Post & Parcels. Sketching Love Letters.

This week looked like a fascinating subject with it’s parcels and old letters.

I’m now in Boston so it’s wonderful to see the progress you are making in the 3 weeks of this term, coming down the internet.

It’s a subject everyone related to. Something old fashioned perhaps, but we used to love going out to see if the postman had been.

Well this week he had.



Christy and I had chatted a lot and had a great idea for this week – post!

Christy then had been very busy preparing our subject matter for classes this week and had displayed on the tables some beautifully wrapped parcels, one of them even complete with a wax stamp and some letters.

How gorgeous they looked and I was very appreciative of her amazing efforts.

I couldn’t help but look at the letters and parcels and wish that my letterbox still had piles of interesting things arriving in it like it used to in “the good old days” before the internet took over.

Everyone said that it was still lovely to get a hand written letter, there’s something special about that.

I had rummaged for some letters to add to the pile and found a box of old love letters from my youth!

If anyone looks closely they will see that one of the date stamps is from 1975!

Yikes I’m getting ancient.

Nobody writes me love letters anymore and I suppose that handsome Spanish boy who I drooled over and wrote me the letter is probably now a bit haggard with smoke stained teeth ( or maybe he is still handsome?).

He seemed delicious when I was 15!

Anyway, I’m rambling……


I had hardly caught my breath and realized that everyone was busy sketching away, even our new students just got stuck in straight away and had sketched parcels immediately.

So lovely to see people’s confidence building.

And just to think that only three weeks ago some people said to me “I can’t draw for toffee” and here they are producing beautiful artwork.


We found the best way to approach the parcels was to put a light and loose wash in watercolour and then once dry layer on the shadows, finishing off the finer details with watercolour pencils.

We were rather proud of our results, could almost have picked the parcels off the paper and sent them to someone!

So when we headed off today we went round the corner onto James Street, we lost one sketcher on the way briefly when she got waylaid by an attractive letterbox.

Went round the corner to No 12 Camera Street where we sketched a lovely sandstone wall complete with a lavender and a rather ordinary letterbox plonked on the wall.

Sitting next to it was a lime green children’s watering can just to complete the scene.

A handy garbage bin provided a useful table and everyone sketched in the lovely Autumn sun……mmmmmmm…… nice to have that warmth on us in May.

Lots of lovely mixing with yellow ochre for the sandstone and layering of greens to capture the lavender.  Put plenty of darker shadows behind the sandstone pillar and voila! the sandstone stands out and the plants recede.  Simple but effective.

Wow I couldn’t believe how lovely the sketches looked from everyone – stunning work everyone.


Hemmingways, one of our favourite haunts was our final destination.  It is such a lovely cafe overlooking the beach at Manly.  Glorious blue sky, sun shining, fab coffee and food – just perfect.

We finished off our letterboxes and a couple of folk managed to quickly sketch lunch and then it was over all too soon.

Looking forward to next week.




THURSDAY MAY 15 ’14 – 11.30AM – 2.30PM CLASS

‘Post and Parcels, and hand written letters’ is our subject in the studio this fine morning.

What a lot of excitement! In my opinion one of my favourite possessions is a handwritten letter I received from my grandmother when I was studying abroad.

It was adorned with stamps from South Africa, and her handwriting of my name and address. These are clever subjects to sketch in the studio today, because they are not only colourful and detailed with character for us to be kept busy, but also a gentle introduction to ‘perspective’ and how to place your parcel or letter in your sketch.

Everyone has sketched very well in the studio, those who have been sketching with us for a while now managed to sketch a couple more, while I helped the newer sketchers with approaching the use of ‘water colour paints’ for the first time.


Before long it’s time to head out into the bright sunshine and sketch out on location.

Today, we’re in James Street, which is a short stroll down the road and we’re in search of ‘letter boxes’.

We find several interesting ones, some are framed by vines and greenery with a newspaper wedged in its mouth, like a forgotten cigar.

Others stand proud and polished on the garden walls, and one of my favourites, was a row of boxes and all were draped in flyers and newspapers!

