Sunday, 2 June 2013

Urban Sketching

I joined the Sydney Urban Sketching group for a cold first-day-of-Winter sketching trip at Sydney University yesterday. It was really nice to be with an enthusiastic group of talented sketchers recording the beautiful sandstone buildings.
View through the archway into the main quad

I started inside the entrance to the main quad, thinking it may be a little sheltered but it was a bit of a wind tunnel.
Goethite (Daniel Smith) is a great colour for sandstone, and the granulation creates the stone texture with ease.

I then moved into the stone corridor and painted one of the many grotesques. (Not gargoyles my niece reminded me, since it doesn't spurt water.) They have great personality. I used a neutral grey watercolour pencil for the initial sketch, then my favourites Goethite and Bistre (see earlier posts - a mixed grey i this case made with Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine).

Out on the grass looking at the main building was such a daunting view that I picked up one of the many leaves blowing about and had fun with the wonderful range of textures and colours.

There were some wonderful sketches of the buildings, sculptures and fine details at the end of our 3 hours. What a great way to spend a Saturday morning.

A grotesque. 

Back to my real comfort zone of leaves, but love the colours!


  1. I am a 76 y o neophyte novice self taught art student in the US. I am also interested in the Urban Sketching journaling. My renewed High School art interests began with wanting to buy Watercolor Pencils. I bought a set of 12 from Generals and recently a set of 12 from Sargent. So far I have only experimented with mixing the colors on my self made color wheels and swatches. I am having fun. :-) I was wondering what brand of Watercolor Pencils that you are using and can they be bought singularly ? I am also studying Color Theory and mixing. I have made my own pocket paint boxes from three small tins that I have acquired over time and half and full pans. I have painted the inside of the lids with a thick acrylic white paint to use for mixing colors. I want to use Daniel Smith tube colors. I am retired and on a very small budget for my new hobby. Again, what watercolor pencils do you use ?
    I am enjoying your site very much and I am learning quite a bit.
    Thank you for your time.


    1. The watercolour pencils I like are the Albrecht Dürer colours made by Faber Castell - gorgeous colours, lightfast pigments and nice and soft to use. They are available individually. Only get the colours you might use - perhaps a yellow ochre, sienna, grey etc that you might do your underdrawing in. Maybe add some olive greens? If you are using watercolours the other colours can be painted in those.

      They also make water soluble graphite pencils that I love - you could just get a 4B and experiment.

      You can do a huge amount with very few watercolours. If you are on a limited budget, and want just a few to start with, consider getting Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Rose and Ultramarine as a simple basic triad. Add burnt sienna to speed up mixing, and perhaps an earthy yellow such as yellow ochre or the granulating Goethite or raw sienna. I also like Cerulean Chromium for urban sketching as it will mix with ultramarine for lovely realistic sky colours. Those 6 paints will allow you to mix a vast array of different colours. You'll also create sketches with lovely colour harmony.

      Happy sketching :-)