Sketching during family outings and a smaller sketchbook

  • Jul 26.

I’m a bit sad today as my sister and her family are on their way home to Scotland. I had the most incredible 4 weeks with them and in this article I’ll share some of the sketches that I’ve done while we were hanging out.

I’m so incredibly thankful for all the time I had with these two very special children – my nephew (6.5 years old) and my niece (10.5 years old). It was hard to say goodbye to them and to type this without tearing up a little. And of course, it was also difficult to farewell my dear sister and brother-in-law. (BTW the last time I saw them was in 2019 on the Isle of Lewis – see here.)

But to move on to my sketching…

I realised early in their stay that to be able to get any kind of record of our adventures together in my sketchbook I would have to limit myself to dry media (see this article) but I also decided that as soon as I finished my current sketchbook (an A4 hardbound Alpha sketchbook) I would move to a smaller book.


So I started a Square Softcover and wow! – it’s a lot lighter (318gm vs 998gm for the A4!)

I love using the A4 and I’m very aware of how heavy it is, but in my general everyday life, it’s not a big deal. Going on big family outings (when sketching wasn’t the priority) is another matter and using a small lightweight book has been great.

I’ve had to make some adjustments to the scale of my sketches to fit into the smaller page (especially in regard to the height of my sketches) and I’ve been struggling to leave enough white space for my text. I’m also missing the compositional opportunities in terms of page design (which is just as important to me as the sketches themselves).

My sketches (which are the same as in the previous sketchbook – using watercolour pencils and markers) feel different in the smaller book and I’m finding myself filling up the full page and going to the edge of the paper (something I rarely do in a larger book).

But overall I’m loving the smaller square book and might stick to this size for a bit.

Enough general comments…here are my recent sketches from family outings.

Here are two single-page spreads from the A4 book with some food sketches. THe Vietnamese dinner sketches were drawn at the time with quick colour added later. The Afternoon tea sketch was actually completed at the time (a rarity!)


The last spread in my A4 book was these quick sketches done during an afternoon at a park with the cousins (my brother’s family of 4 children).

I was eager to start my new book…


Swains Garden – this was an ambitious scene to do while visiting the garden with my sister and nephew (ie. I didn’t have much time and no chance to think about what I was sketching before I started.)  I got the sketch to about 50% on location at the time and finished the rest back home.


Afternoon outing at the mini steam trains at West Ryde with my sister’s and brother’s families and my parents. Lots of action and I only managed one sketch with colour at the time.


A visit to the museum: I drew simple line drawings in pencil at the time and then added ink and colour to some of them afterwards. Even these pencil drawings were hard to do with my nephew constantly saying “Aunty Wiz look at this!” My niece also constantly wanted to show me stuff.


In the afternoon we visited the cousins where I was able to add colour to some of these sketches while surrounded by constant distraction. I was testing some WCP and marker combos.


And then managed to sketch another dinosaur (Microblocks) that my 9-year-old nephew put together for his younger brother. Back home I sketched the bag of tea containing my current fad: East India Earl Grey.


The next day we went to the powerhouse museum and I managed to do these few sketches (including the colour) while we explored all the displays.


On Saturday we had a big family reunion of 50 people at my cousin’s beautiful house in Edgecliff. I hadn’t seen any of my cousins since 2015 and for some, it was even longer ago! I wasn’t sure I would be able to do any sketching since the priority was definitely catching up with everyone. But towards the end of the afternoon, I realised that for a moment I wasn’t talking to anyone so I grabbed my sketchbook and did this quick loose drawing of the view. This is one of those occasions when I don’t want to add anything to this sketch as it captures a quiet moment in an amazing event.


Yesterday – a few bits and pieces from our last morning together…


and finally, the two trains I caught on the way home from the airport.

I’m really happy with how much I managed to sketch and the lovely record I have in my sketchbook of all our fun outings! These family outings have been interspersed with some solo sketching which I will share in my next article!

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