Early Easter Sketching Week




“Hello, its Christy here” and our first group of sketchers are arriving, excited to see what is in store for them today. Easter is in store for us, wrapped up in bows and foil, with chubby cheeked bunnies and cute little chicks. We sketched two lovely Easter themed still lives in the studio today. We talked about how to make good use of the chinograph when we are sketching ‘shiny’ objects like the colourful wrapping on the Easter eggs.

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While we pondered the right colour choices, and good sketching techniques, we had the luxury of nibbling on some chocolate-eggs left out for us by the very kind and thoughtful Easter bunny…I mean Erin.

With our sweet-tooth well and happy, we packed up our things and got ready to head out on location. Today we were heading for St. Mary’s Church, in keeping with the Easter theme; it would be appropriate to sketch the beauty of this church.

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We had glorious sunshine to accompany us down the hill, and Roger decided to take us on a detour as we headed into the park. We got to meander past his lovely home, which serves as a B&B, and we all marvelled at how lovely a secluded spot in Manly can be.

We then made our way down to the church, and being that the gate was open, we snuck in to see the church and sketch from inside. It was a delight to see the stained glass windows from the inside, vibrant and bold. We all decided we much preferred sketching from inside, and being that it was much cooler than the baking sun outside, we quickly got busy with our sketches making sure we were especially quiet and respectful of our surroundings.

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Before long, we had an array of beautiful sketches portraying areas of the atrium and interior. It was a proud moment as a tutor to look over shoulders and see the wonderful progress that has been made over this term. Sketchers were tackling ‘perspective’ and colour challenges without a worry, because they were engrossed in bringing to life what was in front of them. Well done!

On our meander to find the café some of us came across an unusually good ‘graffiti mural’ on the wall outside of the café. We all stood engrossed in the details and overlapping meanings of this ‘work of art’, when suddenly a big heaving truck came and parked right in front of it blocking our view! “Yes, of course”, said one sketcher, that’s so typical!!

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Off to the café then. A new one I believe, with the charming name; “The shop next door”. This corner shop/café (because it sells surf boards too) is another ‘best kept secret!’ Erin has the knack of finding pure gems for us to visit on our days out sketching. We were greeted warmly and made to feel comfortable at their large table near the back, and while we sipped our coffees, our eyes wandered around this wonderfully airy and spacious café and the ‘surfing’ décor around us. We also approved of the feisty little Siamese fighting fish in his fishbowl alongside us. We chatted over our scrumptious lunches, while adding final touches to our sketches and brought a really cheerful day of sketching to a close. Thank you everyone.

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We’re having early Easter.  And to start we are having simply glorious weather. It usually rains at Easter.

Clear blue skies. No wind. Perfect temperature.  Who could ask for more.

We have 2 still life’s of chocolate bunnies,eggs and tiny chickens.

All need careful observation.  These are not familiar shapes so you can’t just hope to get it right.

Everyone falls silent as our first warmup sketch begins.

How do we make brown chocolate? A wash of ochre, red then blue.  Keep those colours clean.

For the pale foil  wrappers on the other setup, use different colours in a soft wash to make each bunny stand out. Easy to have them looking like one very wide dude.

Nobody liked to help themselves to the bowl of little eggs and chicks.  We could visualize exactly where on ourselves every mouthful would end up.


Now for our walk in the park, where we could have worked off the rabbit- if we’d eaten any!

Everything is beautifully green as there has been rain.  We walk down the gently winding pathway and past the cricket oval to St Marys Catholic Church.  This will keep our Easter theme if we add a little touch of stained glass saints

The doors were open so we slid silently past the rows of pews, with an occasional parishioner finding a little solace.

The triple windows above the main alter are glowing with rich reds and blues.  The side windows are bright  yellow/gold with aqua blue detail. The double windows in the far entry alcove are a simpler pair of figures.

Everybody makes their choice.

One sketcher says she admires the big windows each time she attends service and today she can really take the time to sketch which she cannot do when the priest is gazing down.

Out we go into the heat and glare as a group of small children are herded into pews to hear stories.

Time for us to walk a few meters to this week’s new and very trendy cafe.  ‘The shop next door’ they’re calling it.  Indeed it is next door to at least another two of their connecting surfing shops.

Though it’s probably more ‘The Corner Shop’

The cafe is a great idea as a social way of lingering with their surfie clients.  Most people looked as though they were part of that lifestyle.

Just as we are part of our sketching lifestyle.

Works for us.


We all ordered an excellent coffee served in ceramic beakers which looked like takeaway cups.

Some liked the idea of avocado and tomato on grain bread.  The previous group had almost eaten them out of house and home  but Dave managed to improvise and produce some tasty nosh.

We loved the devoted dog who waits on the surfboard seat outside, and gazes in at his master having coffee.

Meantime, church sketches were completed and we admired the surf/ nature influences in the simple decor.

We were pretty pleased with what we turned out today and like the other tutors, I’m delighted to see the progress everyone has made this term.

Great work everyone.



