A new method for working loosely and some more city sketching

August 2, 2023 | 17 Comments

A few weeks ago I had an epic afternoon sketching in the City filling 20 pages of my A4 sketchbook (see here). So it’s a little hard not to compare subsequent outings with that.

But still, I’ve had two very productive sketching sessions on the last two Wednesday afternoons. And with the exception of the last sketch in this article, all my work has been done from the comfort of a bench! This seems to be my approach to sketching at the moment… I walk until I find somewhere to sit and then assess whether there is something of interest to sketch from the spot. 🙂

Wednesday 19 July

L: Our trains are fun to draw with all that dark yellow and blue.
R: I wasn’t sure what to sketch while I was sitting on a bench in Martin Place so I just started drawing the building in front of me.


Walking through Hyde Park (north) I found a low wall to sit on and sketch St Mary’s Cathedral. I was then in need of a coffee…


…so I headed to the Australian Museum. After my drink, I did a quick walk around (sketching the funniest face I found) and then sat in the sun outside to sketch the facade. (The second time this year – see here for the other sketch)


I then walked through Hyde Park (south) doing two quick sketches. The War Memorial (right) is such a great building to draw using just shadow shapes (Foundations Lesson 3).


The last sketch for the afternoon was in the Westfield Level 5 food court.


Wednesday 26 July


A fun water play park at Darling Harbour. I was thinking about my nephew and niece a lot while I was doing this (they had left the day before and I was missing them!)


It was a warm afternoon so I sat in the shade and sketched this view of Darling Harbour with the Women’s World Cup FIFA’s Fan Festival area on the left.

A bench in the sun with a view of the Chinese Gardens and then I walked up to Chinatown and sketched the gate at the entrance.


Now you might be wondering if I’m ever going to mention the ‘new method for working loosely’ which is the heading for this article. The answer is simple… sketch standing up!

What more can I say? 🙂

I need to do this more often!

I know that over time I will gain more control sketching while standing up but at the moment it is very effective for working loosely.

Do you ever sketch standing up and what media do you use?

(If you are reading this via email, please click on the article title link below and add a comment on my blog. Thanks!)




  • Tina Koyama says:

    I’m pretty sure I’ve commented on this in the past, but I sketch standing almost all the time! 🙂 But that’s because of 2 things: I never use a sketchbook larger than A5, and I don’t use watercolors (well, just recently, I have been, but only when I have somewhere to sit!). Using colored pencils and/or markers, standing is very easy. And I’m not sure my sketches are necessarily looser when I stand, but when I’m too comfy (like on a bench), I know I tend to put in too much detail and other unneccesary stuff. Overall, standing has always suited me and my style better.

  • stefan wasinski says:

    Love your ‘new’ style Liz. It just seems so much more in tune with the surroundings and full of natural light and air. The drawings are delightfully softer with edges that blend into the landscape around them. Maybe I’m wrong but your normally strong black outlines, seem to have given way to more sympathetic structures – well drawn of course, but more empathetic. Great work – a delight to enjoy. Thanks for sharing. Stefan Wasinski

  • Cheryl Wright says:

    The only time I sketch standing up is when I get the urge to walk thru my home, room by room and sketch stuff that catch my eye that day. I walk, I stop, I stand, I sketch with my Sailor Fude 55 or Platinum carbon pen. I walk with one of my Art Tool Kit pocket palettes and a water brush to add colour.

  • Teresa Finch says:

    Yes, I also have an art standing table to adjust to my height. Retired hairdresser, I am more comfortable standing, movement of body creates a freedom to change hand directions.

    Cutting hair, closer you stand to head the shorter your hair. Try it Liz move the book closer to you and further away. But the book weight is the same close to the body, away it gets heavier maybe also you feel the heaviness and quickly apply marks therefore looser.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi teresa thanks for your insights! I normally hold my book close but yes totally would be looser if I held it further away! 🙂

  • Hi Liz. I sketch standing up most of the time, although I certainly won’t pass a convenient seat or bench should one be available. I just can’t bring myself to carry an easel though. My approach is to be as minimalist as possible.

  • Jeff says:


    Love the sketch of St Mary’s Cathedral. Was wondering if you used both markers and WC pencils?


  • maria bergman says:

    Hi Liz!
    Wish the body could tolerate standing and sketching! Comfort is a prerequisite!
    I’m so impressed with your apparent comfort strolling alone around Sydney! It must be a wonderful, walkable city…and safe??
    Wish that could be said of cities here in the US. I rely on fellow urban sketchers for most outings. Safety in numbers.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Maria – I’m very fortunate that it’s safe in Sydney to roam and sketch on the streets on my own – of course there are a few areas that I avoid but most areas in the downtown during the day are fine.

  • Jamie C says:

    Another big sketching day! Gorgeous! I rarely sketch standing up, as I haven’t really figure out how to juggle everything, but when I do it certainly is indeed looser!

Leave a Reply