Term 3 Finale at Magical North Head

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New Sketchers. 9.30am Tuesday September 16 ’14.

We are so excited to be heading to North Head for our end of term class. Its always a special location to round off the term, and I for one, am very excited because I adore seeing the ‘Flannel Flowers’ in bloom.

I arrive early, and see others had the same idea arriving on foot or by bike, we come anyway we please, just can’t wait to get sketching!  The weather is still a little chilly and we gather together under the outside terraced area, of the Bella Vista Cafe. We order coffee’s and wait till everyone has arrived, and continue our discussion from last week, about how to approach sketching the sea. The best colours to use, and techniques that work well with our travel sketching approach. I show various demos I’ve printed out and everyone is enthusiastically asking questions or making notes in their sketchbooks.


This discussion while sipping our coffees has warmed us up, and we’re rearing to get sketching. But ‘Oh dear’, suddenly the rain is pelting down and we need to do our first sketch of the view from under the covered balcony. However, even while we’re busily sketching, we see the rain fade off, the sun peek out, and the landscape in front of us become a lot more cheery!

I have the wonderful support of Toni today, and we both encourage everyone to not put in the grey skies…but we didn’t have to use our imaginations for very long, soon the sun was out to stay with us for the rest of class.

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Once we’ve completed our first sketches from the cafe balcony,  and with the weather cleared, we think it’s a great time to meander to the cemetery and see about sketching there. Its a short stroll up and round to what is known as the ‘3rd Cemetery’ at North Head, and I have to smile at how everyone is stunned by this gorgeous spot, and the view. It  takes my breath away whenever I come here, and others can’t believe they haven’t walked to this spot before, never mind how many times they’ve been up to North Head.

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It’s peaceful, and the silence envelopes you in this place like it’s a sacred spot, and we all naturally turn to whispers. Only the breeze creates a bit of a rustles as it passes, or the drone of a sea plane banking over the harbour.

We all absorb our surroundings and find whats of interest to us to sketch. Some are continuing with a sketch of the harbour view, or sketching a headstone. We spend time penning in a couple of sketches here, and decide to head back to the cafe to complete our colour.

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We all arrive back at the Bella Vista Cafe, and get the lovely tables under the trees outside. The weather is still sunny, however slightly breezy, but we’re all enjoying ourselves. Before long our class, and term are coming to a close, and with a nice lunch and some wine for some, we’ve completed our sketches and are saying our goodbyes till next term.

Thank you everyone, gorgeous sketching, and I look forward to meeting up again soon.


General Sketching. 9.30am Thursday September 18 ’14

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General Sketching. 9.30am Thursday September 18 ’14

Spring is in the air, the sun is shining and I thought I heard a bird or two.  Could have been a car horn? Just kidding.

What a lovely lovely day.  And to think that North Head Cafe is the destination for our class, complete with spectacular views – can’t wait to get there!

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Our group was a little smaller than normal today as being the end of term and the fact that Erin stole a few away to Italy (NO we’re not jealous at all) meant that some folk had gone AWOL.  So we settled in to get coffees at the cafe before heading up to sketch the flannel flowers, views and gravestones. The staff were lovely and most helpful as we decided to reshuffle the layout of their tables to suit our class.  Thank you 🙂

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From the cafe we were greeted with a lovely vista, albeit a little obscured in part by the trees in the foreground. How to paint such an amazing view and not get overwhelmed?

I settled down to demonstrate the way to tackle it.  I felt a bit like a superstar as everyone started taking numerous photos of my demonstration as it progressed in stages. Work out where your focus is?  Do you want the foreground with the flowers and gravestones or do you prefer the view in the distance?  This will affect how strong your colours are.

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Oops, is that the time?  Better get cracking and up the hill.  We could feel the sun tingling on our skin, a perfect temperature and just a faint breeze.  Oh my, that view – it’s just breathtaking.  Aren’t we lucky to live here?  Everyone sucked in the scenery and just stood for a little while admiring what lay before us.

But we are sketchers so we had better stop being tourists in our home town and get those sketchbooks out! Firstly everyone chose to focus on the view of the harbour looking towards the city to the right and Vaucluse to the left.