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Studio organised, bunnies and eggs on table, tick.  Parking sticker on dashboard. – tick.  Class list done – tick.  Smile on my face – tick, students arrived all happy and inspired – tick!

Easter bonnets?  NO, hats were last week.

Today I have morphed into Erin and am flying solo.

No problem.

The bunnies and eggs on the tables and extra chocolate eggs to be nibbled on in times of artistic creative stress provide a wondrous array of colour and a bit of a challenge for some.

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How do I do metallic foil in all sorts of colours and shapes?

Darn it, those funny little chicks are a kind of weird shape and not so easy to sketch.

But what a supportive class we have, everyone seemed to band together today as one happy little group and decided to have a go.

It was good to mix yellow ochre followed by red and washed over with blue to create some lovely warmth and shadow.

Leaving more of the yellow ochre round the edge creates a gorgeous glow.

This worked wonderfully with the bunnies and eggs.

We discussed how the clue to producing good watercolours lay in the word “watercolour” itself – use plenty of water and be bold.

Work quickly and don’t let the paint dry out, your work will have more flow.

People really tried hard to do this and some lovely results were achieved.

We all nibbled on an egg before heading off down the road through Ivanhoe Park.

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Thank goodness for Gail who had been to the class yesterday was a dab hand at showing everyone where to go.

A quick check at the Office at St Mary’s Church by Gail to be sure we could go into the Church and paint with abandon and we were off through the church doors in search of a glowing stained window.

The shadowiness in the church challenged some of our eyes (ah we’re showing our age as short-sightedness, long sightedness and cataracts were all mentioned as to why we found it hard to see inside).

But eye problems aside we gravitated towards the rear of the church, grabbed a pew or two and sketched away.

The results were delightful.

The contrast of shadows and light and colour in the window provides for a great sketch.

Round the corner to The Shop Next Door.

We all just love these interesting places with eclectic mixes of furnishings and this one is a really cool surf shop with cafe on the corner.

It was pretty popular and lots of people came and waited for coffee – it was GOOD coffee that’s why!

Lucky us! –  we got the large table at the back and we all crowded round and everyone was such a great team fetching stools for each other and making sure everyone was OK.

How nice to have made friendships over the term and laugh together over lunch like we all do!

There were interesting things around us to sketch – a Siamese fighter fish, an old wine barrel with surfboard books, a crazy coloured surfboard, the dog out the front again – so much choice, where to begin?

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We were such a tight-knit group some folks even shared the same plate for lunch, having half serves of yummy bread with organic goats cheese, basil and sweet juicy tomatoes.

The toasted cakes and bread were delicious too.

Not everyone sketched a new subject – someone said they were “tired and retired” but we all agreed that we had had a lovely morning and would never have gone to a church on our own to sketch so going in a group made us visit places we would never normally go.  Can’t wait for Cockatoo Island next week….





We are back to our endless warm days again.

The endless Autumn. With rain at nights.

It’s a good plan.

People were waiting outside the Studio when I arrived. Bursting to get in.

Wanting to get a good start.

The little chocolate creatures were all intact still and the promise was, that once all sketches were done, you could help yourself.


Someone noted that these are not easy shapes to get down.

They may look like cartoons but the shapes need a good long look at before launching onto your page.

One sketcher had the most amusing face on brown bunny.

His eyes popped like he’d just seen something extraordinary!

Probably us.

Someone else had an egg beyond her rabbit which became a speech balloon.

It wasn’t going to sit down anyway, so lets do something else with it.

You can always fix these things.

Does it really matter!

Colours for big brown bunny need to be a little richer than the support team around him.

The 3 gentler little bunnies need a difference in colour to set them apart.

Sketching is great for that.

We are not trying to be precise about what’s in front of us.

It’s an impression only.


A few chocolates before we left for our trip through the park, would give us the energy to keep going. Yeah right!

Today the church doors were closed. So even if we’d needed a place to seek peace and quiet, it wasn’t on offer today.

But we are sketchers with initiative, and walked about till finding an exterior spot we were happy with.  You make the stained glass just as bright anyway. We want the effect, so we’ll make it happen.

One sketcher sat among the bushes, another on a garden edge, and others on a bench. You will always find a spot even if the initial subject wasn’t your choice.

The sketches were terrific and everyone admired everyone else’s work. You learn so much by sharing your work like this. Sketchers are sharers.

Off we go to The Shop Next Door, with one less sketcher who’d been yesterday anyway.

Dave had not been sure whether the big table would be available on a Saturday.

But lo and behold, although lots of folk are getting things, our table awaited.


Once again, everyone was intrigued with the culture of this corner surfie cafe. And once again the Jack Russell dog was out front. Definitely part of the decor.

Good coffees and shared foods were ordered, and sketches of things around us were happening.

We had some fun people sketches today, and we’re not quite so afraid of trying something in front of us now.

So another excellent week concludes and we will meet again on Cockatoo Island – except for those who prefer Melbourne and Bhutan!

We are so proud of your progress everyone. Keep on keeping on.

©ErinHill StudioChristyPowellJudySalleh2014





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