Addicted to sketching outside!

  • Jul 28.

We’ve been having the most beautiful winter weather lately in Sydney (warm sunny days of 20C with no wind) and so if it’s a sunny day I’m desperate to get outside for some sketching.

I know that some of you are afraid to sketch on location as you are worried that people will see you, look over your shoulder or even speak to you. But if you put those thoughts aside for a moment… if it’s lovely weather don’t you just want to be outside enjoying it?

As for people noticing me, I’m finding lately that it happens very rarely! I think this is because in recent times I’m not sitting on the ground or on a stool, but simply finding a bench or low wall to sit on and so I’m hardly ever in conspicuous locations. Just for the record I actually love having conversations with other people mid-sketch and have no problem sitting in crazy obvious positions to sketch. It’s just that lately I’ve been choosing the most comfortable spots to sketch from. (Refer to this article for tips about what to do if you are afraid to sketch in public) 

Anyway… to get back to my sketches… this article contains work done from two short outings – one to Milsons Point and one to Cockatoo Island – and I was experimenting with different ways of combining watercolour pencils and marker.

Milsons Point

It was School Holidays so Luna Park was packed and it was very noisy and busy while doing this sketch! This was the second sketch done in this square sketchbook so I was getting used to not having the height of the A4 and didn’t reach the ground in my sketch which I had hoped to do. Note: one of my tricks for urban sketching, if you have trouble fitting everything on your page, is to start at the top and work down. This is an example of that technique!)

Wendy Whitely’s Secret Garden (a favourite location with local sketchers) and I certainly enjoyed doing this sketch. This was the moment when I realized how nice it is to sketch right to the edge of the page!

A late solo lunch at a local cafe to finish off my outing.

Cockatoo Island


I normally go to Cockatoo Island in the morning… but on this occasion, I made a 3-hour afternoon visit.  Sketching two backlit subjects…

I was very happy with the colours and texture in the shaded side of the building at Woolwich Dock. How did I do that and how can I achieve a similar result in different coloured areas?

My notes on this page say ” This scene was really just an opportunity to try out a few things… not a serious sketch!”

Two more sketches trying out different techniques!

Final sketch on the island in the last 15 minutes before the ferry came. I’ve decided to leave this sketch as it was at the time.

And then I met up with Chris Haldane for dinner and did this quick sketch while waiting for her.

I’m really enjoying using a smaller book and the square format is great!

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