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Everyone produced some lovely sketches today and it was hard not to, with such a perfect subject matter. We chose to stay here longer and forego lunch in the cafe, after all it’s not every day that we get the opportunity to be in this spot.

Well done everyone, it was a gorgeous morning and your artwork is fabulous.


General Sketching. 9.30am Friday September 19 ’14

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General Sketching. 9.30am Friday September 19 ’14

Another gorgeous day and opportunity awaits at North Head, my new found favourite spot.  You could travel the globe and would be hard pushed to find a more glorious location when the spectacular view unfolds in front of you.  Truly inspirational.

And so I was feeling very inspired when I arrived at the Cafe to meet with today’s sketchers.  Hello, Oh Wow, What a Spot, Aren’t we lucky with the weather – just a few of today’s comments. We’re off to a good start!

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We reshuffled tables in order to get the exact right spot, ordered coffees and had a good look at some different ways to paint the scenery over the harbour.  And I encouraged everyone to loosen up with a quick sketch before we walked up the hill to the graveyard.

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Before I could blink my eyes everyone had dispersed all over the place and our reshuffled tables suddenly looked decidedly lonely with just a couple of folk left there.  So I dotted here and there giving a tip or two before I cracked the whip and we were off to see the Flannel Flowers and amazing view.

Lost one on the way.  Oh, found her again – phew we are all together again.

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I wanted everyone to have two separate sketches today, one where the focus was on the gravestones in the foreground and the other one where the focus was on the harbour in the distance.  But we needed to get a wriggle on as time seems to fly away so quickly when we are sketching.

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We had a rather unusual photographer wandering around at the start (best not to get involved in a conversation with him we thought) and then a rather unusual American family who decided to give us some sketching tips (!) and then proceeded to ask if one of our dear sketchers would give them a lift to Manly as they were a bit tired.  Ummmmmm maybe they missed the fact that we were in the middle of a class?

Eventually the unusual folk left and just us normal sketchers were left to soak up the view and sunshine.  Oh how lucky we are!

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Sketches complete we headed back to the cafe for a delicious Italian lunch.  Last day of term inspired some to go mad and order a bottle of wine (oh the sketching has gone to their heads) and we really enjoyed the food, the chats and laughs.

Really? Has term ended? Yes it was time to have hugs and goodbyes and let’s catch up again soon.  What a wonderful day, thanks everyone.

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New & General Sketching. 9am Saturday September 20 ’14

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New & General Sketching. 9am Saturday September 20 ’14

I could hear the breeze so was a bit worried in case we got blown away at North Head as it is a bit exposed being at the entrance to Sydney Harbour, but the sun was also out, so finger’s crossed.

There were eight sketchers today and I was excited for them to see how beautiful it is up at the graveyard, but firstly a few tips on how to apply the colour when faced with sky and ocean and an expansive view.  It can feel a little overwhelming you see.

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I demonstrated a loose watercolour wash to capture the clouds and ocean without overworking things.  Everyone did a very quick loose sketch to warm up and apply some colour so that they could paint with more confidence en plein air, (or so we hoped!)

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We had a coffee or two and then off we went.  I was thrilled to hear all the gasps of delight as we arrived.  The plan was to do two sketches, one of the gravestones and one of the harbour view.

Some folks managed to bury themselves in the undergrowth in search of the perfect spot to capture the scene.  I had to clamber over twigs and branches to reach them!  I thought that Therese had become all religous kneeling down and praying in front of the cross but on closer inspection she was preparing her paints!  Talk about keen 🙂

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As I went from one sketcher to the next I started noticing more and more the different graves and some folk were very young who died there.  I wonder what their story was?  Their final resting place is certainly somewhere amazing.  The history of Sydney is rich and interesting here at North Head.

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Everyone was really thrilled with our location and the gorgeous flannel flowers, such a treat and we all agreed we would come back again.  Happy holidays folks and well done, you produced some gorgeous artwork and made great progress.

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Till Next term, big hugs to you all, our sketching family.


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