Why create a dedicated teacup course?

April 5, 2023 | 7 Comments

In the past when I’ve been asked to do an online course just on Teacups, I’ve replied that I’ve already created a lot of instructional videos on the topic inside my SketchingNow courses and here on the blog.

However the more that I thought about it, the more I realised that there were some great reasons for creating a dedicated Teacup course and I’d like to share a few of these with you today.

1. A step-by-step guide to teacups will cover how to sketch with edges, shapes and volumes.
Teacups are the perfect subject matter to sharpen our basic observational skills from the core concepts inside my Foundations course. We will also look at the more intermediate concepts from Edges and explore different ways of combining line and shape with new examples. The above image (which I did a few years ago) shows some of these concepts in thumbnail sketches.

2. There are so many watercolour techniques that can be taught and refined through sketching teacups
Teacups are perfect for developing the basic skills of getting the right ratio of pigment and water in your washes (teacup sketches use a combination of watery, juicy and pasty washes). They are also excellent subjects for using more advanced wet-in-wet techniques and finding ways of utilising the unique characteristics of the pigments in your palette.

3. Teacups allow for a balance between accuracy and experimentation
I’ve recently developed some new approaches for drawing ellipses (they don’t have to be perfect) and different ways of painting complex patterns (how to simplify and create loose versions of precise designs.)

I’m realising just how many aspects there are to teacup sketching!

4. Creating a central location for teacup instruction
Teacup (or coffee cup) demos are included throughout Foundations, Watercolour, Sketchbook Design, Edges and even Watercolour On Location.  I’ll be re-visiting some of these demos in the new course (adding new insights and critiques) and I’ll also create an index of the others so that it will be easy to find them in the future. And of course, I’ll be doing new demos as well!

The Teacups course will be the place to go for everything teacups.

And finally…

5. It’s the perfect time to refocus on teacups. 

As I prepare the videos for this course I’ve been reminded of how important teacups have been in my development as an artist over the years. Whenever I’ve tried something new (whether it’s been an idea, a technique or new materials/tools) I also test them on teacups early on. This sketch is from 2015 when I was playing with different coloured ink lines.

It’s time for a fresh look at teacups and putting this course together is certainly going to do that.

But it’s not just teacups… Right at the moment I feel as if my creativity is flowing in a special way (enjoying lots of mixed media experiments and line and shape sketches – see here, here and here) and I feel strongly that this is the result of my connecting again in a new and deeper way with my favourite subject. Teacups are definitely my muse.

It’s taken time to channel my efforts towards this dedicated teacup course but now that I see how it’s coming together, I can’t wait to share it with you!

You might be thinking…do you need your own teacups to do this course?

While it’s not essential to have your own teacups, you’ll get the most out of the course if you are sketching from life and have a cup that brings you joy!

But you don’t have to buy anything. Maybe you have a family member or friend that you can borrow a few cups from. A fine china teacup is not needed – any plain cup and saucer or patterned vessel can also be used. In addition, inside the course, I’ll be providing photos of the cups I use for the demos and exercises.


Find out more and enroll here!


I hope that you can see why I’m getting so excited about this new course! 🙂


  • maria bergman says:

    Hi Liz!
    Will “Teacups” be as extensive a course as your other courses?
    Looking forward!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Maria – its going to be a shorter course than my others however still my usual in-depth teaching – really explaining concepts and techniques!

  • Kim Morris says:

    Will all videos be available to watch in our own time if I can’t join live?

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Kim, LIke all my SketchingNow courses the main content will be pre-recorded videos so you can watch at any time. I will also host a few livestreams (hosted on YouTube) and replays will be available for these.

  • Kim Morris says:

    Brilliant! Thank you. Kim

  • Rockie Weymouth says:

    Liz, would you be willing to post the companies from which you purchase most of your tea cups? I think you’ve mentioned them here and there in videos, but I’ve lost track of where those are and I’d just like to have that information. Thanks!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Rockie – yes I can share brands (and will do so inside the classroom) but apart from the expensive Royal Albert – all the cups I buy are Australian brands. They are: T2, Ashdene, Cristina Re, Teas and C (by Maxwell and Williams) and LyndalT

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