Jasmine, Bushfires, Garbage and Cake

Thursday 1

Thursday 2


I smell bush fires. A hint of jasmine. Odd mix.

The Rainbow Lorikeets squeak with joy as they hang upside down looking for sweet pollen in red bottlebrush tree outside.

I open the door to see them and that’s when my nose does a double twitch as the smell of bushfires fills the air. The sky is a threatening salmon pink.

The Blue Mountains are on fire.

But we must press on.

Off to see everyone in Thursdays’s class.

A lovely mix of new people and regulars with a guest from New Zealand who’s booked a casual class while briefly in Sydney.

I’m working through my plans as I do every term to cover as many wide and varied subjects as possible.

I like my people to have the skills to have a go at anything, anywhere. No fear needed.

So when the setup of junk from ‘the 3rd drawer down’ is spotted on the tables, more than a few groans are emitted.

It’s called throwing you in the deep end. The element of surprise!

In fact it’s still lives like these that truly put your observation skills into overdrive.

Once the sketching begins some great little sketches come out of it. Of course.

Every person today managed 2 sketches, as I knew they would.

You just get better every week lining up this shape with that, and getting the lines down faster.

This week we’re getting into the gutter – almost.

Our outdoor sketch location is the delightfully named Henrietta Lane.

It happens to be the back alley to the street front cafes and restaurants, where deliveries take place and garbage bins lean in doorways.

I love the look on a few faces when I mention that this is what we’re sketching.

Who says you have to sketch just pretty things.

A good garbage bin can make a very satisfying sketch – as you’ll see from the results.

We get a phone call from Tom – usually a Thursday sketcher – who’s had an altercation with a ladder recently.

Although he’s all strapped up, he’s in the area and will meet us for lunch.

Meet at the public bar at the Steyne Hotel I tell him.

And there he is. They have fab big tables here so our group can sit easily round, spread out, catch up and talk, sketch and munch.

The Steyne hotel is an institution in Manly. It sits on a magnificent corner opposite Manly Beach.

The style is art deco and has been restored in the last year or so.

Once you would not have ventured in there, but now it’s smart, trendy, family friendly and serves excellent value food.

We enjoy sitting round the table like a big family, talking to Tom and enjoying some sketch time together.

After a great day’s sketching, we are off up the main street where everything is pretty.

Hope you had fun Janice. Oh and Happy Birthday Therese. This is a Big One. Enjoy.




Fri 1 Fri 2


Just the aroma of jasmine in the air first thing today.

The bushfire smell must have blown the other way, and I’m not seeing the pink smoke.

However over 80 homes have been burnt to the ground in the Blue Mountains.

Everybody is concerned for them.

A few people are away today so those who are there are quite happy.

Straight away heads are down and sketches being measured. How high. How wide.

A couple of sketchers would like more help with the measuring concept.

I am keen for them to understand it.

Stick your arm out. Shut one eye. Line up a pen or something on the top and bottom of the setup. Flip the pen over and see if the width is more than the height.

It’s a strange thing we artists do.

Took me forever to ‘get it’

I now want my sketchers to ‘get it’ too. Vital to know what space your sketch will fill.

Excellent sketches of course, and then down the hill we go, straight ahead, round the corner, down the lane. Love it.

Big trucks backing down. Men in overalls lifting heavy barrels.

It amazes me how they manage to get those big trucks into small lane ways such as this, and then do a 3 point turn without hitting anything, or running over our toes, and leave.

Our sketches do include a few truck and car parts today. And the beautiful garbage bins.

I speak to a couple of people organising garbage. They are in disbelief that a group of people would even want to sketch their bins. ‘I hate these bins’ says one bloke.

‘they look great when sketched through’ says I.

He stops and thinks.

‘Maybe we could put paintings on them and make them look interesting’ he says.

I like that answer. A chat with the locals and it gets them thinking – outside the envelope – as they say.

Round the corner to The Steyne Hotel for lunch.

We sit at a really big table and order some tasty choices from the counter.

I definitely think people today made a lot of progress in seeing shapes. They can even tell me how they started their sketch and how they worked out where everything would go.

It makes me very happy when they can explain these things back to me.

Fri 17



Sat 1


Just a faint smell of bushfire smoke today. Hope that’s a good sign.

Just as well I arrive early at the Studio.

A lady is popping in to buy a painting as several sketchers arrive.

Those that arrive10 mins before class, thinking they are early, find most people there and getting stuck in.

Don’t you just hate that!

Today is very different for the sketchers when they walk in.

A fabulous bunch of pastel coloured balloons dominates the room – thanks Atsuko.

On the table is a glass cake stand with a beautiful pink cake with white piping, surrounded by tiny cup cakes and gardenia.

Didn’t have a candle so an upright paint brush does the trick instead.

Well what a surprise for Therese!

Yes it’s for you! Therese is looking more than surprised.

She’s been celebrating her ‘big’ birthday during the week, but it’s fun for the class to have a birthday sketch opportunity too.

We all sit round one table to do our sketch, and so beautiful they are!

Milton pops in for a birthday hug.

Oh good Milton, can you take a pic of us all?

Time to go out on location, so Therese gets to choose whether its garbage or the beach.

Some thinking time needed here and she decides the garbage does sound hilarious.

We make our way down the hill on this gorgeous sunny day, and I have to escort everybody through the market with the promise that they all there till 4pm.

That was close. Nearly lost a few.

Then into the lovely Henrietta Lane to take up the spot we think has the most beautiful bins.

Within the half hour the sketchers do wonders with pen and paper.

Every one a triumph. Who would have thought! Lots of laughs too!

Time for lunch and Atsuko says she’ll go round to the pub and get a table.

But she’s back in a minute. Big beer promotion going on.

Ok. Think. Let’s go right down this arcade beside us, and go to Manly Wine and Pizza.

Perfect and Adrian sets up a table for us and we all sink into a chair and consider having wine, coffee, champagne?

Everyone is thrilled with the $10 special lunch pizzas.

So another fab week comes to a close.

Sketchers have had some surprises and risen to the challenge.

Who knows what next week will bring!

sat16 sat 17


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