There is so much to sketch around you if you take a stroll down your street!


Our group have busied themselves with whichever letter box they’ve decided is interesting. With all the line work in, and a bit of colour, we decide it’s time to head on, and we continue to stroll down the road to Hemmingways our café of choice today.


We love Hemmingways, it’s delicious food, comfy surrounds and view of the beachfront is superb.

We’ve snared the front tables, lucky us!

And our day together comes to a close, last touches of colour, photos taken, and we look forward to meeting up again next week.





We were blessed again with a glorious sunny day and everyone was very chatty and cheerful so it was a lovely atmosphere with our group today.

Oh Oh parcels and letters – can we sketch them?  Of course, no problem.

I showed how to commence with a light fluid watercolour wash to give the impression of the creases in the paper and then once that had dried we could layer on some deeper tones.  Looking good!

The final touch was to enhance everything and do the finer details with our watercolour pencils as the tiny franks on the stamps were too fine to do easily with a paintbrush.  Everyone took to the challenge and realised that things started to look good once the deeper shadows were in giving good contrast between light and shade.

We were rather pleased with our results at the end of the time in the studio.

I set the challenge of completing a painting on location at the next stop.

Today we ventured far (not really), just round the corner to George St to select our letterboxes.

We found a charming house with bougainvillea draping down in a shocking pink just above the letterbox so that appealed to half the class.

The other half were rather taken with a house that I have noticed many times as it has a couple of large Cinzano umbrellas out the front and lots of bright coloured ornaments and pots.

It reminds me of the 70’s (perhaps that’s because my parents used to enjoy a Cinzano and ice after a game of golf!) – oops showing my age!


Anyway the letterbox here was bright blue and white as were the metal gate and fence and all a bit swirly and ornate.  I would love to see the owner of the house – wonder if they are swirly and ornate too?!!

The letterboxes came to life once we provided lots of contrast with our paints.  Gee I was SO pleased with everyone as they all had a go.  Our newest sketchers are coming on in leaps and bounds.

Then off to Hemingways Cafe on the beachfront.

It feels a bit like a library with all the books and decor.

So interesting choosing different cafes in Manly as all of the owners have made tremendous efforts to make each place individual and different.

Suits us!  We love different.

Yummy food and goooooood coffee.  We were all a bit desperate for a coffee as we spent longer than anticipated sketching letterboxes – never mind it was worth the wait.

I helped a few folk with finishing off their artwork in the cafe and everyone said that they had really enjoyed the class and looked forward to next week.





It’s a lovely day to end off this week’s classes.

It’s warm and sunny and we’re looking forward to getting out on location today.

But for now, we’ve excitedly gathered together in the studio to see what the subject is!

‘Parcels and letters’, which are spread out on the tables, and we quickly find our seats and get ready.

Some of us will be using ‘watercolours’ for the first time today.

So with a few pointers we put the basics of getting the linework down, and then I demo how to use the watercolours in a step-by-step approach.

We have a lot of smiling faces in class today, and lovely results everyone!


Then we head out into the bright sunshine, and go in search of some interesting letterboxes in James Street.

We find several that are then sketched into beautiful little compositions.

Our group today, is wonderfully motivated, and there is much enthusiasm and talk of how to tweak and round off our sketches.

It’s a great time of encouragement and growth.

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We are all happily busy with our sketches on the verge of someone’s abode, when we hear very distinct ‘cooing’ of a pigeon nesting nearby. It was like he was complimenting the lovely sketching!

We then make our way down the hill to ‘Hemmingway’s’ and being a bustling sunny Saturday.

We knew we’d probably be seated in the upstairs room where it is a little more spacious.


We were right, and we love it up here. As we’re getting seated, the pigeon appears to have followed us, and is fluttering at the window wanting to come in!

I chuckled, thinking it was like he was pretty keen on seeing us finish up our sketching. That or, it was a round of applause!

We have delicious lunches, and finish up our week’s sketching, along with photos, and we all look forward to meeting up again next week.


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