Saturday, June 22, 2013

More lessons with Liz Steel - context and composition.

Having earlier touched on some fundamental drawing lessons for buildings, Weeks 6 and 7 of Liz Steel's Urban Sketching course was focussed on context and composition.

The aim of week 6 was creating life around an object (often a building). Placing the main object into context. This assists with the concept of creating a story for urban sketching. It's also an area I tend to neglect. Partly because I'm chicken.

Liz had us warm up in the studio with sketching from photos of models from art reference books.

These two faces were finished later from black and white photos.

We also drew trees and cars. Palms, Pines and Gums are the trees I associate the most with Sydney. My greens need a bit more oomph here - a bit more summer to them.  

Once finished in the studio, we were then off to Manly Wharf where we gathered at the traffic lights. Here we sketched people as they waited in the rain for the lights to change. Sketching people within a such a short time frame is all very new to me. I learnt quite a lot and know that I would have continued to bypass sketching people if it weren't part of this course. Having the direction of an accomplished sketcher who is encouraging and enthusiastic made a huge difference.
Week 7 was about Composition. Balancing a blend of text, headings and images around the page to again help tell a story about the location and also communicate the feeling and atmostphere of the moment.

My studio cup and saucer sketch.. without my unbalanced composition!

Liz challenged with randomly selected layouts. We had to sketch a cup and saucer onto the page in the assigned area and then build a balanced composition around it. My composition for this one was messy when I added the words. I painted it later at home, once I regained some confidence! Filling in text to balance composition with an image, whilst maintaing a flow of seemingly effortless prose  is due for a bit of development.

It came together a bit better when we then set out to sketch at one of my favourite cafes in Manly, Foundry Fiftythree: huge tables allowing plenty of room to sketch, unique items decorating the walls, cool teapots, good coffee and good food.

Sadly, we're nearing the end of our course with Liz. Just one more class and then we will be left to our own devices. Fortunately, Liz has taught us plenty, she shares a great deal of her ideas online and she is considering teaching more courses. If you'd like to read more about her classes Liz shares her ideas here, and you can also find reviews of Liz's course on class mate Suzi Poland's blog.


  1. Lovely post Chantal about this great class, which has been fun to do and meet you. Your cup and saucer is truer to the colours than mine, slightly more gentile! Your sketch of people crossing at Manly Wharf certainly captures the day. I particularly like the reflections you captured on the road. Well done! Looking forward to our last class this week.

    1. Thank you Suzi - its been a pleasure to sketch with you and I'm looking forward to catching up again next term!

  2. Great post. How I wish I could have been a part of this course. But I've been following it vicariously online :) Contextualising my sketches is something I avoid too, for the same reason: chicken! I have trouble completing a whole 'scene' and often leave gaping holes in my sketch. People are also avoided at all costs! You have done a great job here! I know it is just a matter of practice, like everything else... I absolutely love your Foundry Fiftythree composition page. That teapot is stunning. And I really like how you've balanced this page. I'm all inspired now...

    1. Thanks Jodi! I hope you can get along to Liz's Melbourne workshops. Really well worth it. Hope to catch you one day soon either here in Sydney or in Melbourne :)

  3. Excellent post, I really enjoy your post. You are explained all things very effectively. This lesson is more helpful for me. Thanks for it.


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