

It was great to hear the descant sung during the Queen’s Funeral and it has made me determined to learn the start properly. So I’ve been going throughout my day in the past week singing “soh  soh -.lah te doh” to myself. The question is whether I’ll be able to sing this in a congregational setting the next time we sing Crimond at church.

How’s that for a different topic than usual here on the blog… but it’s something that is a big part of my life. 🙂

To get back to my recent sketches… here are the pages in full.

See what I mean about that Blue-Violet Gold Faber marker? Wild, isn’t it?

The final spread in this article is one that I did last week as part of the Introduction of Watercolour On Location – my current sketching kit. It was a good chance to review what I’ve been carrying around lately. I’m still including a coloured pencil collection with me, but I’m not using them much at the moment.

I’m planning to get out for some more dedicated urban sketching in the coming weeks as we work through the lessons of Watercolour On Location!

Let me know in the comment section below if you have any questions about these pages.
(If you are reading this via email, please click on the article title link below and add a comment on my blog. Thanks!)


  • Ruth Bosveld says:

    Oh LIz, I could never apply myself to sol-fa. I much prefer the staff. But I would also like to learn the part to Crimond.

    Ruth x

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Ruth – I learnt it first as a child, so for me it’s not that hard! 🙂 It’s easy to find the staff version of crimond online (including the descant) but I couldn’t find the sol-fa version at all. But had a copy of it in my psalm book in the church.

  • Carrie S. says:

    Curious about what color ink you use for your writing lines? I like that it’s visible, but understated so it doesn’t detract from the sketches! Can you share? TY!

  • Sandie Ingram says:

    Hey, Liz! I am loving the new teacup sketches! The view shows the patterns off so nicely.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Sandie! Yes the side view is fun and I’m seeing new patterns as well – as they are often different from the saucer pattern!

  • Stephanie says:

    Lovely spreads Liz! Your not-so-inspiring views look inspiring in the sketches! And of course you know a bunch of us will be captivated by the lady bug desk vacuum ;o)

  • Janet Grattan-Smith says:

    Liz – your post took me right back to my childhood in Scotland. We were taught sol-fa at our Church of Scotland school from the age of 4 or 5, and could all read it for hymns and other songs by the time we could read English! I had forgotten that the Psalter had the sol-fa written under the words! Psalm 23 was always a family favourite, and my mother always sang the descants (as did I until my voice couldn’t reach them!)

  • Celeste Uzee says:

    Love seeing that folio palette, and wondering exactly which colors are in it right now.

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